We all know about the obvious mystery of the Easter Island: how did the giant heads appear on that miniature island? The scientist have not provided an answer for this one so far, but there’s a more subtle question which gained such interest that historians and anthropologists finally seem to have an answer for: how did the indigenous population of the island disappear?
The local archaeological discoveries have already proven that a tribe was once living on the island, however small the square mileage might be. The inhabitants were named Rapa Nui and all the observations collected so far suggested that they were wiped all at once, with no apparent reason.
For years, all sorts of theories attracted different crowds of specialists. Some presumed that the exposure to new diseases and epidemics associated with the European exploration might have been the reason for the sudden disappearance. Others speculated that famine was the main cause, famine generated by the ending of the finite natural resources of the island.
After years of mere speculations, new research shows that none of these theories are true, while the new data points to climate changes rendering the new environment intolerable for the population, causing them to become extinct slowly, over a longer period of time. Among the harsh conditions, the scientists count “variations in rainfall and declining soil quality”, changes which did not cause extinction all at once, but a steady downfall.
In an interview, professor of anthropology Dr. Thegn Ladefoged, who is one of the authors of the research, confesses his genuine surprise upon finding these new results. Even though there is the impediment of lacking actual data about the population, the studies show clearly how people all around the island had a bad reaction to climate changes, even prior to the attack on their health brought by new maladies.
According to the reports, the research consisted of analyses and dating of different artifacts found in the local archaeological sites. The purpose of studying obsidian rocks and tools was to find out how the Rapa Nui administered the land resources across the island.
Wondering what the archaeologists found? The natural surroundings presented restrains on some parts of the island, and that supplies were varied and limited, but not as limited as to present a danger to the small population.
Image Source: Tourism Profile