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Pollen and phytoliths in stone mounds at Pouerua, Northland, New Zealand: implications for the study of Polynesian farming

by admin last modified 2008-03-25 01:48 PM

Horrocks M, Jones MD, Carter JA, Sutton DG. 2000. Antiquity 74, 863-872.


The archaeological investigation of pre-European farming in New Zealand (and elsewhere in Polynesia) is currently limited by lack of direct evidence for agricultural activity in the archaeological record. We outline the use of high resolution pollen and phytolith analyses to provide direct evidence for farming in archaeological landscapes. This is demonstrated in the analysis of two, possibly agricultural, mounds of different construction located in a prehistoric settlement landscape at Pouerua, northern New Zealand.

The pollen and phytolith evidence indicates both functional and temporal differences between the structures, and the presence of gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) pollen in one provides direct, unequivocal evidence that this crop was cultivated and that the site was used as a garden. Palynological and phytolith analyses can provide direct evidence of pre-European farm activity at settlement sites in New Zealand, and elsewhere in Polynesia.


Palynology, phytoliths, ethnobotany, farming, Maori stone mounds, New Zealand.

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