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Caves on Rapa Nui that possess well-constructed tunnel entrance features are currently interpreted as places of temporary refuge (ana kionga) used in the late seventeenth century during a period of internal island conflict. The analysis of the cave interior architecture and artifact assemblage from Site 6-357 suggests an alternate interpretation where the caves may have served as prepared ritual spaces where food consumption, sewing and body adornment were conducted. Radiocarbon and obsidian hydration dating indicate that the caves were most likely constructed after European contact and were not present at an earlier time.
Rapa Nui, caves, refuge, ritual