JWG (jwg) wrote,

Off to Easter Island

Easter Island is in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of nowhere. It is 2,300 miles from South America, 2,640 to Tahiti and 1,289 miles from Pitcairn Island, the nearest place. People from Peru and people from Polynesia migrated to it. There is lots of controversy among archeologists and historians as to who was really there first and who constructed and who destroyed the statues. Thor Heyerdahl was convinced that it was the Peruvians who constructed the statues because there was little evidence that Polynesians did stone construction and the Incas and other Peruvians were serious stone artisans, On the other had the concept of family and godlike images was more Polynesian. The natives had a written language with symbolic items but no-one has figured out how to read it. What a fascinating history! It is hard to imagine people in the 3rd to 10th centuries venturing such long distances and discovering and settling on this small island of about 64 square miles in size. And then they built over one thousand colossal statues which had to be moved from the quarry to their places by means not yet understood.

It is called Rapa Nui by the natives, Isla de Pascua by the Spaniards - it was named Easter Island by James Cook who "discovered it" on Easter Sunday in 1722. A late Peruvian invasion which brought smallpox and took away slaves was the main cause of loss of population. It is not a very hospitable place for agriculture and the Rapa Nuins cut down most of the trees (probably trying to turn it into farmland) which made it difficult to build new sea-going canoes which among other things were needed for fishing.

These were the first Moai that we saw:

Another view of a few of them and some more current additions.

Click here for Flickr Set ->
Tags: easterisland, mpei2010, travel

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