Rapa Nui, one of the world’s most isolated island societies and home to the notable moai, has been at the centre of a tense debate for the past decade. Some see it as the site of a dramatic cultural collapse occurring before Western contact, where a self-inflicted ecocide was brought on by the exhaustion of resources. Others argue that the introduction of Western pathogens and the slave raids of 1862 were to blame for the near extinction of the otherwise resilient Rapa Nui people.
Cultural and Environmental Change on Rapa Nui brings together the latest studies by prominent Rapa Nui researchers from all over the world to explore the island’s past and present, from its discovery by Polynesians, through the first documented contact with Western culture in 1722, to the 20th century. The exiting new volume looks beyond the moai to examine such questions as: was there was a cultural collapse; how did the Rapa Nui react to Westerners; and what responses did the Rapa Nui develop to adjust to naturally- or humanly-induced environmental change?
This volume will appeal to scholars and professionals in the fields of history, archaeology and ecology, as well as anyone with an interest in the challenges of sustainable resource management, and the contentious history of Rapa Nui itself.
About the Author
Sonia Haoa Cardinali is a Rapa Nui archaeologist with extensive experience 41 years in Rapa Nui archaeology. She began her work with Dr. William Mulloy and the Orongo restoration project. She has worked with a multitude of international scholars in the management and direction of island excavations that include some of the largest and most impressive monuments on the island, and some 28,000 sites. She has directed the comprehensive island-wide survey of archaeological features and is also keenly interested in the prehistoric ecology of the island and has actively pursued a program of reforestation in conjunction with CONAF. Her abiding interest is in the way humans everywhere relate to the landscape and environment, and how to give back to the present the rich discoveries made in the past.
Kathleen B. Ingersoll, BA, MA, PhD. Her academic interests lie in anthropology, environmental and landscape archaeology, food/horticulture, historic preservation and museum studies, and the interpretation of landscapes, especially in the eastern US and Polynesia. Her latest work includes consulting on museum exhibits for The Mata Ki Te Rangi Foundation on Rapa Nui, both on the island of Rapa Nui and in Tenerife, Spain. She is also a Master Leave No Trace environmental educator and believes in the importance of understanding the relationship between humans, nature, and heritage on a global scale. In this vein, she successfully designed and implemented study tours to Rapa Nui that combined Leave No Trace training with archaeology.
Christopher M. Stevenson received his doctorate from The Pennsylvania State University in 1984 for his work on the archaeology of Easter Island (Rapa Nui). Since that time he has worked within cultural resource management and academic contexts and continues to focus on Easter Island prehistory. Since 1988 he has led over 19 expeditions to Rapa Nui and works collaboratively with Rapa Nui/Chilean archaeologists. He has served as a Fulbright Specialist in Chile. His other interests include obsidian hydration dating, the Colonial archaeology of Virginia and Eastern United States prehistory. Currently he is an Assistant Professor Anthropology in the School of World Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University.
Daniel W. Ingersoll, Jr. His interests include historical archaeology, experimental archaeology, American culture, symbolism, agriculture, and Rapa Nui culture. Ingersoll received his A.B. and Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard College and Harvard University, respectively. Now professor emeritus, he taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, then St. Mary’s College of Maryland for 37 years until retirement. Publications include Experimental Archaeology, with William K. Macdonald and John Yellen and Mirror and Metaphor: Material and Social Constructions of Reality, with Gordon Bronitsky. Ingersoll’s interest in Rapa Nui studies began in 2006.
Table of Contents
Cultural and Environmental Change on Rapa Nui
Editors: Sonia Haoa (Cardinali), Daniel W. Ingersoll, Kathleen B. Ingersoll, and Christopher M. Stevenson
List of Contributors
Introduction: The Changing Rapa Nui Landscape and Environment. The editors
1. Christopher M. Stevenson, Thegn N. Ladefoged, and Oliver ChadwickTaking a Close Look at Ground Level: The Ancient Gardens and Population Dynamics on the Hiva Hiva Lava Flow, Rapa Nui, Chile
2. Andreas Mieth and Hans-Rudolf Bork Major Environmental Changes: A Vanished Landscape, and the Phenomena and Eco-cultural Consequences of Extensive Deforestation in the Prehistory of Rapa Nui
3. Daniel W. Ingersoll and Kathleen B. Ingersoll The Loss of the Rapa Nui Palms and a Consideration of Additional Possibilities Including Disease, Insects, and Animals.
4. John Flenley New Interpretations of Pollen Data from Rapa Nui
5. Joan Wozniak Ingenious Strategic Responses When the Forest is Gone: Subsistence Developments on Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Prehistoric Gardening Practices on Rapa Nui and How They Relate to Current Farming Practices
6. Burkhard Vogt and Annette Kühlem New Rituals and Technology: By the Quebrada of Ava Ranga Uka A Toroke Hau, About Landscape Transformation and the Significance of Water and Trees
7. Georgia Lee, Paul Bahn, Paul Horley, Sonia Haoa Cardinali, Lilian González Nualart, and Ninoska Cuadros Hucke Cultural Persistence and Change: Re-use of the Sacred in Late Period Petroglyphs Applied to Red Scoria Topknots from Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
8. Jan J. Boersema An Earthly Paradise? Easter Island as seen by the Eighteenth Century European Explorers
9. Rhys Richards Beyond Sustainability: Supplying the Outside World. The Impact of Whalers and other Foreign Visitors before 1862
10. Kathleen B. Ingersoll, Daniel W. Ingersoll, and Andrew Bove Healing a Culture’s Reputation: Challenging the Cultural Labeling and Libeling of the Rapanui
11. The Editors Reflections