First thoughts the collapse of the Rapa Nui culture
Archeologists found no evidence of natural disaster (volcanic eruption, tidal wave) and thus concluded that Easter Island is a fine example of human habitat self-destruction.
Due to the demands for wood for moai construction and transport in addition to the the increased demands for shelter and boats for the larger population the island became deforested.
Fishing boats became smaller and less efficient, soil eroded and crops became stunted. Result: starvation and inter-clan war, a verdict supported by archeological discoveries of sudden increase in obsidian (a hard stone) weapons in the 17th century, corpses that had been beaten to death and caves used as sanctuaries.
Inside the Rano Raraku quarry/volcano.
When the whiteman’s colossal ship arrived the islanders saw the wealth and sophistication of the ‘aliens’ and were suitably awed (according to Roggeveen’s own reports), realising the poverty of life and style in which they were living. This led to the comprehension that their ancestors were not protecting them, quite the opposite, the moai fixation had ruined the land.
And so clans pulled down other clans’ moai, or possibly even their own, and by the time Captain Cook arrived in 1774, the great statues were mostly face-down in the dirt. . .
. . . until 1955, when the first moai were re-erected by Norwegian adventurer and Kon Tiki builder, Thor Heyerdahl. Now about are 17% upright, though but erosion is taking it’s toll.
And the outside of Rano Raraku quarry, the source of almost all moai.
About 400 statues in various stages of development are still scattered around the outside and inside of this crater.
Rapa Nui is triangular, 23km long by 11km wide, and was created by the eruption of three volcanoes. The total area of is 171 sq kms. There are just two sandy beaches.
This is one of our favourite places on Rapa Nui, as well as. . . Anakena beach