Peter Mills at the Mauna Kea Adze Quarry Peter R. Mills

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Peter Mills received his B.A. from the University of Vermont (1984), and wrote an honor's thesis on stone tools found in the Champlain Valley. He completed his M.A. at Washington State University (1987), studying use-wear on stone axes from Sand Canyon Pueblo Ruin in southwestern Colorado. He then worked in Alaska as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), and for the Massachusetts Historical Commission (State Historic Preservation Office). He conducted his first fieldwork in Hawaiʻi during the winter of 1990/91 before returning to graduate school. He has worked extensively in Hawaiʻi since that time, and has also worked on projects at Russian Fort Ross in California (1812-1841), and on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). He earned his Ph.D. at U.C. Berkeley in 1996. His dissertation research on Kauaʻi focused on a fort built by Hawaiians (Pā ʻulaʻula o Hipo/Fort Elisabeth), in association with fur-traders from the Russian-American Company. The dissertation formed the foundation for Mills’s 2002 book Hawaiʻi's Russian Adventure: a new look at old history (UH Press).

Peter was the recipient of the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2001, and served as president of the Society for Hawaiian Archaeology from 2010-2012. He maintains active roles with the Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, Paniolo Preservation Society, Wahi Kupuna Internship Program, the Laupāhoehoe Advisory Council for Hawaiʻi Experimental Tropical Forest, and the North Hawaiʻi Education and Research Center's Heritage Center.

Current Projects

Proposed M.A. in Heritage Management

Dr. Mills is leading an effort to establish a Master's degree program in Heritage Management at UH Hilo. The main purpose of this program is to provide affordable, localized, and regionally- focused graduate training opportunities to members of Hawai`i's descendant communities in Heritage Management, with specializations in applied archaeology and cultural impact assessment. In Hawai'i, there is a State requirement for graduate degrees in various Heritage Management positions.  For example, Hawai`i Administrative Rules (Title 13, Subtitle 13, Chapter 281) require that principal investigators working for one of the two-dozen firms licensed to conduct archaeological research possess “a graduate degree from an accredited institution in archaeology, or anthropology, with a specialization in archaeology, or an equivalent field.” Without providing local opportunities to achieve these degrees, many UH Hilo students hit 'glass ceilings' in their careers with their B.A. degrees. For a copy of the 2014 program proposal that is currently in review by the UH administration, click here. If you wish to support this program, please offer some comments on our Facebook page.


Non-Destructive Sourcing of Polynesian Stone Tools

In the Spring of 2004 Dr. Mills began a long-term geoarchaeology project facilitated through a Major Research Instrumentation Grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0317528). Mills works in collaboration with Drs. Steve Lundblad and Ken Hon (UHH Dept. of Geology), using non-destructive Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) to analyze basalt and volcanic glass artifacts (see the Geoarchaeology Laboratory at UHH). 

Historical Archaeology of Hawaiian Ranching Sites

Beginning in 2001, Mills began an historical archaeology project at UH Hilo to investigate the development of ranching traditions in Hawaii in the ahupua`a of Humu`ula on the eastern slopes of Mauna Kea. This project has led to a collaborative relationship with Dr. Carolyn White and her students at the University of Nevada, Reno. Field Schools in 2009 and 2011 have focused on two ranching stations at Laumai`a. The earliest station appears to have been in use in the 1860s and abandoned shortly thereafter. A Facebook group that follows the 2011 excavations is available here.

For additional information on previous field school work, check out the Stone Corral Complex at Keanakolu (50-10-15-24250)

Stone Corral Complex at Keanakolu

Selected Publications (* = UHH student co-authors):

Charleux, M., McAlister, A., Mills, P.R., and Lundblad, S.P. 2014. Non-destructive XRF Analyses of Fine-grained Basalts from Eiao, Marquesas Islands. Journal of Pacific Archaeology 5(1):75-89.

Mills, P.R., C.L. White, and B. Barna. 2013. The Paradox of the Paniolo: An Archaeolgocial Perspective of Hawaiian Ranching. Historical Archaeology 47(2):110-132.

Mills, P.R. and K. L. Kawelu. 2013. Decolonizing Heritage Management in Hawaiʻi.   Advances in Anthropology 3(3):127-132.

