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.
|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|
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