Isotope analysis of human and animal diets from the Hanamiai archaeological site (French Polynesia)

Michael P. Richards, Eric West, Barry Rolett, Keith Dobney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


We report the first palaeodietary stable isotope study of humans and animals from an East Polynesian archaeological site. The Hanamiai Dune in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia has a long stratigraphy (ca. 1025 AD to 1850 AD). We obtained cat-boil and nitrogen isotope values for a wide range of terrestrial and marine species from different cultural layers. We also analyzed four human teeth representing four different individuals. Pigs, rats and dogs from the initial occupation phases had isotope signatures indicating marine protein consumption, probably linked to the consumption, and subsequent extinction, of indigenous seabirds. We found evidence of different pig husbandry practices, with some pigs having an almost entirely marine diet. Humans, Surprisingly, did not have a mainly marine diet but likely derived the majority of their protein from eating terrestrial mammals such as pigs, as well as perhaps dogs and rats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
JournalArchaeology in Oceania
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009


  • diet
  • stable isotopes
  • East Polynesia
  • marinefoods
  • domestication
  • bone-collagen
  • stable-isotopes
  • marine
  • nitrogen
  • carbon
  • ratios
  • reconstruction
  • islands


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