Paul Wallin

Paul WallinPaul Wallin

Associate Professor in archaeology

I was appointed as a Senior Lecturer of Archaeology in 2008. My research interests are:

  • Prehistory, Gotland/Baltic Sea Stone Age and Neolithic burial practices.
  • Ethnohistorical and anthropological perspectives in archaeological interpretations. Especially, the study of ritual stone structures and migration/interaction networks in the Pacific.
  • Theoretical and methodological interests are focused on practice theory, relational archaeology, correspondence analysis and dating problematics.

Career in brief

I have a BA from Stockholm University in 1985, and a PhD from Uppsala University in 1994 with a dissertation on “Ceremonial Stone Structures” on the Society Islands in French Polynesia.

I worked in Nordic field archaeology in the time period 1984-1991 at Ålands Museum, Skaraborgs Museum, and the National Herritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet-UV and RAGU). During this time I also sporadically worked as an osteologist at Ålands Museum, Dalarnas Museum, the Kon-Tiki Museum and Jönköpings Museum. My Nordic excavation experiences include all time periods from Early Mesolithic to Medieval times.

Parallel to the Nordic archaeology I have also worked in the Pacific area, since 1985, both during my PhD work, and thereafter as a project leader during my time as a chief curator at the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo. I was leader/co-leader of different projects in the Society Islands (1985-86, 1998, 2001-2004 together with Bishop Museum in Honolulu, and Musee de Tahiti), Easter Island (1987-88, 1996-97, 2001 always together with Musee Padre Sebastian Englert on the Island), Christmas Island (1999, together with Australian National University), Samoa (2001-2003 together with Australian National University) and the Galapagos Islands (2005 together with Australian National University). Since 2009 I have been involved in the University field schools at Gothemshammar, Buttle and Ajvide.

Research interests

My research has been divided into two main areas which are the Stone Age of the Baltic area with focus on the Island of Gotland and the Neolithic period c. 4000-1700 BC, and the Pacific area with a special focus on Polynesian archaeology which covers a period from c. 800 BC as well as ethno-historical and historical accounts.

My interest in the Stone Age of Gotland goes back to my time as a BA student when I was involved in ongoing research on the Island, an interest that has remained intact up until today. My special interests in this field have been the Pitted Ware Sites and their extensive burial grounds as well as Funnel Beaker megalithic dolmens as well as late Neolithic stone cist burials. Lately I have also been involved in the excavation and 14C dating problematics of a Late Bronze Age (c. 950-750 BC) stone wall enclosure, as well as, Iron Age (c. AD 200-700) stone wall houses. My special fields in Nordic archaeology are as reflected above are the materialization of monumental architecture of different kinds as well as burial practices.

My Pacific interests goes as long back in time as my Stone Age interests, if not longer. It was during the excavations in 1984 of the only (now confirmed) dolmen on Gotland, that I had the good fortune to be part of, that I as a student started to reflect on the meanings of monumental structures. My Pacific interest on for example Easter Island monuments now could be combined. I wanted to know more about the role of monuments in so called traditional societies to understand more about why people moved around gigantic stone blocks. However, the Polynesian interest completely took over and this ended up with my PhD work on Ceremonial Stone Structures in the Society Islands in 1993.

My Pacific interests have lead me into studies of ceremonial temple structures ahu on Easter Island (Rapa Nui) to the East to the marae/ahu complexes in the Society Islands, to similar sites on the “mystery Island” (it was uninhabited when the island was discovered by Captain Cook) called Christmas Island in Central East Polynesia, as well as to large platform structures on the island of Savai’i on Samoa in West Polynesia. The studies of monuments also lead to studies of chiefly social organizations as well as processes of dispersals, local developments and interaction networks in the area. Another interest has been detailed chronological studies of the monuments as well as early settlement sites in East Polynesia, as well as, the dispersal of the ‘mysterious’ genetically determined South American sweet potato found in East Polynesia in prehistoric contexts in for example Rapa Nui.

Among my theoretical and methodological interests I focus on relational archaeology of material remains as detected by relational statistics (Correspondence Analysis) seen in a practice theory framework. 

