Pre-Contact Arboriculture and Vegetation in the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia: Charcoal Identification and Radiocarbon Dates from Hatiheu Valley, Nuku Hiva
- Asian Perspectives
- University of Hawai'i Press
- Volume 47, Number 2, Fall 2008
- pp. 330-351
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- Additional Information
In order to address long-standing questions in the field of Pacific Island archaeology regarding the extent, timing, and causes of human-induced environmental change, as well as the deep history of the development of distinct regional agricultural and arboricultural adaptations, this study presents and discusses taxonomic identification data for 15 wood charcoal samples recovered from archaeological excavations in the Hatiheu Valley, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands. This is some of the first archaeobotanical data collected and analyzed from this archipelago, and the only direct evidence of past distributions of economic and indigenous tree and shrub taxa in specific temporal and spatial contexts. The 14 native and Polynesian-introduced tree and shrub taxa identified are analyzed in view of their archaeobotanical and more modern distributions, as well as in consideration of radiocarbon dates obtained from five of the charcoal samples. Finally, these results are evaluated in regard to the degree to which they can provide useful cultural and environmental information relating to existing models of prehistoric Marquesan and broader Pacific Island settlement, economy, and environmental change over time.