Login Join | Donate | Annual Meeting | Career Center | SAA News | Marketplace | Contact   Search
  Landscapes of War: Rules and Conventions of Conflict in Ancient Hawaii (and Elsewhere) Minimize

Michael J. Kolb and Boyd Dixon


A comparison of the rich ethnohistoric record of prehistoric conflict in Hawai'i with evidence of warfare in other culture areas suggests some basic similarities in cause and effect shared by many complex hegemonic polities. Three types of archaeological remains in Hawai'i indicate that human sacrifice and monumental scale ritual construction were integral parts of pre Contact (A.D. 1778) conquest warfare. The Hawaiians, however, invested much less labor in long term responses to possible threats to civilian security than many cultures, suggesting that wartime expectations were very different even if the scale and intensity of combat was similar. These differences are perceived to be a reflection of distinct historical traditions of wartime ethics in Polynesia, unique rules of conflict adapted to the geographic isolation of the Hawaiian people and the environmental diversity that defines the archipelago.


Una comparacion del record etnohistorico de conflicto prehistorico en Hawai`i con evidencia de la guerra en otras culturas se sugiere algunas similaridades basicas en su causa y efecto entre muchas culturas hegmonicas complejas. Tres tipos de restos arqueologicos en Hawai`i se indican que el sacrificio humano y construccion ritual a una escala monumental se formaban partes integrales de la guerra de conquista en la epoca pre Contacto (1778 anos A.C.). Los Hawaiianos invertieron mucho menos labor en responder a las posibles amenazas a la seguridad civil que muchas culturas, sugiriendo que las expectaciones de la guerra eran muy diferentes, aunque la escala e intensidad fueron similares. Estas diferencias son interpretados como una refleccion de distinctas tradiciones historicas en las eticas de guerra en Polynesia, reglas de combate adaptadas a la ubicacion aislado del poblado Hawaiiano y la diversidad ambiental que define el archipelago.