Manihiki & Rakahanga: Archaeological Research on a Dual-Atoll Cluster in East Polynesia

Author(s): Justin Cramb

Year: 2018


Archaeological fieldwork was completed on the atolls of Manihiki and Rakahanga, in the northern Cook Islands, from May to July of 2015 and from July to November of 2017. This includes survey and mapping on six islets, the documentation of extant and past fish traps and fishponds, lagoon to ocean shovel test sampling, and the excavation of habitation and resource production sites. This work identified village centers on each atoll and preliminary analyses indicate that the coral-cluster landscape of Manihiki and Rakahanga was intensively altered by past human practices. These include the creation of horticultural pits, coral fish traps, fishponds, curbed and paved pathways, marae, residential centers, and potential shoreline armoring. Furthermore, it appears that individual islets and marine areas were used differentially in manners conducive to the inherent production capabilities of each microenvironment. The data that continues to emerge from this ongoing research advocates that a complex human/environmental dialectic shaped these atolls and created the productive landscape present today. Additional research, including forthcoming zooarchaeological analysis and AMS dating, promises to improve our current understanding of these atolls’ past, coral-cluster land use, and landscape creation practices.

Cite this Record

Manihiki & Rakahanga: Archaeological Research on a Dual-Atoll Cluster in East Polynesia. Justin Cramb. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442856)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: 153.633; min lat: -51.399 ; max long: -107.578; max lat: 24.207 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20054