Easter Island: The Secrets of the Moai and the Decline of the Rapa Nui

Easter Island, Chile. A tiny speck of land covering 63 square miles
[163 sq km], inhabited by less than 8,000 people, almost invisible amidst the vast sprawl
of the Pacific Ocean. Possibly the most remote Island on the planet,
it’s a full 2,300 miles [3,700 km] West of South America and 1,100 miles [1,700 km]
from the nearest island. Yet, this apparently insignificant grain of
sand is home to one of the most fascinating cultures in the world, one that never ceases
to raise questions of its people, its art, its customs. Welcome to today’s Geographics: it’s time
to offer answers on Easter Island. Flying to Easter Island
How does one get to Easter Island? Your best bet is to book a flight from Santiago,
the capital of Chile. In 5 hours and 15 minutes, you’ll cover
a distance of 2,336 miles before landing in Mataveri, the Island’s International Airport,
considered to be the most remote terminal in the world. Easter Island is today a major tourist destination,
but this became possible only after the mid-1970s, when regular flights were established to and
from mainland Chile. Before that, Mataveri’s single air strip
was permanently booked by the NASA as an ‘abort’ site for Space Shuttles. In other words, if something went wrong after
take-off, crews could stage an emergency landing there — not that it was ever actually used
to that end. Leaving the main town, Hanga Roa, to the south,
visitors can reach the Ana Kai Tangata cave, famous for its fading paintings of ships and
sacred birds. Ana Kai Tangata loosely translates into “Cave
Eat Man”. Such a name could be interpreted in a reassuring
way: “Cave where men eat”
Or, more worryingly: “Cave that eats men”
Or even worse “Cave where men are eaten.” Did cannibalism take place on Easter Island? According to some researchers, yes, as a consequence
of warfare and famines. But I’ll get to those theories later. From Ana Kai Tangata, you can climb to the
Rano Kau crater, overlooking 1000-foot cliffs. If you haven’t fainted from exhaustion,
you can enjoy the magnificent viewpoints before continuing your walk to Orongo, a UNESCO World
Heritage Site. Orongo was the major site of worship for the
Birdman Cult, one of the major religions of the Rapa Nui, the natives of Easter Island. Each year, the Rapa Nui would compete to win
the title of Tangata-Manu, or Birdman. Each contestant would sponsor a representative
to participate in a highly dangerous race – imagine an Iron Man triathlon, minus the
bicycle, plus a constant risk of death. These ‘representatives’ had to first scale
the dangerous face of the Rano Kau cliff, then swim shark-infested waters to the small
island of Motu Nui. There, they had to find an egg of Sooty Tern,
a rare and elusive breed of bird. The first to find an egg for their ‘sponsor’
was declared the winner and crowned Tangata-Manu for a span of one year. That gave the victor and their clan all the
benefits of a god – which included living in a luxury hut for 12 months, doing nothing
but eat and sleep! A year of leisure sounds pretty good, considering
that the winner had just risked his life, several times over. Competitors could have fallen down a cliff,
been mauled by a shark, or drowned … while you just stood there and watched. I hope you enjoyed that egg. The next stop on our tour of the Island is
the so-called Navel of the World, a phrase sometimes used to describe the Island itself. This Navel is a large round boulder at the
centre of a rock perimeter. I could create something like that in my backyard,
so what’s the big deal? You see, this mysterious rock is believed
to have travelled to the island with its first King, Hotu Matua, and according to legend,
all life in the world sprang from it. Legends aside, the rock does display the strange
power to send compasses into confusion, most likely due to the presence of polarised metals
within. Another celebrated stone on the Island is
Pu o Hiro, or trumpet of Hiro, a rain deity. The Rapa Nui would blow into the natural hole
at the top of the stone, and this created a loud, trumpeting sound. The sound was used to summon a gathering,
for example, and it was even believed to attract fish to swim up to the shoreline. As I mentioned earlier – and again over
the episode – Easter Island has an intense history of warfare, and Pu o Hiro was a valued
trophy, paraded around the Island by whichever victorious faction could get a hold of it. So, that quick tour should be enough for your
