Seth Quintus, PhD
I joined the UH faculty in 2016 as a Pacific Island archaeologist. Before that, I received my BA (2009) and MS (2011) from North Dakota State University (Fargo, ND) and my PhD (2015) from The University of Auckland (Auckland, NZ). Much of my archaeological experience stems from work conducted in Polynesia (Samoa, Hawaiʻi, Tokelau, New Zealand), but I have also conducted field research in the North American High Plains (North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming). Since 2009, I have been working in the Manu'a Group of American Samoa.
My research examines the recursive ecodynamic relationships between humans and Pacific island environments. I approach this from an interdisciplinary perspective applying spatial, ecological, and geomorphological techniques to the study of settlement systems and environments, with expertise in GIS and environmental archaeology. My theoretical interests are closely aligned with historical ecology, and my recent work has sought to understand long-term human-environmental relationships through the perspective of Niche Construction Theory.
As one example, I am exploring the role of agricultural development in the formation of small-scale political economies and emergent complexity. This research centers on the role that the environment played in both constraining and presenting opportunities for emergent leadership in Pacific island societies. My dissertation work examined the role of risk management infrastructure on the island of Ofu in counteracting cyclones, and how that act of stabilization ramified throughout the production and political system on the island. I hypothesize that risk management infrastructure created a bottleneck or constriction point in the production system that gave those that controlled this infrastructure an advantage in both good and bad (lean) years leading to the development of a small-scale political economy.
My active research seeks to test this proposition on the island of Taʻu in the Manu'a Group of American Samoa. Using Lidar imagery and GIS, my research team and I have mapped out a large production system not previously known. Here, continued fieldwork is geared toward building a database that maps variation in the density of agricultural walls using GIS and in regional soil fertility using biogeochemical methods. This methodology has proven effective in other areas of the Pacific, notably Hawaiʻi, and its use in Samoa serves as an important extension to build more comprehensive regional models of the links between agriculture, communities, and emergent leadership. Most notably, Samoa presents an opportunity to explore these processes in a small-scale chiefdom.
In addition to this research, I have published on the culturally-sensitive spatial logic underpinning pre-contact settlements, the use of Lidar for analysing regional settlement patterns, marine resource exploitation, and the dating of the colonization of Samoa.
- 2016 Clark, J.T., S. Quintus, M. Weisler, E. St. Pierre, L. Nothdurft, Y. Feng, & Q. Hua. Marine Reservoir Correction for the Colonization Period of American Samoa using U-Series and AMS Dated Coral. Radiocarbon, accepted.
- 2016 Quintus, S., & J.T. Clark. Space and Structure in Polynesia: Instantiated Spatial Logic in American Sāmoa. World Archaeology, in press
2016 Quintus, S., M.S. Allen, & T.N. Ladefoged. In Surplus and in Scarcity: Agricultural Development, Risk Management, and Political Economy, Ofu Island, American Samoa. American Antiquity 81:273-293
- 2016 Clark, J.T., S. Quintus, M. Weisler, E. St. Pierre, L. Nothdurft, & Y. Feng. Refining the Chronology for West Polynesian Colonization: New Data from the Samoan Archipelago. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 6:266-274
- 2015 Quintus, S., J.T. Clark, S.S. Day, & D.P. Schwert. Landscape Evolution and Human Settlement Patterns on Ofu Island, American Samoa. Asian Perspectives 54:208-237
- 2015 Quintus, S., J.T. Clark, S.S. Day, & D.P. Schwert. Investigating Regional Patterning in Archaeological Remains by Pairing Extensive Survey with a Lidar Dataset: the Case of the Manu'a Group, American Samoa. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 2:677-687.
- 2012 Quintus, S.J. & J.T. Clark. Between Chaos and Control: Spatial Perception of Domestic, Political, and Ritual Organization in Prehistoric Samoa. Journal of the Polynesian Society 121:275-302.
- 2012 Quintus, S.J. Terrestrial Food Production and Land Use in Prehistoric Samoa: an Example from Olosega Island, Manu'a, American Samoa. Archaeology in Oceania 47:133-140.
- 2010 Addison, D.J, C.W. Filimoehala, S.J. Quintus, & T. Sapienza. Damage to Archaeological Sites on Tutuila Island (American Samoa) following the 29 September 2009 Tsunami. Rapa Nui Journal 24:34-44.