Terrestrial Food Production and Land Use in Prehistoric Samoa: An Example from Olosega Island, Manu'a, American Samoa

By Quintus, Seth J. | Archaeology in Oceania, October 2012 | Go to article overview

Terrestrial Food Production and Land Use in Prehistoric Samoa: An Example from Olosega Island, Manu'a, American Samoa


Quintus, Seth J., Archaeology in Oceania


Abstract

Samoan terrestrial production is vastly under researched archaeologically and few projects explicidy explore such a topic. This paper reports a food production system found in the interior of Olosega Island, one of three islands within the Manu'a group of American Samoa. This production system was part of a divided landscape, in which the residential was separated from the nonresidential. This division was created by a large ditch that cuts across the landscape that was likely used for water diversion. Swidden horticulture was a key component in this production system, practiced upslope of the large ditch. Arboriculture occurred within the residential area downslope of the ditch. Such a production system illustrates the multiple paths cultures can take to increase production while staying resilient in their unique environment. The human population of Olosega utilized numerous ecological niches in order to minimize variance while also creating a productive food exploitation system.

Keywords: Samoa, intensification, risk management, arboriculture, swidden

Introduction

Agricultural landscapes are common archaeological features in Polynesia and have served as important research topics to explore many questions about prehistoric societies (e.g. Addison 2006, 2008; Allen 2001, 2004; Field 2002; Kirch 1975, 1994; Kirch et al. 2004; Ladefoged et al. 2003; McCoy 2005; Riley 1973; Rosendahl 1972; Tuggle and Tomonari-Tuggle 1980). However, one archipelago, Samoa, is well-known for its lack of identifiable traces of cultivation, even though it developed into a complex chiefdom comparable to many others in Polynesia (Goldman 1970; Sahlins 1958). Prior research in the archipelago has failed to identify large scale cultivated landscapes with substantial surface modification similar to other regions (Carson 2006:5), although isolated features are commonly found over the landscape (see Carson 2006; Clark and Herdrich 1988, 1993) and smaller scale modified landscapes have more recently been documented (e.g. Addison and Gurr 2008; Carson 2005; Cochrane et al. 2004).

In June of 2010, an intensive and extensive survey was conducted in the interior of Olosega Island, Manu'a Group, American Samoa over an area encompassing roughly 117 hectares. While archaeological remains had been documented in the area prior to this project (e.g. Hunt and Kirch 1987; NPS 1999), only minor recording had been accomplished and no systematic survey had been conducted. Thus, the primary goal of the 2010 project was to document the settlement system present on the island, both the archaeological settlement distribution and the prehistoric subsistence patterns extant on the modern landscape. Few projects in the Samoan archipelago have had such a focus (but see Carson 2006; Clark and Herdrich 1988; Jennings and Holmer 1980; Pearl 2006), and this is the first attempt at such a project on the small islands of the Manu'a group.

A horticultural system found in the interior of Olosega Island is reported here (see also Quintus 2011). By corn-bitting present day environmental data with archaeological data obtained during survey, a picture of the late prehistoric production system on Olosega emerges, a picture which had been all but unknown except for speculation and isolated features. This survey identified a large ditch interpreted as a water control device. This ditch acts as a division in the landscape separating the main food production area from the primary residential area of the settlement. The subsistence system as a whole served to minimize variability in production, protecting against environmental and cultural perturbations. Although this work is preliminary in nature, its potential to contribute to a better understanding of prehistoric Samoan production is unquestionable.

Environmental and archaeological setting

Olosega Island is one of three small islands, with Ofu and Ta'u, which constitute the Manu'a group of American Samoa. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Terrestrial Food Production and Land Use in Prehistoric Samoa: An Example from Olosega Island, Manu'a, American Samoa
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.