Did humans devastate Easter Island on arrival?

Explaining the processes underlying the emergence of monument construction is a major theme in contemporary anthropological archaeology, and recent studies have employed spatially-explicit modeling to explain these patterns. Rapa Nui Easter Island, Chile is famous for its elaborate ritual architecture, particularly numerous monumental platforms ahu and statuary moai. To date, however, we lack explicit modeling to explain spatial and temporal aspects of monument construction. Here, we use spatially-explicit point-process modeling to explore the potential relations between ahu construction locations and subsistence resources, namely, rock mulch agricultural gardens, marine resources, and freshwater sources—the three most critical resources on Rapa Nui. Through these analyses, we demonstrate the central importance of coastal freshwater seeps for precontact populations. Our results suggest that ahu locations are most parsimoniously explained by distance from freshwater sources, in particular coastal seeps, with important implications for community formation and inter-community competition in precontact times. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

The Rats of Rapa Nui

Palaeoecology of Easter Island: natural and anthropogenic drivers of ecological change View all 10 Articles. The archaeological and anthropological relevance of Easter Island Rapa Nui for human history in a regional Pacific context has been highlighted since the early twentieth century Routledge, At first, the interest was focused on the giant stone statues called moai , which had been carved on the island’s volcanic rocks by an enigmatic ancient civilization.

The interest on the island received a boost several decades ago, after the expedition leaded by Thor Heyedahl Heyerdahl and Ferdon, and the first palynological studies suggesting a recent ecological catastrophe, led by an abrupt island-wide deforestation likely due to the over-exploitation of natural resources, and an ensuing cultural collapse Flenley and King, ; Flenley et al. Further, archaeological and palaeoecological studies have challenged this ecocidal theory Hunt and Lipo, , ; Hunt, ; Lipo and Hunt, , which has revitalized the debate on the recent cultural history of Easter Island reviews in Rull et al.

In comparison to the concern for human developments and their influence on the island’s environment, the palaeoclimatic history of Easter Island and its potential paleoecological consequences has received little attention until the last decade.

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New evidence points to an alternative explanation for a civilization’s collapse. DOI: Every year, thousands of tourists from around the world take a long flight across the South Pacific to see the famous stone statues of Easter Island. Since , when the first Europeans arrived, these megalithic figures, or moai , have intrigued visitors. Interest in how these artifacts were built and moved led to another puzzling question: What happened to the people who created them?

Figure 1. The island continues to draw both tourists and scientists, in part because of the mystery surrounding the fate of its civilization. New evidence from archaeological work and comparative ecology, however, reveals that this story may need to be rewritten. In the prevailing account of the island’s past, the native inhabitants—who refer to themselves as the Rapanui and to the island as Rapa Nui—once had a large and thriving society, but they doomed themselves by degrading their environment.

According to this version of events, a small group of Polynesian settlers arrived around to A. Around A. By the end of the 17th century, the Rapanui had deforested the island, triggering war, famine and cultural collapse.

Easter Island Tours for Solo / Single Travellers

Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island, bears witness to a unique cultural phenomenon. A society of Polynesian origin that settled there c. From the 10th to the 16th century this society built shrines and erected enormous stone figures known as moai , which created an unrivalled cultural landscape that continues to fascinate people throughout the world. Rapa Nui, de inheemse naam van Paaseiland, getuigt van een uniek cultureel fenomeen. Rond na Christus vestigde zich hier een samenleving van Polynesische oorsprong die een krachtige, creatieve en originele traditie vestigde van beeldhouwkunst en architectuur, vrij van elke invloed van buitenaf.

PONANT invites you to enjoy an unforgettable experience with our team of naturalists, discovering atypical destinations in the heart of the Pacific. From Hanga.

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Abstract The largest volcanic crater on Easter Island in the South Pacific contains a lake 1 km in diameter with large floating mats of vegetation, mainly Scirpus californicus. A core taken through a mat near the center produced anomalous dates, with older dates above younger ones.


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In their book Easter Island, Earth Island, authors John R. Flenley of Massey the site of an ancient hearth—was dated to about A.D. Combined with the.

