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The Statues that Walked: Unraveling the…

The Statues that Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island

by Terry Hunt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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977201,927 (3.91)3
The monumental statues of Easter Island, gazing out in their imposing rows over the island's barren landscape, have been a great mystery ever since the island was first discovered by Europeans. How could the ancient people who inhabited this tiny speck of land, the most remote in the vast expanse of the Pacific, have built such monumental works, and moved them from the quarry where they were carved to the coast? And if the island once boasted a culture sophisticated enough to have produced such marvelous edifices, what happened to that culture? The prevailing accounts of the island's history tell a story of self-inflicted devastation: a glaring case of eco-suicide. But when Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo began carrying out archaeological studies on the island in 2001, they uncovered a very different truth: they show that the Easter Islanders were remarkably inventive environmental stewards, rich with lessons for confronting the daunting environmental challenges of our own time.--From publisher description.… (more)



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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
While this book was interesting, it did not contain as much detail as I expected. The authors provide a brief overview of the history of Easter Island, the changing ecology of the island and briefly mention their supposedly "new" theory for moving the giant statues. There were a few black and white photographs, but the book should have included many more photographs, especially coloured photographs, and a decent map of the island.

Not a bad book, but not a great one either. ( )
  ElentarriLT | Mar 24, 2020 |
Using recent archeological and anthropological research, this provides an alternative to the usual tale of eco-suicide (as described in Diamond's "Collapse"). Fascinating description of the history and people of the island. ( )
  bke | Mar 30, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this book, it was interesting and informative. I have always been fascinated with Easter Island and its famous statues and now I know much more about them. The book draws on past research but brings that research up to date. I found the book well written and the material presented in a logical order. The book uses images such as photographs, maps and charts to illustrate the data but I would have liked to have seen more images. Overall the book is a fun read that told me the history of that amazing island and its incredible people. ( )
  Chris177 | Feb 23, 2014 |
I cannot speak for anyone who does not have an acquaintance with the previous studies that have taken place. I don’t know how this book would feel to someone who did not have at least a passing understanding of, at the very least, some of Thor Heyerdahl’s work.

However, for me this was a fascinating next chapter in trying to understand just what happened on this small little island in the middle of the ocean.

The authors started their research with the idea that the studies wouldn’t add much more to what is already known – that things had been studied to death and that there was little chance of upsetting the currently conceived notions about Easter Island. But by looking a little deeper, by not necessarily accepting what had gone before, by opening up to other disciplines to bring new understanding, those notions fell by the wayside, and a new understanding of the original Easter Island inhabitants comes to light. A much fairer picture. A picture that is much more believable when we stop and think that they were human beings just like us.

As I say, if this is your first introduction to Easter Island, I can’t say you will find this entire book as fascinating as I did. But I also believe it is as good a place to start as any to begin the voyage of discovery. ( )
  figre | Aug 19, 2012 |
I really enjoyed this scientific unravelling of the mysteries of Rapa Nui. Although truth doesn't prove to be stranger than fiction in this case, it's a lot more compelling. The authors propose far more plausible, if mundane, explanations for the well-known conundrum that is the island: rat infestations, disease epidemics spread by European contact, cultural traditions that gave way to a European barter economy, and a number of faulty assumptions made by the earliest discoverers. For instance, Rapa Nui most likely never had any good timber trees to begin with.

Two chapters where the authors strayed outside their expertise were particularly weak: one that attempted to explain game theory in order to show why the islanders managed to resist killing each other for so long, and one that muddled clumsily through an explanation of how diverting resources from food production to "bet-hedging" strategies like building statues can make evolutionary sense. This may be true, but the explanation wasn't convincing.

Indeed, the best parts of the book start from solid evidence and make the smallest possible leaps of faith, and use the simplest interpretation. Lithic mulches were a great discovery. Why so many statues? The authors don't know, and don't even guess. Excellent. ( )
  stevage | Dec 28, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hunt, TerryAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barrett, JoeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bibikov, WalterCover photographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Professor Robert C. Dunnell (December 4, 1942-December 13, 2010), mentor and friend, whose contributions to archaeology and to our thinking made this book possible.
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Mention Easter Island to just about anyone and "mystery" immediately comes to mind.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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