Easter Island society did not collapse prior to European contact, new research shows

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – Easter Island culture did not collapse prior to European call and its individuals ongoing to construct its iconic moai statues for a great deal for a longer time than earlier thought, according to a staff of scientists like college at Binghamton College, State College of New York.

The island of Rapa Nui is nicely-known for its elaborate ritual architecture, specially its quite a few statues (moai) and the monumental platforms that supported them (ahu). A broadly-held narrative posits that design of these monuments ceased someday all over 1600, pursuing a important societal collapse.

“Our research flies in the deal with of this narrative,” claimed Carl Lipo, an anthropologist at Binghamton College. “We know, of program, that if we are right, we actually have to have to obstacle ourselves (and the archaeological record) to validate our arguments. In this circumstance, we thought to glimpse meticulously at the tempo of design events linked with large platforms.”

The scientists, led by the College of Oregon’s Robert J. DiNapoli, examined radiocarbon dates, relative architectural stratigraphy and ethnohistoric accounts to quantify the onset, fee and end of monument design as a indicates of testing the collapse hypothesis.

“Archaeologists assign ages to the archaeological record by finding what are known as radiocarbon dates,” claimed Lipo. “These dates represent the quantity of time since some organisms (a bush, tree, and many others.) died. Assembling groups of these dates together to glimpse at patterns involves some advanced statistical analyses that have only not long ago been readily available to archaeologists. In this paper, we use these equipment to deliver the very first-at any time glimpse at the heritage of platform design on Easter Island.”

The scientists found that design of these statues began quickly immediately after colonization and increased quickly, someday involving the early-14th and mid-15th generations, with a continuous fee of design events that ongoing past European call in 1722.

“What we found is that at the time individuals commenced to construct monuments shortly immediately after arrival to the island, they ongoing this design nicely into the interval immediately after Europeans arrived,” claimed Lipo. “This would not have been the circumstance experienced there been some pre-call “collapse”– indeed, we ought to have observed all design cease nicely just before 1722. The deficiency of these kinds of a pattern supports our statements and immediately falsifies people who go on to assist the ‘collapse’ account.

“The moment Europeans get there on the island, there are lots of documented tragic events thanks to sickness, murder, slave raiding and other conflicts,” he extra. “These events are entirely extrinsic to the islanders and have, definitely, devastating effects. Yet, the Rapa Nui individuals — pursuing methods that delivered them great steadiness and achievements more than hundreds of several years — ongoing their traditions in the deal with of remarkable odds. The degree to which their cultural heritage was handed on – and is even now existing today by way of language, arts and cultural methods — is quite notable and outstanding. I think this degree of resilience has been neglected thanks to the “collapse” narrative, and justifies recognition.”

The scientists think that their model-primarily based method to examination hypotheses concerning the chronology of collapse can be prolonged to other circumstance scientific tests all over the planet wherever related debates remain tricky to resolve.


Also contributing to this research were Timothy M. Rieth (Intercontinental Archaeological Analysis Institute) and Terry Hunt (College of Arizona).

The paper, “A model-primarily based method to the tempo of collapse: The circumstance of Rapa Nui (Easter Island),” was posted in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

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