archaeology fix. As you travel back to Mataveri airport, though,
you might have this nagging feeling, telling you there was something else worth seeing
on the Island. What could
that possibly be? The Moai
The Massive Giant
Stone Heads That made the Island
Famous! Of course! It’s time to check out the Moai, the Massive Giant Stone Heads that
have made the island famous worldwide! There are almost 1000 of these fascinating
statues, standing like faithful sentinels against the cruel indifference of nature and
time. The Moai are monoliths — in other words,
they are carved into a single piece, from volcanic stone, originating from the solidified
ashes that were spewed out of the crater of the Rano Raraku. Most of these statues weigh around 20 tons
and they stand at 20 feet, or 6 metres. But these are averages, of course. One of them, nicknamed ‘El Gigante’ – the
giant – may weigh up to 182 metric tons. That’s the same as two Boeing 737s, passengers
and all. This giant would have stood at 72 feet – almost
20 metres – if it had stood at all. El Gigante was left unfinished, and was discovered
laying by the quarry at Rano Raraku. And this is the right time to raise the right
questions: who built the Moai? How did they achieve such a feat? Why did they do it? How did they move these gargantuan monoliths
from their quarry to their final locations? Who lived on Easter Island? As we’ve mentioned, Easter Island is located
some 2,000 miles west of South America So who could have possibly reached such an isolated
place? The most widely accepted theory is that the
original inhabitants of the Island were Polynesian sea-farers, most likely from what are today
the Marquesas Islands. While early European colonists in the 18th
Century believed Polynesians to be a ‘primitive’ society, these populations were highly skilled
and sophisticated sailors, adept at building sturdy boats and at navigating the perilous
waters of the Pacific. Legends have preserved the name of Hotu Matua,
the first King of the Rapa Nui, who landed on the island with a big canoe, his wife and
a few companions. But beyond these oral traditions, the only
written records of the Island are the wooden Rongo-Rongo tablets, which have never been
translated. So, scholars still disagree on exactly why
the first Polynesians arrived on Easter Island, and when, with estimates varying between the
4th and 13th centuries CE. Now, while most scholars agreed that the Rapa
Nui descended from settlers of Polynesian origin, some others suggest that a second
migration may have originated from Inca-dominated regions in South America. One of them is celebrated Norwegian anthropologist
Thor Heyerdal. First piece of evidence: the fact that the
Rapa Nui used to farm and eat yams, or sweet potatoes, which are common in South America,
but are believed endemic to neither Easter Island nor Polynesia. Add to that the Rongo-Rongo tablets. While this script has never been deciphered,
Heyerdal found evidence of a similarly styled script around Lake Titicaca, in the Andes
range. Heyerdahl also led the famous expedition of
the ‘Kon-Tiki’, a balsa wood raft with which he crossed the Pacific in 1947, from
South America to Polynesia. Other researchers have disputed these claims. DNA analysis of skeletal remains on the Island
shows a strong link to that of modern-day Polynesians. Plus, the Rapa Nui society lacked many of
the arts and craft traditions typical of the Incas, such as fine pottery and weaving. In 1955 and 1956, Heyerdal led his first expedition
to Easter Island, looking to de-mystify many aspects of the Rapa Nui heritage, including
the Moai. Based on his excavations, he estimated that
the ancestors of the Rapa Nui landed some time before 380 CE, finding an island covered
in luscious vegetation. Heyerdal also identified three separate epochs
in the history of the Island: Early, Middle and Late. In the Early Period, the Rapa Nui did not
engage in carving the giant statues: they devoted their engineering skill to erect altar-like
platforms, made of large stones, cut and joined together in a very precise fashion. These altars – called ‘ahu’ – had their
fronts facing towards the ocean, and, more strikingly, they were astronomically oriented:
the Rapa Nui stone masons must have been highly specialised, as they were able to align these
platforms with the annual movements of the sun. It was during the Second Period that the Rapa
Nui began to quarry, carve, and place the Moai on the altars, or platforms. This second period lasted roughly from the
