Easter Island / Rapa Nui

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I thought the decline was clearly because they'd cut down all the trees, most of which had fruit (e.g. coconuts) - and a diet of fish was just not enough?
 

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I thought the decline was clearly because they'd cut down all the trees, most of which had fruit (e.g. coconuts) - and a diet of fish was just not enough?

That is a subject of some contention now. I think its covered in articles on this thread.
 
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BBC2 tonight at 7:30, a repeat from 2000...
Attenborough's Passion Projects

Lost Gods of Easter Island


As part of a season of programming marking Sir David Attenborough's 90th birthday, four of his favourite films are brought together in Attenborough's Passion Projects, as the renowned naturalist looks back on his personal highlights.

Shown in 2000, The Lost Gods of Easter Island sees David Attenborough embark on a personal quest to uncover the history of a strange wooden figurine carving which turned up in an auction room in New York during the 1980s, which had been identified as originating from Easter Island.

He believed the carving's power and presence to be important and began an investigation to trace the origins of the artefact. Taking him on a global journey from Russia to Australia, from England back to the Pacific, David delves into the history of Easter Island and along the way tells the story of a forgotten civilization from one of the most remote places on Earth.

In a newly shot introduction, David explores how collecting objects, one of his great passions as a naturalist, has led to making some of his most personal films - including the Easter island carving and also a giant Madagascan egg.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07bgnf7
 

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That is a subject of some contention now. I think its covered in articles on this thread.

This new paper:

Jarman, Catrine L., Larsen, Thomas, Hunt, Terry, Lipo, Carl, Solsvik, Reidar, Wallsgrove, Natalie, Ka'apu-Lyons, Cassie, Close, Hilary G., and Popp, Brian N.
Diet of the prehistoric population of Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) shows environmental adaptation and resilience
American Journal of Physical Anthropology

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajpa.23273/full

... describes a deeper and updated analysis of human, botanical, and faunal evidence that challenges the longstanding theory the Rapa Nui population collapsed simply because of over-exploitation of resources leading to ecological catastrophe (i.e., 'ecocide').

Bottom Line:
"Our results point to concerted efforts to manipulate agricultural soils, and suggest the prehistoric Rapa Nui population had extensive knowledge of how to overcome poor soil fertility, improve environmental conditions, and create a sustainable food supply. These activities demonstrate considerable adaptation and resilience to environmental challenges - a finding that is inconsistent with an “ecocide” narrative."
 

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So, did they get to South America? New evidence.

Did early Easter Islanders sail to South America before Europeans?
By Lizzie Wade Oct. 12, 2017 , 12:30 PM

Nearly 2000 kilometers from its nearest neighbor in the Pacific Ocean, Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, seems an unlikely crossroads for the world’s cultures. But in recent years, some scientists have argued that the island’s first inhabitants—Polynesians who settled there by 1200 C.E.—may have sailed all the way to South America and back, making contact with Native Americans long before Europeans. Now, DNA from people who lived on Rapa Nui before European contact suggests that may not be the case, throwing a wrench into one of the biggest remaining mysteries about human migration.

The result shocked Lars Fehren-Schmitz, a biological anthropologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who led the study. When he sequenced genomes from the rib bones of five individuals who lived on Rapa Nui before and after European contact, he expected to find a population with mixed Polynesian and Native American ancestry. Polynesian voyages to and from South America, though thousands of kilometers, “just seem to be plausible,” he says, and archaeological evidence shows that the sweet potato, domesticated 8000 years ago in Peru, had spread to Polynesian islands as early as 1000 C.E. But the DNA of the individuals, who lived between the 13th and 19th centuries, showed no signs of Native American ancestry, Fehren-Schmitz and his colleagues write today in Current Biology.

This contradicts a 2014 study, also published in Current Biology, that analyzed the genomes of 27 modern Rapanui who, like most people who live on the island today, have Polynesian, European, and Native American ancestry. ...

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017...edium=twitter&utm_campaign=easterisland-15757
 

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This recent and ongoing study is attempting to solve the mystery of how the cylindrical 'hats' were placed atop the moai (iconic Easter Island statues).

