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End of Easter Island

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Early inhabitants cleared countless trees to build their society. Slash and burn agriculture could be very destructive. They were clearing larger and larger expanses of land, cutting down the forest to feed more people. Over the centuries the population grew by the thousands. Harvsted trees became canoes and shelters. But many were felled for the sake of one singular obsession. building moais. Nearly all of the massive statues were carved from the soft stone of a single quarry. The islanders considered each to embody the spirit of their ancestors. Some statues are over 30 feet tall and weigh more than 80 tons. These monoliths were moved from the quarry, up to six miles across uneven terrain without the benefit of large animals or the wheel. It is believed that trees could have been used as posts for rope systems, or as rollers, or levers, to make sleds or even as tracks that were laid across the island. Virtually all of these methods would have required that the trunks were frequently replaced. The moais are made larger and larger as the centuries pass. It seems like through time, their was strong competition for not only building great monuments to honor the ancestors, but also among chiefs, for prestige and status. Hundreds of statues still litter the hillside, many abandoned in the process of moving or being carved. Frozen in time. One, known as El Gigante, the giant, would have stood over seven stories high. It suggests the islanders' ambition may have been greater than their resources. In the space of just a few centuries, the trees were used up.

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes and 41 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: National Geographic
Director: National Geographic
Views: 124
Posted by: greenbo on Apr 11, 2010

Wasting resources destroyed the society.

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