Rethinking the fall of Easter Island

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

69 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent evidences show that early accounts on Easter Island, or known locally as Rapa Nui, needed revision especially among the dates. Corrections in radiocarbon dating suggests that the first settlers arrived from other Polynesia islands around 1200 A.D. The population increased by 3.4% per year and meant that a colonizing population would have grown to more than a thousand in a about a century suggesting that human population in Rapa Nui had reached a maximum of 3,000 at around 1350 A.D. It appears that the islanders began building moai and ahu soon after reaching the island and by the time Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen arrived in 1722, most of the island's trees were gone, but deforestation did not trigger societal collapse, as opposed to the old view. Newly introduced diseases, conflict with Eurpoean invaders and enslavement followed over the next century and a half, and were the chief causes of the collapse. In the early 1860s, more than a thousand Rapanui were taken from the island as slaves, and by the late 1870s the number of native islanders numbered only around 100. In 1888, the island was annexed by Chile.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages412-419
Number of pages8
Volume94
No5
Specialist publicationAmerican Scientist
DOIs
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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