Mounting evidence is absolving the people of Rapa Nui ~ also known as Easter Island ~ of violent ways, pointing instead to widespread destruction on the island by westerners who discovered it in the early 18th Century.
Dr. Karina Croucher of the University of Manchester says her research casts new light on the aboriginal people of Rapa Nui.
“Easter Islanders’ ancestors have been unfairly accused by Westerners of being primitive and warlike, for toppling statues ~ or moai ~ and for over-exploiting the island’s natural resources,” she contends. “They were a people who saw themselves as connected to the landscape, which they carved and marked as they did their own bodies and the moai statues.”
“Rather than a story of self-inflicted deprivation, I agree with the view that substantial blame has to rest with Western contact, ever since Easter Island’s first sighting by Jacob Roggeveen in 1722,” she continued. “Visitors brought disease, pests and slavery, resulting in the tragic demise of the local population and culture. There is little archaeological evidence to support the history of internal warfare and collapse before contact with the outside world.”
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