Stone architecture of the ancient Tongan state on Tongatapu Island, Kingdom of Tonga

Geoffrey Clark, Phillip Parton

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    On Tongatapu Island stone structures were used by senior chiefly lines to manifest title and lineage status. Stone slabs were used to demarcate house and sitting platforms, to face the royal tombs of the paramount, set upright as standing stones, and at Heketā used to make a unique monumental gateway. Slabs were also used to make stone burial vaults and the material was quarried from coastal locations around Tongatapu and other islands in Tonga. Recent work has increased the number of stone structures recorded in previous archaeological survey. This shows that their distribution is strongly focused on the east of the island where traditional history has the first monumental stonework constructed by the 11th Tu’i Tonga around AD 1250. In addition to describing and classifying stone structures that incorporate quarried slabs of carbonate stone, we show that the distribution of stone architecture is primarily associated with the central places of the Tu’i Tonga and high-ranking leadership demonstrating that stone architecture held an important role in manifesting political authority in the Tongan state.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNetworks and Monumentality in the Pacific. Proceedings of the XVIII UISPP World Congress (4-9 June 2018, Paris, France) Volume 7, Session XXXVIII
    Editors Aymeric Hermann, Frédérique Valentin, Christophe Sand and Emilie Nolet
    Place of PublicationOxford
    PublisherArchaeopress Publishing Ltd
    ISBN (Print)978-1-78969-716-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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