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Charcoal Stratigraphies for Kaua'i and the Timing of Human Arrival

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Title: Charcoal Stratigraphies for Kaua'i and the Timing of Human Arrival
Authors: Burney, Lida Pigott
Burney, David A.
Issue Date: Apr 2003
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Citation: Burney LP, Burney DA. 2003. Charcoal stratigraphies for Kaua'i and the timing of human arrival. Pac Sci 57(2): 211-226.
Abstract: 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.
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 57, Number 2, 2003

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