Primary research activity: Some themes of research

Current ongoing research projects

2022-2024. Stone Age Ajvide revisited – intra-site variation, genetic and social kinship

This project funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) 4.842.000 SEK, is directed by Helena Malmström with me responsible for the archaeological view of social kinship and material connection to the individuals genetically determined.

Project abstract: Archaeogenetic research is proven to be a valuable tool for studying population affiliations and patterns of migration in prehistoric populations. However, to move beyond matters of general group identity and to clarify deeper social relations, there has recently been a call to investigate intra-group or intra-site variation. To approach such case relations, well-documented and well-preserved sites are needed. The Stone Age site Ajvide on Gotland provide such unique possibilities. There are 85 burial pits, with a total of 89 well-preserved men, women and children interred at Ajvide. The site shows that these people, associated with the so-called Pitted Ware culture (PWC), practiced varied types of burial rituals. The majority of the burials are “regular” single inhumation graves. There are, however, also double-, triple- and “package” graves, as well as scattered human remains. A general PWC burial gift practice is detected, although some individuals were buried with "exotic” items. We aim to study the social structure and individual relations at Ajvide using a multi-disciplinary approach where we correlate genetic observations, bio archaeological data and the archaeological record. By analyzing the genomes and strontium profiles of the buried at Ajvide we will disentangle both general mobility and possible gene genealogies. This will enable a deeper knowledge of kinship and societal structures at large - in one of Europe’s last major hunter-gatherer complexes.

a skeleton


  • 2010 to present. Neolithic lifestyles and burial practices on the Island of Gotland: Burials as treatments and social practices.

This project was initiated with internal research funds from Gotland University (307667 SEK) as well as two grants from Birgit and Gad Rausings fund for humanistic research in 2010-2011 (100.000 SEK), before we merge with Uppsala University. The two PhD students I have Co-supervised also cover some of the interests outlined in this project. This project now connects with the Ajvide project described above.

The project aimed to highlight the Neolithic period on the Island of Gotland in a Baltic Sea context in a long-term perspective to examine how changing climate conditions as well as cultural manifestations and interactions had an impact on human choice in terms of settlement patterns and burial practices.

A special interest of the project was to discover and clarify the great variety in treatments and complexity of burial practices during the Neolithic, especially the varied expressions seen in the  Pitted Ware Culture on Gotland, and how they were entangled in the social interactions of the living and the dead. Burial practices of the Funnel Beaker culture as well as late Neolithic are also investigated to clarify relations of the different burial practices during the Neolithic period on a limited space that Gotland offers.

In collaboration with Helene Martinsson-Wallin, Magdalena Fraser and Alexander Sjöstrand. The collaboration with Magdalena Fraser on stone cist burials are still active.

a collage of stonsetting, skeleton and cairn

  • 2016- The organization of space: Houses and hierarchies

The project deals with the spatio-chronologic organisation of domestic houses in Iron Age Gotland. This research is tied to the department field school project at Buttle, Gotland (2013-2019) (Financed by Berit Wallenbergs Stiftelse, and Västergarn (2021-) (Financed by Gotlandsfonden DBW). 

The aim at Buttle is to explore the detailed chronology of stone wall house clusters (general date frame AD 200-700) to explain settlement dynamics and the role of the different houses. It will also problematize Early to Late Iron Age divisions and transformations. Other questions of interest to the project is the monumentalization of houses and the place with the presence of the largest picture stone on original location as well as understanding the social milieu.

At the harbor site Västergarn we have found several house foundations form early medieval time (AD 1100-1200) as well as late Viking age post-hole houses (ca. AD 900-1100). We thus have a relatively good chronological framing based on the find material, but 14C datings of the structures in the area could more closely identify spatio-chronological trends in the investigated area that could explain the scattering images of the finds. The dating methodology will also clarify the complexity of the houses' during the time of use. House constructions and their use can also be seen as action-based material expressions of complex dynamic practices within and between social units in Västergarn that can be more easily understood if the time frames are clearly defined.

