Patrick Kirch

Patrick Kirch
University of Hawai'i System · Anthropology

PhD, Yale University 1975

About

314
Publications
64,762
Reads
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9,243
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2014 - present
University of California, Berkeley
Position
  • Chancellor's Professor Emeritus
Description
  • I am currently Chancellor's Professor Emeritus and Professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley.
January 2007 - August 2014
University of California, Berkeley
Position
  • Class of 1954 Professor of Anthropology & Integrative Biology
June 1984 - December 1988
University of Washington Seattle
Description
  • Director of the Burke Museum. I was also Professor in the Department of Anthropology
Education
January 1972 - December 1975
Yale University
Field of study
  • Anthropology
September 1968 - June 1971
University of Pennsylvania
Field of study
  • Anthropology

Publications

Publications (314)
Article
Full-text available
We examined 2947 basalt and volcanic glass artifacts from 38 sites in leeward Kohala. Nondestructive energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence provided initial geochemical characterizations. Wavelength-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (WDXRF) and thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS) analyses were completed on samples from ambiguously sourced groups....
Article
Full-text available
Tikopia Island, a small and relatively isolated Polynesian Outlier in the Southeast Solomon Islands, supports a remarkably dense human population with minimal external support. Examining long-term trends in human land use on Tikopia through archaeological datasets spanning nearly 3000 years presents an opportunity to investigate pathways to long-te...
Article
Full-text available
Dossier d’Archéologie Polynésienne vol.6, Bilan de la recherche archéologique en Polynésie française 2005 - 2015, pp.323-330. ISSN: 1961-8506 http://www.culture-patrimoine.pf/spip.php?article942
Article
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In a recent paper published in The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, John Terrell (2020) objected to the proposition that islands can offer model systems to study human behavior and ecodynamics. He argues that a review of insular model systems in the study of non-human taxa is empirically flawed and theoretically incoherent and implies tha...
Article
Establishing the timing of human colonization of the eastern Pacific and developing cultural chronologies within the island groups of Eastern Polynesia has relied primarily on ¹⁴C dating. Despite advancements in ¹⁴C dating, however, uncertainties introduced during calibration to calendar ages remain large relative to the tempo of human settlement o...
Article
Reconstructing routes of ancient long-distance voyaging, long a topic of speculation, has become possible thanks to advances in the geochemical sourcing of archaeological artifacts. Of particular interest are islands classified as Polynesian Outliers, where people speak Polynesian languages and have distinctly Polynesian cultural traits, but are lo...
Article
Full-text available
Agroforestry systems have long played a central role in Polynesian societies, contributing to food production, building and craft production, and ritual activities. Until recently, however, archaeological studies of these important systems were limited. Recent methodological improvements and a growing number of macro- and micro-botanical studies ha...
Article
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Radiocarbon dating Pacific archaeological sites is fraught with difficulties. Often situated in coastal beach ridges or sand dunes, these sites exhibit horizontal and vertical disturbances, datable materials such as wood charcoal are typically highly degraded, may be derived from old trees or driftwood unless specifically identified to short-lived...
Preprint
Full-text available
Radiocarbon dating Pacific archaeological sites is fraught with difficulties. Often situated in coastal beach ridges or sand dunes, sites exhibit horizontal and vertical disturbances, while datable materials such as wood charcoal are typically highly degraded, or derived from old trees or drift wood and bone collagen rarely survives in the tropical...
Article
Polynesian societies have long been noted for encoding their histories in the form of oral narratives. While some narratives are clearly cosmogonic or mythological in nature, others purportedly recount the affairs of real persons, chronologically indexed to chiefly and family genealogies. Late 19th- and early 20th-century scholars such as Abraham F...
Article
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en Two recent papers, by Lipson et al. and Posth et al., have challenged current interpretations of the initial settlement of Remote Oceania. We invited Stuart Bedford, who is an author on both papers, to outline their importance, and a number of scholars in various disciplines to comment on their findings. RÉSUMÉ fr Deux articles récents, par Lip...
Article
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en We analysed 1593 basalt artefacts from the Hālawa Dune Site, on the easternmost part of Molokaʻi Island, for a combination of geochemical and technological attributes to expose different reduction strategies related to basalt adze production and rejuvenation. West Molokaʻi is well known as a location where many outcrops were quarried to make adz...
Article
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The role of humans in shaping local ecosystems is an increasing focus of archaeological research, yet researchers often lack an appropriate means of measuring past anthropogenic effects on local food webs and nutrient cycling. Stable isotope analysis of commensal animals provides an effective proxy for local human environments because these species...
