Human Ecology

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 385–401

Times of Plenty, Times of Less: Last-Millennium Societal Disruption in the Pacific Basin

  • Patrick D. Nunn
  • Rosalind Hunter-Anderson
  • Mike T. Carson
  • Frank Thomas
  • Sean Ulm
  • Michael J. Rowland
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10745-006-9090-5

Cite this article as:
Nunn, P.D., Hunter-Anderson, R., Carson, M.T. et al. Hum Ecol (2007) 35: 385. doi:10.1007/s10745-006-9090-5

Abstract

During the last millennium in the Pacific Basin (islands and continental rim) there was a marked contrast between ‘times of plenty’ and ‘times of less’ for its human societies. This contrast is attributable to climate and sea-level variations, notably the Medieval Warm Period (a.d. 700–1250) and the Little Ice Age (a.d. 1350–1800) separated by a time of rapid cooling and sea-level fall called the ‘a.d. 1300 Event.’ Outlines of the times of plenty during the Medieval Warm Period and the times of less during the Little Ice Age are given, supported by a number of examples. These confirm a general picture of societal collapse as a result of the a.d. 1300 Event. Well-dated human responses to the a.d. 1300 Event (establishment of fortified settlements, end of ocean voyaging) allow links to potential nonhuman causes to be strengthened. Although more data referring to both (natural) changes and their human effects are needed, a conclusion involving environmental determinism is inescapable.

Key words

Pacific Basin climate change sea-level change societal collapse environmental determinism 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick D. Nunn
    • 1
  • Rosalind Hunter-Anderson
    • 2
  • Mike T. Carson
    • 3
  • Frank Thomas
    • 4
  • Sean Ulm
    • 5
  • Michael J. Rowland
    • 6
  1. 1.School of Geography, Faculty of Islands and OceansThe University of the South PacificSuvaFiji
  2. 2.Micronesian Archaeological Research Services (MARS)AganaUSA
  3. 3.International Archaeological Research Institute, Inc. (IARII)HonoluluUSA
  4. 4.Pacific Studies Program, Pacific Institute of Advanced StudiesThe University of the South PacificSuvaFiji
  5. 5.Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies UnitThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  6. 6.Cultural Heritage Coordination UnitDepartment of Natural Resources and MinesCoorparoo DCAustralia

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