This project is carried out in collaboration with department colleagues Alexander Andreeff-Högfeldt and Christoph Kilger. 

a partly excavated site Västergarn

Partly excavated house at Buttle

Ceremonial sites in East Polynesia: Expressions of materialized social control

This project is investigating the variety of material expressions and monumentality of ceremonial sites in the East Polynesian area as well as variations of social complexity seen in ritual practices. It is an ongoing effort to create a comprehensive view of this widespread phenomenon and its variations.

This research is occasionally carried out in collaboration with Helene Martinsson-Wallin.

Samoan palmtrees and benches

Selected publications

Book covers

Over the past 30 years I have published and edited or co-edited 6 books on Pacific archaeology and been co-editor of one volume on the archaeology of Gotland Island. I have also been author or co-author of around 75 journal papers and book chapters and minor pieces, as well as about 20 excavation reports in archaeology/osteology, plus reviews and minor pieces. Major works are listed here together with a selection of recent papers.

Monographs and edited volumes

Paul Wallin och Helene Martinsson-Wallin (Eds.) 2017. Arkeologi på Gotland 2. Tillbakablickar och nya forskningsrön. Uppsala Univ & Gotlands Museum. 324 pages.

Wallin, Paul, and Helene Martinsson-Wallin (Eds.) 2010. The Gotland Papers. Selected Papers from the VII International Conference on Easter Island and the Pacific. Migration, Identity, and Cultural Heritage. Gotland University, Sweden, August 20-25, 2007. Gotland University Press 11. 530 pages.

Paul Wallin and Reidar Solsvik 2010. Archaeological Investigations of Marae Structiures in Huahine, Society Islands, French Polynesia. Report and Discussions. BAR Intgernational Series 2091. Archaeopress. Oxford. 176 pages.

Atholl Anderson, Helene Martinsson-Wallin and Paul Wallin 2002. The Prehistory of Kiritimati (Christmas) Island. Republic of Kiribati. The Kon-Tiki Museum Occasional Papers vol. 6. 144 pages.

Paul Wallin and Helene Martinsson-Wallin (eds) 2000. Essays in Honour of Arne Skjølsvold. The Kon-Tiki Museum Occasional Papers. Vol. 5. 178 pages.

Paul Wallin 1998. The Symbolism of Polynesian Temple Rituals. The Kon-Tiki Museum Occasional Papers Vol. 4. 66 pages.

Paul Wallin 1993. Ceremonial Stone Structures. The Archaeology and Ethnohistory of the Marae Complex in the Society Islands,  French Polynesia (Aun 18. Uppsala). PhD diss. 178 pages.

Peer-reviewed Journal papers

Paul Wallin 2020 Native South Americans reached Polynesia early. In: Nature, News & views. Vol. 583, No 7817: 524-525.

Paul Wallin, Helene Martinsson-Wallin 2018. Gothemshammar: a Late Bronze Age coastal Rampart on Gotland. Fornvännen 113: 65-75.

Magdalena Fraser, Per Sjödin, Federico Sanchez-Quinto, Jane Evans, Gustaf Svedjemo, Kjel Knutsson, Anders Götherström, Mattias Jakobsson, Paul Wallin and Jan Storå 2018. The Stone Cist Conundrum: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Investigate Late Neolithic/ Early Bronze Age Population Demography on the Island of Gotland. Submitted to: Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. 20: 324-337.

Magdalena Fraser, Federico Sanchez-Quinto, Jane Evans, Jan Storå, Anders Götherström, Paul Wallin, Kjel Knutsson, Mattias Jakobsson 2018. New insights on cultural dualism and population structure in the Middle Neolithic Funnel Beaker culture on the island of Gotland. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. 17 (2018): 325-334.

Jan Apel, Paul Wallin, Jan Storå and Göran Possnert. Cultural Responses to  Environmental Change on Gotland (9200-3800 cal BP) 2018. Quarternary International Electronic version March 2017).

Paul Wallin 2016. The Use and Organisation of a Middle-Neolithic Pitted Ware coastal site on the Island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Seances de la Societe Prehistorique Francaise 6: 409-425.

Atholl Anderson, Karen Stothert, Helene Martinsson-Wallin, Paul Wallin, Iona Flett, Simon Haberle, Henk Heijnis and Edward Rhodes 2016. Reconsidering precolumbian human colonization in the Galápagos Islands, Republic of Ecuador. Latin American Antiquity, vol. 27, no. 2: 169-183.

