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What could have led to an end of Civilization on Eastern Island
The Rapa Nui Island, famous for its homogenous stone statue called Moai, was named Eastern Island during its discovery by a Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen in 1722. Once it was home to civilization of monolithic era that later became extinct. Many archeologists have different views regarding what led to the demise of Rapa Nui. Two possible answers to the question by historians and archeologists are in conflict with each other.
The Rapa Nui civilization is believed to be centuries old which had been thriving for long before its ultimate demise. The most common belief is that Rapa Nui people were skilled farmers and used careful agricultural techniques to feed large populations, which accumulated over many years during their inhabitation on island. They also carved humongous, heavy moai, the stone statues and were able to move somehow those heavy statues across the island. Unfortunately, a time arrived when their population thinned, the time tallied with the time when Europeans first found the island.
The conventional answer to disappearance of the island civilization could be traced from Paul Bahn and John Flenley's book ‘Easter Island, Earth Island’ and Jared Diamond's book ‘Collapse’. The books state that ‘ecocide’, or eco-suicide was the cause behind their extinction.
According to them, some of Polynesian sea-faring population discovered the tiny island and started living there, even before the first millennium AD. Soon population thrived, putting burden on its limited resources. They had to exploit more of resources to meet increasing demand that in return led terrible damage to environment. Consequently, people fought to survive and warfare put an end to inhabitants.
On contrary, two archeologists, Carl Lipo and Terry Hunt, have some other story to tell. They believe people arrived on the island around 1200 AD, unlike before first millennium as asserted by Bahn and Dr. Flenley. They believe population on island didn’t thrive in large number, and that loss of resources wasn’t the cause of their demise rather they were doing pretty well the time Europeans arrived. They blame Europeans for thinning population by spreading diseases and later enslaving and decimating them.
One theory that remained almost unchallenged by Lipo and Hunt is of traces of warfare found on island. However, on re-examined the mata'a, they suggested that the tools found on island were gardening tools, not weapons of mass warfare as suggested by traditional explanation, their opinion were published Tuesday in the journal Antiquity.
"Perhaps the story may change, perhaps the pendulum may swing back toward supporting a collapse, but as of now, you know, I like to think that as scientists we trust what the data tell us," said Mara Mulrooney, a Hawaiian anthropologist who also works on the island.