Refining the Chronology of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Settlement

the Re-dating of Residential Sites on the Eastern Rim of Rano Kau


  • Mara Mulrooney Pacific Legacy, Inc.
  • Jo Anne Van Tilburg University of California, Los Angeles
  • Alice Hom Easter Island Statue Project
  • Patrick C. McCoy Pacific Consulting Services, Inc.


P. C. McCoy and colleagues carried out a comprehensive survey and test excavations at selected sites in the southwestern portion of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in 1968. This included the excavation of a rectangular house (hare; 1-187) and a nearby stone-lined earth oven (umu pa‘e; 1-186) on the eastern rim of Rano Kau. A single radiocarbon date of AD 770 ± 230 from 1-187 was subsequently accepted by some researchers as support for the theory of early island settlement but contested by others. This paper presents results of the re-dating of these sites as part of a collaborative research program that also includes the complete digitization, auditing, and archiving of McCoy’s (1968) previously un-cataloged site survey records and analyses of selected artifacts and eco-facts collected during the 1968 survey. The newly acquired radiocarbon dates reported here provide insights into the longstanding debate regarding the timing of the initial settlement of Rapa Nui within a broader East Polynesian context and assist with the development of a refined model of island settlement, while speaking to the utility of conducting new analyses on archived samples in archaeological research.



How to Cite

Mulrooney, M., Van Tilburg, J. A., Hom, A. and McCoy, P. C. (2021) “Refining the Chronology of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Settlement: the Re-dating of Residential Sites on the Eastern Rim of Rano Kau”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 12(1), pp. 72–83. Available at: (Accessed: 3 October 2022).



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