Lundblad, S.P., P. R. Mills, M. D. McCoy, . G. Kahn, *K. Mulliken and *Dane Kaylor. 2013.  Identification of Volcanic Glass Sources Inferred from Geochemical Analysis of Artifacts on Leeward Hawai‘i Island. In Pacific Archaeology: Documenting the Past 50,000 Years.  Papers from the 2011 Lapita Pacific Archaeology Conference, edited by G. R. Summerhayes and Hallie Buckley. University of Otago Studies in Archaeology  No. 25, Dunedin, NZ.

Rieth, T.M., P.R. Mills, S.P. Lundblad, A.E. Morrison, A. Johnson. 2013. Variation in Lithic Sources utilized by Late Pre-Contact Elites in Kona, Hawaiʻi Island. Hawaiian Archaeology 13:103-130.

Kahn, J.G., J.M. Sinton, P.R. Mills, and S.P. Lundblad. 2013. X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis and Intra-Island Exchange in the Society Island Archipelago (Central Eastern Polynesia). Journal of Archaeological Science 40:1194-1202.

Mills, P.R.. 2013. Book Review: So Far from Home: Russians in Early California, by Glenn J. Farris, editor.  2012. Heyday and Santa Clara University.  California Archaeology 5(1):129-131.

Stevenson, C.M. and P.R. Mills. 2013. A Chronometric Tool for Hawaiian archaeology: the hydration dating of Puʻu Waʻawaʻa trachytic glass. Journal of Archaeological Science. 40(2013):405-415.

Kirch, P.V., P.R. Mills, S.P. Lundblad, J. Sinton,. and J.G. Kahn. 2012. Interpolity exchange of basalt tools facilitated via elite control in Hawaiian archaic states. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109(4):1056-1061.

Mintmier, M.A., P.R. Mills, S.P. Lundblad. 2012. Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis of Haleakalā Basalt Adze Quarry Materials, Maui, Hawai‘i, Journal of Archaeological Science 39(3):615-623.

Mills, P.R., S.P. Lundblad, K. Hon, J.J. Moniz-Nakamura, *L.K. Kahahane, *A. Drake-Raue, *T.M. Souza and *R. Wei. 2011. Reappraising craft specialization and exchange in pre-contact Hawai‘i through non-destructive sourcing of basalt adze debitage, Journal of Pacific Archaeology 2 (2): 79–92.

McCoy, M.D., P.R. Mills, S.P. Lundblad, T. Rieth, J. G. Kahn, R. Gard. 2011. A Cost Surface Model of Volcanic Glass Quarrying and Exchange in Hawaiʻi. Journal of Archaeological Science 38:2547-2560.

Mills, P.R., S.P. Lundblad, J.S. Field, A.B. Carpenter, W.K. McElroy, and *P. Rossi. 2010. Geochemical sourcing of basalt artifacts from Kaua`i, Hawaiian Islands. Journal of Archaeological Science 37:(1):3385-3393.

Lundblad. S.P., P.R. Mills, *A. Drake-Raue, S. K. Kikiloi. 2011. Non-destructive EDXRF analyses of archaeological basalts. In X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry in Geoarchaeology, pp. 65-80, edited by M. Steven Shackley.  Natural Sciences in Archaeology Series.  Springer Press, North America.

Addison, David, Bryon Bass, Carl Christensen, John Kalolo, Steve Lundblad, Peter Mills, Fiona Petchey, and Adam Thompson. 2009.  Archaeology of Atafu, Tokelau: some initial results from 2008Rapa Nui Journal 23(1): 5-9.

Mills, Peter R. 2009. Folk Housing in the Middle of the Pacific: Lime Architecture, Cultural Power and Ideology in 19th century Hawaii. In Materiality of Individuality, pp. 75-91, edited by Carolyn White.  Springer Press, North America.

Kahn, Jennifer G., Peter Mills, Steve Lundblad, John Holson, and Patrick Kirch. 2008. Tool Production at the Nu`u Quarry, Maui, Hawaiian Islands: Manufacturing Sequences and Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Analyses. New Zealand Journal of Archaeology 30:135-165.

Mills, Peter R. 2008. European Exploration and Colonization of the Hawaiian Islands. In Archaeology in America, Vol. 4, pp. 131-134, edited by Francis P. McManamon, Linda S. Cordell, Kent G. Lightfoot, and George R. Milner.  Greenwood Press.

Mills, Peter R. 2008.  Kaua`i Island Ancient and Historical Sites. In Archaeology in America, Vol. 4, pp. 142-144, edited by Francis P. McManamon, Linda S. Cordell, Kent G. Lightfoot, and George R. Milner.  Greenwood Press.