year 1100 to 1680, the year in which, according to Heyerdal, the construction of the super-Moai
‘El Gigante’ was suddenly abandoned. I will return to the mysteries of the Moai
later on. The beginning of the Late Period was marked
by the sudden end of all carving work in the quarries under the Rano Raraku volcano. Heyerdal and his team surmised that, after
1680, many of the Moai were toppled over — only one of the signs of warfare and destruction
that they were able to dig out. The evidence points to the hypothesis that
the Island society had undergone a period of rebellion, famine, civil war …
… or all of the above. … Or none of the above. Sorry to confuse you, but you see, unlike
the Moai, the historiography of the Island is not set in stone … and archaeologists
and historians are still divided on what may have caused the decline and almost total collapse
of the Rapa Nui natives. But I will ge to those theories, I promise. For the moment, let’s stick to the most
widely accepted narrative. Little more than 40 years after ‘El Gigante’
was abandoned, on Easter Day 1722, Dutch sailor Jacob Roggeveen, arrived on the Island, the
first European to make contact with the Rapa Nui. While Heyerdal had found evidence of a society
numbering 10 to 15 thousand inhabitants, thriving on a fertile and verdant landscape, Roggeveen
found a completely different situation. The Island was almost completely devoid of
trees, and arable land was scarce.The island population had dwindled to approximately 3000. Along the way, something had clearly gone
wrong. For several decades the inhabitants of Easter
Island were largely left alone, having occasional contact with European ships, but in general,
they were spared the ravages of unchecked colonialism. Well, at least for a while. In December of 1862, eight Peruvian ships
landed and captured some 1000 Easter Islanders, including the king, his son, and the ritual
priests. The fact that the priests were taken may indicate
that there was no longer any one left to teach the religious customs and conduct their ceremonies. The captured islanders were sold into slavery
in Peru. Ninety percent of the Rapanui died within
one or two years of capture. In 1865, the Bishop of Tahiti denounced the
abominable practice, and the embarrassed Peruvian government rounded up the few survivors to
return them. But smallpox broke out on the ship returning
to Easter Islands, and only 15 of the freed slaves survived the voyage. The resulting smallpox epidemic nearly wiped
out the remaining population. 1868 saw the entire social order of Easter
Island collapse, the population declining into the hundreds. Many of them accepted an offer to relocate
to Tahiti. When Chile annexed Easter Island in 1888,
only 110 impoverished and disheartened inhabitants remained. Meet the Moai
Now, before I move onto the reasons behind the collapse, allow me one more stop to look
at the Moai. Heyerdal’s team, who had established links
between Andean populations and the Rapa Nui, suggested that the tradition of the stone
idols was introduced by an Incan migratory wave. These Incas simply introduced a style of sculpture
similar to the one already in use back home. As I have mentioned, not everybody subscribes
to the Inca theory, and more recent approaches suggest instead that the cult of the Moai
was developed in a completely autochthonous fashion. During the Second Period of Rapa Nui presence
on the island, the inhabitants had split into several clans that were often in competition,
if not open conflict, with each other. What unified the island residents was a shared
religious belief, centred around the cult of ancestors. Ancestors, whose likeness was celebrated in
the carving of statues, which became larger, more refined, more sophisticated over time. As prosaic as it sounds, this is how a population,
unfairly described as ‘primitive’ by some European explorers, was able to build and
shift 1000 stone giants: they simply assigned plenty of time, dedication and skilled labour
to the job. Period. Oh, and the fact that the specific job at
hand was fuelled by rivalry didn’t hurt. If you think about it, this recipe applies
to many ‘mysterious’ human enterprise, from Stonehenge to the Pyramids. I know that many people like to attribute
all these awesome things to aliens, but it seems like humanity can do pretty just fine
on its own! But I digress. How did rivalry play into this? The clans of the Rapa Nui believed in the
concept of ‘mana’ – a mystical combination of power, prestige and prosperity. In a belief system that included ancestor
