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What did go wrong on Easter Island

History at 30,000 feet: The Big Picture

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1Macumbeira
Nov 19, 2017, 5:16am Top

I confess that I too was thrilled by the ECO disaster scenario of Eastern Island.
This article reminds us not to jump to conclusions just because it suits our own perception of the presence

https://aeon.co/essays/what-the-idea-of-civilisational-collapse-says-about-histo...

2bluepiano
Nov 19, 2017, 6:35am Top

This was terrifically interesting. Thanks for posting it.

3stellarexplorer
Nov 19, 2017, 11:07am Top

I can well relate to being drawn to apocalyptic scenarios. I often feel I must get away from the East Coast before it is destroyed by weapons of mass destruction. Maybe my fear is biased. And often people continue in reduced numbers, even after catastrophe or failure. But the author does dispense rather easily with the Bronze Age collapse, something that continues to be the subject of debated scholarship. So I have that “grain of salt” feeling here. He may be right though.

4PossMan
Nov 19, 2017, 11:10am Top

>1 Macumbeira:: I remember Easter Island was one of the chapters in Jared Diamond's book Collapse and being quite convinced by it. I haven't time right now to read your link but I've saved it for later. I came across another article in the last month or so which gave Easter Island's history as being different from Jared's version but I can't remember the details. Thanks for the link to this essay.

5MarthaJeanne
Nov 19, 2017, 11:16am Top

I highly recommend Empires and Barbarians, not so much for its long history of first millenium Europe, as for the discussions of how our understanding of that history has changed. He goes into a lot of detail about what we can know from archaeology - and what it can't tell us. How modern concerns have coloured how the period has been interpreted, and what modern examples can teach us about the past.

Totally different examples, of course, but the same concern with looking again at what really went on.

6Macumbeira
Nov 19, 2017, 11:47am Top

>5 MarthaJeanne: Indeed. There is the "Scott" case that summarizes the issue very well.
In the 100 years since Scott and his men were found frozen in their tent, Scott's reputation has evolved from hero to zero and nowadays to a conditional hero again, depending on the issues in England. War - sixties - Thatcher and so on...

7SylviaC
Edited: Nov 19, 2017, 12:11pm Top

The observations about our predilection for apocalyptic scenarios are interesting, and I think, accurate. And there is a tendency to view things in terms of "before" and "after". There was a lot that I agreed with in the article, but he seems to completely shrug off environmental disaster as a civilization altering factor. I'd like to read his book to get a fuller understanding of his argument. It's a little pricey though, and I doubt that my local public library system would get it.

I learned something else from the article: one of my highschool acquaintances is now a Maya specialist.

8MarthaJeanne
Edited: Nov 19, 2017, 12:57pm Top

Understanding Collapse by Guy D Middleton

I have wish listed this to get it on LT. The paperback isn't too awfully expensive. But not really in the areas for which I spend that on books. It might just show up in my library, though. I'd certainly be interested in reading it.

>7 SylviaC: My niece is a Mayan specialist. So I do read up on that culture now and again.

9stellarexplorer
Nov 19, 2017, 3:08pm Top

>8 MarthaJeanne: Came out recently, so maybe the price will drop. Looks like you could get the paperback edition for $34 including shipping. No reviews on Amazon. Do you know something about the book, MarthaJeanne?

10MarthaJeanne
Edited: Nov 19, 2017, 4:12pm Top

Just what I saw in the article. For me it would be £23.99 + shipping or €29.99 including shipping. (Which is better than the book they showed in the news tonight that I covet. €49.95! I don't think they are very interested in sales. Again, maybe the library will get it.) As is usual, if I just buy the one book I'd be better off using .de. If I buy several .co.uk is better, at least until Brexit. The dollar price is beside the point, because I don't order from outside the EU, but I would have to add shipping, making it quite a bit more that way.

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