Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin

Associate Professor in archaeologyPaul Wallin

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

Neolithic lifestyles and burial practices on the Island of Gotland: Burials as treatments and social practices

The project aims 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 is 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.

Collaborators in certain themes are: Magdalena Fraser (aDNA), Alexander Sjöstrand (Osteology/Ajvide), Helene Martinsson-Wallin.

a collage of stonsetting, skeleton and cairn

Houses and hierarchies

This research is tied to the department field school project at Buttle, Gotland.  The aim is to explore the detailed chronology of stone wall house clusters (general date frame AD 200-600) 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.

This project is carried out in collaboration with department colleagues Alexander Andreeff, Helene Martinsson-Wallin and associate researcher Victor Melander.

a partly excavated site

I Tjelvars fotspår: Relationer mellan människor, vatten och land på Gotland – dåtid, nutid och framtid/In the footsteps of Tjelvar- relationships between people, water and land on Gotland – the past, the present and the future.

Through detailed background data to support landscape reconstructions from different time periods, we have initiated a visualization work of various ancient ruins that can attract cultural tourism to the surroundings of Gothem in the northeast part of Gotland. Here we have initiated an interview project with the local population and the tourism industry about how we in a sustainable way in a dialogue between them, the researchers, and the antiquarian authorities can visualize and stage various cultural and natural monuments in the area. One proposal is to create a tourist route (Tjelvar trail) where the visualized antiquity meets the present. The purpose of the project is also that people visiting the sites get the tools to reflect on the change in the landscape that can also raise questions about future relations between people, water and landscape of Gotland.

This is a joint project directed by Helene Martinsson-Wallin, with department Colleagues Paul Wallin, Daniel Löwenborg and Jan Risberg (Geology, Stockholm University). It is also carried out in collaboration and dialogues with Gotlands Länsstyrelse, and Gotlands Museum. It is locally funded by Special research money, Campus Gotland.

a collage of map and a wall in augmented reality

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 a widespread phenomenon and its variations.

It is carried out in collaboration with Helene Martinsson-Wallin.

Samoan palmtrees and benches

Selected publications

collage of 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.


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

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

2010. Paul Wallin and Reidar Solsvik. Archaeological Investigations of Marae Structiures in Huahine, Society Islands, French Polynesia. Report and Discussions. BAR Intgernational Series 2091. 177 pages. Archaeopress. Oxford.

Edited volumes

2000. Paul Wallin and Helene Martinsson-Wallin (Eds.). Essays in Honour of Arne Skjølsvold. The Kon-Tiki Museum Occasional Papers. Vol. 5. pp. 5-9.

2001. Paul Wallin and Helene Martinsson-Wallin (Editors). Atholl Anderson, Helene Martinsson-Wallin and Paul Wallin. The Prehistory of Kiritimati (Christmas) Island. Republic of Kiribati. The Kon-Tiki Museum Occational Papers vol. 6: 144 pages.

2010. Wallin, Paul, and Helene Martinsson-Wallin (Editors). The Gotland Papers. Selected Paper 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 11:530pp

(Forthcoming 2017) Gotland Symposium Papers 2017. Eds Paul Wallin, Helene Martinsson-Wallin, Per Widerström och Sabine Sten.

Recent excavation reports

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

2017. Alexander Sjöstrand & Paul Wallin. Ajvide. Rapport över arkeologisk undersökning av fornlämning nr. 171 på fastigheten Ajvide 2:1 i Eksta socken. Uppsala Universitet (Campus Gotland).

Selected recent peer-reviewed journal papers

2004. Paul Wallin. 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: 153-158. Canberra.

2005. Paul Wallin and Reidar Solsvik. Report from archaeological investigations of marae structures in the district of Maeva, Huahine 2003. Bilan de la recherché archaeologique en Polynesie francaise 2003-2004. Papeete. pp.92-104.

2005. Paul Wallin and Reidar Solsvik. 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.

2006. Helene Martinsson-Wallin, Geoffrey Clark and Paul Wallin. 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.

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

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

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

2010. Paul Wallin. In search for rituals and group dynamics: Correspondence analyses of Neolithic grave fields on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Ljubljana University. Dokumenta Praehistorica.XXXVII:65-75.2010.

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

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

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

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

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

2014. Helene Martinsson-Wallin and Paul Wallin. 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.

2014. Paul Wallin. 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.

2015. Paul Wallin. 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.

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

2016. Paul Wallin. 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.

2017. Jan Apel, Paul Wallin, Jan Storå and Göran Possnert. Cultural Responses to  Environmental Change on Gotland 9200-3800 cal BP. Quarternary International: 1-11.

2017. Magdalena Fraser, Federico Sanchéz-Quinto, Jane Evans, Jan Storå, Anders Götherström, Paul Wallin, Kjel Knutsson, and Mattias Jakobsson. The Ansarve Dolmen. A New Perspective on the TRB Culture on the Island of Gotland. Submitted to Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports (april 2017).

Selected recent book chapters and papers

2005. Paul Wallin, Christopher Stevenson and Thegn Ladefoged. Sweet Potato Production on Rapa Nui. In: The Sweet Potato in Oceania: A Reappraisal. Ed. Chris Ballard et al Oceania Monographs. Sydney and Pittsburgh: Oceania Monograph. Sydney. Ethnology Monograph. Pittsburgh. Pp. 85-88.

2007. Paul Wallin and Sabine Sten. Säljakten på Gotland. Gotländskt Arkiv.

2008. Paul Wallin and Helene Martinsson-Wallin. 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.

2008. Paul Wallin, Inger Österholm, Sven Österholm and Reidar Solsvik. 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.

2008. Paul Wallin et Reidar Solsvik. 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.

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

2010. 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.

2011. Paul Wallin and Reidar Solsvik. 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.

2014. Paul Wallin. 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.

2015. Paul Wallin and Helene Martinsson-Wallin. 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.

(Forthcoming 2017) Paul Wallin, Analyser och tolkningar av begravningspraktiker hos mellanneolitiska gropkeramiker på Gotland: med Ajvidelokalen i fokus (Paper presented at Gotlandssymposiet 2016, Uppsala University, Campus Gotland).


Last modified: 2022-01-28