Article
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Nonmarine mollusks recovered during archaeological excavations on the island of Mo'orea, Society Islands, French Polynesia, were analyzed as part of a multidisciplinary study of anthropogenic environmental change. Records of now-extinct taxa in dated archaeological contexts were combined with historic collection data from the 1830s to the present t...
Article
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This paper analyses 647 bird bones identifiable at least to family-level collected from archaeological sites in 2005, 2012 and 2014 by P. Kirch, in the Gambier Group,French Polynesia. The bones derive from Onemea Site (TAR-6) on Taravai Island,Nenega-Iti Rock Shelter (AGA-3) on Agakauitai Island and Kitchen Cave (KAM-1) on Kamaka Island. Eighteen b...
Book
The Pacific Ocean covers one-third of the earth's surface and encompasses many thousands of islands that are home to numerous human societies and cultures. Among these indigenous Oceanic cultures are the intrepid Polynesian double-hulled canoe navigators, the atoll dwellers of Micronesia, the statue carvers of remote Easter Island, and the famed tr...
Article
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A use-wear and residue study of 56 retouched obsidian flakes from seven Lapita sites in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu confirms that they had been used for tattooing. These specialised tools all bear one or more very small points formed by alternating retouch. A detailed comparison of use traces and pigments on these and 19 addition...
Article
The Polynesian Outlier of Tikopia, situated in the Santa Cruz Islands group (Temotu Province) of the Solomon Islands, has one of the best-defined archaeological sequences in the southwestern Pacific. Archaeological excavations in 1977–78 yielded a rich record of material culture and faunal remains, with a chronological framework provided by 20 radi...
Article
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An analysis of sediment cores from Lake Temae utilizing pollen, accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating, magnetic susceptibility measurements, and charcoal particle counts was undertaken to assess landscape transformation following Polynesian colonization of Mo’orea in the Society Islands. A significant influx of terrigenous sediment accompanied...
Article
Full-text available
In the early 1900s, Australian-born archaeologist John F.G. Stokes was the first to extensively use modern surveying techniques and photography to document Hawaiian archaeological sites. Stokes carried out fieldwork for a Bishop Museum-based research program driven by interests in Polynesian origins and Hawaiian religious change, focusing specifica...
Article
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We report the unprecedented Lapita exploitation and subsequent extinction of large megafauna tortoises (?Meiolania damelipi) on tropical islands during the late Holocene over a 281,000 km2 region of the southwest Pacific spanning from the Vanuatu archipelago to Viti Levu in Fiji. Zooarchaeological analyses have identified seven early archaeological...
Article
Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis was applied to archaeological specimens of the commensal Pacific rat (Rattus exulans) to investigate nutrient fluxes in prehistoric socio-ecosystems on Mangareva (Gambier Islands) and their implications for anthropogenic environmental change. The Pacific rat – ubiquitous in Polynesian archaeological sites...
Article
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The Cook Islands are considered the “gateway” for human colonization of East Polynesia, the final chapter of Oceanic settlement and the last major region occupied on Earth. Indeed, East Polynesia witnessed the culmination of the greatest maritime migration in human history. Perennial debates have critiqued whether Oceanic settlement was purposeful...
Article
Traditional Hawaiian fishing and marine exploitation have been studied using both ethnographic and archaeological approaches, but few studies have attempted to investigate intensity of marine foraging over time at a regional scale. In this paper we examine Hawaiian exploitation of the marine eco-system of the leeward coast of Kohala, located on the...
Article
Full-text available
Systems biology promises to revolutionize medicine, yet human wellbeing is also inherently linked to healthy societies and environments (sustainability). The IDEA Consortium is a systems ecology open science initiative to conduct the basic scientific research needed to build use-oriented simulations (avatars) of entire social-ecological systems. Is...
Article
Systems biology promises to revolutionize medicine, yet human wellbeing is also inherently linked to healthy societies and environments (sustainability). The IDEA Consortium is a systems ecology open science initiative to conduct the basic scientific research needed to build use-oriented simulations (avatars) of entire social-ecological systems. Is...
Article
Full-text available
Actes de la journée de la Société préhistorique française - Paris 30 janvier-1er février 2014
Book
Full-text available
Perhaps no scholar has done more to reveal the ancient history of Polynesia than noted archaeologist Patrick Vinton Kirch. For close to fifty years he has explored the Pacific, as his expeditions took him to more than two dozen islands spread across the ocean, from Mussau to Hawai‘i to Easter Island. In this lively memoir rich with personal—and oft...
