What explains the differences in the ancient socio-politics of Samoa and Tonga?

Why did Tonga form a single paramountcy (later a tripartite one) while Samoa became several (presumably competing) chiefdoms? We are pretty sure the colonising/early demography of Tonga and Samoa was different (Rieth and Cochrane 2012; Cochrane et al. 2013, 2016; Cochrane and Rieth 2016; Cochrane 2018), so is this early difference key? Does this continue with later demographic patterns in the two archipelagos? Are these differences related to variation in agriculture and other subsistence strategies between Tonga and Samoa (Quintus and Cochrane 2017, 2018)?

After surveying a gigantic mound in Saoluafata (Pule, Aumua Matiu, Ethan). February 2019

How can we begin to tackle these questions through archaeology?

  1. Our Marsden funded research is a start. With this project we are investigating the development of agriculture in the Falefa Valley, Samoa, focusing on the timing of field development and drainage ditch systems, environmental variation, human-induced changes and the rise of corporate or monumental structures.
  2. Agricultural terraces are a big question–ie, there are lots of terraces on the lower slopes of mountains bounding Falefa and it is not clear if these were agricultural of for some other purpose. And of course the use of features can change.
  3. Identifying variation in socio-politics is part of the problem as well. Having Just read Quintus’ and Clark’s (2019) pigeon mound article make me think of…mounds. What could a survey of mounds, description and classification of these structures in Falefa tell us? What evolutionary and transmission processes explain their variation? Can they tell us about changing socio-politics, group formation in Samoa?

Rieth, T. M., & Cochrane, E. E. (2012). Archaeological Monitoring and Data Recovery in Support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency Permanent Housing Construction Program, Tutuila Island, American Samoa. Retrieved from International Archaeological Research Institute, Inc. Honolulu, Hawaii: 

Cochrane, E. E., Rieth, T. M., & Dickinson, W. R. (2013). Plainware ceramics from Sāmoa: Insights into ceramic chronology, cultural transmission, and selection among colonizing populations. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 32(4), 499-510.

Cochrane, E. E., Kane, H., Fletcher, C., Horrocks, M., Mills, J., Barbee, M., . . . Tautunu, M. M. (2016). Lack of suitable coastal plains likely influenced Lapita (~2800 cal. BP) settlement of Sāmoa: Evidence from south-eastern ‘Upolu. The Holocene, 26(1), 126-135.

Cochrane, E. E., & Rieth, T. M. (2016). Sāmoan artefact provenance reveals limited artefact transfer within and beyond the archipelago. Archaeology in Oceania, 51(2), 150-157.

Quintus, S. J., & Cochrane, E. E. (2017). Pre-Contact Samoan Cultivation Practices in Regional and Theoretical Perspective. The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 1-27.

Cochrane, E. E. (2018). The Evolution of Migration: the Case of Lapita in the Southwest Pacific. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 25(2), 520-558.

Quintus, S., & Cochrane, E. E. (2018). The Prevelance and Importance of Niche in Agricultural Development in Polynesia. Journal of Anthropologial Archaeology, 51, 173-186. 

 Quintus, S., & Clark, J. T. (2019). Ritualizing Hierarchy: Power Strategies and Pigeon Catching in Ancient Samoa. Journal of Archaeological Research, 0(0), 000-000.