Thor Heyerdahl - Sea Routes To Polynesia

Easter Island iLecture Documentary Film

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Thor Heyerdahl - The Statues of Easter Island


Thor Heyerdahl
Thor Heyerdahl
The famous Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl led the first archaeological expedition to Easter Island in 1955-56. In 1962 he gave a series of lectures to the Swedish Society of Anthropology and Geography in Stockholm. His lectures can be read in his book, Sea Routes to Polynesia.

Quoting from the text of the lecture on the Statues, he says, "at some unidentified date prior to AD 380, the first settlers landed on Easter Island, and found a verdant island covered by trees, shrubs, and palms." He proved this to be true from the extensive pollen samples taken from the crater lakes with the aid of 26 feet long cores from the sediments

His excavations proved that there were 3 separate epochs in the History of Easter Island, which the archaeologists have named Early, Middle and Late Periods. In the Early Period there was no production of giant statues, only altar-like elevations of very large, and most precisely cut and joined stones, which were erected with their facades towards the ocean, and a sunken court on the inland side. They were astronomically oriented, and constructed by highly specialised stone masons who studied the annual movement of the sun and in their religious architecture.

Easter Island Birdman Cult
Birdman Cult
Not until the Second Period were the well known Giant Statues quarried and placed on the platforms. The archaeologists believe that during this period, around AD 1100, the Birdman Cult arrived and marked the commencement of the raising of the large ancestor statues. During a period of less than 6 centuries, more than 600 giant ancestor statues were carved from the quarries on the slopes of Rano Raraku after the forests had been cleared. When the statue production reached its peak the island engineers were able to erect statues up to 40 feet tall, weighing more than 80 tons, and balance a red stone cylinder hat, weighing up to 12 tons, on top of its head. A gigantic statue 70 feet long, was left almost completed by the sculptors in the quarry when the catastrophe occurred, about A.D. 1680.

Easter Island Easter Islanders
Period was initiated by the sudden end of all work in Rano Raraku quarries. During this period the Statues were one by one overthrow, and everywhere are evidence of warfare and destruction. When the first Europeans settled ashore and became able to communicate directly with the Easter Islanders, they were told of two different arrivals, one from the East and one from the West. They consistently stressed that after a period of peaceful coexistence, their forefathers had almost exterminated the original people, thus leaving the present Polynesian population as sole inhabitants of Easter Island.

Thor Heyerdahl and his colleagues collected a great deal of evidence concerning the Early Period. Aquatic plants and the building of reed-boats, the use of double blade paddles, one-piece stone fish hooks, the shape of the dwellings, stone pounders, and needles, all point to the East and are not found in the West.

Lastly the existence of the rongo-rongo tablets. The Easter Island script was incised on wooden tablets, the only other place that this type of script has been found is among the early Indians who lived around Lake Titicaca high in the Andes. There is no evidence that the Polynesian people ever had the ability to write or invent a script, leaving the question of "How did they get there?".


The Statues of Easter Island
Coconuts on Cocos Island
Balsa Raft in Aboriginal Navigation of Peru & Ecuador
Feasible Ocean Routes in Pre-Columbian Times
The Kon-Tiki
The Kon-Tiki Film
Easter Island Section
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