The silence of Easter Island

24.12.2003

24.12.2003


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 Easter Island,
occupying 117 square meters. km. — One of the most secluded habitat: it is located in the Pacific Ocean at a distance of over 3700 km. from the nearest continent (South America) and 2600 km from the nearest inhabited island (Pitcairn).


Generally in History of Easter Island many secrets. Its discoverer — Captain Juan Fernandez fear of competitors, decided to keep secret his discovery, made in 1578, the year, and after a while accidentally died under mysterious circumstances. Although it was a fact that I found a Spaniard, Easter Island, is still unclear.

After 144, at 1722, to Easter Island
came across a Dutch Admiral Jacob Roggeveen, the event occurred on the day of Easter. So accidentally island Te Pito o te Hen, which is translated from the local dialect means Center of the world, has become a Easter Island.


Interestingly, Admiral Roggeveen with his squadron sailed not just in the area, he tried in vain to find the elusive land Davis — English pirate, which he has been identified for 35 years before the expedition Dutch. However, no one but Davis and his team, the newly discovered archipelago of more never seen.

The mild climate of Easter Island and the volcanic origin would have to make it a paradise, away from the problems plaguing the rest of the world, but the first impression Roggeveen on the type of the island was devastated by a terrain covered with dried grass and scorched vegetation. There was no sign of any tree or shrub.

Modern botanists discovered on the island, only 47 species of higher plants, typical of the area, mostly grass, sedges and ferns. The list also included two types of dwarf trees and two species of shrubs. With such vegetation inhabitants of the island had no fuel for warmth in cold, wet and windy winter. Of domestic animals were only chickens, there was not the bats, birds, snakes or lizards. There were only insects. Only on the island had about 2,000 people.

Now the island is home to around three thousand people. Of these, only 150 people — purebred Rapa Nui, the rest — Chileans and mestizos. Although, again, it is not clear who exactly can be considered purebred. After all, even the first Europeans landed on the island were surprised to find that the inhabitants of Rapa Nui — Polynesian name of the island — ethnically heterogeneous. Familiar as we Admiral Roggeveen wrote that on the open land he lived white, tanned, brown, and even reddish people. Their language was Polynesian related to dialect, isolated from approximately 400 AD. e., and characteristic of the Marquesas and Hawaii.





Seemed quite inexplicable about 200 giant stone statues — "Moai",
located on massive pedestals along the coast of the island with a miserable vegetation, away from the quarry. Most of the statues were located on massive pedestals. Yet less than 700 sculptures in various stages of completion, were abandoned in quarries or on ancient roads linking career with the coast. The impression that the sculptors suddenly left their tools and stopped work ..

Distant master cut down "moai" on the slopes of the volcano Rano Roraku, located in the eastern part of the island is made of soft volcanic tuff. Then finished statue lowered down the slope and placed along the perimeter of the island, a distance of over 10 km. The height of the majority of the idols of five to seven meters, more recent sculptures as much as up to 10, and up to 12 meters. Tuff, or, as it is called, pumice, from which they are made, the structure resembles a sponge and crumbles easily, even when it is exposed to light. so that the average weight of "moai" less than 5 tons. Stone ahu — platform-pedestals: up to 150 m in length and 3 meters in height, and consisted of pieces weighing up to 10 tons

At the time, Admiral Roggeveen, recalling his trip to the island, claimed that the natives were diluted before idols "moai" bonfires and sit next to his heels, bowed his head. Then they folded their hands and rocked up and down. Of course, this observation is not in a position to explain who actually have been idols for the islanders.

Roggeveen and his companions could not understand how, without using thick wooden rollers and strong ropes, you can move and install such blocks. It was not Islander wheels or draft animals and no other energy source other than its own muscles. Ancient legends say that the statues were themselves. To ask a question like this really happened, there's no point, because the documentary evidence still remains. There are many hypotheses of movement "moai", some even confirmed by experiments, but this proves only one thing — it was possible in principle. And moved the statue of the island's residents and no one else. That's why they do it? Here begins the discrepancy.

