Department of Archaeology and Ancient History

The Samoa Project – Origins and Development of Monumental Structures in West Polynesia

Ansvarig: Helene Martinsson-Wallin

2002-2004 Pulemelei project. The project aimed at examining chronology, use and heritage management of the large prehistoric Pulemelei stone mound at the Letolo plantation on the Island of Savai’i, Samoa Similar monuments have been found in other West Polynesian Islands but Pulemeli being the largest. The function, use and temporal status of these mounds are unclear and they have their roots in the period commonly called “the dark ages”. In this project I collaborated with Dr. Geoffrey Clark Otago University/Australian National University and Dr. Paul Wallin Kon-Tiki Museet. Among the results we successfully used remote sensing methods as Georadar and Magnetometer. These excavations were the first extensive archaeological investigations in Savai’i and the results reviled c. 2000 years of history. The research have been presented at several conferences and articles (Martinsson-Wallin et al 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007), as an edited volume (Martinsson-Wallin 2007) on which I received my Associate Professorship in 2008. The results were mediated to the general public by an exhibition at the Kon-Tiki Museum (2004-2005) and at The National Museum of Samoa (Fale Mata Aga) in 2011 and 2013. This project served as a foundation for a Linnaeus-Palme educational project between Gotland University and The National University of Samoa.

2005-2013 The Linnaeus-Palme exchange and archaeological investigations. After concluding the Pulemelei project I was invited to The National University of Samoa to aid in developing an education in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Management. This has been carried out within the frame of a Linnaeus-Palme educational exchange. Archaeology is now (2013) a minor within the Samoan studies program and we are aiming for the discipline to be a major. As project coordinator of this exchange and as supervisor for several MFS (Minor Field Work studies) projects I have had opportunities to carry out several additional field works of prehistoric monuments and interview projects on issues relating to Cultural Heritage Management which have involving student education and supervision of academic thesis. Within an educational frame work I have carried out research on Malaefono Starmound (Martinsson-Wallin et al 2006, Martinsson-Wallin and Wehlin 2010), Fale o le Fee project (Martinsson-Wallin 2007, Unasa Va’a 2010), The Letolo plantation excavation (Martinsson-Wallin et al 2006) and the Lapule Mound Excavation (Martinsson-Wallin 2011, 2014, in press Martinsson-Wallin and Va’a 2011).