260. MORE EVIDENCE DEBUNKING THE ECO-COLLAPSE OF EASTER ISLAND
In #249, I linked to a detailed study showing that Jared Diamond's theory of the eco-collapse of Easter Island is a fairy tale.
This morning, popmonkey discovered more new research debunking Diamond's theory. Excerpts from the report:
View of Easter Island Disaster All Wrong, Researchers SayApparently, there wasn't time for the population to grow enough to collapse:
LiveScience Staff Writer
LiveScience.com Thu Mar 9, 3:00 PM ET
The first settlers on Easter Island didn't arrive until 1200 AD, up to 800 years later than previously thought, a new study suggests.
The revised estimate is based on new radiocarbon dating of soil samples collected from one of oldest known sites on the island, which is in the South Pacific west of Chile.
The finding challenges the widely held notion that Easter Island's civilization experienced a sudden collapse after centuries of slow growth. If correct, the finding would mean that the island's irreversible deforestation and construction of its famous Moai statues began almost immediately after Polynesian settlers first set foot on the island.
Also, the few thousand people Europeans encountered when they first arrived on Easter Island might not have been the remnants of a once great and populous civilization as widely believed. The researchers think a few thousand people might have been all the island was ever able to support.So what caused the collapse of Easter Island? Europeans. Lipo concludes:
"There may not have actually been any collapse," Lipo told LiveScience. "With only 500 years, there's no reason to believe there had to have been a huge [population] growth."
"The collapse was really a function of European disease being introduced," Lipo said. "The story that's been told about these populations going crazy and creating their own demise may just be simply an artifact of [Christian] missionaries telling stories."
Lipo thinks the story of Easter Island's civilization being responsible for its own demise might better reflect the psychological baggage of our own society than the archeological evidence.
"It fits our 20th century view of us as ecological monsters," Lipo said. "There's no doubt that we do terrible things ecologically, but we're passing that on to the past, which may not have actually been the case. To stick our plight onto them is unfair."
-- by JD