In the Pacific there are two main groups of so-called 'mystery islands', i.e. islands that were settled and then abandoned (or their populations died out) in prehistory. One consists of low coral islands in the equatorial zone and the other of high basaltic islands in the subtropical zone. Consideration of environmental and archaeological evidence about the latter suggests that they lay in a relatively impoverished zone of faunal resources (marine mammals, seabirds, inshore fish and invertebrates) and were also marginal to the full deployment of tropical agriculture. It is argued that vulnerability to significant faunal depletion by over-exploitation, without the ability to compensate by agricultural production provides an explanation of settlement discontinuation in the subtropical islands and potentially for the mystery islands as a whole.
|Journal||International Journal of Osteoarchaeology|
|Publication status||Published - 2001|