Refining the Chronology of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Settlement

the Re-dating of Residential Sites on the Eastern Rim of Rano Kau

  • Mara Mulrooney Pacific Legacy, Inc.
  • Jo Anne Van Tilburg University of California, Los Angeles
  • Alice Hom Easter Island Statue Project
  • Patrick C. McCoy Pacific Consulting Services, Inc.

Abstract

P. C. McCoy and colleagues carried out a comprehensive survey and test excavations at selected sites in the southwestern portion of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in 1968. This included the excavation of a rectangular house (hare; 1-187) and a nearby stone-lined earth oven (umu pa‘e; 1-186) on the eastern rim of Rano Kau. A single radiocarbon date of AD 770 ± 230 from 1-187 was subsequently accepted by some researchers as support for the theory of early island settlement but contested by others. This paper presents results of the re-dating of these sites as part of a collaborative research program that also includes the complete digitization, auditing, and archiving of McCoy’s (1968) previously un-cataloged site survey records and analyses of selected artifacts and eco-facts collected during the 1968 survey. The newly acquired radiocarbon dates reported here provide insights into the longstanding debate regarding the timing of the initial settlement of Rapa Nui within a broader East Polynesian context and assist with the development of a refined model of island settlement, while speaking to the utility of conducting new analyses on archived samples in archaeological research.

Published
2021-02-10
How to Cite
Mulrooney, M., Van Tilburg, J. A., Hom, A. and McCoy, P. (2021) “Refining the Chronology of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Settlement”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology. Available at: https://pacificarchaeology.org/index.php/journal/article/view/318 (Accessed: 14April2021).