Surprising then, that in 1770 the statues were still standing, James Cook, who visited the island in 1774, mentioned the underlying statues, no one had noticed nothing of the sort. The last standing statues seen in 1830 on the island Then came the French squadron. Since then, the original, that is established by the inhabitants of the island, statues never seen again. Everything that exists on the island today, it was restored in the XX century. The last restoration of the fifteen "moai", located between the volcano Rano Roraku and the peninsula SEARCH ENGINE occurred relatively recently — from 1992 to 1995 And the Japanese were engaged in restoration work.


In the second half of the XIX century, the cult of death and human bird. This strange and unique for the whole of Polynesia, the rite was dedicated Makemake — the supreme deity of the islanders. Elected became his earthly incarnation. And, interestingly, the elections were held regularly every year. In this case, the most active part in them have servants or soldiers. It depended on them, will they be the owner, the head of the family clan, tangata, mana, or a man-bird. That this rite owes its origins to the cultic center — rock Orongo village on the largest volcano Rano Kao in the western end of the island. While it may be Orongo existed long before the rise of the cult-mana tangata. Tradition reports that the heir of the legendary Hotu Matua, the first leader who arrived on the island, was born here. In turn, his descendants through hundreds of years themselves gave the signal to start the annual contest.


Spring on the small islands of Motu Kao Kao, Motu Iti and Motu Nui, located near the coast, flew the messengers of the god Makemake — black sea swallows. One soldier, who first found the first egg of the bird and delivered it to his master swimming, received the award in seven beautiful women. Well, the owner became the leader, or rather, man-bird, getting the respect, honor and privilege. The last ceremony of the tangata manu-took place in the 60-ies of the XIX century. After the disastrous raid pirate Peruvians in 1862, when the pirates were taken to slavery all the male population of the island, to choose a man-bird was no one and not from anyone.

Why did the natives of Easter Island statues carved "moai" in your career? Why did they stop this occupation? Company, created the statue was to differ materially from those 2000 people who have seen the Roggeveen. It had to be well organized. What happened to him?

More than two and a half centuries, the mystery of Easter Island remained undisclosed. Most theories about the history and development of Easter Island is based on oral tradition. This happens because no one still can not understand what is written in the written sources — the famous sign "how to Motu can Rongorongo", which translated roughly means — the manuscript for recitation. Most of them were destroyed by Christian missionaries, but also those that survived would probably shed light on this mysterious island. Although the scientific world was frequently agitated by reports that the ancient writings finally deciphered by carefully checking all of this is not very accurate interpretation of the facts and oral tales

A few years ago, paleontologist David Steadman and several other researchers performed the first systematic study of Easter Island in order to find out what was previously its flora and fauna. As a result, there is evidence for a new, surprising and instructive interpretation of the history of its settlers.

Easter Island was settled around 400 AD. e.
The islanders grew bananas, taro, sweet potato, sugar cane, mulberry. In addition to chickens, on the island were also rats who arrived with the first settlers.

Period making statues refers to 1200-1500 years. The number of residents at that time ranged from 7,000 to 20,000 people. To lift and move the statue is quite a few hundred people who used ropes and rollers of the trees that are available at that time in sufficient quantity.

The hard work of archaeologists and paleontologists showed that about 30 000 years before the arrival of humans and the first years of their stay the island was not such a desolate, as it is now. Subtropical forest of trees and undergrowth towered over shrubs, grasses, ferns and turf. In the forest grew tree daisies, trees hauhau from which you can make ropes and toromiro, which is useful as fuel. There were also a variety of palm trees, which now are not on the island, but in the past there were so many that the base of the tree was firmly nestled their pollen. They are related to the Chilean palm tree, which grows up to 32 meters and a diameter of up to 2 m tall, unbranched trunks were ideal for ice rinks and canoeing facilities. They also gave edible nuts and juice from which Chilean make sugar syrup, honey, wine.