Chapter
This chapter relates a voyage to Eloaua Island, an area situated within the Mussau or St. Matthias Islands, on the northern rim of the Bismarck Archipelago. The object of this expedition is to reveal more insights into the origins of Lapita—whether from Southeast Asia or in the Bismarck Archipelago itself—but also about the culture of the people wh...
Chapter
This chapter delves into an exploration into the Manu‘a Islands at Samoa's eastern extremity. Doing so would expand the author's research in Western Polynesia begun with the expeditions to Futuna and ‘Uvea in 1974 and to Niuatoputapu in 1976. Aside from recounting the challenges faced by the author in securing his research in the area, the chapter...
Chapter
This chapter recounts the author's appointment to a professorship at the University of California at Berkeley, which would remain the author's academic home for twenty-five years. It reveals the challenges, both personal and professional, that the author had had to endure in leaving his post at Seattle for one of the world's preeminent centers of t...
Chapter
This chapter talks about the research conducted in Mangaia, southernmost of the Cook Islands, and the results thereof—particularly at the Tangata-tau rockshelter. Here, the chapter marks a turning point where Kirch's academic interests shift toward Eastern Polynesian islands. What made Mangaian history different from that of Tikopia or some other s...
Chapter
This chapter chronicles fieldwork focusing on the intensive dryland agriculture that had underwritten the staple economies of the emerging archaic states of Hawai‘i and Maui Islands in the centuries leading up to European contact. With a generous budget of $1.4 million granted by the National Science Foundation and a multidisciplinary team of scien...
Chapter
This chapter chronicles a summer spent in Hālawa Valley on a research grant. Returning from Philadelphia to Honolulu, the author met his future comrades in the newly proposed Hālawa Valley Project sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Tom Riley was studying archaeology at the University of Hawai‘i (UH), focusing on how the ancient Haw...
Chapter
This chapter narrates a return expedition to the Mussau islands, in particular to the Talepakemalai excavation site, from which Kirch had uncovered further evidence as to origins of the Lapita. The most striking artifact uncovered here was a carved piece of porpoise bone about six inches long, and representing a human face, which hints at its possi...
Chapter
This chapter provides anecdotes, historical and personal, surrounding ‘Ōpūnohu Bay on Mo‘orea, second largest of the Society Islands. It briefly discusses the intertwined history of the ‘Ōpūnohu Valley, the Kellum family, and archaeology, before turning to the more current prospect of studying Polynesian household archaeology and the settlement lan...
Chapter
This chapter highlights the author's expeditions into the Mangareva Islands. Also known as the Gambier Archipelago, Mangareva consists of fourteen small volcanic islets all enclosed within a single barrier reef and lagoon. The author's trips to Mangareva act as follow-ups to expeditions made to the region in previous decades, which have noted with...
Chapter
This chapter features some anecdotes on key childhood events that have shaped the author's experiences in growing up in Hawai‘i. These experiences range from the peaceful—such as living within the natural rhythms of island life—to the life-threatening, such as a bout of acute kidney infection. These anecdotes further cement the author's growing int...
Chapter
This chapter documents the period that the author spent in Yale University. In the early 1970s American anthropology was strongly committed to the “four fields” approach. The Yale faculty regarded anthropology as a social science, with an emphasis on science—on empirically based research. In the graduate program at Yale in the early 1970s, students...
Chapter
This chapter reflects on some of the big changes that Kirch has witnessed in the past fifty years of his involvement in the sciences since that fateful meeting with Yoshio Kondo—changes in archaeology as an academic discipline and in the questions that archaeologists ask about the past, changes in archaeological practices, and changes in the instit...
Chapter
This chapter recounts expeditions made to two distant parts of the Solomon Islands. This journey had two main goals: to seek out sites containing a distinctive kind of pottery called “Lapita,” and to discover the ways in which island cultures had adapted to the varied environments of the Solomon Islands. The trip would first take the author to Kolo...
Chapter
This chapter details further archaeological ventures into Tikopia, as well as an additional venture into Vanikoro. Of note in the former area are the excavation sites at Kiki and Sinapupu, both of which hold important evidence into Tikopia's long history. Coming after the Lapita-related potsherds from Kiki in the stratigraphic sequence, the author...
Chapter
This chapter documents a trip into the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula, located on windward Moloka‘i. Cut off from the world by 2,800-foot-high cliffs, Kalaupapa became in the 1860s a place of banishment for those beset with the feared ma‘i pākē, leprosy. The hardships endured by those forcibly sent to Kalaupapa in the first decades of the Kalawao set...
