New Easter Island theory presented

December 6, 2005

A University of Hawaii anthropologist and colleagues are blaming rats and Dutch traders for the mysterious abandonment of Easter Island.

Nearly all Polynesians on the South Pacific island, who built hundreds of 10-ton stone statues, inexplicably vanished. Conjecture has included the natives deforested the island to transport the statues, triggering catastrophic erosion, USA Today reported. According to the theory, the remaining inhabitants then were decimated during a cannibalistic civil war in about 1650.

But anthropologist Terry Hunt blames the Polynesian rat for deforesting the 66-square-mile island's 16 million palm trees.

He and his colleagues told USA Today the disappearance of Easter Islanders probably was caused by visiting 18th-centruy Dutch traders, who took diseases and slave raiding to the island.

Easter Island is located more than 2,000 miles from the nearest population centers, making it one of the most isolated places on Earth.

Hunt presented his findings during an American Anthropological Association meeting last week in Washington.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Archaeologists shine new light on Easter Island statue

Related Stories

Easter Island study enters new phase

February 17, 2011

A team of archaeologists studying the famous statues dotting the landscape of a tiny Pacific island have been awarded two thirds of a million pounds by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Outsiders blamed for Easter Island's historic demise

August 2, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- An archaeologist studying a remote Pacific island, world famous for its strange stone statues, says outsiders - and not its ancestors - should be blamed for its historic demise hundreds of years ago.

Recommended for you

Magnetism at nanoscale

August 3, 2015

As the demand grows for ever smaller, smarter electronics, so does the demand for understanding materials' behavior at ever smaller scales. Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory are building a unique ...

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Study calculates the speed of ice formation

August 3, 2015

Researchers at Princeton University have for the first time directly calculated the rate at which water crystallizes into ice in a realistic computer model of water molecules. The simulations, which were carried out on supercomputers, ...

Small tilt in magnets makes them viable memory chips

August 3, 2015

University of California, Berkeley, researchers have discovered a new way to switch the polarization of nanomagnets, paving the way for high-density storage to move from hard disks onto integrated circuits.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

UncleDave
not rated yet May 18, 2009
"Easter Island is located more than 2,000 miles from the nearest population centers, making it one of the most isolated places on Earth."

And not at all close to any Dutch colony, making it one of the dumbest places from which to grab slaves. But I'm sure USA Today swallowed it hook line and sinker, since it has all the white guilt needed for a byline.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.