worship, the Moai represented a clan’s most prestigious ancestors, who were believed to
bestow ‘mana’ on living leaders. So, by building bigger statues and altars,
the ahu, each clan was in competition with its rivals, seeking to receive more ‘mana’
from its forebears. According to Dr Georgia Lee, of the Bradshaw
Foundation, the building of the Moai became a perceived solution to many of the issues
of the Rapa Nui society. Crop failures, epidemics, local uprisings
– all were addressed by carving bigger and better statues, an activity which eventually
absorbed most the whole society for decades. But the ahu, and the Moai, may have fulfilled
a more practical function too, according to a research team led by Prof Robert J. DiNapoli,
from the University of Oregon. DiNapoli and Co. realised that the ahu had
been erected in coastal spots in which volcanic fresh water seeps into the ocean. Their findings suggest that the Rapa Nui monuments
were actually used by clans to signal the presence of a precious resource such as freshwater,
and to assert their control over it. The Professor, however, does not entirely
discard the ceremonial value, and his paper mentions that the statues may have served
two simultaneous purposes: one functional, one cultural. Many of the Moai were adorned with red stone
crowns, called pukau. These were not carved from the main quarry,
Rano Raraku, but from a different location, Puna Pau. It appears that the pukau indicated special
status, red being a sacred colour both to Eastern Islanders and Polynesians. Either crowned, or bare-headed, many of the
Moai were placed upon their ahu platform, and then were ‘activated’ by having their
eyes opened. More precisely: the shape of their eyes had
already been carved at the main quarry, and these sockets were then filled with inlaid
eyes made of coral and red stone for the pupils. According to popular belief, all Moai were
placed facing the sea, as if keeping watch for the arrival, or the return, of mythical
seafarers. Actually, most statues, and all of those placed
on an ahu, face inland, looking over areas designated for ceremonies. I just mentioned how the Moais were placed
on top of their ceremonial platforms. If you remember, these guys weigh around 20
metric tons. That’s almost the same as four adult elephants. How do you shift such a weight? Elephants can walk of course, while the Moai
… well, local legends actually tell of how these giants would walk to their altars after
being carved. Is there some truth to it? Let’s see! The Moais were initially carved on the slopes
of the Rano Raraku volcano. Stone masons would sculpt three sides of the
statue, which was not necessarily just a big head – most included an elongated bust or
even crossed arms. The fourth side – the back – was left
rough and unfinished. Next, the Moai were lowered to the ground
by ropes so the carving could be completed. The first time I heard this, I imagined a
group of Rapa Nuis lowering a giant stone head down a literal cliff, the statue dangerously
dangling over an abyss. In reality, it was nothing so extreme. The Moai had to slide down a 45-degree slope,
kept in control via a system of ropes and bollards made with palm trunks. Each rope must have been about 600 feet [20
metres] long and at least three inches [8 cm] thick. Once the Moai was at ground level, the sculptors
would take care of the back of the head. And I like to think they held a mirror up
to the Moai – you know, like barbers, so they could see their work? And maybe they asked if they wanted gel, or
wax, or maybe just a pukau? But what came next was no joke: the Moai had
to travel to its final resting place, sometimes as far as 15 miles. The initial theory was that the Rapa Nui used
wooden rollers. This is the method displayed in the critical
and box office success ‘Rapa Nui’, by Kevin Reynolds, consistently ranked above
‘Citizen Kane’ in the top 10 of best films ever. However, research by Prof Charles Love proved
that the roads and paths used by the Rapa Nui were not level, but slightly concave. Which means that rollers would have got stuck,
or even crack under the pressure of the statues. Our good old friend Heyerdahl may have found
the solution to that puzzle, when he returned to Easter Island in 1986. With the help of Czech engineer Pavel Pavel
and a group of sixteen local residents, Heyerdal made an attempt to move a standing Moai by
pulling it with ropes attached to the statue’s head and base. It worked. With some muscle, ingenuity, coordination
