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The entrance to the ceremonial complex at Ahu Tongariki on Easter Island. A lone Moai statue stands at the entrance
 
BBC Four presents a TV programme tonight (Thursday, 30 February 2014) entitled Easter Island: Mysteries of a Lost World
 
The contrast between the majestic statues of Easter Island and the desolation of their surroundings is stark. For decades Easter Island, or Rapa Nui as the islanders call it, has been seen as a warning from history for the planet as a whole – wilfully expend natural resources and the collapse of civilisation is inevitable.
 
But archaeologist Dr Jago Cooper believes this is a disastrous misreading of what happened on Easter Island.
 
BBC Four from 9pm. More here.
   

Video courtesy of Carl Lipo

Ewen Callaway writing in nature on the 23 October reports that –

Easter Island’s gargantuan stone statues walked. That is the controversial claim from archaeologists who have demonstrated the feat with a 4.4-tonne model of one of the baffling busts. They describe their work in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Nearly 1,000 statues litter Easter Island’s 163 square kilometres, with the largest weighing 74 tonnes and standing 10 metres tall. Much about the megaliths is mystery, but few of the enigmas are more perplexing than how the statues were shuttled kilometres from the rock quarries where they were carved.

Archaeologists have proposed that the Polynesians who settled Easter Island 800 years ago or more laid the statues (called moai) prone and rolled them along on logs. That idea supports the theory that the settlers, known as Rapa Nui, became so obsessed with statue-building that they denuded the island of its forests. In his book Collapse (Viking, 2005), Jared Diamond, a geographer at the University of California, Los Angeles, touted Easter Island as the poster child for a civilization that blew through its natural resources and folded. “It’s a great story but the archaeological evidence doesn’t really support it,” says Carl Lipo, an archaeologist at California State University, Long Beach, whose team instead proposes that the Rapa Nui ‘walked’ the moai by rocking them from side to side, as one might move a refrigerator.

Full story here.

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