Archaeological Approaches for Understanding the Marquesan Stone Pounder ke’a tuki popoi

Date
2023-12-30
Authors
Richards, Michelle J.
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1
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5
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31
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Abstract
Stone pounders known as ke’a tuki popoi, ke’a tu’i kioe, or k’ea tuki kóna, were and are still used on certain Polynesian Islands to mash food, usually fruit, especially breadfruit, to make a paste known as poi, and some were used to produce medicine and pigments. They were the second most frequently collected stone objects in Polynesia after adzes in the colonial period and are numerous in global museum collections. Yet, pounders have not received as much archaeological attention. Stone pounders provide a way of studying the colonial period and the impacts of colonialism on the production and circulation of traditional Polynesian objects by comparing them with adzes from earlier and more recent (pre-Contact to early colonial) periods. This study combines an object itineraries and portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) geochemical study to an assemblage of Marquesan pounders in museum collections to (1) identify stylistic change through time, (2) identify volcanic rock type and match geological sources used to make these artifacts, and (3) consider the impacts of Western colonialism on Marquesan cultural practices. The results of these analyses identified that the distinct Tiki-headed ke’a tuki popoi were produced from a localized region in the Marquesas and that pounders were not produced from the same basalt quarries as adzes. The patterns of stone pounder production and distribution identified in this geochemical study contrast somewhat with the historical accounts from the 19th and 20th centuries and therefore provide a new perspective into Marquesan stone carving practices just prior to and during the early Western colonial period.
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museum archaeology, stone pounders, Marquesas, portable X-ray florescence (pXRF) spectroscopy
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27 pages
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