A Multi-proxy Investigation of Settlement on Pingelap Atoll, Pohnpei State, Federated States of Micronesia

Author(s): Maureece Levin; Katherine Seikel; Aimee Miles

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Pacific atolls are generally regarded as challenging places to live. In addition to being far from other land masses, most have low biodiversity, limited access to freshwater, and are susceptible to extreme weather. However, settlers established residence on atolls in the Micronesian region as early as 2,000 years ago. This paper presents the first major archaeological investigation focused on the atoll of Pingelap and addresses the timing of settlement as well as the ways that people have subsisted over long periods of time in this atoll environment. Located about halfway between the high islands of Pohnpei and Kosrae, Pingelap consists of 1.8 km2 of land spread across three islets, with only the largest island, Kahlap, being continually inhabited. Our results indicate that Pingelap has been settled since at least 1550-1700 cal BP, and has likely been continuously inhabited by humans until the present. Zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical work suggest a diet from early habitation heavily reliant on reef fish and shellfish, with plants such as coconut and pandanus also playing a key role. In ethnoarchaeological investigation, local consultants describe farming practices that complement our archaeological understanding on the persistence of atoll settlement.

Cite this Record

A Multi-proxy Investigation of Settlement on Pingelap Atoll, Pohnpei State, Federated States of Micronesia. Maureece Levin, Katherine Seikel, Aimee Miles. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449289)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: 117.598; min lat: -29.229 ; max long: -75.41; max lat: 53.12 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23003