An international team of scientists has concluded that the ancient civilization on Rapa Nui has disappeared as a result of long-term climate change and shifts in natural ecosystems. The article was published in the monthly journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.
The authors of the work refuted two traditional theories with which science explained the disappearance of civilization of the indigenous inhabitants of the island. According to one of them, the aborigines suffered from the overexploitation of natural resources, according to the other – from the arrival of Europeans.
However, in a new scientific work, scientists have shown that none of these versions is correct, and in fact, the Easter Island population has experienced three social crises.
The first crisis dates back to 1450-1550, during the Little Ice Age. A less obvious decline occurred after the arrival of the first Europeans on the island in 1772. In the 19th century, a third crisis arose due to the spread of epidemic diseases and the slave trade. However, the main cause of the demographic decline was the long-term effects of climate change, which affected the island’s ability to produce food.
The islanders tried to adjust to climate change, the researchers say. It is because of this that they gradually from a complex society, which erected huge idols, turned into a simpler agrarian society.
I believe that the islanders not only knew about the changes but were able to change the way of life on the island. They gradually moved from a rather complex society, which created wonderful Moai statues, to a later and simpler agrarian society, decreasing the size of families and moving on to new ways of producing food in stone gardens.
Mauricio Lima, professor and one of the study authors