The 13th century polynesian colonization of Hawai'i Island

Timothy M. Rieth, Terry L. Hunt, Carl Lipo, Janet M. Wilmshurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


We assess 926 radiocarbon dates from Hawai'i Island, the largest assemblage of dates compiled from a single island in Oceania. Based on a classificatory approach that arranges the dates based on their reliability, accuracy, and precision, our results indicate that the most reliable estimate for the initial Polynesian colonization of Hawai'i Island is AD 1220-1261, ~250 to 450 years later than the current consensus. This conclusion is strikingly convergent with recent estimates for the colonization of remote East Polynesia. Our analysis highlights the need for wood charcoal identification to insure selection of short-lived plants/plant parts for radiocarbon dating, and that a reliance on dating unidentified wood charcoal is a waste of resources that only serves to retard progress in refining the settlement chronology of Hawai'i Island and other locations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2740-2749
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Colonization
  • East Polynesia
  • Hawai'i
  • Radiocarbon dating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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