Analysis of remains found on Rapa Nui, Chile (Easter Island) provides evidence contrary to the widely-held belief that the ancient civilization recklessly destroyed its environment, according to new research co-conducted by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.
“The traditional story is that over time the people of Rapa Nui used up their resources and started to run out of food,” says Binghamton University Professor of Anthropology Carl Lipo. “One of the resources that they supposedly used up was trees that were growing on the island. Those trees provided canoes and, as a result of the lack of canoes, they could no longer fish. So they started to rely more and more on land food. As they relied on land food, productivity went down because of soil erosion, which led to crop failures ... painting the picture of this sort of catastrophe. That’s the traditional narrative.” Read more.