Hats on for Easter Island statues
How do you put a 13-ton hat on a giant statue? That's what a team of researchers is trying to figure out with their study of Easter Island statues and the red hats that sit atop some of them.

"Lots of people have come up with ideas, but we are the first to come up with an idea that uses archaeological evidence," said Sean W. Hixon, graduate student in anthropology, Penn State. ...

The hats, with diameters up to 6.5 feet and weighing 13 tons, might have been rolled across the island, but once they arrived at their intended statues, they still needed to be lifted onto the statues' heads. The islanders probably carved the hats cylindrically and rolled them to the statues before further carving the hats to attain the final shapes, which vary from cylindrical to conical and which usually have a smaller cylindrical projection on the top. ...

"We were interested in figuring out the method of hat transport and placement of the hats that best agrees with the archaeological record," said Hixon.

The researchers took multiple photographs of many Rapa Nui hats to see what attributes of the hats were the same throughout. Using photogrammetry and 3-D imaging, they created images of the hats with all their details.

"We assumed they were all transported and placed in the same way," said Hixon. "So we looked for features that were the same on all the hats and all the statues."

The only features they found the same were indentations at the bases of the hats, and these indentations fit the tops of the statues' heads. If the hats had been slid in place on top of the statues, then the soft stone ridges on the margin of the indentations would have been destroyed. So the islanders must have used some other method.

Previous researchers suggested that the statues and the hats were united before they were lifted in place, but the remnants of broken or abandoned statues, and other evidence for walking the statues, indicates this was not the approach used and that the hats were most likely raised to the top of standing statues. ...

"The best explanation for the transport of the pukao (hats) from the quarry is by rolling the raw material to the location of the moai (statues)," said Lipo. "Once at the moai, the pukao were rolled up large ramps to the top of a standing statue using a parbuckling technique." ...

FULL STORY: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-06/ps-hof060118.php

SEE ALSO: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-06/bu-eiu060418.php
 
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http://www.americanscientist.org/templa ... ltext=true
It written by Terry Hunt an Archaeologist I met while visiting Easter Island a few years ago.

The link is long dead, and the American Scientist site doesn't seem to provide access to the article unless you're a registered subscriber.

Here are some factoids:

Title / Author:

Rethinking the Fall of Easter Island
New evidence points to an alternative explanation for a civilization's collapse

Terry L. Hunt

Publication:

American Scientist, September-October 2006

Abstract:

Easter Island has become a case study of human-induced environmental disaster, or “ecocide.” The popular narrative, most famously recounted in Jared Diamond’s book Collapse, depicts native inhabitants triggering the fall of their once-flourishing civilization by cutting down all of the island’s trees. But recent archaeological and paleoenvironmental research point to a very different story. The island may not have been settled until around 1200 A.D., centuries later than previously thought, and it may have been a large rat population, not the human inhabitants, that caused widespread deforestation. This evidence sheds new light on a story that has long fascinated outsiders.

This data salvaged from the Wayback Machine:

https://web.archive.org/web/2006111....org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/53200#53365

NOTE: Hanslune's February 2007 post originated a thread to which there were no topical responses:

http://forum.forteantimes.com/index...-collapse-of-the-rapa-nui-civilization.29163/

... and that thread has now been merged into this one.
 
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In the dozen years since Hunt's article was published archaeologists have continued to uncover evidence suggesting the societal downfall on Easter Island may not have been as bad as the popular 'human-induced ecocide' narrative would have it. Here's the most recent example of work leading in that direction ...

People of Easter Island Weren't Driven to Warfare and Cannibalism. They Actually Got Along
In popular science literature, much ink has been spilled on the supposed collapse of Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, as it's known in the local language.

Jared Diamond's 2005 book "Collapse," for example, presents a chilling version of what happened in the centuries after Polynesian seafarers colonized the remote Pacific island around A.D. 1200: Rivalry between clans drove the islanders to build hundreds of increasingly big "moai," the larger-than-life statues carved from stone. This fierce competition and population growth caused a hubristic over-exploitation of resources, driving the Rapanui people to desperation, and even cannibalism, and Europeans arriving in the 18th century encountered a society well on its way to decline, according to Diamond's account.