Chapter
This chapter describes a re-engagement with Hawaiian archaeology through research efforts in Kahikinui, one of the twelve ancient districts (moku) of Maui. Some might have thought Kahikinui an odd choice in which to investigate the rise of archaic states in ancient Hawai‘i, as it is considered a kua‘āina, or “backwater” district (literally “back of...
Chapter
This chapter discusses the author's experiences upon taking up the directorship at the University of Washington's Burke Museum, in Seattle. The Burke Museum, founded in 1885, was the University of Washington's and the state's natural history museum. Its greatest collections were from the Northwest Coast tribes, such as the Tlingit, Kwakiutl, and Ha...
Chapter
This chapter documents some of the author's early experiences with archaeology and other academic sciences, beginning with his encounter with malacologist Yoshio Kondo. An expert on land snails, Kondo would eventually provide the author with that early exposure to science that would drive his own career as an interdisciplinary scientist. The chapte...
Chapter
This chapter details the ethnographic and archaeological research conducted at Futuna Island. In pursuit of a Yale doctorate, the author navigates the island's people, terrain, and even its ubiquitous pigs as he attempts to discover the cycle of planting, tending, and harvesting represented by the different pondfields found on the island. Futuna pr...
Chapter
This chapter discusses the fieldwork conducted at Tikopia, a Polynesian Outlier a day's sail from Anuta. The island is famous among anthropologists for being the subject of a deeply engaged ethnography by Sir Raymond Firth, student to the famed Polish scholar Bronislaw Malinowski, the “father of ethnography.” Firth had meticulously documented every...
Chapter
This chapter describes the author's archaeological investigations at “The Isle of Sacred Coconuts,” or Niuatoputapu, located at the northern extremity of the Kingdom of Tonga. The object of research here were the pottery sites, which were concentrated in a continuous zone encircling the island's central volcanic ridge. This pottery zone, which evid...
Chapter
This chapter depicts the author's life in Honolulu after spending nearly half of the last five years on remote islands in the South Seas gathering data and collections. This period marks a number of changes occurring in Hawai‘i as well as the author's more “normal” existence as he spends the interlude analyzing and publishing his discoveries. At th...
Article
Rain-fed, intensive field systems based on sweet potato and to a lesser extent dryland taro were essential to the political economies of emergent archaic states in late pre-contact Hawai'i. The productivity of these dryland field systems was dependent upon soil nutrient pools that are constrained primarily by geological substrate age and rainfall. We...
Article
Full-text available
The Hawaiian people before Western contact gathered at special places during the Makahiki period, a time that was sacred to the god Lono, and during which sports, games and other ceremonies took place. Archaeological excavation and archaeoastronomical investigation together suggest that an approximately 40 m(2) rock enclosure in the uplands of Hono...
Article
Full-text available
The Gambier Islands (French Polynesia) are noted for their extreme deforestation and low biodiversity in the post-European contact period. We report on the archaeological and palaeoecological investigation of a stratified rock shelter (site AGA-3) on Agakauitai Island, revealing a sequence of environmental transformation following Polynesian coloni...
Chapter
Ceramics, among the oldest and most significant technological innovations in the history of humankind, are ubiquitous in many archaeological contexts, and provide archaeologists with one of their main categories of empirical data. Studies of variation in ceramic production, style, and use have assisted archaeologists both in the construction of chr...
Conference Paper
The approach of ecological archaeology---with its power to look at long-term human, cultural, and natural processes---is integral to understanding the prospects of sustainable intensification. It provides essential views of both the prospects of sustainability and the perils of degradation based on the understanding of intensification as a coupled...
Article
Full-text available
Archaeology’s ability to generate long-term datasets of natural and human landscape change positions the discipline as an inter-disciplinary bridge between the social and natural sciences. Using a multi-proxy approach combining archaeological data with palaeoenvironmental indicators embedded in coastal sediments, we outline millennial timescales of...
Article
Emergent archaic states in pre-contact Hawai'i used a ritual control hierarchy implemented through a system of temples to manage production, extract tribute, and reinforce the legitimacy of the ruling elites. Based on a limited sample of precise 230Th dates from coral offerings on Maui Island temples it had been hypothesized that this temple system...
Chapter
This chapter first considers the traditional Hawaiian methods of telling time and recounting the past. It then turns to the question of when people first settled in Kahikinui. The question can be answered in different ways. From the perspective provided by an extensive database of radiocarbon dates from sites throughout the moku, it can be said tha...
