Evidence for a shorter chronology on rapa nui (Easter Island)

Terry L. Hunt, Carl P. Lipo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Archaeologists have long accepted a colonization date of between AD 400 and 800 for Rapa Nui based on few radiocarbon dates, lake-core results, and assumptions from historical linguistics. A new suite of radiocarbon dates from stratigraphic excavations at Anakena and chronometric hygiene analysis of earlier radiocarbon determinations reveals little reliable evidence for a longer chronology. In this paper we present additional lines of evidence in support of a shorter chronology: lake-core evidence for vegetation change and fire history, stratigraphic studies of deforestation and soil erosion, the results of obsidian hydration dating, and considerations of East Polynesian chronologies. The current evidence is best explained by a colonization date for Rapa Nui of about AD 1200. We briefly outline implications of the shorter chronology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-148
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronometric hygiene
  • Colonization
  • Environmental change
  • Polynesia
  • Rapa Nui

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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