Staple Finance, Ritual Pig Sacrifice, and Ideological Power in Ancient Hawai'i



This article explores the role of ritual pig sacrifice in Hawai'i from an archaeological perspective, tracing political change through time. Hawai'i represents an interesting case study of how insular tropical environments dictate unique solutions to problems of social control. Results indicate that staple foods, in the absence of other wealth items, can become imbued with distinctive political values for materializing power relationships and shaping discrete politico-economic realities. The late but rapid rise of ceremonial pig sacrifice generated a corresponding economic demand for pigs, resulting in pork becoming an elite commodity and status food, further strengthening its economic and political value among the Hawai'ian elite.