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Tracing the origins of the Hawaiians and other Polynesians back to the shores of the South China Sea, archaeologist Patrick Vinton Kirch follows their voyages of discovery across the Pacific in this fascinating history of Hawaiian culture from about one thousand years ago. Combining more than four decades of his own research with Native Hawaiian oral traditions and the evidence of archaeology, Kirch puts a human face on the gradual rise to power of the Hawaiian god-kings, who by the late eighteenth century were locked in a series of wars for ultimate control of the entire archipelago. This lively, accessible chronicle works back from Captain James Cook’s encounter with the pristine kingdom in 1778, when the British explorers encountered an island civilization governed by rulers who could not be gazed upon by common people. Interweaving anecdotes from his own widespread travel and extensive archaeological investigations into the broader historical narrative, Kirch shows how the early Polynesian settlers of Hawai'i adapted to this new island landscape and created highly productive agricultural systems.
"Patrick Kirch's new book takes the reader to many distant islands and pivotal moments of discovery that have helped shape our understanding of the human past. He recognizes the important social experiments that Oceanic societies created through their epic voyages to explore and settle the most distant portions of the planet." -Peter R. Mills, Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawai'i at Hilo "A Shark Going Inland is My Chief combines captivating history with Kirch's own personal story. The result is an extremely powerful piece of scholarship and a tremendous read." -David Igler, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Irvine
Tracing the origins of the Hawaiians and other Polynesians back to the shores of the South China Sea, archaeologist Patrick Vinton Kirch follows their voyages of discovery across the Pacific in this fascinating history of Hawaiian culture from about one thousand years ago. Combining more than four decades of his own research with Native Hawaiian oral traditions and the evidence of archaeology, Kirch puts a human face on the gradual rise to power of the Hawaiian god-kings, who by the late eighteenth century were locked in a series of wars for ultimate control of the entire archipelago. This lively, accessible chronicle works back from Captain James Cook’s encounter with the pristine kingdom in 1778, when the British explorers encountered an island civilization governed by rulers who could not be gazed upon by common people. Interweaving anecdotes from his own widespread travel and extensive archaeological investigations into the broader historical narrative, Kirch shows how the early Polynesian settlers of Hawai'i adapted to this new island landscape and created highly productive agricultural systems.
In How Chiefs Became Kings, Patrick Vinton Kirch addresses a central problem in anthropological archaeology: the emergence of "archaic states" whose distinctive feature was divine kingship. Kirch takes as his focus the Hawaiian archipelago, commonly regarded as the archetype of a complex chiefdom. Integrating anthropology, linguistics, archaeology, traditional history, and theory, and drawing on significant contributions from his own four decades of research, Kirch argues that Hawaiian polities had become states before the time of Captain Cook’s voyage (1778-1779). The status of most archaic states is inferred from the archaeological record. But Kirch shows that because Hawai`i’s kingdoms were established relatively recently, they could be observed and recorded by Cook and other European voyagers. Substantive and provocative, this book makes a major contribution to the literature of precontact Hawai`i and illuminates Hawai`i’s importance in the global theory and literature about divine kingship, archaic states, and sociopolitical evolution.
"Archaeology has assumed the role of combining all the evidence on Polynesian prehistory into a coherent pattern. Patrick Kirch has done this for Hawaii with distinction. His book is clearly written, carefully organized, abundantly illustrated, and handsomely produced volume.... A timely and much needed contribution." --Hawaiian Journal of History "With the publishing of this well-written, profusely illustrated book, Kirch has made a valuable contribution to Hawaiian and Pacific archaeological studies.... A necessary book for all Pacific scholars." --Journal of Polynesian Studies

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