Paul Wallin 2015. Perfect Death: Examples of Pitted Ware Ritualization of the Dead.  In: Eds. K. von Hackwitz & Rita Peyroteo-Stjerna. Ancient Deathways: Proceedings of the workshop on archaeology and mortuary practices. Uppsala, May 2013. OPIA 59: 47-64, Uppsala University.

Helene Martinsson-Wallin, Paul Wallin, Atholl Andersson and Reidar Solsvik 2013. Chronogeographic variation in initial East Polynesian construction of monumental ceremonial sites. The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 8:3, 405-421.

Helene Martinsson-Wallin, Paul Wallin and Jan Apel 2011. Prehistortic lifestyles on Gotland – Diachronic and synchronic perspectives. Archaeologia Lituana 12:142-153.

Paul Wallin and Helene Martinsson-Wallin 2011 Monumental structures and the spirit of the chiefly actions. Time & Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture Vol. 4 (1):43-58.  Berg. 

Paul Wallin and Reidar Solsvik 2010. Marae Reflections: On the Evolution of Stratified Chiefdoms in the Society Islands. Archaeol. Oceania 43: 86-93. University of Sydney.

Helene Martinsson-Wallin and Paul Wallin 2010. The story of the only (?) Megalith Grave on Gotland Island in the Baltic Sea. Dokumenta Praehistorica XXXVII: 77-84. Ljubljana University.

Paul Wallin 2010. In search for rituals and group dynamics: Correspondence analyses of Neolithic grave fields on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Dokumenta Praehistorica.XXXVII: 65-75. Ljubljana University.   

Paul Wallin et Reidar Solsvik 2008. Ancêtres et pratiques rituelles – Fouille de sondage de trois structures de marae à l’exterieur de la zone central de Maeva, Huahine, îles de la Société, Polynésie francaise, 2004. In: Bulletin de la Société des Etudes Océaniennes. No 313: 53-70. Papeete.

Paul Wallin, Inger Österholm, Sven Österholm and Reidar Solsvik 2008. Phosphates and bones: An analysis of the courtyard of marae Manunu, Huahine, Society Islands, French Polynesia. In: Islands of Inquiry. Colonisation, seafaring and the archaeology of maritime landscapes. Eds. Geoffrey Clark, Foss Leach and Sue O’Connor. Terra Australis 29: 423-434. Australian National University. Canberra.

Paul Wallin and Helene Martinsson-Wallin 2007. Settlement patterns – Social and ritual space in prehistoric Samoa. In: ed. H Martinsson-Wallin. Archaeology in Oceania Vol 42: 83-89. Supplement. University of Sydney.

Paul Wallin, Helene Martinsson-Wallin and Geoffrey Clark 2007. A Radiocarbon Sequence for Samoan Prehistory and the Pulemelei Mound. In: ed. H Martinsson-Wallin. Archaeology in Oceania Vol 42: 71-82. Supplement. University of Sydney.

Helene Martinsson-Wallin, Paul Wallin and Geoffrey Clark 2007. The Excavation of Pulemelei Site 2002-2004. In: ed. H Martinsson-Wallin. Archaeology in Oceania Vol 42: 41-59. Supplement. University of Sydney.

Helene Martinsson-Wallin, Geoffrey Clark and Paul Wallin 2006. Monuments and People: The Longevity of Monuments. The Past in the Present – A Report of the State of the Pulemelei Site, Savai’i, Samoa. The Journal of Samoan Studies. Volume 2. pp 57-63.

Paul Wallin and Reidar Solsvik 2005. Radiocarbon Dates from Marae Structures in the District of Maeva, Huahine, Society Islands. Journal of the Polynesian Society. Vol. 114, No 4. pp. 375-384.

Paul Wallin 2004. How Marae change: in modern times, for example. The Taipei papers, Seventeenth Congress, The Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association. Eds. Peter Bellwood et al. Vol. 24. Canberra. Pp. 153-158.

