Background on Easter Island
We studied the British chart of Isla de Pascua
and imagined what it was like. All the National Geographics
and guide books could not prepare us for the magic of Easter Island. Some background information is helpful, beginning with Thor Heyerdal's Kon
After the war, Heyerdahl continued his research, only to meet a wall of resistance to his theories amongst comtemporary
scholars. To add weight to his arguments, Heyerdahl decided to build a replica of the aboriginal balsa raft (named the "Kon
") to test his theories. In 1947, Heyerdahl and five companions left Callio
, Peru and crossed 8000 km (4300 miles) in 101 days to reach Polynesia (Raroia
atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago). Despite skepticisim
, the seaworthiness of the aboriginal raft was thus proven and showed that the ancient Peruvians could have reached Polynesia in this manner.
The Galapagos Expedition (1952)
Following the success of the Kon
Expedition, Heyerdahl organized and led the Norwegian Archaeological Expedition to the Galapagos Islands. The group investigated the pre
habitation sites, locating an Inca flute and shards from more than 130 pieces of ceramics which were later identified as pre
. The Galapagos Islands are located about 1000 km off the coast of Ecuador and thus South American archaeology was extended for the first time in to the open Pacific Ocean. Parallel to this expedition, Heyerdahl worked with experts in rediscovering the lost art of the guara
, a kind of aboriginal center-board used by the indians
of Peru and Ecuador for navigation. From this tool, not used on the Kon
voyage, it become clear that ancient South American voyagers had the means to navigate as well as travel great distances in the Pacific.
The Easter Island Expedition (1955-56)
Following his successful work, Heyerdahl was encouraged to direct a major archaeological expedition to the Pacific's most isolated island: Easter Island. An expedition of 23 persons reached the island and began the first sub-surface archaeological excavation every attempted. They soon discovered that Easter Island had once been wooded until deforested by its original inhabitants, who also planted water-reeds and other South American plants.
Carbon dating showed that the Island had been occupied from about 380 A.D., about one thousand years earlier than scientists previously believed. Excavations indicated that some ancient stone carvings on the Island were similar to ancient traditions in Peru. Some Easter Islanders claimed that according to their legends, they orginally
arrived from the far away lands to the East. The results of Heyerdahl's work were widely discussed and presented at the Tenth Pacific Science Congress in Honolulu (1961) where they were supported by the unanimous statement: "Southeast Asia and the islands adjacent constitute one major source area of the peoples and cultures of the Pacific Islands and South America". Thus, Heyerdahl's eastern migration theory had gained considerable influence."
Here are some background links for an historical perspective as well as the "Easter Island" website:http://www.netaxs.com/~trance/rapanui.html
Easter Id website…lots of links plus a maphttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/easter/
Good NOVA site with map of archeological
Good history & tourist’s view
Irving Johnson; Round the Horn in a Square Rigger (Milton Bradley, 1932) (reprinted as The Peking Battles Cape Horn (Sea History Press, 1977 ISBN 0-930248-02-3
Irving Johnson; Shamrock V's Wild Voyage Home (Milton Bradley, 1933)