Relatively cold coastal waters provide fishing only in a few places. The main marine prey were dolphins and seals. To hunt them out to sea and used harpoons. Before the arrival of humans island was an ideal place for the birds, because they did not have any enemies here. Here arranged nesting albatrosses, boobies, frigate birds, fulmars, parrots and other birds — only 25 species. It was probably the richest breeding throughout the Pacific.

Around 800 years of the destruction of the forests began.

Increasingly began to meet layers of charcoal from forest fires, it became less and less tree pollen and more from the pollen of grasses, are replacing the wood. No later than 1400 palm trees disappeared finally, not only as a result of deforestation, but also because of the ever-present rats that did not give them the opportunity to recover: a dozen surviving remnants of nuts, preserved in caves, had traces Gnawed rats. These nuts are not able to germinate. Trees hauhau not disappeared completely, but they did not have enough for the manufacture of ropes.


In the 15th century have disappeared not only palm trees, but the entire forest as a whole.

It was destroyed by people who cleaned up areas for gardens, cut down trees to build canoes, for the manufacture of rollers under the statues for heating. Rats ate the seeds. It is likely that the birds were dying because of the pollution of flowers and fruit yield reductions. It happened the same thing happens everywhere in the world where destroy forest: the majority of the inhabitants of the forest disappears. On the island disappeared all kinds of native birds and animals. Were caught and the entire coastal fish. In the food went to small snails. From the diet of people in the 15th century. Dolphins have disappeared: it was nothing to go to sea, and harpoons not anything else to do. It came to cannibalism.


From here, opened the first settlers, 1600 years later, became almost lifeless.

Fertile soil, abundance of food, a lot of building materials, ample living space, all the possibilities for a comfortable existence were destroyed. At the time of visiting the island Heyerdahl, the island was the only tree toromiro, and now it is gone.



It all started with the fact that within a few centuries after the arrival of the people began to like their Polynesian ancestors, set on a platform of stone idols. Over time, the statue became larger, their heads started to decorate red 10-ton crown; untwisted spiral of competition; rival clans tried to outdo each other, demonstrating the health and strength like the Egyptians built their giant pyramids. On the island, as in modern America, had a complex political system of allocation of available resources and the integration of the economy in different areas.

The ever-growing population plagued forests faster than they can regenerate, more space was occupied gardens, soil, devoid of forests, springs and streams dry up, the trees that were spent on transportation and lifting of statues, as well as to build canoes and houses, was not enough even for cooking. With the destruction of birds and animals advancing hunger. Decreased fertility of arable land due to wind and rain erosion. Drought began. Intensive rearing of chickens and cannibalism have not solved the problem of food. Prepared to move the statue with sunken cheeks and visible ribs — evidence of famine.

With a shortage of food the islanders could no longer contain the chiefs, bureaucrats and shamans, who were managing the company. Surviving islanders told the first Europeans to visit them, how to replace the centralized system came chaos and militant class won the hereditary chiefs. On the rocks there were images of daggers, spears and made the warring parties in the 1600's and 1700-ies., And they are now scattered all over the island of Easter. By 1700 the population was a quarter to one-tenth of its former number. People moved to the caves to hide from their enemies. Around 1770 rival clans started to topple the statue from each other and take down their heads. The last statue was toppled and desecrated in 1864

As soon as the researchers manifest pattern of decline of civilization on Easter Island, they asked themselves — why they did not look back, do not realize what is happening, do not stop until it was too late? What were they thinking, cutting down the last palm tree?

Most likely, the accident did not occur suddenly, and lasted for several decades. Changes that occur in nature, for a generation were not visible. Only old people, recalling the years of his childhood, could realize what is happening and understand the threat posed by the destruction of forests, but the ruling class and stonemasons, afraid of losing their privileges and the work relates to the prevention in the same way as today's loggers in the north-western United States: "The work is more important than the forest".

The trees gradually became smaller, thinner and less important. Once upon a time was cut last fruit-bearing tree, and the young shoots are destroyed along with the remains of shrubs and undergrowth. No one noticed the death of the last of a young palm tree.


 

See also: Ancient birds penguins, Forbidden archaeological finds.

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