Easter Island is most famous for its nearly 1, extant monumental statues, called moai , created by the early Rapa Nui people. However, land clearing for cultivation and the introduction of the Polynesian rat led to gradual deforestation. European diseases, Peruvian slave raiding expeditions in the s, and emigration to other islands, e. Tahiti , further depleted the population, reducing it to a low of native inhabitants in Chile annexed Easter Island in In , the Rapa Nui were granted Chilean citizenship.
Easter Island has suffered from heavy soil erosion in recent centuries, perhaps aggravated by agriculture and massive deforestation. This process seems to have been gradual and may have been aggravated by sheep farming throughout most of the 20th century.
Jakob Roggeveen reported that Easter Island was exceptionally fertile. They cultivate bananas, sugar cane, and above all sweet potatoes. I found, on the contrary, a considerable population, with more beauty and grace than I afterwards met in any other island; and a soil, which, with very little labor, furnished excellent provisions, and in an abundance more than sufficient for the consumption of the inhabitants.
For example, he states, to severely insult an enemy one would say, "The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth. Contemporary ethnographic research has proven there is scarcely any tangible evidence for widespread cannibalism anywhere and at any time on the island.
The most important myths are: [ citation needed ]. The large stone statues, or moaifor which Easter Island is famous, were carved in the period - AD rectified radio-carbon dates. The native islanders who carved them used only stone hand chisels, mainly basalt tokiwhich lie in place all over the quarry. The stone chisels were sharpened by chipping off a new edge when dulled. While sculpting was going on, the volcanic stone was splashed with water to soften it. While many teams worked on different statues at the same time, a single moai took a team of five or six men approximately a year to complete.
Each statue represented the deceased head of a lineage. Only a quarter of the statues were installed. Nearly half remained in the quarry at Rano Raraku, and the rest sat elsewhere, presumably on their way to intended locations.
The largest moai raised on a platform is known as "Paro". It weighs 82 tonnes Possible means by which the statues were moved include employment of a miro manga eruaa Y-shaped sledge with cross pieces, pulled with ropes made from the tough bark of the hau tree  and tied around the statue's neck.
Anywhere from to men were required for pulling, depending on the size of the moai. Among other researchers on moving and erecting the moai was Vince Leewho reenacted a moai moving scenario. Some 50 of the statues were re-erected in modern times. One of the first was on Ahu Ature Huke in Anakena beach in Another method that might have been used to transport the moai would be to attach ropes to the statue and rock it, tugging it forward as it rocked. This would fit the legend of the Mo'ai 'walking' to their final locations.
There is debate regarding the effects of the monument creation process on the environment. Some believe that the process of creating the moai caused widespread deforestation and ultimately a civil war over scarce resources. Ina large moai statue was excavated from the ground. Ina pickup truck crashed into and destroyed a moai statue due to brake failure.
No one was injured in the incident. Tukuturian unusual bearded kneeling moai. All fifteen standing moai at Ahu Tongarikiexcavated and restored in the s. Ahu Akivione of the few inland ahu, with the only moai facing the ocean. Ahu are stone platforms.
Varying greatly in layout, many were reworked during or after the huri mo'ai or statue-toppling era; many became ossuariesone was dynamited open, and Ahu Tongariki was swept inland by a tsunami. Of the known ahu, carried moai-usually just one, probably because of the shortness of the moai period and transportation difficulties. Ahu Tongarikione kilometre 0.
A comprehensive account of Rapa Nui/Easter Island
Some moai may have been made from wood and were lost. Ahu evolved from the traditional Polynesian marae. In this context, ahu referred to a small structure sometimes covered with a thatched roof where sacred objects, including statues, were stored. The ahu were usually adjacent to the marae or main central court where ceremonies took place, though on Easter Island, ahu and moai evolved to much greater size.
There the marae is the unpaved plaza before the ahu. The filling of an ahu was sourced locally apart from broken, old moai, fragments of which have been used in the fill. Ahu are found mostly on the coast, where they are distributed fairly evenly, except on the western slopes of Mount Terevaka and the Rano Kau and Poike  headlands.
These are the three areas with the least low-lying coastal land and, apart from Poike, the furthest areas from Rano Raraku.
One ahu with several moai was recorded on the cliffs at Rano Kau in the s but had fallen to the beach before the Routledge expedition. One of the highest-quality examples of Easter Island stone masonry is the rear wall of the ahu at Vinapu. Made without mortar by shaping hard basalt rocks of up to 7 tonnes to match each other exactly, it has a superficial similarity to some Inca stone walls in South America.