But archaeologists who have been studying the ancient quarries, stone tools and other resources on the island have recently been building a different picture of what happened before European contact. A study published today (Aug. 13) in the Journal of Pacific Archaeology adds a new piece of evidence to the case against Rapa Nui's collapse. ...

FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/63321-easter-island-collapse-myth.html
 

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Looks as if there was a quotidian rather than a queer explanation for the statues location.

The huge stone figures of Easter Island have beguiled explorers, researchers and the wider world for centuries, but now experts say they have cracked one of the biggest mysteries: why the statues are where they are.

Researchers say they have analysed the locations of the megalithic platforms, or ahu, on which many of the statues known as moai sit, as well as scrutinising sites of the island’s resources, and have discovered the structures are typically found close to sources of fresh water. They say the finding backs up the idea that aspects of the construction of the platforms and statues, such as their size, could be tied to the abundance and quality of such supplies.

“What is important about it is that it demonstrates the statue locations themselves are not a weird ritual place – [the ahu and moai] represent ritual in a sense of there is symbolic meaning to them, but they are integrated into the lives of the community,” said Prof Carl Lipo from Binghamton University in New York, who was co-author of the research.

https://www.theguardian.com/science...cid=newsltushpmgnews__TheMorningEmail__011119
 

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A heads up on soil improvement.

Easter Island’s Polynesian society cultivated crops in soil made especially fertile by the quarrying of rock for massive, humanlike statues, a new study suggests.

Soil analyses indicate that weathering of volcanic sediment created by quarrying enriched the slopes of Easter Island’s major rock quarry with phosphorus and other elements crucial for farming. Microscopic plant remains suggest that food grown in the enriched soil included sweet potatoes, bananas, taro, paper mulberry fruit and probably bottle gourd, say anthropological archaeologist Sarah Sherwood and colleagues.

Starting in roughly 1400, Easter Islanders farmed in this way, even as soil quality deteriorated in many parts of the island, also known as Rapa Nui, due to deforestation and possibly drought, the team reports in the November Journal of Archaeological Science.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/quarrying-stone-easter-island-statues-made-soil-more-fertile-farming
 

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...Starting in roughly 1400, Easter Islanders farmed in this way, even as soil quality deteriorated in many parts of the island, also known as Rapa Nui, due to deforestation and possibly drought, the team reports in the November Journal of Archaeological Science. ...

Here's the abstract for the published report.

This study centers on excavations in the inner region of Rano Raraku, the megalithic statue (moai) quarry of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). In Rano Raraku a transformed landscape is reconstructed based upon soil chemistry, micromorphology, and macro and micro-botanical data framed within a stratigraphic and radiocarbon informed Bayesian model that is the first for Rapa Nui. We focus on moai RR-0001-156, one of only three moai in the island-wide corpus known to be embellished with a dense suite of cohesive petroglyph motifs. Our results confirm a cultivated landscape present on the inner south and east slopes of Rano Raraku that included sweet potato and probably bottle gourd along with Polynesian transfers banana, taro, and paper mulberry from the 14th century AD continuing into the early 19th century AD. During this time of sociopolitical transformation and land use change across the island labor-intensive rock gardens were developed to increase productivity as soil fertility declined in the context of deforestation and perhaps drought while the pan-island center of ‘Oroŋo (Orongo) emerged at Rano Kau with an intensive ritual focus on fertility. Rano Raraku in sharp contrast had (and still has) extremely fertile soils that are the weathering byproduct of lapilli tuff sediments generated from the quarrying process and localized human activity. This study validates Rano Raraku as the major moai production center, establishes chronological parameters for the unique embellished statue and describes agricultural fertility to hypothesize a rich, multi-use landscape for Rano Raraku inner region that is unparalleled elsewhere on Rapa Nui.

SOURCE: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440319300809
 

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In the dozen years since Hunt's article was published archaeologists have continued to uncover evidence suggesting the societal downfall on Easter Island may not have been as bad as the popular 'human-induced ecocide' narrative would have it. ...

