New Evidence from the East Polynesian Gateway: Substantive and Methodological Results from Aitutaki, Southern Cook Islands
CitationAllen, M. S., & Wallace, R. (2007). New evidence from the East Polynesian gateway: Substantive and methodological results from Aitutaki, southern Cook Islands. Radiocarbon, 49(3), 1163-1179.
AbstractEast Polynesia was the geographic terminus of prehistoric human expansion across the globe and the southern Cook Islands, the first archipelago west of Samoa, a gateway to this region. Fourteen new radiocarbon dates from one of the oldest human settlements in this archipelago, the Ureia site (AIT-10) on Aitutaki Island, now indicate occupation from cal AD 1225-1430 (1 sigma), nearly 300 yr later than previously suggested. Although now among the most securely dated central East Polynesian sites, the new age estimate for Ureia places it outside the settlement period of either the long or short chronology models. The new dates have, however, led to a comfortable fit with the Ureia biological evidence, which suggests not a virgin landscape, but a highly a modified fauna and flora. The results also provide the first systematic demonstration of inbuilt age in tropical Pacific trees, a finding that may explain widely divergent 14C results from several early East Polynesian sites and has implications for the dating of both island colonization and subsequent intra-island dispersals.