Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
Patterns Of Ancient Croplands Give Insight Into Early Hawaiian Society
Columbus OH (SPX) May 23, 2011
A pattern of earthen berms, spread across a northern peninsula of the big island of Hawaii, is providing archeologists with clues to exactly how residents farmed in paradise long before Europeans arrived at the islands.
The findings suggest that simple, practical decisions made by individual households were eventually adopted by the ruling class as a means to improve agricultural productivity.
The research was reported in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Archeologically, this kind of research is really hard to do in most places since there is rarely a 'signature' for the agricultural activity, or a strong connection between the remains of a house and a plot of farmland," explained, Julie Field, an assistant professor of anthropology at Ohio State University.
Field, along with colleagues from California and New Zealand, has spent three field seasons unearthing the remnants of an agricultural gridwork that dates back nearly 600 years. The pattern was formed by a series of earthen walls, or berms, which served as windbreaks, protecting the crops.
"In this part of Hawaii, the trade winds blow all the time, so the berms are there to protect the crops from the winds," she said. "The main crop was sweet potato which likes dry loose soil. The berms protect the soil from being blown away."
The researchers are familiar with the challenges the winds posed. Field said that while they were excavating sites, the wind would "blow so hard, the skin would come off our ears if they weren't covered. It just sandblasts your ears and you have to wear goggles to see."
"It is an intense place to work," she said.
Previous work by other researchers has radiocarbon dated organic material found in the berms, establishing a timeline for when the agricultural system was first built. Over time, more walls were built, subdividing the original agricultural plots into smaller and smaller parcels.
At the same time, other researchers were able to date materials from household sites of the early Hawaiians, and link those dates to the building of specific agricultural plots.
This showed that individual households that farmed the land expanded over time and then separated into new households as the population grew.
"Within a 300-year period, 1,400 AD to 1,700 AD, the data suggests that the population at least quadrupled, as did the number of houses," Field said.
The researchers believe the data also provides insight into the structure of Hawaiian society at the time. "We know that there was a single chief for each district and a series of lesser chiefs below that," she said.
Similar to the feudal system of Europe, a portion of the crop surplus was always designated for the chiefs.
"This suggests to us that the field system was originally put in place probably by individual households that produced crops for their own consumption.
"It was then appropriated by the chiefs and turned into more of a surplus production system, where they demanded that the land be put into production and more people would produce more surplus food," she said.
"Our study is unique in that we can trace the activities of very, very small groups of people and, from that, try to glean the larger processes of society," Field said.
"We want to look at parts of Hawaii and treat them as a model for the evolution of Hawaiian society."
The researchers said that the next question is whether the field system was used seasonally, whether they modified it over the year and used different parts of it depending on the season.
"That's what it looks like happened, but we need more dating of different features at the sites to be able to figure that out," Field said.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology
Washington DC (SPX) May 20, 2011
The development and successful testing of a method for unreeling the strands of silk in wild silkworm cocoons could clear the way for establishment of new silk industries not only in Asia but also in vast areas of Africa and South America. The report appears in ACS' journal Biomacromolecules. Fritz Vollrath, Tom Gheysens and colleagues explain that silk is made by unraveling- or unreeling ... read more
NASA ocean-watch satellite ready for June launch|
TerraSAR-X images Urban sprawl around Istanbul
Mapping the impact of a deadly mosquito
Satellite data helps track environmental influences on giant kelp
Europe's first EGNOS airport to guide down giant Beluga aircraft
'Green' GPS saves fuel, energy
Apple update fixes iPhone tracking "bugs"
Russia, Sweden to boost space cooperation
Forest Service unveils first comprehensive forecast on southern forests
Wireless sensor network monitors microclimate in the forest
Green groups, analysts slam Indonesia logging ban
Indonesia signs long-awaited forestry moratorium
Wildlife in trouble from oil palm plantations
Iowa engineer scales up process that could improve economics of ethanol production
Same fungus just different strains
Multi-junction solar cells help turn plants into powerhouses
Emerson To Provide Power Technology For One Of The Largest Solar Energy Projects In US
MAG expands solar systems business
New 5MW Multi-Technology Solar Installation
Centrosolar and Zep Solar sign license agreement
Evolutionary lessons for wind farm efficiency
Global warming won't harm wind energy production, climate models predict
Study: Warming won't lessen wind energy
Mortenson Construction to Build its 100th Wind Project
13 dead in China mine accidents: state media
Massey Energy blamed for mine disaster
Targeted regeneration could be key to boosting coalfield communities
Seven dead in China mine accident: state media
China police allege Ai Weiwei firm evaded tax
Tibetan leader to India: make Tibet 'core' issue
China says 'door open' for Dalai Lama's return
In China, some new cities are ghost towns
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|