Atholl Andersson, Paul Wallin, et. al 2000. Towards a First Prehistory of Kiritimati (Christmas) Island, Republic of Kiribati.  Journal of the Polynesian Society vol 109 no. 3: 273-293.

Paul Wallin 1997. Archery Platforms (Vahi te'a) on the Society Islands,  Polynesia.  -A contextual interpretation. Current Swedish Archaeology Vol. 5: 193-201. Stockholms Universitet. Pp. 193-201.

Peer-reviewed book chapters

Paul Wallin and Helene Martinsson-Wallin 2022. Anakena Re-visited: New Perspectives on Old Problems at Anakena, Rapa Nui. Springer-Book eds. Rull and Stevenson. The prehistory of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Pp. 109-138.

Paul Wallin and Helene Martinsson-Wallin 2016. Collective Spaces and Material Expressions: Ritual Practice and Island Identities in Neolithic Gotland in the Baltic Sea. In: Eds. George Nash and Andy Townsend. Decoding Neolithic Atlantic and Mediterranian Island Ritual. Oxbow Books. Pp. 1-15.

Paul Wallin 2014. Chiefs, fashion and zeitgeist: Exclusion as an expansion strategy in the Society Islands. In: Monuments and People in the Pacific Region. Ed. Helene Martinsson-Wallin & Timothy Tomas. Uppsala University, Studies in Global Archaeology no. 20: 297-316.

Helene Martinsson-Wallin and Paul Wallin 2014. Spatial perspectives on ceremonial complexes: Testing traditional land divisions on Rapa Nui. In Monuments and People in the Pacific Region. Ed. Helene Martinsson-Wallin and Timothy Tomas. Uppsala University, Studies in Global Archaeology no. 20: 317-342.

Paul Wallin and Helene Martinsson-Wallin 2008. Religious Structures in the Hanga Ho’onu Area. In: Prehistoric Rapa Nui. Landscape and Settlement Archaeology at Hanga Ho’onu. Eds. Christopher Stevenson and Sonia Haoa Cardinali. Easter Island Foundation Monographs. Pp. 127-166.

Book chapters

Magdalena Fraser, Federico Sanchez-Quinto, Emma Svensson, Helena Malmström, Radka Šumberová, Hana Brzobohatá, Anders Götherström, Kjel Knutsson, Paul Wallin, Jan Storå, Mattias Jakobsson 2018. The genetic history of the people buried in the Ansarve dolmen on Gotland and the northeastern most expansión of the Funnel Beaker Culture. In M. Fraser, People of the Dolmens and Stone Cists. An archaeogenetic investigation of megalithic graves from the Neolithic period on Gotland. Aun 47.

Paul Wallin 2014. The Current Debate on the Existence of Prehistoric Sweet Potato in Polynesia. A Deconstruction of a Problem and Reshaping of the Question. KTM Occasional Papers. In Honour of Thor Heyerdahl 100 years celibration. Ed. I. Hoem. KTM Occasional Papers 14: 94-105.

Paul Wallin and Reidar Solsvik 2011. The place of the land and the seat of the ancestors: Temporal and geographical emergence of the Classic East Polynesian marae complex. In: Identity Matters: Movement and Place. Eds I. Hoem and R. Solsvik. The Kon-Tiki Museum Occasional Papers Vol. 12: 79-107.

Helene Martinsson-Wallin and Paul Wallin 2000. Ahu and Settlement. Archaeological  Investigations at Anakena  and La Pérouse, Easter Island. In: Easter Island Archaeology. C.M. Stevenson and W.S. Ayres eds. Pp. 27-43. Easter Island Foundation.

Helene Martinsson-Wallin and Paul Wallin 1994.The Settlement/Activity Area Nau Nau East at Anakena, Easter Island. In: The Kon-Tiki Museum Occational Papers Vol. 3 ed. Arne Skjølsvold. Oslo 1994. pp. 122-216.

Other academic works (papers and field reports, since 2010)

Paul Wallin, Sabine Sten, Göran Burenhult och Alexander Sjöstrand 2022. ”Igelkottskvinnorna” under gropkeramisk tid på Gotland. Gotländskt Arkiv 2022: 115-129.

