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For each graph, individual ranges (68% probability) of Class 1 calibrated radiocarbon dates are shown as black horizontal lines; circles represent median (bottom axis). other eastern Polynesian islands.) Estimates for the timing of colonization for East Polynesian archipelagos or islands. (The proportion of radiocarbon-dated sample materials in each overall reliability class is shown in Fig. Class 1 dates are dominated by short-lived plant materials (such as small twigs, leaves, and seeds) in contrast to Class 2 and 3 dates, which are dominated by long-lived plant remains and unidentified charcoal, sample types that are often unreliable, as they can introduce substantial error through in-built age.Red dashed line indicates sum of probability distributions (left axis). 1200 based on the assumption that we have 100% confidence that colonization had occurred by this time; and for the remaining islands with Class 1 dates, this was set to A. For each graph, individual ranges (68% probability) of Class 1 calibrated radiocarbon dates are shown as black horizontal lines; circles represent median (bottom axis). The high proportion of unidentified charcoal in Class 3 shows this category of dated materials in the dataset also tends to have large measurement errors. Age estimates for initial colonization of the Gambier archipelago are unusually broad (167-y difference between the EAEM and LAEM, i.e., between A. ∼11) compared with all other islands (average difference of 55 y between earliest and latest estimates). ∼1219–1266, respectively), some 200–500 y later than widely accepted (16, 17), placing them in close agreement with both New Zealand and Rapa Nui.The 15 archipelagos of East Polynesia, including New Zealand, Hawaii, and Rapa Nui, were the last habitable places on earth colonized by prehistoric humans.The timing and pattern of this colonization event has been poorly resolved, with chronologies varying by 1000 y, precluding understanding of cultural change and ecological impacts on these pristine ecosystems. We show that previously supported longer chronologies have relied upon radiocarbon-dated materials with large sources of error, making them unsuitable for precise dating of recent events.Here accuracy is defined based on those samples that can provide a date that is the “true” age of the sample within the statistical limits of the date.
1), that are in direct association with cultural materials or commensals (e.g., C years before present (y BP) to exclude modern dates, and to include the earliest possible age for expansion from West Polynesia (Table S1).In a meta-analysis of 1,434 radiocarbon dates from the region, reliable short-lived samples reveal that the colonization of East Polynesia occurred in two distinct phases: earliest in the Society Islands A. ∼1025–1120, four centuries later than previously assumed; then after 70–265 y, dispersal continued in one major pulse to all remaining islands A. Our empirically based and dramatically shortened chronology for the colonization of East Polynesia resolves longstanding paradoxes and offers a robust explanation for the remarkable uniformity of East Polynesian culture, human biology, and language.Models of human colonization, ecological change and historical linguistics for the region now require substantial revision. This analysis shortened East Polynesian prehistory just at the time when accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating became available for very small samples (e.g., individual seeds).These conflicting chronologies preclude establishment of a regional pattern of settlement and hinder our understanding of cultural change and ecological impacts on these island ecosystems. Islands of East Polynesia, summarizing the two phases of migration out of West Polynesia (blue shading): first to the Society Islands (and possibly as far as Gambier) between A. ∼10 (orange shading), and second to the remote islands between A. It used a “chronometric hygiene” protocol to exclude dates with high uncertainty and to provide a chronology that proposed initial settlement A. Conflicting estimates for initial colonization in East Polynesia create great uncertainty about the historical framework within which human mobility and colonization, variations in human biology and demography, and the rates and types of human-induced ecological impacts to island ecosystems must be explained.Islands of East Polynesia, summarizing the two phases of migration out of West Polynesia (blue shading): first to the Society Islands (and possibly as far as Gambier) between A. ∼10 (orange shading), and second to the remote islands between A. As the number of radiocarbon dates from East Polynesia has increased 10-fold over those available in 1993 (5), an attempt to resolve the frustrating problem of colonization chronology for the region is now opportune.