The Enigmas of Easter Island [NOOK Book]

Overview

The Enigmas of Easter Island combines a wealth of new archaeological evidence, intriguing folk memories, and the records of Captain Cook and other early explorers, to reveal how the island's decline may stem from an ecological catastrophe. The result is a fascinating portrait of a civilization which still retains many of its mysteries.
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The Enigmas of Easter Island

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Overview

The Enigmas of Easter Island combines a wealth of new archaeological evidence, intriguing folk memories, and the records of Captain Cook and other early explorers, to reveal how the island's decline may stem from an ecological catastrophe. The result is a fascinating portrait of a civilization which still retains many of its mysteries.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Theorists have invoked everything from restless spirits to extraterrestrials and anti-gravity to explain Easter Island's giant stone statues. The reality, according to this comprehensive reconstruction of the island's history, now in its second edition, is more prosaic. The megaliths were carved by humans from the island's soft volcanic stone to commemorate prestigious ancestors, express clan pride and demarcate "a sacred border...between 'home' and 'out there'"-and because on Easter Island there "was little else to do" but carve stone. In addition to the mechanics of sculpting, dragging and erecting the idols, Bahn (Written in Bones; The Cambridge Illustrated History of Archaeology; etc.) and ecologist Flenley cover other aspects of the island's vanished culture, from the remarkable seafaring skills of the Polynesians who settled the island to the prevalence of phallic, vulval and birdman motifs in the islanders' eccentric artistic stylings. Above all, they see Easter Island's saga as a cautionary tale of mankind's "eco-stupidity." As the Polynesians and the rats they brought with them decimated the once verdant forests, the island withered into a treeless desert stalked by famine, violence and possibly cannibalism-a microcosm illustrating the consequences of resource depletion for an all too finite Earth. The authors develop an occasionally cumbersome scholarly apparatus as they delve into the minutiae of archaeology, linguistics, sediment cores and pollen analysis and fence with academic rivals, especially with Kon-Tiki voyager Thor Heyerdahl, whose theory of settlement from South America receives a lengthy, scathing rebuttal. But in dispelling the mythology of Easter Island, they show us a society that is all the more interesting for being recognizably human. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"In dispelling the mythology of Easter Island, they show us a society that is all the more interesting for being recognizably human."--Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780191647192
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, UK
  • Publication date: 5/29/2003
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 871,330
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Paul Bahn is one of the leading writers and broadcasters on archaeology for a popular audience. He is the author of the standard introduction to cave art, Images of the Ice Age, The Bluffer's Guide to Archaeology, and the popular Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction. John Flenley is currently Professor of Geography at Massey University in New Zealand. A world authority on the ecology of tropical rainforests, he was the first to publish evidence that Easter Island was once forested.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Plates
Introduction: European Discovery 1
1 The Island and Its Geography 9
Pt. I The Original 'Boat People'
2 Where Did They Come From? 27
3 How Did They Get There, and Why? 61
4 Living on an Island 75
Pt. II Ancestors of Stone: A Petrified Dream
5 Statues and Ceremonies 103
6 The Riddle of the Quarry 113
7 Rocking or Rolling: How Were the Statues Moved? 121
8 Platforms and Pukao: Erecting the Statues 135
Pt. III The Aftermath
9 Crash Go the Ancestors 149
10 Orongo and Rongorongo 173
11 The Island That Self-Destructed 191
12 The Last Enigma 195
App Visiting Easter Island 207
Notes 215
Further Reading 227
Acknowledgements 247
Index 250
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