Holocene Sea-Level Change on Aitutaki, Cook Islands: Landscape Change and Human Response

Melinda S. Allen


Holocene sea-level changes profoundly affected the Pacific's human populations in the prehistoric past. Geoarchaeological studies on Aitutaki, southern Cook Islands, suggest sea-level fall coincident with the period of human occupation. The coastal beach barrier which formed along Aitutaki's central western coast after sea-level fall became the focus of human habitation over the last millenniurn. Faunal and floral assemblages from the earliest in-situ cultural occupation on the island demonstrate significant anthropogenic influences on the environment at 1000 BP, suggesting human colonisation occurred at an earlier but as yet undetermined, date. Failure to unearth direct evidence of colonising settlements may in part be the consequence of a more exposed coastline prior to the Holocene sea-level fall.


Geoarchaeoloy; Pacific prehistory; coastal adaptations

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