Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Remote Sensing and the Assessment of Prehistoric Productivity in Cultivation Practices of Rapa Nui, Chile
by Kovalchik, Jacob, M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2014, 138; 1527012
Abstract (Summary)

While there is a tradition that the population of Rapa Nui was large during prehistory, there is remarkably little evidence used to support to these claims. This study represents an empirically-based estimate of pre-contact agricultural productivity to create a sound evaluation of Rapa Nui’s prehistoric population. In this study, I map the spatial distributions of lithic mulching using satellite imagery, RPV aerial photography, in situ spectral reflectance analyses, and supervised and sub-pixel image classification methods. Using the results of these analyses, I estimate the total mapped lithic mulch area and combine this estimate with previously documented distributions of manavai. Together these analyses provide an estimate of the extent of these two important cultivation practices and an upper-limit magnitude of prehistoric food production. The spatial data, when evaluated in conjunction with appropriate agricultural cultivation statistic proxies, are then used to conservatively quantify the island’s carrying capacity. In my final analysis, I argue that the prehistoric productivity was insufficient to support the large populations that have been suggested.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lipo, Carl
School: California State University, Long Beach
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 54/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, History of Oceania, Remote sensing
Keywords: Carrying capacity, Chile, Collapse, Cultivation, Easter island, Remotely pilotted vehicle, Spectroscopy, Rapa Nui, Easter Island
Publication Number: 1527012
ISBN: 978-1-321-37046-1
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