Ancient East Polynesian voyaging spheres: New evidence from the Vitaria Adze Quarry (Rurutu, Austral Islands)

Barry V. Rolett, Eric W. West, John M. Sinton, Radu Iovita

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The use of adze sourcing to study interaction spheres opens new perspectives on ancient Polynesian voyaging. Our work contributes to this effort by documenting the discovery and geochemical signature of the Vitaria Adze Quarry, a major adze quarry complex in the central East Polynesia core area. We present WD-XRF geochemical data for the Vitaria raw material and ethnographically collected adzes from Raivavae and Tubuai Islands, also part of the Australs. Comparison of our results with previously published artifact and source data shows that initial tool production at the Vitaria Adze Quarry coincides with the human colonization of East Polynesia. Artifacts from Rurutu were exchanged within the Australs, as well as to neighboring archipelagoes, indicating the importance of Rurutu as a node in voyaging networks spanning the East Polynesian homeland area. Large-scale tool production at the Vitaria Adze Quarry may have contributed to the rise of Vitaria District as the seat of the paramount chief and the center of power on Rurutu.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)459-471
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2015



    • Adze quarries
    • East Polynesia
    • Exchange networks
    • X-ray fluorescence

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Archaeology
    • Archaeology

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