My dissertation research focused on household and community organization in the Windward Society Islands (French Polynesia) and involved detailed excavation of three prehistoric house complexes in the ‘Opunohu Valley, Mo‘orea. The work investigated inter and intra-household variation at late prehistoric fare haupape and fare pote‘e (rectangular and round-ended) house sites. I explored the significance of variation in architectural elaboration, the use of space, and the presence and intensity of production and consumption activities, work that was structured to understand household level economic and socio-political organization within the ‘Opunohu valley and their relationship to regional complexity within the overall Society Island chiefdom. Throughout, I utilized the “House Societies” theoretical perspective to interpret the social significance of the material variation among late prehistoric Ma‘ohi house sites.
In 2001 I began a re-survey project in the Upper Tupauruuru and Amehiti sectors of the ‘Opunohu valley, with generous support from Roger Green. Reconnaissance survey and mapping of prehistoric sites in the previously unsurveyed portions of the Amehiti sector continued in 2004 as part of a UC Berkeley field school which I directed. Large unsurveyed portions in the Amehiti sector remain, and I plan to initiate a long-term project continuing archaeological survey and excavation in Amehiti sector in 2006, possibly in conjunction with another field school.
I have now
been working as an archaeologist in Polynesia for the last decade. My
field experience includes work in the Hawaiian Islands (Maui and O‘ahu),
the Marquesas Islands (Nuku Hiva and Tahuata), and the Society Islands
(Mo‘orea). My research interests include settlement pattern archaeology,
household archaeology, the development of rank and social complexity,
and interpreting social relations utilizing a “House Societies”
perspective. My technical specializations include reduction stage analysis
of lithic debitage and use of geochemical analyses for sourcing lithic
materials. I am also interested in analytical methods that allow for the
micro-traces of household activities to be understood, such as micromorphology
and the patterning of micro-artifacts.
Publications (* indicates a refereed journal)
2005* Power and Precedence in Ancient
House Societies: A Case Study from the Society Island Chiefdoms (French
Polynesia). Submitted for The Durable House: Architecture, Ancestors,
and Origins, (R. Beck, ed.). In review for publication by the Southern
Illinois University, Center for Archaeological Investigation, Carbondale.
2004* In press. (B. Hamilton and J. Kahn). An Integrated Archaeological and Ethnohistorical Approach to the reconstruction of Pre-Contact Population in ‘Opunohu Valley, Mo'orea. In Long-Term Demographic Processes in the Pacific (P.V. Kirch and J.L. Rallu, eds.). Accepted for volume under review by University of Hawaii Press.
2004* (J. Kahn and P.V. Kirch). Ethnographie préhistorique d'une "société à maisons" dans la vallée de ‘Opunohu (Mo‘orea, îles de la Société). Journal de la Société des Océanistes 119: 229-256.
2003* Maohi Social Organization at the Micro-Scale: Household Archaeology in the ‘Opunohu Valley, Mo‘orea, Society Islands (French Polynesia). In Pacific Archaeology: assessments and prospects. Proceedings of the International Conference for the 50th anniversary of the first Lapita excavation (July 1952), Koné-Nouméa 2002. (C. Sand ed.), pp. 353-367. Nouméa: Le Cahiers de l'Archéologie en Nouvelle-Calédonie 15.
2003* (J. Kahn and P.V. Kirch). The ancient 'House Society' of the ‘Opunohu Valley, Mo‘orea: Overview of an archaeological project, 2000-2002. In Bilan de la recherche archéologique en Polynésie française 2001-2002, (H. Marchesi ed.), pp. 21-36. Punaauia, Service de la Culture et du Patrimoine: Dossier d'Archeologie polynésienne 2.
2005 Status, Identity, Power, and Precedence in Ancient House Societies: A Case Study from the Society Island Chiefdom (Central Eastern Polynesia) . Paper accepted for presentation at The Durable House: Architecture, Ancestors, and Origins Conference, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale 2005 Visiting Scholar Conference, Center for Archaeological Investigation, Carbondale.
2005 Stone Tool Production and Consumption in a Complex Chiefdom: Patterns of Economic Specialization in the Society Islands (French Polynesia). Paper to be presented at the 70th Annual Society for American Archaeology Conference, Salt Lake City.
2004 Settlement Pattern Archaeology and Estimating Pre-Contact Populations in the 'Opunohu Valley, Mo'orea. Research Seminar Series, UCB Gump Biological Research Station.
2003 (Brenda Hamilton and J. Kahn). An Integrated Archaeological and Ethnohistorical Approach to the Reconstruction of Pre-Contact Population in Opunohu Valley, Mo'orea. Paper presented at the Long Term Demographic Evolution in the Pacific Islands: An Interdisciplinary Approach Conference, organized by P.V. Kirch and J.L. Rallu.
2003 Session Chair and Organizer, From the Household to the Community: Implementing Multi-scalar Research on Social Organization in the Islands of Oceania. 68th Annual Society for American Archaeology Conference, Milwaukee.
2003 Social and Economic Community Organization in the 'Opunohu Valley, Mo'orea, Society Islands, French Polynesia: Using Archaeology to Interpret Ma'ohi Household Activities. Paper presented in organized session, 68th Annual Society for American Archaeology Conference, Milwaukee.
2002 Ma'ohi Social Organization at the Micro-Scale: Household Archaeology in the ‘Opunohu Valley, Mo’orea, Society Islands (French Polynesia). Paper presented at the International Conference for the 50th anniversary of the first Lapita excavation (July 1952), Koné-Nouméa 2002, organized by C. Sand.
2002 Protohistoric Households of the ‘Opunohu Valley, Mo'orea, French Polynesia. Paper presented in organized session, 67th Annual Society for American Archaeology Conference, Denver.
2001 Recent Results of Household Archaeology in the Opunohu Valley, Mo’orea. Paper presented at the New Approaches to French Polynesian Archaeology Conference, organized by P.V. Kirch and E. Conte.
1998 Rolett, B.V., J. Kahn, M. Carson, and E. West. Monumental Architecture and Cultural Landscape in the Marquesas Islands (East Polynesia). Paper presented in organized session, 63rd Annual Society for American Archaeology Conference, Seattle.
1997 Kahn, J.G. and B.V. Rolett. Marquesan
Social Transformations: Integrating Evidence from Historic Period Archaeological
Sites on Tahuata, Marquesas Islands, and Evidence from Historical Narratives.
Paper presented at the 30th Annual Chacmool Conference of the Archaeological
Association of the University of Calgary, Alberta.