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New timeline rewrites history of Easter Island’s collapse

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Today, Easter Island is best known for the hundreds of gigantic stone statues that Dating back to the 15th century, the moai are thought to have been built in.

Stone Giants On average, they stand 13 feet high and weigh 14 tons, human heads-on-torsos carved in the male form from rough hardened volcanic ash. The islanders call them “moai,” and they have puzzled ethnographers, archaeologists, and visitors to the island since the first European explorers arrived here in In their isolation, why did the early Easter Islanders undertake this colossal statue-building effort? Unfortunately, there is no written record and the oral history is scant to help tell the story of this remote land, its people, and the significance of the nearly giant moai that punctuate Easter Island’s barren landscape.

What do they mean? The moai and ceremonial sites are along the coast, with a concentration on Easter Island’s southeast coast. Here, the moai are more ‘standardized’ in design, and are believed to have been carved, transported, and erected between AD and

Easter Island: everything you need to know about visiting the mystical statues

By Bob Holmes. The first humans may have arrived on Easter Island several centuries later than previously supposed, suggests a new study. Easter Island has often been cited as the classic example of a human-induced ecological catastrophe. The island — one of the most remote places on Earth — was once richly forested, but settlers cut the forests, partly to use the wood in construction of the massive stone statues and temples for which the island is famous.

This paper provides a warning to other researchers dating sediments from Easter Island. We suggest that sample selection and dating procedures be carefully.

The island, also called Rapa Nui, first settled around A. Located in the South Pacific, Rapa Nui is the most isolated inhabited landmass on Earth; the closest inhabitants are located on the Pitcairn Islands about 1, miles 1, kilometers to the west. To determine the diet of its past inhabitants, researchers analyzed the nitrogen and carbon isotopes, or atoms of an element with different numbers of neutrons, from the teeth specifically the dentin of 41 individuals whose skeletons had been previously excavated on the island.

To get an idea of what the islanders ate before dying, the researchers then compared the isotope values with those of animal bones excavated from the island. Additionally, the researchers were able to radiocarbon date 26 of the teeth remains, allowing them to plot how the diet on the island changed over time. The research was published recently online in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Chronology of Easter Island: Important Events on Rapa Nui

Objectives: The Rapa Nui “ecocide” narrative questions whether the prehistoric population caused an avoidable ecological disaster through rapid deforestation and over-exploitation of natural resources. The objective of this study was to characterize prehistoric human diets to shed light on human adaptability and land use in an island environment with limited resources.

Materials and methods: Materials for this study included human, faunal, and botanical remains from the archaeological sites Anakena and Ahu Tepeu on Rapa Nui, dating from c. We used bulk carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses and amino acid compound specific isotope analyses AA-CSIA of collagen isolated from prehistoric human and faunal bone, to assess the use of marine versus terrestrial resources and to investigate the underlying baseline values. Similar isotope analyses of archaeological and modern botanical and marine samples were used to characterize the local environment.

Results: Results of carbon and nitrogen AA-CSIA independently show that around half the protein in diets from the humans measured came from marine sources; markedly higher than previous estimates.

() present results from improved radiocarbon dating techniques that compress the settlement chronologies for Easter Island and East Polynesia.

Please refresh the page and retry. T he monolithic statues of Rapa Nui Easter Island called moai are sublimely beautiful works of art. Tall figures carved out of volcanic rock between the 11th and 14th centuries by Polynesian settlers, they have long, unsmiling faces, elegant, hawk-like noses and brooding brows. They can seem alienating or enthralling, depending on the angle, the light, your mood and the weather.

Rapa Nui is a tiny triangle some 14 miles long on its base and about seven miles wide, making it roughly the size of Jersey. At each of its three corners stands an extinct volcano. Some 2, miles from the coast of Chile, the island is one of the most isolated places on the planet. It is treeless, dotted with volcanoes and fringed with sandy beaches. High waves often lash its western shores. This setting — and the or so moai — have turned much of Rapa Nui into a Unesco World Heritage Site and a tourism magnet.

An Easter Island Date, Rapi Nui Moai