Maureece Jacqueline LEVIN
Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationStanford U.
Grant numberGr. 9344
Approve DateOctober 5, 2016
Project TitleLevin, Dr. Maureece Jacqueline, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Cultural Niche Construction in Central-Eastern Micronesia: An Archaeology of Plant Food Systems on Pingelap Atoll'
MAUREECE JAQUELINE LEVIN, Stanford University, Stanford, California, was awarded funding in October 2016 to aid research on ‘Cultural Niche Construction in Central-Eastern Micronesia: An Archaeology of Plant Food Systems on Pingelap Atoll.’ The atolls of the Pacific Islands are some of the most remote places in earth, with low biodiversity and vulnerability to weather events. Nevertheless, archaeological evidence shows that humans began to settle these tiny coral islands soon after sea levels stabilized in the region around 3000 years ago. In addition to exploitation of marine resources, settlers accomplished this in large part by transporting domesticates with them and engineering landscapes that increased in biodiversity and soil quality, allowing for sufficient food to maintain dense populations. In this project, the aim is to study the practices of terrestrial food production on atolls, using the case study of Pingelap. Specifically, it apply the theory of cultural niche construction to understand the feedback between food production-related ecological engineering and the social and physical environment in which Pingelapese people have lived for over one-and-a-half millennia. Methodologically, the grantee uses archaeological survey, paleoethnobotanical analysis (including plant macroremains and phytoliths), and ethnoarchaeological interview to interpret food production in Pingelap’s past. Ultimately, this project sheds light on the way that humans adapt subsistence strategies to remote and insular environments over long periods of time.