Feeling around the adze: New ways of investigating Polynesian societies through material culture and technology
Approaching complex aspects of human societies through archaeological data is always a challenge. However, the study of material culture makes it possible to identify practical choices that people made while dealing with their social and natural environments. In Oceania, adzes were a central element of the material culture. They were used in all kinds of activities related to woodworking in every-day life and also as an element of prestige, used by chiefs as a symbol of power. This presentation will discuss Polynesian adzes as "total social facts" involving technical activities as well as economic, political and religious practices. I will focus on adze production and distribution to show how a combined application of the anthropology of techniques and geochemical analyses can help shed light on social complexity and interaction networks in Polynesian chiefdoms.