For a long time it has been believed that the residents of Easter Island have disappeared because of the excessive warfare. The newest study on the matter provides a new lead in the mystery of Easter Island.
The new study points out that the ancient civilization was not wiped out as a result of internal wars over resources, but as a result of the arrival of the Europeans. Carl Lipo, lead author of the study and anthropology professor at the University of Binghamton, has published the finding in the Antiquity journal on February 16. It appears the residents of the mysterious island were thriving until they started being influenced by external sources.
Easter Island is well-known for the more than 800 huge statues that are placed all over its surface. The human heads were built by the Rapa Nui who were wiped out sometime before the 1860s.
The traditional story is that the people consumed all the resources of the relatively small island and thus started fighting each, long before the Europeans arrived there. This idea emerged after the discovery of numerous triangular obsidian objects made of sharp glass, which were believed to have been used as weapons.
However, the new study conducted by Lipo analyzed more than four hundred such weapons named mata’a. By using morphometrics, the team arrived to the conclusion that the objects have not been used at all for hurting people, but for farming and painting tattoos. The mata’a are versatile objects that can be used for various activities, but not really for battles.
Furthermore, the team compared the objects with other weapons from around the world and realized that the mata’a could be used to cut materials, but not to kill a human. The evidence is a strong proof that the ancient civilization of Easter Island did not fall because of internal fighting. The previous beliefs are considered to be a late European interpretation that was not truly sustained by actual evidence.
According to Lipo, the most probable explanation for the disappearance of the native Polynesian population named Rapa Nui is that it shared the same fate as other native ancient civilizations that were not as advanced as the Europeans:
“Populations were successful and lived sustainably on the island up until European contact.”
The new lead in the mystery of Easter Island unfortunately proves that not even the distant and isolate Easter Island was spared from the greed of the explorers of the Age of Discovery.
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