Monday, August 21, 2006

Rethinking the Fall of Easter Island

The story of Easter Island makes a really good parable for our times. Hapless natives became so busy erecting mucking big statues that they ignored the fact they were chopping down their trees will-they nill-they. The last one came down and (holy crap) they'd run out of firewood. And boat material so they were stuck there. What followed wasn't pretty.

That story might be all wrong.

When I first went to Rapa Nui to conduct archaeological research, I expected to help confirm this story. Instead, I found evidence that just didn't fit the underlying timeline. As I looked more closely at data from earlier archaeological excavations and at some similar work on other Pacific islands, I realized that much of what was claimed about Rapa Nui's prehistory was speculation. I am now convinced that self-induced environmental collapse simply does not explain the fall of the Rapanui.

Good read.

blog comments powered by Disqus