A.D. 1680 and Rapa Nui Prehistory

Date
2009
Authors
Lipo, Carl P.
Hunt, Terry L.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu)
Abstract
A.D. 1680 remains a central date in the prehistory of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). The date was first proposed as the year of an epic battle calculated from the number of generations recounted in the oral traditions. Later this estimate was linked to a radiocarbon date from the Poike Ditch. While the emphasis of the date has shifted in the literature from being the timing of a war between prehistoric groups, it is now taken to represent a prehistoric turning point of environmental collapse and social upheaval. Here, we examine the origins of the a.d. 1680 date and evaluate the reasoning behind its initial determination as well as its empirical basis. We conclude that a date of a.d. 1680 cannot be considered a reliable date or event of transformative cultural change. Additional chronological investigations are necessary to distinguish changes in the archaeological record as either prehistoric or occurring in the aftermath and as a consequence of European contact.
Description
Keywords
Rapa Nui, Easter Island, chronology, radiocarbon, collapse, European Contact
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