More recent research indicates the native population of Rapa Nui did not "collapse" before first European contact in 1722, as is commonly claimed. There is evidence that the local culture and its moai constructino activities continued and declined after European contact.
Easter Island society did not collapse prior to European contact, new research shows

Easter Island society did not collapse prior to European contact and its people continued to build its iconic moai statues for much longer than previously believed, according to a team of researchers including faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

The island of Rapa Nui is well-known for its elaborate ritual architecture, particularly its numerous statues (moai) and the monumental platforms that supported them (ahu). A widely-held narrative posits that construction of these monuments ceased sometime around 1600, following a major societal collapse.

"Our research flies in the face of this narrative," said Carl Lipo, an anthropologist at Binghamton University. "We know, of course, that if we are right, we really need to challenge ourselves (and the archaeological record) to validate our arguments. In this case, we thought to look carefully at the tempo of construction events associated with large platforms."

The researchers, led by the University of Oregon's Robert J. DiNapoli, examined radiocarbon dates, relative architectural stratigraphy and ethnohistoric accounts to quantify the onset, rate and end of monument construction as a means of testing the collapse hypothesis.

"Archaeologists assign ages to the archaeological record by getting what are known as radiocarbon dates," said Lipo. "These dates represent the amount of time since some organisms (a bush, tree, etc.) died. Assembling groups of these dates together to look at patterns requires some sophisticated statistical analyses that have only recently been available to archaeologists. In this paper, we use these tools to provide the first-ever look at the history of platform construction on Easter Island."

The researchers found that construction of these statues began soon after colonization and increased rapidly, sometime between the early-14th and mid-15th centuries, with a steady rate of construction events that continued beyond European contact in 1722.

"What we found is that once people started to build monuments shortly after arrival to the island, they continued this construction well into the period after Europeans arrived," said Lipo. "This would not have been the case had there been some pre-contact "collapse"-- indeed, we should have seen all construction stop well before 1722. The lack of such a pattern supports our claims and directly falsifies those who continue to support the 'collapse' account. ...

The paper, "A model-based approach to the tempo of collapse: The case of Rapa Nui (Easter Island)," was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-02/bu-eis020620.php

VIDEO SUMMARY: https://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/223633.php
 

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This separate news release seems to refer to the same overall research initiative cited in the post above, indicating the "pre-European collapse" storyline isn't consistent with the historical and physical evidence.
Researchers revise timing of Easter island's societal collapse

Team led by University of Oregon doctoral student says new evidence, based on statistical modeling of radiocarbon dates, shows the island's monument-building culture was thriving when Europeans arrived

The prehistoric collapse of Easter Island's monument-building society did not occur as long thought, according to a fresh look at evidence by researchers at four institutions.

"The general thinking has been that the society that Europeans saw when they first showed up was one that had collapsed," said Robert J. DiNapoli, a doctoral candidate in the University of Oregon's Department of Anthropology who led the analysis. "Our conclusion is that monument-building and investment were still important parts of their lives when these visitors arrived." ...

Rapa Nui is believed to have been settled in the 13th century by Polynesian seafarers. They soon began building massive stone platforms stacked with megalithic statues and large, cylindrical stone hats that were used for cultural and religious rituals, including burial and cremation. A widely-held narrative is that monument construction stopped around 1600 after a major societal collapse.

In the new research, detailed online ahead of print in the Journal of Archaeological Science, DiNapoli's team presents a chronology for the statue platform construction by integrating existing radiocarbon dates with the order of assembly required to build the monuments and the written records of Dutch, Spanish and English seafarers who began arriving in 1722.

Taken together, DiNapoli said, the integration of data, using Bayesian statistics, brings clarity to radiocarbon-dating at various sites. Rapa Nui islanders, the researchers concluded, continued to build, maintain and use the monuments for at least 150 years beyond 1600. ...

That helped make sense of differing radiocarbon dates found at various excavation sites. Monument construction, according to the team, began soon after initial Polynesian settlement and increased rapidly, sometime between the early 14th and mid-15th centuries, with a steady rate of construction events that continued well beyond the hypothesized collapse and the European arrival.

When the Dutch arrived in 1722, their written observations reported that the monuments were in use for rituals and showed no evidence for societal decay. The same was reported in 1770, when Spanish seafarers landed on the island.