Kilger, Christoph., Paul Wallin, Alexander Andreeff Högfeldt, Beatrice Krooks, Clovis Liedersdorff-Menzel 2022. Medeltida syllstensgrund, stolpbyggnad och brya. Arkeologisk undersökning 2021. Snauvalds 1:2, Västergarn socken, Gotlands kommun, Gotland. RAÄ nr: L1976:7960 (tidigare RAÄ-nr Västergarn 50:1). Uppsala universitet Campus Gotland 2022, Arkeologiska fältrapporter nr 23. DiVA.

Paul Wallin 2020. Book Rewiev. P.V. Kirch and C. Ruggles. Heiau, Aina, Lani: The    Hawaiian Temple System in Ancient Kahikinui and Kaupo, Maui. Journal of Pacific Archaeology. May 2020:83

Paul Wallin, Elfrida Östlund, Alexander Sjöstrand & Helene Martinsson-Wallin 2019. Rapport från arkeologik undersökning av fornborgen Dibjärs 1:23 (Skifte 3), (Raä Hörsne 153:1), Gotland. Uppdragsnummer: 201901413. AFRUU, Arkeologiska fältrapporter nr. 22, Uppsala universitet 2020. DiVA.

Paul Wallin och Alexander Sjöstrand 2018. Rapport från arkeologisk undersökning vid Licksarve 2:1, Raä Tofta 27:1, Gotland. AFRUU, Arkeologiska fältrapporter nr. 20, Uppsala universitet, 2018. DiVA

Alexander Sjöstrand och Paul Wallin 2017. Rapport från arkeologisk undersökning vid Ajvide 2:1 2017, Eksta 171:1. AFRUU, Arkeologiska fältrapporter nr. 17, Uppsala universitet. DiVA.

Paul Wallin 2017. Analyser och tolkningar av begravningspraktiker hos mellanneolitiska gropkeramiker på Gotland: med Ajvidelokalen i fokus (Paper presented at Gotlandssymposiet 2016, Uppsala University, Campus Gotland). In Eds P. Wallin and Helene.Martinsson-Wallin Arkeologi på Gotland 2. Tillbakablickar och nya forskningsrön.

Paul Wallin. Book Review. J. Kahn and P.V. Kirch 2015. “Monumentality and Ritual Materialization in the Society Islands: The Archipelago of a Major Ceremonial Complex in the ‘Opunohu Valley, Mo’orea. Rapa Nui Journal. Vol 29 (1) May: 68-70.

Paul Wallin, Joakim Wehlin, Johan Norderäng & Margareta Kristiansson 2011. Gothemshammar: Rapport över arkeologisk undersökning 2009. RAÄ-131, Busarve 1:34 och 1:35, Gothem sn, Gotland. Högskolan på Gotland (Länsstyrelsen på Gotland). DiVA.

Paul Wallin och Joakim Wehlin 2010. Räddad, reformerad och registrerad -en "grävande" reviderande rapport rörande en fornlämning i Tofta. In Gotlandsakademiker tycker om…red. Adri de Ridder & Åke Sandström. HGo. Gotland University Press 8: 23-34.

Paul Wallin, Martinsson-Wallin, Helene and Göran Possnert 2010. Re-dating Ahu Nau Nau and the Settlement at Anakena, Rapa Nui. In Paul Wallin and Helene Martinsson-Wallin (Eds.). The Gotland Papers. Selected Papers from the VII International Conference on Easter Island and the Pacific. Migration, Identity, and Cultural Heritage. Gotland University, Sweden, August 20-25, 2007. Gotland University Press 11:37-46.  

Solsvik, Reidar and Paul Wallin 2010. Time and Temples: Chronology of Marae Structures in the Society Islands. In Paul Wallin and Helene Martinsson-Wallin (Eds.). The Gotland Papers. Selected Papers from the VII International Conference on Easter Island and the Pacific. Migration, Identity, and Cultural Heritage. Gotland University, Sweden, August 20-25, 2007. Gotland University Press 11:269-284.

Paul Wallin 2010. Neolithic Monuments on Gotland. In. H. Martinsson-Wallin Gotland University Press vol. 5: 39-62.


Last modified: 2022-12-09