On a dusty speck of rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, one of the most
celebrated cultures in history found a foot-hold into the popular imagination.
The inhabitants of Easter Island created a cultural legacy that continues to
resonate today as tourists flock to the tiny Chilean possession to see for
themselves the impressive and distinctive statues, called Moai, which dot the
landscape and stare with empty eyes toward the endless ocean. They stand on
platform temples, called Ahu, which the islanders built up and enlarged over
the course of centuries. Tourists are astounded by the fine craftsmanship and
breath-taking beauty of Easter Island. Many believe a great mystery lies
Alternative history author
Graham Hancock believes that Easter Island is a focal point for a
vanished civilization whose influence stretches across millennia:
"The mystery of Easter Island so far seems to have involved... the mystery of
the master architects who first conceived the great Ahu and Moai [and] the
mystery of the master scribes who understood the Rongorongo language," he
wrote in Heaven's Mirror (1998).
Decades ago, anthropologist Robert Suggs wrote a history of Polynesia that was
a standard text on the subject. He firmly believed that archaeology had solved
most of the island's puzzles: "The mystery of this island, then, is largely of
an artificial nature, created for specific purposes by nonscientific authors."
He implied that those authors seek only fame and fortune, not truth. For that
reason, they obscure the history of the famous Moai.
The Moai of Easter Island are usually dated to the period between A.D. 1200 -
1650, and are considered a late addition to the Ahu platforms, which
originated with the founding of Easter Island. When I asked Graham Hancock to
comment on the age of the statues, he told me in August 2001 that the
archaeological dating is "probably correct as far as it goes, though not
necessarily the whole story." He referred me to Heaven's Mirror for a
full explanation of his views, so it is from their that I quote...
Sloping slightly sideways on the grassy hills beneath the Ranu Raraku volcano, a giant stone head known as a moai shows the wear and tear of time on this triangular 64-square-mile island. On the right side of the oblong rectangular face with male features, the rock is lighter in color and its long, carefully sculpted ear and nostril are clearly visible. But on the statue"s left side, the sun and wind have eroded the nose, lip and ear. "The moai are dying by natural causes," said archaeologist Se...Did rats cause death of Easter Island ?
It was the first and most extreme ecological disaster. Easter Island, in the south Pacific, once lush with subtropical broadleaf forest, was left barren and vast seabird colonies were destroyed after the arrival of man. But now there is new evidence that human beings may not have been responsible for the destruction after all. Although Easter Island has long been held to be the most important example of a traditional society destroying itself, it appears that the real culprits were rats - up to ...Leaving stones unturned on Easter Island
As remnants of a vanished culture and a lure to tourists, the mysterious giant statues that stand as mute sentinels along the rocky coast here are the greatest treasure of this remote place. For local people, though, they also present a problem: what should be done about the hundreds of other stone icons scattered around the island, many of them damaged or still embedded in the ground?Commercial and political interests, as well as some archaeologists, would like nothing better than to restoremor...Cave system found on Easter Island
A six-kilometer long cave system has been discovered on Easter Island which is believed to have been used by the island"s inhabitants in the 16th century. Spears, axes, petroglyphs and even human skeletons have been found there."A team of experts recently discovered a six-kilometer-long lava cave system on Easter Island thought to have been used as arefuge by the island’s inhabitants during the 16th century. . The team con...Easter Island and death of an ecosystem
The giant stone statues of Easter Island have perplexed generations of archaeologists, engineers and scholars. Ever since European explorers first set eyes on them three centuries ago these carvings have presented a problem. How could the island's primitive inhabitants have erected such massive edifices – each weighing many tons – without the help of wheels, cranes, machines, metal tools or draft animals? The very existence of these giant heads on a barren outcrop of land in the middle of th...Giant statues give up hat secret
How did the Easter Island statues get their red hats ? Archaeologists now believe that the mysterious headpieces sported by the statues were rolled down from avolcano and are composed of compressed red scoriadust."Archaeologists believe they have solved one ancient mystery surrounding the famous Easter Island statues. . At 2,500 miles off the coast of Chile, the island is one of the world"smost remote places inhabited by people...Easter Island: the future's not set in stone
Michelle Jana Chan : I wondered if the pilot sighed with relief as the wedge of land emerged on the horizon. There is only deep Pacific Ocean blue between Santiago, the capital of Chile, and Easter Island, and, after five hours in the air, the cones of three extinct volcanoes rising from the sea are as welcome as they are dramatic. They must have been even more of a surprise for the 18th-century European explorers who stumbled across this craggy outcrop, especially when, on closer inspection, th...The other mystery of Easter Island
Easter Island is branded into popular consciousness as the home of the mysterious and towering moai statues, but these are not the only curiosity the South Pacific island holds. Where the moai are fascinating for their unknown purpose and mysterious craftsmen, the island's lost language of Rongorongo is equally perplexing. The unique written language seems to have appeared suddenly in the 1700s, but within just two centuries it was exiled to obscurity.Known as Rapa Nui to the island's in...Easter Island Exposed
Between 1200 and 1500 A.D., the small, remote island, 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, was inhabited by over 10,000 people and had a relatively sophisticated and technologically advanced society.During this time, inhabitants used large boats for fishing and navigation, constructed numerous buildings and built many of the large statues, known as Tiki Gods, for which the island is now best known.However, by the late 18th century, when European explorers first discovered the island, ...