"Their stays were short and their descriptions brief and limited," DiNapoli said. "But they provide useful information to help us think about the timing of building and using these structures as part of their cultural and religious lives."

However, when British explorer James Cook arrived four years later, in 1774, he and his crew described an island in crisis, with overturned monuments.

"The way we interpret our results and this sequence of historical accounts is that the notion of a pre-European collapse of monument construction is no longer supported," DiNapoli said. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-02/uoo-rrt020520.php
 

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Oh, great ... :doh: :roll:

_111145420_easterislandcrash.jpg

Easter Island: Anger after truck crashes into sacred statue

The mayor of Easter Island has called for motor restrictions to be put in place in the area after a truck collided with a sacred stone statue.

Pedro Edmunds Paoa told local media that the incident had caused "incalculable" damage.

A Chilean man who lives on the island was arrested on Sunday and charged with damaging a national monument, local media report.

The platform on which the statue was mounted was also destroyed. ...

"Everyone decided against establishing traffic rules when it came to vehicles on sacred sites - but we, as a council, were talking about the dangers and knew very well what the rise in tourist and resident numbers could mean", Mr Edmunds Poa told the El Mercurio newspaper.

"They didn't listen to us and this is the result," he said. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-lati...nvironment&link_location=live-reporting-story
 

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Found this about the newer collapse theories yesterday. One thing I noted that he avoided mentioning, and is something that seems a bit important to me since his narrative goes heavy into the "we're all friends here" direction: Easter Island had a second non-Polynesian population that the natives told stories about fighting in wars. How does that fit into this perspective on the island's culture?

I did learn quite a lot from the video. The specifics of how the ecology was changed is very noteworthy. I kinda think he started soap boxing about that though. Loss of the forests may not have made it unlivable but he tries to make it sound like it was actually a good thing for the inhabitants. Yes, they seem to have successfully converted much of the island to farmland, but how good is that overall?

Also, while the walking thing might explain how the statues were put in place it doesn't explain topknots. Topknots were large pieces of stone placed on top of the statue heads. You can't walk them into place.

Another interesting point: the oldest known Rongo Rongo text is on a piece of wood dated to the early 17th century. Why does he think the first settlers had it? It seems to have been used in part of cultural celebrations as the tablets were often read in public by the handful of people who could actually read.

There is an interesting bit in there about the specifics of chronology that I found interesting. At some point after first contact, but before their race was nearly wiped out, they seemingly had a major population drop and no one knows why. This is probably what fueled the theories about mass starvation, but we literally have no data on how it happened. The idea it was a disease outbreak is plausible..
 

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... Found this about the newer collapse theories yesterday. One thing I noted that he avoided mentioning, and is something that seems a bit important to me since his narrative goes heavy into the "we're all friends here" direction: Easter Island had a second non-Polynesian population that the natives told stories about fighting in wars. How does that fit into this perspective on the island's culture? ...

Recent genetic research indicates Native Americans made contact with Polynesians in the Pacific prior to the settlement of Rapa Nui. Any second population may have represented (a) these earlier American contactees' descendants or (b) a new batch of Native Americans who made it to Rapa Nui from the South American mainland.

Pre-Columbian Polynesian / Native American Contact(s)
https://forums.forteana.org/index.p...n-polynesian-native-american-contact-s.29969/
 

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Recent genetic research indicates Native Americans made contact with Polynesians in the Pacific prior to the settlement of Rapa Nui. Any second population may have represented (a) these earlier American contactees' descendants or (b) a new batch of Native Americans who made it to Rapa Nui from the South American mainland.

Pre-Columbian Polynesian / Native American Contact(s)
https://forums.forteana.org/index.p...n-polynesian-native-american-contact-s.29969/
Yeah, Thor Heyerdal was in part correct, Natives from South America had migrated west.

One of the accounts I'd read though suggests that the two groups did not mingle particularly peacefully on Easter Island.
 

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This presentation and its thesis are very convincing. The obviousness of this more likely explanation is blatant. It is another nail in the coffin of euro-centric snobbery regarding the delineation of what constitutes civilised and primitive. In your faces, Diamond and Heyerdahl. :fslap:

 

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Found this about the newer collapse theories yesterday. One thing I noted that he avoided mentioning, and is something that seems a bit important to me since his narrative goes heavy into the "we're all friends here" direction: Easter Island had a second non-Polynesian population that the natives told stories about fighting in wars. How does that fit into this perspective on the island's culture?

