[ExI] Easter Island again

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Fri Mar 27 17:41:22 UTC 2009

On 3/27/09, Keith Henson wrote:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Easter_Island
>  There is general agreement that the population crashed *before*
>  contact with Europeans, probably due to overpopulation and
>  environmental destruction.  That's the mess I was talking about.  And
>  "technical path" means making stuff like boats and windmills out of
>  rocks and seawater.

As wikipedia states, that used to be the common opinion, encouraged by
Diamond's book. But Hunt's later research (plus others) is now
building a different picture.

This 5-page article gives a detailed explanation of Hunt's
investigations and conclusions.
Especially see the revised timeline diagram.

The islanders did chop the large palm trees down, but the polynesian
rats stopped them regrowing, as well as providing food for the

The human population probably reached a maximum of about 3,000,
perhaps a bit higher, around 1350 A.D. and remained fairly stable
until the arrival of Europeans. The environmental limitations of Rapa
Nui would have kept the population from growing much larger. By the
time Roggeveen arrived in 1722, most of the island's trees were gone,
but deforestation did not trigger societal collapse, as Diamond and
others have argued.

There is no reliable evidence that the island's population ever grew
as large as 15,000 or more, and the actual downfall of the Rapanui
resulted not from internal strife but from contact with Europeans.


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