A Prehistoric Quarry/Habitation Site on Moloka‘i and a Discussion of an Anomalous Early Date on the Polynesian Introduced Candlenut (kukui, Aleurites moluccana)
Keywords:early Hawaiian settlement, AMS dating, Aleurites moluccana, adze quarry, ICP-OES geochemistry, adze technology
According to studies in the early 1990s, quarry/habitation site (MO-B6-161) on leeward Moloka‘i may have been occupied about a century earlier than regional settlement models imply. In the first instance, we dated nut shell fragments from the Polynesian introduced candlenut (kukui, Aleurites moluccana), from the original radiocarbon sample collection curated at the Bishop Museum, producing a calibrated age (at 2 σ) of AD 690-895 (Beta-336756). Our renewed excavations obtained appropriate short-lived twig wood for dating in addition to another date on candlenut. Four dates produced a calibrated median age of AD 1770, more in line with expectations for late prehistoric settlement in these marginal leeward regions. However, the oldest date was not contaminated with old carbon and satisfies all aspects of ‘chronometric hygiene’. Because of this unusually early date (especially on a Polynesian introduced plant), we report in detail its leeward site context, additional dates, depositional context, stratigraphic sequence and the cultural inventory of the MO-B6-161 site as well as the details of sample pretreatment and discuss the absence of sources of carbon contamination. High-quality geochemistry of adze source rock is also presented, thus facilitating island and archipelago-wide interaction studies.