Easter Island Essay

2101 words - 8 pages

The Rapa Nui culture of Easter Island may be the most enigmatic and unexplained historical topic ever studied. This advanced society is probably best known for its monolithic statues, which were called Moai by the natives. Despite the culture?s peaceful and artistic beginning, it soon experienced a near collapse. Although there are many theories explaining the downfall of Easter Island culture, scientific evidence has shown that the islanders? sacred Moai may have played an important role in the demise of the Rapa Nui culture.To understand how and why the culture collapsed, its origin must be briefly examined. There is much controversy over the origin of the original inhabitants of Easter Island. One theory, which seems to be used often to describe odd occurrences on the island, is that extra terrestrials may be responsible. Another theory is that Easter Island is the remains of the lost continent of Atlantis. Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian explorer popularized the idea that South Americans traveled to the island by boat and founded the culture. His reasoning for this theory is that the Moai are quite similar to other Incan stonework, but after extensive archaeological, ethnographic, and linguistic research this was proved invalid.This South Pacific island is over two thousand miles from its nearest neighbors, Chile and Tahiti. This distance gap makes Easter Island the most isolated place on the planet. Even the Rapa Nui people noticed this fact, and they named the island ?Te Pito O Te Henua,? or, ?The Navel of the World.? This makes it somewhat difficult for people to believe that anyone could have traveled by boat to this island.Island legend tells of a heroic man named Hotu Matua escaping his home island with his family after being defeated in war. They landed on the shores of the island, and the culture began. This legend would suggest a Polynesian background, which happens to be quite possible. Recent DNA tests have confirmed this fact. The Polynesians were a seafaring people, and it was not unheard of for them to take long voyages of up to five thousand miles. They took their journeys in sophisticated boats, and used the stars to navigate. They were very successful in traveling this way.Even using the advanced boats they had, the trip must have taken months. Their arrival was estimated to be somewhere between 380 and 400 CE. Observing the island at arrival, with its lush forests, tropical plants, endless array of birds, and huge schools of fish, must have seemed like an inexhaustible blessing. ?? we can imagine their joy at seeing this sight after what must have been months at sea.? (Wassmann) With the plentiful resources on the island, the Rapa Nui culture rose greatly in population and became rich, artistic, and full of religion. There was a deep sense of culture with the ritual dances and music. Another unique compliment to this thriving culture was that it had developed the only written language in Oceania. Many tablets with this...

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