I did learn quite a lot from the video. The specifics of how the ecology was changed is very noteworthy. I kinda think he started soap boxing about that though. Loss of the forests may not have made it unlivable but he tries to make it sound like it was actually a good thing for the inhabitants. Yes, they seem to have successfully converted much of the island to farmland, but how good is that overall?

Also, while the walking thing might explain how the statues were put in place it doesn't explain topknots. Topknots were large pieces of stone placed on top of the statue heads. You can't walk them into place.

Another interesting point: the oldest known Rongo Rongo text is on a piece of wood dated to the early 17th century. Why does he think the first settlers had it? It seems to have been used in part of cultural celebrations as the tablets were often read in public by the handful of people who could actually read.

There is an interesting bit in there about the specifics of chronology that I found interesting. At some point after first contact, but before their race was nearly wiped out, they seemingly had a major population drop and no one knows why. This is probably what fueled the theories about mass starvation, but we literally have no data on how it happened. The idea it was a disease outbreak is plausible..
Sorry, bud. Seems I only checked page 1 for a posted video. Didn't mean to steal your tundra. No edit option so the dreaded double-up remains, I'm afraid.
 

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Sorry, bud. Seems I only checked page 1 for a posted video. Didn't mean to steal your tundra. No edit option so the dreaded double-up remains, I'm afraid.
Well, please, feel free to discuss. :D What do you think about the points I made? :D
 

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My reaction was pretty much the same as yours.The thesis is very sound. I learned a great deal.
 

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Playing for the future of Rapa Nui.

As sea levels rise and the climate changes, Mahani Teave's island home and its culture are increasingly under threat.

Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, is one of the world's most remote inhabited island - a 164-sq-km dot in the South Pacific Ocean. The nearest land is Pitcairn Island, a British Overseas Territory, 2,000km (1,200 miles) away; and Chile - under whose jurisdiction Rapa Nui has fallen since 1888 - is 3,800km to the east.

The undulating grasslands which roll away down its volcanic spine are dotted with more than 900 moai, the monolithic stone figures with which the island has become almost synonymous.

But the chart-topping classical pianist is part of a vibrant, living culture that encompasses far more than just the famous statues carved by her ancestors.

"I have this sense that Rapanui children learn to walk just so that they can dance and to speak so they can sing," says Teave, 37.

In 2016, she was one of 11 Rapanui who set up the Toki Foundation, a music and cultural organisation which mixes classical, traditional and ecological education to provide opportunities to young islanders in a society heavily reliant on tourism. ...

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-57472134
 

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More recent research indicates the native population of Rapa Nui did not "collapse" before first European contact in 1722, as is commonly claimed. There is evidence that the local culture and its moai constructino activities continued and declined after European contact.
Update ...

The researchers cited last year have continued their analyses. A novel application of Bayesian methods supports their view that the notion of a catastrophic societal collapse on Rapa Nui is a myth.

Resilience, Not Collapse: What the Easter Island Myth Gets Totally Wrong

New research from Binghamton University, State University of New York suggests that the demographic collapse at the core of the Easter Island myth didn’t really happen.

You probably know this story, or a version of it: On Easter Island, the people cut down every tree, perhaps to make fields for agriculture or to erect giant statues to honor their clans. This foolish decision led to a catastrophic collapse, with only a few thousand remaining to witness the first European boats landing on their remote shores in 1722.

But did the demographic collapse at the core of the Easter Island myth really happen? The answer, according to new research by Binghamton University anthropologists Robert DiNapoli and Carl Lipo, is no.

Their research, “Approximate Bayesian Computation of radiocarbon and paleoenvironmental record shows population resilience on Rapa Nui (Easter Island),” was recently published in the journal Nature Communications. ...

In short, there is no evidence that the islanders used the now-vanished palm trees for food, a key point of many collapse myths. Current research shows that deforestation was prolonged and didn’t result in catastrophic erosion; the trees were ultimately replaced by gardens mulched with stone that increased agricultural productivity. During times of drought, the people may have relied on freshwater coastal seeps.

