Evaluating agricultural bet-hedging strategies in the Kona Field System: New high-precision 230Th/U and 14C dates and plant microfossil data from Kealakekua, Hawai‘i Island

Mark D. Mccoy, Mara A. Mulrooney, Mark Horrocks, Hai Cheng, Thegn N. Ladefoged

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Kona Field System, located on the leeward side of Hawai‘i Island, is comprised of a network of stone field walls, terraces, mounds and other agricultural, residential and religious features stretched over an estimated 163 km2. Previous research indicates a construction history of the fields that could have begun as early as the Foundation Period (AD 1000–1200), followed by a shift in agricultural strategies from those that reduce variance in yield (AD 1450–1600) to a strategy of production maximisation (after AD 1600) attributed to the growing political economy. However, these propositions are based on radiocarbon dates, many of which do not meet minimal standards for acceptable sample selection. We report the results of new excavations at the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Kealakekua that suggest (1) that agricultural infrastructural improvements were being made by AD 1400, and (2) that agronomic infrastructure continued to be added to optimal lands and elsewhere after AD 1700 as decisions regarding agricultural strategies became coopted by political elites. There remains a great deal about the Kona Field System that is still poorly documented through archaeology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-80
Number of pages11
JournalArchaeology in Oceania
Volume52
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was carried out with permission and support from the Bernice P. Bishop Museum and funded in part by the Dean's Research Fund, Southern Methodist University and the Faculty Research Development Fund at the University of Auckland. Melinda Allen has been extremely generous, gracious and insightful in helping us interpret our data, and we are most thankful. We offer special thanks to the dedicated staff of the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden, and the following individuals: Bobby Camara, Christina Carolus, Oliver Chadwick, Rob Hommon, Ann Horsburgh, Jen Huebert, Patrick Kirch, Natalie Kurashima, Noa Lincoln, Owen O'Leary, Sarina Pearson, Damion Sailors, Hannah Springer, Kelli Soileau, Ryan Terry, Peter Van Dyke, Peter Vitousek and Charmaine Wong.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Oceania Publications

Keywords

  • Hawaiian Islands
  • Kona Field System
  • agricultural strategies
  • bet-couverture
  • bet-hedging
  • la gestion des risques
  • le système Kona
  • l’économie politique
  • l’îles de Hawaii
  • political economy
  • risk management
  • stratégies agricoles

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