Presentation on theme: "Easter Island Wild speculation about UFO's, Atlantis, and vanished advanced ancient races has always been a part of the Easter Island legend."— Presentation transcript:
Wild speculation about UFO's, Atlantis, and vanished advanced ancient races has always been a part of the Easter Island legend.
Science has made great strides in understanding who made the giant statues that cover Easter Island and has put to rest these bizarre stories.
Our trip will hopefully clear up misconceptions about Easter Island.
We will arrive at Easter Island by plane. Easter Island or Rapa Nui is a tiny speck of land in the South Pacific.
Formed by volcanic eruptions, the island was only inhabited by sea birds and dragonflies for millions of years.
Lava tubes and pounding waves have created hundreds of sea caves and a treacherous coastline. There are only a few small areas that are safe for landing.
Easter Island is one of the most isolated inhabited islands in the world.
Today, volcanic cones are found at each point of the island.
This sheltered beach is close to Anakena, where the legends say King Hoto Matua landed his canoe, becoming the first occupation of Easter Island.
The voyagers started constructing villages and houses made in an unusual elliptical shape.
Some think that this style of construction started when the new arrivals turned their boats upside down for quick housing.
The first islanders found an island filled with giant palms which they used to build boats and housing. The plants they brought with them did well in the rich volcanic soil.
Distinct clans formed as the population increased and various population centers grew up in different areas of the island.
One thing tied them all together however — the statue construction and the cult that formed around it.
It is unclear why the Easter Islanders turned to statue construction on such a massive scale. The statues were made from moai from Rano Raraku. Rano Raraku.
Moai is soft volcanic tuff, perfect for statue carving.
The moai carvers were master craftsmen.
Finally when a statue was finished, it was broken off its keel and slid carefully down the slope using ropes.
They had to be transported across the island to the platforms prepared for them.
Once the journey was complete the Moai were positioned atop great platforms called ahu.
Soon the moai were installed on all corners of the island, until over one thousand had been carved. The population of the island also continued to grow.
And then something went terribly wrong...
The islanders cut trees for lumber for housing, wood for fires, and eventually for the rollers and lever- like devices used to move and erect the moai.
As the destruction of trees continued the moai building competition turned into an obsession.
With the loss of the forests, the land began to erode. The small amount of topsoil quickly washed into the sea. The crops began to fail and the clans turned on one another in a battle for the scarce resources.
The violence grew worse and worse. It was said that the victors would eat their dead enemies to gain strength, bones found on the island show evidence of this cannibalism.
A spooky cave at the southwest corner of the island, Ana Kai Tangata, is translated to "cave where men are eaten."
Inside are pictographs painted in white of ghost like birds flying upwards.
Their island was in shambles, and their villages and crops destroyed. There was no wood left on the island to build escape boats.
The few survivors of the conflict, perhaps numbering as low as 750, began to pick up the pieces of their culture.
One thing they left behind, however, were the moai....
The island was a wasteland, the eroded soil just barely producing enough food for the meager population to survive.
It was under these conditions that the Birdman Cult arose.
Each year leadership of the island was determined by a challenge.
Whoever could scale down the vertical slopes, swim out in shark-infested waters, and bring back the egg of the nesting sooty tern unbroken, was the new Birdman.
The one who did this successfully was considered the Birdman of the year and was bestowed with special honors and privileges.
It seemed that the culture was beginning to rebuild itself. In 1862 of slave traders landed on Easter Island and took away all who were healthy.
In the space of one year, the population was left a broken people, without leadership.
Eventually all pure Rapa Nui blood died out. Today there are only a few individuals left with ties to the original population.
Lessons from the Past? The Easter Island story is a story for our times. Is it only a matter of time before our resources are used up?
Web Resources Visit Easter Island in 3 DVisit Easter Island in 3 D