and concerted effort, 18 guys made the statue bob along, or ‘walk,’ in accordance with
the legend. And all without much difficulty! So, one mystery solved. Next up: the one I have been anticipating
for a while: how did the Rapa Nui almost go extinct? The Decline of an Island
I have already mentioned the best known narrative, according to which the population of the Island
went through prolonged strife, civil war and epidemics during the Late Period, collapsing
on itself and almost disappearing entirely – just before the arrival of the first Dutch
sailors. According to a widespread theory by geographer
Jared Diamond, that early decline was triggered by the Islanders’ own obsession with the
building of Moai. At its peak, Moai-carving was a fully-fledged
industry, mobilising almost the entire population. Shifting the Moai, therefore, required the
locals to cut down almost all of the palm trees on the Island, either to use as wooden
rollers, or to produce ropes. The deforestation in turn left the soil exposed
to erosion caused by the wind and other elements. The next consequence was crop failure. And when crops fail … societies collapse. People starve and compete violently over scarce
resources. In the case of Easter Island, the Rapa Nuis
engaged in civil war and even cannibalism. Preoccupied with the urgent matter of survival,
the Islanders simply quit building their ahu, Moai and pukau. It may have been at this stage, towards the
end of the 17th Century, that the Rapa Nui abandoned the cult of the ancestors. The rites of the Birdman, with its death-defying
races, took hold. Diamond’s explanation has gained popularity
as the ‘Ecocide’ theory, and it is frequently cited as a cautionary tale against the depletion
of natural resources. Kevin Reynolds also subscribed to this theory
in his movie, surely one of the reasons behind the deserved 12 Academy Awards. Today, Diamond’s Ecocide has been challenged
by many researchers. For example, I have already mentioned Prof
Love, who argued that wooden rollers, a cause for deforestation, were never really used. Another critic of Ecocide is Dr. Catrine Jarman,
of Bristol University. Dr. Jarman argues that the deforestation process
may have started as early as when the first Polynesian settlers landed on the Island. When they disembarked, they brought along
an unwanted guest: the Polynesian rat, a voracious critter that reproduced exponentially, feasting
on palm nuts and sapling trees. The rats’ eating habits essentially destroyed
the existing palm groves and caused the subsequent erosion and impoverishment of the arable land. Despite this early deforestation and subsequent
decline in agriculture, the Rapa Nui did not starve. Instead, they quickly adapted to the new situation
by adopting a rich, shellfish-based diet. So, Lobster over potatoes — who can blame
them? Now, if the Rapa Nui did not need to fight
over food, then, why did Heyerdal, Diamond and others believe in a civil war amongst
the clans? They cite the finding of obsidian weapons
as evidence, but they may have misinterpreted their intended use. Prof Carl Lipo argues that these artefacts
were domestic tools, or ritual implements. His research also proved that only 2.5% of
human remains on the Island displayed evidence of injuries, most of them non-fatal. So, to recap: there was no Ecocide. The deforestation was a long process to which
the Rapa Nui adapted efficiently. There was no civil war, and certainly no cannibalism. Why did so many natives die, then? What caused such an original and unique civilisation
to almost fade to extinction? Well, I have already given you the answer. Remember the slaver raids and the epidemics
of the 19th Century? According to previous theories, these calamities
hit the Island when its population had already been severely reduced by other factors. But according to the new timeline of events
proposed by the likes of Jarman and Lipo, slavers were the true, main culprits behind
the massive demographic decline of the Rapa Nui. Less of a case of suicide, then, and more
of a case of kidnapping and murder that almost went unnoticed. Conclusion
I hope I have given you some food for thought about Easter Island, one of the most recognisable,
yet least understood destinations on Earth. Before I take my leave, let me ask you: which
explanation do you find more believable: Ecocide, or Slavery & Disease? Oh, and let me clarify something for you:
‘Rapa Nui’ by Kevin Reynolds was destroyed by critics and tanked at the box office. I hope I have fooled you … once again.