Two types of houses are known from the past: hare paengaa house with an elliptical foundation, made with basalt slabs and covered with a thatched roof that resembled an overturned boat, and hare okaa round stone structure.
Related stone structures called Tupa look very similar to the hare okaexcept that the Tupa were inhabited by astronomer-priests and located near the coast, where the movements of the stars could be easily observed.
Settlements also contain hare moa "chicken house"oblong stone structures that housed chickens. The houses at the ceremonial village of Orongo are unique in that they are shaped like hare paenga but are made entirely of flat basalt slabs found inside Rano Kao crater. The entrances to all the houses are very low, and entry requires crawling. In early times the people of Rapa Nui reportedly sent the dead out to sea in small funerary canoes, as did their Polynesian counterparts on other islands.
They later started burying people in secret caves to save the bones from desecration by enemies. During the turmoil of the late 18th century, the islanders seem to have started to bury their dead in the space between the belly of a fallen moai and the front wall of the structure.
During the time of the epidemics they made mass graves that were semi-pyramidal stone structures. Petroglyphs are pictures carved into rock, and Easter Island has one of the richest collections in all Polynesia. Around 1, sites with more than 4, petroglyphs are catalogued.
Designs and images were carved out of rock for a variety of reasons: to create totems, to mark territory, or to memorialize a person or event. There are distinct variations around the island in the frequency of themes among petroglyphs, with a concentration of Birdmen at Orongo. Other subjects include sea turtlesKomari vulvas and Makemake, the chief god of the Tangata manu or Birdman cult. Makemake with two birdmencarved from red scoria. The island and neighbouring Motu Nui are riddled with caves, many of which show signs of past human use for planting and as fortifications, including narrowed entrances and crawl spaces with ambush points.
Easter island carbon dating
Many caves feature in the myths and legends of the Rapa Nui. It was once a musical instrument used in fertility rituals. Easter Island once had an apparent script called rongorongo. Glyphs include pictographic and geometric shapes; the texts were incised in wood in reverse boustrophedon direction.
At that time, several islanders said they could understand the writing, but according to tradition, only ruling families and priests were ever literate, and none survived the slave raids and subsequent epidemics.
Despite numerous attempts, the surviving texts have not been deciphered, and without decipherment it is not certain that they are actually writing. Part of the problem is the small amount that has survived: only two dozen texts, none of which remain on the island.
There are also only a couple of similarities with the petroglyphs on the island. Wood was scarce on Easter Island during the 18th and 19th centuries, but a number of highly detailed and distinctive carvings have found their way to the world's museums.
Particular forms include:. The Rapanui sponsor an annual festival, the Tapatiheld since around the beginning of February to celebrate Rapa Nui culture.
The islanders also maintain a national football team and three discos in the town of Hanga Roa. Other cultural activities include a musical tradition that combines South American and Polynesian influences and woodcarving. Tapati Rapa Nui festival "week festival" in the local language is an annual two-week long festival celebrating Easter Island culture. The winning team has their candidate crowned 'queen' of the island for the next year.
The competitions are a way to maintain and celebrate traditional cultural activities such as cooking, jewelry-making, woodcarving, and canoeing. Population at the census was 5, increased from 3, in Polynesian dancing with feather costumes is on the tourist itinerary. Catholic Church, Hanga Roa. The population was 1, The increase in population in the last census was partly caused by the arrival of people of European or mixed European and Native American descent from the Chilean mainland.
However, most married a Rapa Nui spouse. Estimates of the pre-European population range fromEaster Island's all-time low of inhabitants was reported in Out of these Rapa Nui, only 36 had descendants, and all of today's Rapa Nui claim descent from those Easter Island's traditional language is Rapa Nuian Eastern Polynesian languagesharing some similarities with Hawaiian and Tahitian.
However, as in the rest of mainland Chilethe official language used is Spanish. It is supposed that the 2.
Hidden Secrets of Easter Island
For this reason, most Rapa Nui children now grow up speaking Spanish, and those who do learn Rapa Nui begin learning it later in life. Easter Island's indigenous Rapa Nui toponymy has survived with few Spanish additions or replacements, a fact that has been attributed in part to the survival of the Rapa Nui language.
As of a special charter for the island was under discussion in the Chilean Congress. The provincial governor is appointed by the President of the Republic.
