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Abstract

Interactions between ancient environmental conditions, natural resources, prehistoric land use and culture on Rapa Nui have been much discussed since Bahn and Flenley published Easter Island - Earth Island in 1992. Investigations on prehistoric agriculture on Rapa Nui were intensified in the last decade (Stevenson and Haoa 1998; Stevenson et al. 1999, 2002; Wozniak 1999, 2001). The relationships between environmental resources, land use and the cultural development on Rapa Nui were recently summarized and discussed by Martinsson-Wallin (2002). Despite intensive research on Rapa Nui's prehistory, from a scientific point of view, "forgotten" areas on the island remain, for example Poike peninsula. It was commonly believed that Poike peninsula, as the oldest part of Rapa Nui, did not have importance for agriculture. Recent research by Mieth et al. (2002) in eastern Poike showed evidence of intensive agriculture and settlement in this area. Furthermore it was proved that in eastern Poike, at around AD 1280, a dramatic change of the ecosystem took place, accompanied by the expansion of agriculture. An ancient Jubaea palm forest was cleared within a short period of time with the aim to open the landscape in the downslope areas for new ceremonial places, dwellings and agriculture.

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