Tracing Temple Timing

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Science  07 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5706, pp. 13
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5706.13d

Several of the Hawaiian islands contain relic temples that were built by their rulers and functioned as centers of control. Radiocarbon dates on wood and charcoal associated with the temples implied that they were built during a 250-year period as the Hawaiian societies evolved and grew. Coral was placed and enclosed in special compartments on these temples as part of their dedication, and Kirch and Sharp (p. 102; see the news story by Stokstad) dated preserved corals from temples in Maui and Molokai using the 230Th method, which provides more accurate dates for this time. The dates of the coral branches span about 30 years on Maui (just after A.D. 1600) and are slightly older on Molokai. The temples were all completed, and presumably rule was consolidated, much more rapidly than had been believed, perhaps within a single generation.

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