Book Review: The Statues That Walked – Terry Hunt & Carl Lipo [TSS]

Title: The Statues That Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island
Author: Terry Hunt & Carl Lipo
ISBN: 9781439150313
Pages: 256
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Publisher: Free Press
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

In this study of Easter Island, the authors look closely at the island’s history in order to determine why it is so barren, and in the process, they stumble upon the truth behind the mystery of the infamous statues of Easter Island – why they were made and how they were moved.

Review:

Anyone interested in archaeology has likely studied Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, at one point or another.  The mystery behind the island’s massive statues is on the same level as those of the pyramids at Giza and Stonehenge. But this is not the only puzzle present on Rapa Nui. What happened to the island’s natural resources – its trees and plants? Why is the land so infertile? What happened to the culture that created the statues?

Hunt and Lipo attempt to answer all of these questions in The Statues That Walked.  The prevailing theory thus far has been a case of “eco-suicide” – that is, that Rapa Nui was a thriving, lush island with a complex and advanced culture, but over farming and statue building raped the landscape until all that was left was what we see today. Unable to sustain its population, the islanders began to die out, and the culture was lost.

The Statues That Walked presents a very different case for the mystery behind Rapa Nui. Though the authors initially expected their findings to support the generally accepted notion of eco-suicide, they were surprised to find evidence against it. This makes their case all the more convincing – they aren’t trying to convince the reader of anything. Instead, they are looking at the evidence and attempting to form a theory around it. It makes for fascinating reading, because readers get to see the process of building a brand new theory around Rapa Nui.

The book is well-written, and though it can be technical at times, it is accessible enough for a lay person with only a casual interest in archaeology. Its brevity works well, highlighting important information but not overloading the reader with unnecessary detail. The authors present an intriguing portrait of this island and it was wonderful to be along for the ride as they made some revolutionary discoveries.

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Comments

  1. Stuff like this totally makes my brain buzz. I think I must have missed my calling. I get the chills everytime I see a picture of Easter Island (and it all started in middle school with the cover art of Styx’s album “Pieces of Eight” – ha!). I’m going to try to find this one.

  2. Stuff like this totally makes my brain buzz. I think I must have missed my calling. I get the chills everytime I see a picture of Easter Island (and it all started in middle school with the cover art of Styx’s album “Pieces of Eight” – ha!). I’m going to try to find this one.

  3. This does sound interesting! I’m always amazed at how many different outcomes these studies can have.

  4. This does sound interesting! I’m always amazed at how many different outcomes these studies can have.

  5. So interesting! I would love to read this book 🙂

  6. So interesting! I would love to read this book 🙂

  7. I definitely think they made this really accessible to lay persons. I was just slightly bothered by the fact that they inserted themselves into the story without any background on who they were. Overall, though, I found it fascinating.

  8. I definitely think they made this really accessible to lay persons. I was just slightly bothered by the fact that they inserted themselves into the story without any background on who they were. Overall, though, I found it fascinating.

  9. I think that this sounds fascinating and I have always sort of wondered why things are the way they are out on Easter Island. I am glad to hear that this book was so interesting and that it was related in a way that was easy to understand. Glad to hear you liked this one. It might be something for me too!

  10. I think that this sounds fascinating and I have always sort of wondered why things are the way they are out on Easter Island. I am glad to hear that this book was so interesting and that it was related in a way that was easy to understand. Glad to hear you liked this one. It might be something for me too!

  11. I have a fascination with Easter Island, and in fact have a couple of papers out there on a faunal analysis of Easter Island I did with a colleague — lo tho many years ago. I know several of the archaeologists who have worked on the island, tho I don’t know these authors.

  12. I have a fascination with Easter Island, and in fact have a couple of papers out there on a faunal analysis of Easter Island I did with a colleague — lo tho many years ago. I know several of the archaeologists who have worked on the island, tho I don’t know these authors.

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