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Atoll Archaeology in the Pacific

Thomas, Frank R. (2019) Atoll Archaeology in the Pacific. In: Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Springer Nature, Switzerland, pp. 1-12. ISBN 978-3-319-51726-1

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As islands formed by biogenic agents (unconsolidated carbonate sediments deposited by waves on reef platforms), atolls and table reefs, or low coral islands without lagoons, can be regarded as especially constraining habitats for human settlement. The challenges faced by people, both past and present, include low soil fertility, absence of perennial surface freshwater, and extreme vulnerability to flooding by stormsurge and sea-level rise due to low elevation of the highly fragmented landmass, only a few meters above mean sea level. There are about 300 atolls and low coral islands in the Pacific and thousands of individual islets (motu). Several archipelagoes are dominated by these limestone islands, such as the Tuamotus, the Central and Eastern Carolines, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Tuvalu. Because of their small size, limited and at time fluctuating resources, and relative isolation, atolls are often perceived as marginal environments. While some human communities did not endure (Di Piazza and Pearthree 2001), a remarkable number were sustainable for centuries, taking advantage of opportunities many atolls provided and indicating a long history of resilience to environmental variability (Fitzpatrick et al. 2016). Despite these achievements, atolls have received relatively little coverage by Pacific archaeologists

Item Type: Book Chapter
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) > Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies
Depositing User: Fulori Nainoca - Waqairagata
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2019 00:03
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2019 00:03

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