100 thoughts on “Easter Island: The Secrets of the Moai and the Decline of the Rapa Nui

  1. The Watcher and party regrets the delay caused by a giant walking statue and other side quests. The Watcher would like to extend her praise to the person who worked on the subtitles of this video.

  2. For anyone interested in the Rapa Nui in more depth, there's a fantastic podcast called The Fall of Civilizations which has a whole episode dedicated to the topic. Amazing to say the least. And tragic. Give it a listen.

  3. I'd say slavery and disease. Brilliant video, this channel has become one of my top 5 favourite media sources, I love it even more than Biographics, and that's saying a lot.

  4. I wonder if archeologists have done bone analysis to determine if there was any malnutrition during their history. That would help us towards a primary cause. There may have been secondary causes as well.

  5. Hello, Hanga Roa airport, this is space shuttle Atlantis, well be landing oh let's say about 36 seconds from now.
    You'll have the runway clear right?

  6. I thought there was archeological evidence of cannibalism. Also how does blaming it on slavers make sense when the slaving happened after the population had already been reduced by 80%?

  7. Can you do an episode on Jasenovac? it was considered to be the cruelest of the death camps during the Holocaust, it even shocked the Nazis. Information about it was suppressed after the war by the Communist Croatian Gov, which is why no one knows about it.

  8. Hey Simon – The Blue Egg laying Chickens have left a D.N.A. trail from South East Asia thru too Pictaren island – Easter Island too Peru, !

  9. I was going to have my wedding there, but the island was closed to tourists at the time because Kevin Costner was filming there 😞

  10. While watching this video I wondered how multiple factors as causes for events aren't considered, only single ones: Maybe slavery was a co-factor or a dominant one, bur not only factor for the decline of the population? What if the island was initially colonised by Polynesians, but a single Incan ship brought some influence some time? How is everything always black or white?

  11. "we have these tablets describing the history of the island… but lets not translate them. it's much more interesting to argue about it."

  12. Who is Simon Whistler; how did he create so many YouTube channels; and why did he do it….?

    Someone with Passion; Hard Work; To serve, inspire and educate.

    You have a lot in common with those Rapa Nui!

  13. Simon could you possibly do a video on aztalan state park Wisconsin? Theres old structures there particularly a pyramid.

  14. Rongo Rongo text looks like Thai to my untrained eyes. Slavery and disease along with forgotten skills. It's not difficult to lose the talent of a culture. Like when the Roman descendants forgot how plumbing worked for over a thousand years.

  15. Yes!! Chile is half of my heritage! Especially Santiago and i want to get there before I die. Thank you for mentioning

  16. Simon, you forgot to mentioned that many of the Moai are dug into the ground with carving on its wall either feet or hands. SOme of the Moai were dug 10 feet into the ground. Easter Island would make a great Honeymoon place — comfortable temperature, beautiful landscapes, statutes and plenty of open space to go golfing. Chile also owns the Galapagos.

  17. You never explained how they went from 15 to 3 thousand though. Don't know how they could be sold as slaves if slavers showed up after the decline.

  18. Why dont we ever see Simon's legs? Answer. Because he is a computer generated construct or a clever realistic puppet. Who are the shadowy puppet masters?

  19. I think the inhabitants were kidnapped by the same people holding Simon Whistler hostage and using poor copies to present all the so called Whistler channels.

