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Patterns and Outliers in Prehistoric Island Mobility: Comparing the Strontium Data

Author(s): Thomas Leppard ; Jason Laffoon

Year: 2017

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Summary

During the colonisation of islands in the Pacific and Caribbean by agropastoral communities, a variety of proxies (e.g., material, genetic, zoogeographic) indicate substantial inter-island and inter-community contact. It has been suggested that this contact represents an adaptive response to intrinsic demographic fragility during the initial phases of island colonisation, and that this connectivity imperative faded in the aftermath of initial dispersal as overall population density increased. Here we evaluate this model by synthesising and comparing increasingly available 87Sr/86Sr data from funerary populations in the Pacific and Caribbean. Highlighting possible limitations in a comparatively small body of data (not least statistical limitations relating to small sample sizes and problems pertaining to geochemical characterisation), we nonetheless tentatively suggest broad patterns, as well as outliers, as regards post-juvenile mobility in both areas. We relate these patterns to recurring types of sociodemographic organisation in early agropastoral island communities (especially in terms of general trends in inter-island mobility over time), and discuss the broader implications for understanding how island environments imposed—or did not impose—constraints on the organisation of communities cross-culturally.


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Patterns and Outliers in Prehistoric Island Mobility: Comparing the Strontium Data. Thomas Leppard, Jason Laffoon. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431403)


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Abstract Id(s): 15080

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America