Mills, Peter R., Steven P. Lundblad, *Jacob G. Smith, Patrick C. McCoy, and *Sean P. Naleimaile. 2008. Science and Sensitivity: A Geochemical Characterization of the Mauna Kea Adze Quarry Complex, Hawaiʻi Island, Hawaiʻi.  American Antiquity 73(4):743-758.

Lundblad, Steven P., Peter R. Mills and Ken Hon. 2008. Analyzing Archaeological Basalt Using Non-destructive Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF):  Effects of Post-depositional Chemical Weathering and Sample Size on Analytical Precision.  Archaeometry 50 (1)1-11.

Mills, Peter R. and Steven P. Lundblad. 2006.  Preliminary Field Report: The Geochemistry of the Koʻokoʻolau Complex, Mauna Kea Adze Quarry (50-10-23-4136) TMK:4-4-15:10.  Report prepared for the Hawaii Natural Area Reserves System (NARS) Commission.  University of Hawaii, Hilo.

Mills, Peter R. 2005. Connecting with Kaua`i’s Canyonlands. In Nā Mea Kahiko o Kauaʻi: Archaeological Studies of Kauaʻi, edited by Mike T. Carson and Michael W. Graves. Special Publication No. 2. Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, Honolulu.

Mills, Peter R. 2004. Book Review: Inventing Politics by Juri Mykkanen (UH Press 2003). Hawaiian Journal of History 38:191-195.

Mills, Peter R. 2004. Response to Lydia Black. Hawaiian Journal of History 38:182-186.

Mills, Peter R. 2003. Laupāhoehoe Nui: Archaeology of a High-risk Landscape on Windward Hawai`i Island. Rapa Nui Journal 17(2):106-114.

Mills, Peter R. 2003. Neo in Oceania: foreign vessels owned by Hawaiian chiefs before 1830. Journal of Pacific History 38(1):53-67.

Mills, Peter R. 2002. Social Integration and the Ala Loa: reconsidering the significance of trails in Hawaiian exchange. Asian Perspectives 41(1):148-166.

Mills, Peter R. 2002. Hawai`i's Russian Adventure: A New Look at Old History. University of Hawai`i Press, Honolulu. ISBN 0-8248-2404-0

Mills, Peter R. 2002. Speaking up for Small Fish in the Big Pond: Establishing a Mission for UH Hilo in Pacific Archaeology. Proceedings of the Pacific 2000 Conference, Easter Island Foundation, Los Osos, California.

Mills, Peter R. and *Manije Irani. 2000. A Walk Through History: Pedestrian Survey of the Old Government Beach Road, Honalo to Honua`ino, North Kona, Hawaiʻi Island. 2 vols (174 pp). Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Trails and Access Program (Na Ala Hele), Honolulu.

Mills, Peter R. 1997. Slate and Ethnicity at Fort Ross (Chapter 10). In The Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Fort Ross, California, Vol 2, pp. 238-247, edited by Kent. G. Lightfoot. Contributions of the University of California Archaeological Research Facility, Berkeley, California.

Mills, Peter R., and Antoinette Martinez (eds) .1997. The Archaeology of Russian Colonialism in the North and Tropical Pacific. Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers, No, 81 (194 pp.).

Lightfoot, Kent G., Ann M. Schiff, Antoinette Martinez, Thomas A. Wake, Stephen Silliman, Peter R. Mills, and Lisa Holm. 1997. Culture Change and Persistence in the Daily Lifeways of Interethnic Households. In Volume II of The Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Fort Ross, California, edited by Kent. G. Lightfoot. Contributions of the University of California Archaeological Research Facility, pp. 355-419, Berkeley, California.

Stevenson, Christopher M., Sonia Haoa, Peter Mills, Jose R. Ramirez, and Claudio Gomez.
1996. The La Perouse Archaeological Project: Report of the 1995 Field Season, Easter Island. Archaeological Services Consultants, Columbus, Ohio.

Mills, Peter R. 1996. A New View of Kauaʻi as "The Separate Kingdom" after 1810. The Hawaiian Journal of History 30:91-104.

Mills, Peter R. 1993 An Axe to Grind: Functional Analysis of Anasazi Stone Axes from Sand Canyon Pueblo Ruin (5-MT-765), Southwestern, Colorado. Kiva 58(3)393-413.

atlatl toss  Waterfall Some present and former UHH students at SHA conference 2010