August 13th, 2018


People of Easter Island Actually Got Along.

People of Easter Island Weren't Driven to Warfare and Cannibalism.

In popular science literature, much ink has been spilled on the supposed collapse of Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, as it's known in the local language.

Jared Diamond's 2005 book "Collapse," for example, presents a chilling version of what happened in the centuries after Polynesian seafarers colonized the remote Pacific island around A.D. 1200: Rivalry between clans drove the islanders to build hundreds of increasingly big "moai," the larger-than-life statues carved from stone. This fierce competition and population growth caused a hubristic over-exploitation of resources, driving the Rapanui people to desperation, and even cannibalism, and Europeans arriving in the 18th century encountered a society well on its way to decline, according to Diamond's account.

But archaeologists who have been studying the ancient quarries, stone tools and other resources on the island have recently been building a different picture of what happened before European contact. A study published today (Aug. 13) in the Journal of Pacific Archaeology adds a new piece of evidence to the case against Rapa Nui's collapse. [Image Gallery: Walking Easter Island Statues]