Easter Island

The "hats" that were placed on top weighed several tons themselves

The “hats” that were placed on top weighed several tons themselves

Easter Island


Rapa Nui or as it more commonly known Easter Island has long been a mysterious and fascinating island to many, including myself. Perhaps the biggest mystery of the Rapa Nui people is how they went extinct. A tiny island, a popular belief holds that the population eventually ran out of trees and had no more fruit or wood to build boats, shelter, etc. Although the cause of the Rapa Nui’s demise is incredibly interesting another mystery captivates me on an entirely different level. That is, how did these people settle this tiny island? How did they even find it? Looking at even a detailed map of the vast Pacific ocean it is quite easy to miss the speck of land that is Easter Island. Surely these people were not looking for Easter Island when they stumbled upon it. How many days and nights did they bob along in the enormity of the largest ocean on Earth. For perspective the Pacific holds more than half the worlds water and covers an area of 59 million square miles. In comparison, Easter Island is a mere 63 square miles. The finding of this island makes finding a needle in a hay stick look like a breeze. The closest continental mass is Chile, an incredible 2,100 miles away. Another mystery is how they brought the amount of people they did, enough people to start a colony. It is believed at the height of Easter Island population there were 15,000 people living there. How did they transport enough people to an entire society? The people that they left behind surely thought they had died, there is little hope that someone made the journey to Easter Island a round trip. (Upon finishing the documentary and researching a bit further it turns out they very well could have traveled to and from the island using only the stars to navigate). Settled by the Chilean Polynesians in the first millennium, the Rapa Nui people developed a rich culture completely isolated from the rest of the world. Without a doubt the most impressive artistic expression on the island are the iconic Moai, the giant stone heads, thought to have been carved between 1250 and 1500. 887 in total, the tallest of the Moai still standing is a staggering 33 feet tall. The heaviest weighs an estimated 86 tons. One unfinished statue would have stood almost seven stories high at 69 feet. This behemoth of a statue would have weighed an incredible 270 tons. The statues apparently resembled deified ancestors or actual Gods of the Rapa Nui people. Lots of the Moai states face outward toward the ocean, a frightening and never ending place. The statues were probably set up as warnings to foreign people, as if to say don’t mess with us, look what we can do. Many of the Moai statues had been toppled by the time European settlers had arrived in 1722, leading to the conclusion of multiple competing tribes on the island that would knock down and destroy enemy statues. At the time of European settlement on the island the population had dropped to around 2,500. By 1877, due to European diseases and Peruvian enslavement the population stood at a meager 111. By the way, the peculiar English name for the island was chosen because they had landed on the island Easter day 1722. I am not an expert on the Rapa Nui or Easter Island, I have only watched a documentary and done a little research, I hope I have not made too many errors. I only wish to inspire a sense of intrigue and curiousness.


About ben james

"The stars keep me up at night" -some song I heard one time Human. Studying the intersection of Neuroscience and Computation. Wanna be (astro) physicist.
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3 Responses to Easter Island

  1. swo8 says:

    Civilizations come and civilizations go. Let that be a lesson to us.

  2. The reasons for the collapse of the Easter Island civilisation are not a secret. It is related to a massive deforestation. I invite you to read the book review ‘Collapse’ in my blog to learn more about it: http://sinkingislands.com/2014/10/08/history-matters-the-collapse-of-easter-island/

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