Easter Island History – The Island Itself
Many people have found Easter Island history very fascinating! On Easter Sunday, April 5, 1722, a Dutch sea captain named Jacob Roggeveen landed his ship on an island known as Te Pito o Te Henua, meaning “The Center of the World.” Captain Roggeveen renamed the island Easter Island. Located 2200 miles (3500 kilometers) off the coast of Chile, it is the world’s remotest inhabited island. The island is 63 miles in size with three extinct volcanoes; but technically speaking, the island is a single massive volcano that rises over 10,000 feet from the ocean floor! Once a luscious refuge for migratory birds and wildlife, the island has now been stripped of its native forest due to overpopulation and improper farming techniques.
At first, Polynesian travelers from the Marquesas, or Society Islands, populated the island. These inhabitants carried with them rich religious and artistic cultures. As the population increased, the food chain broke, resulting in famines and even cannibalism. Those who survived were left to the mercies of slave traders from other lands and governmental domination by Peru and Chile. The onslaught also brought various devastating diseases.
Easter Island History – Cultural Development
The cultural development on the island has been fodder for widespread speculation. Since the island consists of volcanic rock, the early inhabitants quarried the material into giant statues, some as tall as 14 feet, 6 inches and weighing about 14 tons. This was the reason for the depletion of the rich forestry. The villagers used the trees to transport these giant rocks all over the island as early as AD 700. Most of the surviving statues are lined up all along the shoreline facing out to sea. Their faces and bodies resemble similar statues in Polynesia but have evolved uniquely. The statue cult symbolized male dominance and power throughout the societal structure of the inhabitants; not only signifying power and stature, the natives believed they were indwelled by a sacred spirit.
Worldwide knowledge of Easter Island’s strange statues has fueled many interesting theories, all of which have no scientific backing. One man wrote that armadas carrying elephants had been blown off course by typhoons and ended up on the island. The man goes on to claim that the elephants were then used as the muscle behind the movement of the monuments. A man by the name of Tom Gary suggested that Easter Island transmitted energy to Mexico and South America. He suggests that messages found on the statues are diagrams explaining how copies can be made in three-dimensions. Then there is the sunken city group (the same people who believe in Atlantis) who theorize that Easter Island is actually a sunken continent. Modern exploration with the use of sonar has proven this theory to be false. Of course, we can’t leave out the space travelers. Yes, the same ones who built the pyramids in Egypt stopped in at Easter Island and made all those statues. Authors have also written books about the island without actually visiting, neglecting to do their homework.
Easter Island History – The New Age Draw
New Agers are enthralled by places like Easter Island, the pyramids, and Stonehenge. There have even been claims of mystic energy fields and alien influence. The mysteries of this ancient civilization have caused theories to form and today many New Agers consider it to be a very spiritual place.
The statues that look out to sea are a poignant reminder that man is forever searching and seeking a place of peace and harmony. Despite whatever meaning the early builders may have originally had for these figures, only a sense of loss and hopelessness remains.