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High precision U/Th dates of Acropora coral files (abraders) from Nukuleka give unprecedented resolution, identifying the founder event by 2838±8 BP and documenting site development over the ensuing 250 years.
Instead, it relies on minor short-term forest disturbances (19) that occur well before deforestation began in the 13th century A. In 1996, the first series of AMS radiocarbon dates (hereafter “dates”), the oldest ≈200 B. The dates were also used to propose circumstantially that there was an earlier wave of rat-induced faunal extinctions before permanent settlement (7, 20, 21).East Polynesian islands preserve exceptionally detailed records of the initial prehistoric impacts on highly vulnerable ecosystems, but nearly all such studies are clouded by persistent controversies over the timing of initial human colonization, which has resulted in proposed settlement chronologies varying from ≈200 B. The last major prehistoric human migration into a previously unoccupied region of the world was from the western archipelagos of Remote Oceania (Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa region) into the islands of East Polynesia (1). Such differences underpin radically divergent interpretations of human dispersal from West Polynesia and of ecological and social transformation in East Polynesia and ultimately obfuscate the timing and patterns of this process.For over 2 decades, there have been calls for Polynesian archaeologists to identify radiocarbon samples to taxon and material type, and preferentially date short-lived materials.This stems from recognition that even modest amounts of inbuilt age are problematic in this oceanic region where human settlement dates to the last 3 millennia or less.
Previous studies document Nukuleka in the Kingdom of Tonga as a founder colony for first settlement of Polynesia by Lapita peoples.