Chapter
This chapter presents the author’s account of the settlement-pattern mapping of Kīpapa in July 1995. Along with a team of Berkeley students and state archeologists, his goal for the summer was to fill in a major gap in the 1966 survey of the uplands. He showed the team a blank area on the map compiled from his 1966 plane-table sheets, lying between...
Chapter
This chapter focuses on the pānānā wall at Hanamauloa. The Hawaiian Dictionary defines pānānā as “compass; pilot; to row here and there irregularly.” The rare 1865 Andrews dictionary, the first published dictionary of the Hawaiian language, defines the same term as a compass, especially a mariner’s compass; a pilot; one who directs the sailing of a...
Chapter
This chapter discusses Kahikinui’s changing hydrology. It considers the possibility that Kahikinui might not always have been as waterless as it appears today. In historic times, many small drainages such as Kukui Gulch with shallow channels incised into the lava slopes flow only when winter, kona storms bring heavy rains. Had environmental conditi...
Chapter
This chapter presents the author’s account of returning to Kahikinui nearly thirty years after he spent the summer of 1966 mapping archaeological sites. With thirty years of experience behind him, the author realized that the pioneering settlement-pattern data collected in 1966 would provide a good starting point. But to answer many of the question...
Chapter
This chapter discusses dry-farming and sweet potato cultivation in Kahikinui. A combination of topography and climate make Kahikinui a dry, parched, and—during periods of drought—even desiccated landscape. Making a living in such circumstances was not impossible, but it required hard work and specialized dry-farming methods. The sweet potato (Ipomo...
Chapter
This chapter describes the author’s examination of the positions and locations of heiau in Kahikinui. He observed that temple sites fell into three clusters. Most common were heiau that faced east; many of these had spectacular viewsheds toward distant Kaupō. A second cluster faced northeast, between about 64 and 73 degrees on the compass. The thir...
Chapter
This chapter focuses on an individual known as Paiko. Manuel Pico came to the islands on a whaling ship, possibly in the 1840s. He hailed from the island of Pico in the Azores, and hence was called Manuel do Pico; this was later Hawaiianized as Paiko. He had obtained a lease to run cattle over the lands of Kahikinui from the Hawaiian Kingdom in 187...
Chapter
This chapter first discusses the tumultuous religious and cultural changes that swept through Hawaii in the early nineteenth century, reaching even into remote moku such as Kahikinui. It then turns to the excavation of site KIP-728, which revealed a Hawaiian temple or heiau that was converted into a commoner residence, occupied by someone during th...
Chapter
This chapter describes Hawaii’s stone architectural constructions. The ancient Hawaiians continually modified and rearranged their landscapes by clearing and leveling small patches of earth, building up stone retaining walls to hold the terraces in place, stacking cobbles and boulders to make walls of many sizes and configurations, and piling up ro...
Chapter
This chapter discusses excavations of household sites across Kahikinui. Nineteen kauhale (which translates “group of houses”) clusters were studied, most of which date to the pre-contact period, before European arrival in the islands. These house sites have opened a window on the world of the makaʻāinana (common folk) who made that windy land their...
Chapter
This chapter begins with a discussion of the history of archaeology in Hawaii and its links to the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum. It then presents the author’s account of his fieldwork on Maui in the summer of 1966 while he was a sophomore at Punahou School. The Bishop Museum had received a three-year grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation...
Chapter
This chapter discusses the food consumed by ancient Hawaiians based on excavations of Kahikinui house sites. While the staple basis of Hawaiian subsistence was provided by their main starch crops, especially taro and sweet potato supplemented by yams, bananas, and breadfruit, the traditional diet of ancient Hawaii also included a variety of flesh f...
Chapter
This chapter describes the formation of the Kahikinui landscape. The land of Kahikinui was formed of endless lava outpourings that cascaded for tens of thousands of years from the craters and cinder cones that gash and dimple the slopes of Haleakalā. More than anything, Kahikinui is a land of lava, congealed after the fiery flows scorched everythin...
Article
Full-text available
In the early 1950s, Kenneth Emory excavated a number of rockshelters along southeastern O'ahu, Hawaiian Islands (Emory and Sinoto 1961). Among these, Kuli'ou'ou Rockshelter (O1) has a certain status as the first archaeological site in the Pacific Islands to be directly dated via the then newly introduced radiocarbon method (Fig. 1). The date of 946...
Article
Full-text available