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Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
Transcript of Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is a small Polynesian island off the coast of South America in the southeastern Pacific Ocean
Rapa Nui people
What's so special about it?
Map retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Island
Map retrieved from:
Audio: "The Visitors" by Jason Shaw (audionautix.com)
Terry Hunt & Carl Lipo
Image retrieved from: http://www.csulb.edu/sites/foundation/files/2012/05/2Carl-Lipo-Terry-Hunt.jpg
Image retrieved from: http://eatingupeaster.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Sergio.jpg
In 1995, it was named an UNESCO world heritage site
It is one of the most remote places on Earth -the nearest neighbors are on Pitcairn Island which is just over 1,289 miles away
Overpopulation and Deforestation
Jo Anne Van Tilburg
The "Log Theory"
Image retrieved from http://www.eisp.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/jo_anne_working.jpg
According to the 2012 census, the population of Rapa Nui was 5,761.
60% of people on the island are descendants of the aboriginal Rapa Nui
Who built and moved the moai?
Rapa Nui is famously known for being home to nearly 1000 monolithic statues called moai.
The moai range from 13-33ft. tall and weighing between 14-82 tons
It is a popular tourist destination, for all types of people, especially those interested in history.
Jo Anne Van Tilburg
Rapa Nui lore says that the moai walked into their places on the ceremonial ahu platforms. These theories make that a real possibility.
Former governor of the island
Long believed statues had been moved into place vertically.
Born and raised on Rapa Nui
Hunt (University of Hawaii and University of Oregon)
Authors of "The Statues that Walked"
Mainly interested in Sergio Rapu's theory
They conducted an experiment Hawai'i to test the moai's ability to "walk"
Lipo (California State University in Long Beach)
Leading expert on rock art and the Director of the Easter Island Statue Project
the first woman to conduct field work on Easter Island
developed a theory and designed an experiment to move the statues based on the indigenous boat docking system used on the island.
Czech engineer and experimental archaeologist
Successfully moved the statue with a team of 16 people
Conducted an experiment in1982 with a concrete moai
Over the years, many archaeologists have conducted experiments to test their theories of how the Rapa Nui moved the moai into their final place on the ahu.
While some of the experiments were successful, there is simply no way to be sure which method was used to move the moai
When first occupation occurred, the island was covered with a palm tree forest.
Rapa Nui was nicknamed Easter Island by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who came upon it on Easter Day 1722.
Based on genetic data,Easter Island is thought to have been settled by about 40 Polynesians around 700 CE.
At its height, the population is estimated to have been between 9,000-10,000.
The palm forest made the original Rapa Nui excellent hunters. But as an island society, they also heavily relied on fish. Canoeing continues to be a key component of their culture.
The forest was also home to a variety of bird species which the Rapa Nui relied on.
Construction of the moai is thought to have occurred sometime between 1000-1100 CE, and the construction ended around 1680.
According to island lore, Rapa Nui was populated when a chief named Hotu Matu'a ("The Great Parent") sailed to the island with his wife and extended family in a double canoe from somewhere unknown in Polynesia.
A strong drive to complete and move the statues is cited as the primary reason for the society's ultimate downfall, the deforestation of the island, and ecological disaster.
According to National Geographic, it is suspected that
"The moai were created to honor ancestors, chiefs, or other important personages."
Today, the Rapa Nui celebrate their cultural heritage and continue to practice traditional Polynesian style dancing, canoeing and rights of passage.
Did the Rapa Nui cut down their forests to move the moai into place?
Based on a traditional Polynesian method of docking canoes.
Used wood rollers to drag or push the moai over long distances
This theory accounts for the deforestation that occurred on the island
There is no way to be sure.
Hunt and Lipo
Several archaeologists have proposed that the statues actually "walked" into place (Including Hunt & Lipo and Pavel).
The methods for "walking" the moai include tying rope on the eye sockets, shoulders or bases of the statues.
Then, the moai is maneuvered by teams on either side and behind the statue.
alternatively, another theory puts teams in front and behind the moai and a twisting motion creates the walking illusion
This theory accounts for the island lore and is quite popular in magazines like "National Geographic"
The moai were hoisted into an upright position by a tripod constructed of palm trees.
The moai were pulled on wooden "sleds" by rope in teams to their places on the ahus.
We'll come back to this
Moai are constructed from a rock called volcanic tuff
Most were constructed at the Rano Raraku quarry, a volcanic crater on the island (and the smaller Puna Pao quarry)
There are about 300 unfinished statues at Rano Raraku
After being carved out of the tuff, moai were moved from the quarry and down one of several roads to the ahu platforms (their permanent resting place).
Where were they constructed?
Some moai did not make it to the platforms and can be found laying on the outside the quarry along the roads.
After being moved the 10 miles or so to their final destination, moai were decorated with inlaid coral eyes and a hat made of red scoria called a "pukao"
Moai were carved using only stone tools. The carvers used very dense stone tools made of basalt. These tools were called "toki"
A more detailed account of all the theories:
Some were also intricately carved
this includes the "arm" carvings
Moai have been found throughout the island, as well as undewater.
Some have "bodies" that have been buried under layers of silt.
Statistics (From NOVA's "Secrets of Easter Island")
Total number of moai on Easter Island: 887
Smallest standing moai
Height: 3.76 feet (1.13 meters)
Total number of moai lying 'in transit' outside of the Rano Raraku quarry: 92 (10%)
Total number of moai still in the Rano Raraku quarry: 397 (45%)
Total number of moai that were successfully transported to their final ahu locations: 288 (32% of 887)
Location: Rano Raraku Quarry, named "El Gigante"
Height: 71.93 feet, (21.60 meters)
Weight: approximately 145-165 tons (160-182 metric tons)
Largest moai once erect
Location: Ahu Te Pito Kura, Named "Paro"
Height: 32.63 feet (9.80 meters)
Weight: approximately 82 tons (74.39 metric tons)
Largest moai fallen while being erected
Location: Ahu Hanga Te Tenga
Height: 33.10 feet (9.94 meters)
The palm tree forest on Rapa Nui is believed to have been cut to create houses, as well as to clear land for agriculture
However, many archaeologists believe it was also feverishly cut down to move the moai into place.
Remember Hunt and Lipo?
When the rats were introduced into the area, there were no natural predators and abundant resources.
The first generation of rats could have exploded to a million in just three years.
The food the rats ate was palm nuts, inside of which were the seeds that were needed to grow new palm trees.
According to dated pollen core samples from an interior lake, the sharpest decline (90%) took place around 1150-1165 CE.
This evidence points to human activity as the cause of the decline.
18 total species of plant life were lost.
As the island became deforested the birds left the island.
Without palm trees to build canoes, the people were unable to fish.
Current forested areas on Rapa Nui:
Hunt and Lipo argue that there is evidence identifying a different reason leading to deforestation: rats.
Rats could have been brought as "accidental hitchhikers" when the original voyagers traveled to Rapa Nui from Polynesia.
Van Tilburg says
"The archeological evidence for cannibalism is present on a few sites. Analysis of this evidence is only preliminary in most cases, making it premature to comment on the scope and intensity of the practice as a cultural phenomenon."
There was a radical drop in the population after deforestation occurred.
Most scholars see the intense cultural drive to complete the stone projects as the main reason that the island's resources were depleted.
"The price they paid for the way they chose to articulate their spiritual and political ideas was an island world which came to be, in many ways, but a shadow of its former natural self."
Social Collapse: Yes.
Another popular idea (thanks to shows like "Ancient Aliens") is that the statues were moved into place by alien spacecraft.
There is no real evidence of this.