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Late dates in East Polynesia.

A review of 147 radiocarbon dates obtained from material in sites throughout East Polynesia, an area bordered by Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island, suggests that humans lived in that part of the world much later than some scientists have thought.

The earliest human presence in East Polynesia occurred in the Marquesas Islands between A.D. 300 and A.D. 600, assert Matthew Spriggs of the Australian National University in Canberra and Atholl Anderson of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. Settlement began between A.D. 600 and A.D. 950 on most other islands and not until A.D. 1000 or shortly thereafter in New Zealand, the two archaeologists contend.

Other researchers cite radiocarbon evidence for colonization of the Marquesas during the first millennium B.C. and Hawaii and Easter Island by A.D. 400. But these dates prove unreliable for several reasons, including likely contamination of some samples before analysis and the inability to associate other samples with human-made relics, Spriggs and Anderson argue.

Humans apparently spread throughout East Polynesia relatively quickly, possibly hopping from one island to another as they depleted easily obtained food sources, such as reef fish and turtles, the researchers propose in the June ANTIQUITY.
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Title Annotation:radiocarbon evidence suggests colonization began earlier than previously believed
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 10, 1993
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