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