A.D. 1680 and rapa nui prehistory

Carl P. Lipo, Terry L. Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-317
Number of pages9
JournalAsian Perspectives
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronology
  • Collapse
  • Easter Island
  • European Contact
  • Radiocarbon
  • Rapa Nui

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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