  20. Thoroughly enjoy the videos and found this one especially informative. Kon-tiki was my second historical book only preceded by the bowmen of Crecy. Perhaps you could do a video detailing the battle from that book.

  21. Lol wouldn't it be a shame if a native race actually had to admit that they aren't "at one with the land" and that they are just as capable of destroying their environment as any white person lol.

  22. Not sure why this hasn’t occurred to your graphics crew but each episode really ought to start with a moon’s eye view of the Earth rotating as we pull in to the location to be discussed so that anyone unfamiliar will get an idea of at least approximately where we are talking about.

  23. Think you can do a vid on Tokelau? It's a place that I think would be interesting to talk about; not really a place a lot of people know much about.

  24. Really shouldn't be spreading Thor Heyerdahl's made-up stuff. It's thoroughly outdated and discredited. It's part of one of those racist sets of theories that white Europeans were the original settlers. He just couldn't imagine that Polynesians or native Americans could independently develop "advanced cultures".

  25. @15:00, thank you Simon, I'm so sick of Giorgio A. Tsoukalos and others attributing everything our ancestors did that was smart or creative to aliens. Instead of thinking maybe they were smarter then we thought. As if ancient man was sitting around sitting around with a microwave in their hands going "Where do we plug it in?"

  26. Watch Lost LeBlanc's video. He and his girlfriend stood at the line of the statues but were told to leave and were harassed by the locals when they reported the tourist guard. They had video evidence that they didn't do anything wrong so be aware it's not the friendliest place in the world

  27. There are only 7 Moai facing the Ocean, they look at The Marquesas Islands. And according to legend there 7 natives left Marquesas and headed east to Rapa Nui

  28. I love the British form of sarcasm, and I don't think I'm alone (the overwhelming popularity of Monty Python when it first hit out TV is a prime example).

  29. Is Simon's voive unusually high-pitched in this one? Someone please respond. I have issues with my hearing and it's worrying me!

  30. The thing that modern thinking has failed to identify is why the rapa nui made incan style walls on some ahu. They didn't use this type of stonework anywhere else in polynesia, the idea that they independently invented it so close to south America is farcical and suggests the entire history of Easter island is being shaped by the need to give polynesians complete agency in the wake of colonialism.

  31. Nit picky perhaps… but those 600 ft ropes would have been 182 meters long. Or if they were 20 meter ropes they'd have been about 65 1/2 feet long. But which is it?

  32. The Caucasian has an inherent need to divide and conquer. How did they take care of the Native Americans they introduced biological warfare. Ergo smallpox. Killing the history of a man leaves him with no reference to live by ergo slaves for the United States from those taking from Africa or the indentured natives of the Americas. What do you think just look back of how other civilizations left Iran's devices survived and thrived. Look at that for who decided to go to the Allen where they grabbed his behind and killed him for trying to infiltrate and put his belief on that civalization. I wish I could remember the name of it but they killed his ass.

  33. The Rapa Nui themselves will tell you it was disease and the slavers that destroyed their way of life.

    The Rongo Rongo tablets appeared after first contact. European voyagers showed writing to the islanders who thought this was an amazing idea and of course had no knowing of what it meant. They simply copied the concept and substituted clever and fancy images for the letters. It may be the tablets mean nothing in the sense of written language. Could be just magical symbols to give life to the Moia as the tablets were hung around the necks of the great statues.

    I'm not claiming this as proven, btw. But it is compelling.

  34. Why does it need to be ecocide "<or>" slavery and epidemic?
    The whole sad story was the result of many dependent, and independent, factors.

  35. Excellent presentation! I knew a little about this culture, but you've filled in a whole lot of details unknown to me.
    Thank you!

  36. When Simon mentioned that more moai heads were basically their answer to everything, all problems can be solved through more moai heads, all it reminded me of was the old StarCraft "you must construct additional pylons" meme, since the Protoss seem to have the same attitude when it comes to their problems: anything is possible and any problems you have can be solved if you just have enough pylons.

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