Evidence from microscopic charcoal particle stratigraphy is presented from nine locations distributed throughout Kaua'i in the Hawaiian Islands, including windward and leeward coastal sites and interior bogs at elevations ranging up to 1220 m. The overall trends are comparable with those reported for other mesic tropical island areas lacking strong seasonality, beginning with a general dearth of charcoal in sediments that predate evidence for humans on the island, followed by an increase of an order of magnitude or more at a time that probably represents first human presence at the site. In most cases, this initial peak or plateau of increased charcoal from presumably anthropogenic sources is followed by a prehistoric decrease and a second peak after European contact. Charcoal evidence presented here suggests a human presence in leeward coastal areas beginning ca. 830±50 yr B.P. (1050-1095, 1140-1280 cal yr A.D.). One windward site, Limahuli Bog, may show charcoal evidence for humans as early as 1470±60 yr B.P. (440-670 cal yr A.D.), but resolution is poor in the upper part of that core. Charcoal and sedimentological evidence suggests that Hawaiians were constructing fishponds as early as about eight centuries ago and that the massive stoneworks forming the Alekoko or Menehune Fishpond, probably the largest prehistoric stone structure in the Hawaiian Islands, may have been completed by 580±30 yr B.P. (1305-1420 cal yr a.d.). Charcoal peaks in prehuman times, particularly at 3800±40 yr B.P. (4080-4290 cal yr B.P.), may be associated with prolonged drought conditions. Charcoal particles are virtually absent from the late Pleistocene sediments collected from interior bogs.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 211-226
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.