Environmental Change and Prehistoric Polynesian Settlement in Hawai'i

Date
1993
Authors
Athens, J Stephen
Ward, Jerome V.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu)
Abstract
Prehistoric environmental change in Hawai'i is evaluated through the analysis of sediment and pollen samples from dated cores and excavation profiles in the coastal lowlands of O'ahu. It is suggested that a lowland Pritchardia palm forest and associated species underwent rapid decline starting between about A.D. 1000 to 1200. This decline seems to have occurred earlier in coastal areas than in inland areas. By the time of Western contact in A.D. 1778 the native palm forest community had all but disappeared. Though prehistoric Polynesians are implicated in the decline, the actual mechanism remains to be demonstrated. The question of coastal infilling and progradation is also considered. Sea level change appears to be the overwhelming controlling variable. It is concluded that prehistoric Polynesians had little if anything to do with large-scale geomorphological alteration of the landscape, which has been a continuing process throughout the Holocene. KEYWORDS: paleoenvironment, Hawai'i, prehistory, impacts, vegetation, geomorphology, Holocene.
Description
Keywords
paleoenvironment, Hawai'i, prehistory, impacts, vegetation, geomorphology, Holocene
Citation
Athens, J. S., and J. V. Ward. 1993. Environmental Change and Prehistoric Polynesian Settlement in Hawai'i. Asian Perspectives 32 (2): 205-23.
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