In Augusta law took effect prohibiting non-Rapa Nui people from staying on the island for more than 30 days. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the album by Kris Kristofferson, see Easter Island album. For other uses under the name, see Rapa Nui disambiguation. Special Territory, Province and Commune. Coat of arms. Easter Island. Moai at Rano RarakuEaster Island. Main article: History of Easter Island. See also: Climate of Chile. Satellite view of Easter Island The Poike peninsula is on the right.
Digital recreation of its ancient landscape, with tropical forest and palm trees. View of Rano Kau and Pacific Ocean. Main article: Rapa Nui mythology. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Fish petroglyph found near Ahu Tongariki.
Main article: Rongorongo. Further information: Europeans in Oceania. National Statistics Institute in Spanish. Archived from the original on 11 May Retrieved 11 May National Statistics Institute. Archived from the original on 15 July Retrieved 1 May American Scientist. Corrections in radiocarbon dating suggests that the first settlers arrived from other Polynesia islands around A.
Archived from the original on 10 June Archived from the original on 27 May Retrieved 11 January Thomas Brinkhoff.
The original construction of the artificial Poike ditch, according to carbon dating, took place about ce. The First International Science Congress convening on Easter Island in agreed on a resolution defining the island as the site of a pre-European civilization. The recent excavations, which reveal that the earliest settlers arrived. The paper builds up a formidable case for the late date for Easter Island, which must fit in with the dates for the other islands. The dates for Easter Island cannot possibly be earlier than the dates of the colonisation of the other islands, Tahiti, Tuamotu and the Society Islands which must have been stepping stones for the settlers of Easter Island. Indus Valley and Easter Island (Similarities in Script). In , Wilhelm de Hevesy was the first academic to suggest a link between Rongorongo and the Indus script of the Indus Valley Civilization in India, claiming that as many as forty Rongorongo symbols had a correlating symbol in the script from India.
Archived from the original on 15 October Retrieved 8 November Easter Island: Island of Enigmas. Archived from the original on 9 December Retrieved 19 March In reality, however, Easter Island is more than four times bigger than Rapa Iti.
Heyerdahl also stated that there is an island called "Rapa" in Lake Titicaca in South America, but so far there is no map available showing an island of that name in the lake. Archived from the original on 16 July Archived from the original on 4 April Island at the End of the World. London: Reaktion Books Ltd. Bibcode : Sci Free Press. Current Biology. Aphrodite's Island. Berkeley: University of California Press. Polynesian Voyaging Society. Archived from the original on 12 November National Geographic.
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Previous age determinations on bulk sediments from Easter Island, which also show anomalous dates, may be too simplistic. This paper provides a warning to other researchers dating sediments from Easter Island. We suggest that sample selection and dating procedures be carefully considered for . It is now considered likely that the original inhabitants of Easter Island are of Polynesian stock (DNA extracts from skeletons have confirmed this), that they most probably came from the Marquesas or Society islands, and that they arrived as early as AD (carbon dating of .
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Retrieved 11 March See also "this FAQ". Archived from the original on 11 October Retrieved 6 September The new dating began in New Zealand.
Surprisingly New Zealand is one of the most remote places in the world and was therefore one of the last places to be settled by the Polynesian diaspora that resulted in the Maoris. Indeed from the sailing point of view, New Zealand is almost as difficult to get to as Easter Island, and was therefore settled at the very end of the waves of settlement in which the Pacific was colonised.
This is the map of the Pacific from the Wilmshurst et al paper, showing the two waves of the colonisation of the Pacific. Their caption: Fig. Islands of East Polynesia, summarizing the two phases of migration out of West Polynesia blue shading : first to the Society Islands and possibly as far as Gambier between A. The paper builds up a formidable case for the late date for Easter Island, which must fit in with the dates for the other islands. From this Hunt and Lipo build up a completely new story which largely does away with the ecological disaster.
The decline of the tree cover was caused not so much human intervention but by the rats inadvertently introduced by the first colonists, who ate the nuts on which the tree cycle depended. There was no ecological disaster, they argue, but a disastrous decline only in the 18 th century after the first contact by the Europeans who brought with them diseases to which the Polynesians had no immunity.
And these diseases combined with European rapacity destroyed the statue building culture. They point out that when the first contact was made by Roggeveen inhe reported that the island was ringed by statues, but that these had mostly been overthrown by the time that Captain Cook arrived in The statue building they say began in earnest around A and that the ecological crash came around The dating of the Easter Island phenomenon and the problems of the causes and dating of the decline are currently in limbo.
In these web pages we are therefore inconsistent; generally we follow the traditional position, while I have read with interest the revisionist version.
We desperately need more reliable radiocarbon dates, particularly for the overthrow of the statues and for the activities on Orongo.