Debate Over Puzzling Demise Of Easter Island Population May Finally Be Over

What really happened to the native Polynesians who once lived on Easter Island?

Some researchers have argued that the Rapa Nui, as the islanders were known, died out after using up the natural resources on their tiny, 63-square-mile speck of land in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. Others say the island’s population collapsed after Europeans brought diseases and pestilence–and took many survivors as slaves.

But new research suggests another possibility: that harsh environmental conditions on the island–from variations in rainfall to declining soil quality–caused a decline, but not a collapse, in the native population before the Europeans arrived in 1722, Live Science reported.

“The results of our research were really quite surprising to me,” Dr. Thegn Ladefoged, professor of anthropology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and the co-author of a paper describing the research, said in an email to The Huffington Post. “In short, our research does not support the suggestion that societal collapse occurred prior to European contact due to physical erosion and productivity decline, but it does indicate that use of less optimal environmental regions changed prior to European contact.”

The researchers analyzed and dated 428 obsidian tools and flakes of —> Read More Here


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