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Plant microfossil analysis reveals disturbed forest and a mixed-crop, dryland production system at Te Niu, Easter Island

by admin last modified 2008-03-25 02:12 PM

Horrocks M, Wozniak JA. 2008. Journal of Archaeological Science 35, 126-142.


Plant microfossil analysis was carried out on 12 soil samples from a variety of landscape features at three locations (100-250 m a.s.l.) along a 950 m transect at Te Niu, Easter Island. Pollen and phytolith assemblages were dominated by palms and ground ferns, and suggested disturbed forest. We identified pollen of bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) and starch grains of the common yam (Dioscorea alata), sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) and taro (Colocasia esculenta). The data suggest a mixed-crop, dryland production system at Te Niu dominated by yam and sweet potato, and supplemented by taro and bottle gourd.

The data provide direct evidence of crop type and range, supporting the indirect evidence (topographic and landscape features, field and historical research, comparisons with elsewhere in the Pacific) that much of the rock covered landscape of Easter Island was used for intensive horticulture.


Agriculture, plant microfossils, Dioscorea alata, Ipomoea batatas, Colocasia esculenta, Lagenaria siceraria, Easter Island.

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