Construction of the moai statues, considered by some to be a contributing factor of collapse, actually continued even after European arrival.

In short, the island never had more than a few thousand people prior to European contact, and their numbers were increasing rather than dwindling, their research shows. ...

FULL STORY: https://scitechdaily.com/resilience-not-collapse-what-the-easter-island-myth-gets-totally-wrong/
 

EnolaGaia

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Here are the bibliographic details and abstract from the published research report. The full report is accessible at the link below.

DiNapoli, R.J., Crema, E.R., Lipo, C.P. et al.
Approximate Bayesian Computation of radiocarbon and paleoenvironmental record shows population resilience on Rapa Nui (Easter Island).
Nat Commun 12, 3939 (2021).
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24252-z

Abstract
Examining how past human populations responded to environmental and climatic changes is a central focus of the historical sciences. The use of summed probability distributions (SPD) of radiocarbon dates as a proxy for estimating relative population sizes provides a widely applicable method in this research area. Paleodemographic reconstructions and modeling with SPDs, however, are stymied by a lack of accepted methods for model fitting, tools for assessing the demographic impact of environmental or climatic variables, and a means for formal multi-model comparison. These deficiencies severely limit our ability to reliably resolve crucial questions of past human-environment interactions. We propose a solution using Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) to fit complex demographic models to observed SPDs. Using a case study from Rapa Nui (Easter Island), a location that has long been the focus of debate regarding the impact of environmental and climatic changes on its human population, we find that past populations were resilient to environmental and climatic challenges. Our findings support a growing body of evidence showing stable and sustainable communities on the island. The ABC framework offers a novel approach for exploring regions and time periods where questions of climate-induced demographic and cultural change remain unresolved.

SOURCE / FULL REPORT: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-24252-z
 

Bad Bungle

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Finally got their act together and did some serious archeology - maybe now we can get some answers.

Papa Moia.jpg


(OK it's a fake photo. But it's a good'un).
 

marhawkman

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Finally got their act together and did some serious archeology - maybe now we can get some answers.

View attachment 42107

(OK it's a fake photo. But it's a good'un).
honestly though it really makes me wonder how much effort actually got put into some of the research done. why did people never think to dig up the buried Moai and look at the buried parts?
 

Mikefule

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honestly though it really makes me wonder how much effort actually got put into some of the research done. why did people never think to dig up the buried Moai and look at the buried parts?
It's not like me to quote Gandalf, but

“He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.”​


The fact that the statues are buried is part of their design, part of their structure, part of their essence. They clearly had/have a cultural and ritual significance. I dare say the "Easter Islanders" (Rapa Nui people) would react in much the same way to them being dug up as the English would to the Americans coming over to dig up all the stones of Stonehenge.

These heads are a fascinating mystery: a massive investment of time, effort and resources to produce 1,000-ish very similar statues. My own feeling when I look at them is that they were seen as guardians of some kind, but that may well be projection of my own precnceptions.

Reading the thread above, the daftest thing of all is the suggestion that deforestation led to massive food shortages "causing a descent into cannibalism". Cannibalism does not work as even a medium term strategy for food supplies in a closed system.

I dare say that the body of a man would feed a small family for a week or two, but that body would take 20 or more years of living and eating to produce that food value. The concept is dafter than perpetual motion. Why not kill the man earlier, and eat the food he would have eaten? Or let the man live, and steal half the food he is able to hunt or grow?

At best (worst) cannibalism can be a short term solution to immediate starvation. There are documented cases on board boats, and linked to air crashes and other sudden disasters. If 3 people find themselves stranded without a food supply, the 2 strongest might sustain life for an extra few days by eating the weakest.

Other than that, cannibalism in human society is usually linked to some form of ritual or belief, often an expression of power, and is never a replacement for conventional food supplies. Any descent into cannibalism could only have been a brief period of chaos and bloodshed in the final few days or weeks, leading rapidly to the "last man standing".
 

Kondoru

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It certainly took place in the South Seas.

But presumably for reasons other than economy
 
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