New excavations at Fa’ahia (Huahine, Society Islands) and chronologies of central East Polynesian colonization
The six-hectare site of Vaito'otia-Fa'ahia on Huahine Island in the Leeward Societies is renowned for its wealth of material culture typifying early East Polynesian settlement, including items of wood and fibre preserved by waterlogging, through the research of Yosihiko Sinoto and colleagues in particular. However, the stratigraphy for much of the excavated area is sketchy and no precise chronology of settlement is available. Renewed excavations in the Fa'hia site area in 2007, although relatively limited in scope produced more stratigraphic detail, additional faunal remains and artefacts, including a patu, and 12 new radiocarbon dates on short lifespan material from the lowest cultural layer which indicate initial human occupation about AD 1050-1160. In the light of this result, recent arguments for earlier initial colonisation of Central East Polynesia are reviewed. Chronological evidence adduced in these relies primarily upon radiocarbon samples with potentially substantial inbuilt age, and it is concluded that there is no compelling case for colonization of the region prior to the early eleventh century AD.