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Thread: The Settlement of Easter Island

  1. #1 The Settlement of Easter Island 
    Time Lord
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    I'm not sure how reliable these links are, but I'm starting to get an interesting picture in my head, of an island that could have had a very long history.

    http://www.crystalinks.com/easterisland.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Crystalinks
    Archaeological evidence indicates discovery of the island by Polynesians at about 400 AD.

    In 1722, a Dutch explorer, Jacob Roggeveen, sighted and visited the island. This happened to be on a Sunday, Easter Sunday to be precise, and the name stuck: Easter Island (Isla de Pascua in Spanish).

    What he discovered on Easter Island were three distinct groups of people, Dark skinned, Red skinned, and very Pale skinned People with red hair".
    This seems to indicate three ethnicities. Is it possible that maybe three different cultures might have separately, and independently discovered the island at three different times, and stayed around and had children?

    Ron Fisher in his work Easter Island Brooding Sentinels of Stone, mentions as one explanation for the statues that "two classes of people, the-so-called Long Ears and Short Ears, lived on the island. The Short Ears were enslaved by the Long Ears, who forced the Short Ears to carve the Moai. After many generations and during a rebellion, the Short Ears surprised the Long Ears killing them all, which explains the abrupt end of the statue-carving.
    This sounds a lot like what happened in the Americas between the Aztecs and the Spanish. A slightly more advanced culture comes along, discovers a weaker culture, and conquers them. Only, in the case of Easter Island, the arriving culture probably wasn't able to maintain contact with their motherland.

    The inhabitants of this charming and mysterious place called their land: Te Pito o TeHenua, 'the navel of the world.'

    It sits in the South Pacific Ocean 2,300 miles west of South America, 2,500 miles southeast of Tahiti, 4,300 miles south of Hawaii, 3,700 miles north of Antarctica. The closest other inhabited island is 1,260 miles away - tiny Pitcairn Island where the mutineers of the H.M.S. Bounty settled in 1790.
    While the Mutineers of the H.M.S. Bounty didn't land on Easter Island specifically, I think this goes to show that all it takes is one errant vessel and you can get a new ethnic group started.


    [/quote]

    http://www.sacredsites.com/americas/...er_island.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Sacredsites
    In the early 1950s, the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl (famous for his Kon-Tiki and Ra raft voyages across the oceans) popularized the idea that the island had been originally settled by advanced societies of Indians from the coast of South America. Extensive archaeological, ethnographic and linguistic research has conclusively shown this hypothesis to be inaccurate. It is now recognized that the original inhabitants of Easter Island are of Polynesian stock (DNA extracts from skeletons have confirmed this), that they most probably came from the Marquesas or Society islands, and that they arrived as early as 318 AD (carbon dating of reeds from a grave confirms this). It is estimated that the original colonists, who may have been lost at sea, arrived in only a few canoes and numbered fewer than 100. At the time of their arrival, much of the island was forested, was teeming with land birds, and was perhaps the most productive breeding site for seabirds in the Polynesia region. Because of the plentiful bird, fish and plant food sources, the human population grew and gave rise to a rich religious and artistic culture.
    I'm wondering why we should believe those 100 colonists really found the island uninhabited? American history shows us pretty plainly that you can "colonize" a place even if it's already occupied, as long as you have the weapons and skills necessary to push out the existing population.

    On the other hand, they probably draw this conclusion on the basis of searching for human remains from earlier times and not finding any, so maybe the other 2 ethnicities arrived later?


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  3. #2 Re: The Settlement of Easter Island 
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I'm not sure how reliable these links are, but I'm starting to get an interesting picture in my head, of an island that could have had a very long history.

    http://www.crystalinks.com/easterisland.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Crystalinks
    Archaeological evidence indicates discovery of the island by Polynesians at about 400 AD.

    In 1722, a Dutch explorer, Jacob Roggeveen, sighted and visited the island. This happened to be on a Sunday, Easter Sunday to be precise, and the name stuck: Easter Island (Isla de Pascua in Spanish).

    What he discovered on Easter Island were three distinct groups of people, Dark skinned, Red skinned, and very Pale skinned People with red hair".
    This seems to indicate three ethnicities. Is it possible that maybe three different cultures might have separately, and independently discovered the island at three different times, and stayed around and had children?
    Likely more plausibly the former. It is also possible, given vague description, that the people with red hair were actually Homo Neanderthalensis.

    Ron Fisher in his work Easter Island Brooding Sentinels of Stone, mentions as one explanation for the statues that "two classes of people, the-so-called Long Ears and Short Ears, lived on the island. The Short Ears were enslaved by the Long Ears, who forced the Short Ears to carve the Moai. After many generations and during a rebellion, the Short Ears surprised the Long Ears killing them all, which explains the abrupt end of the statue-carving.
    This sounds a lot like what happened in the Americas between the Aztecs and the Spanish. A slightly more advanced culture comes along, discovers a weaker culture, and conquers them. Only, in the case of Easter Island, the arriving culture probably wasn't able to maintain contact with their motherland.
    To me this, again, seems like a clear reference to Homo Neanderthalensis and their extermination. But then, I have a very creative imagination.

    I'm wondering why we should believe those 100 colonists really found the island uninhabited? American history shows us pretty plainly that you can "colonize" a place even if it's already occupied, as long as you have the weapons and skills necessary to push out the existing population.

    On the other hand, they probably draw this conclusion on the basis of searching for human remains from earlier times and not finding any, so maybe the other 2 ethnicities arrived later?
    It is entirely possible that they exterminated themselves, or left due to calamity (storm, etc).

    While I find the quoted sources incredibly unreliable, and with an agenda to push, these are my basic analysis on the assumption that the quotations are valid.


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  4. #3 Re: The Settlement of Easter Island 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I'm not sure how reliable these links are, but I'm starting to get an interesting picture in my head, of an island that could have had a very long history.

    http://www.crystalinks.com/easterisland.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Crystalinks
    Archaeological evidence indicates discovery of the island by Polynesians at about 400 AD.

    In 1722, a Dutch explorer, Jacob Roggeveen, sighted and visited the island. This happened to be on a Sunday, Easter Sunday to be precise, and the name stuck: Easter Island (Isla de Pascua in Spanish).

    What he discovered on Easter Island were three distinct groups of people, Dark skinned, Red skinned, and very Pale skinned People with red hair".
    This seems to indicate three ethnicities. Is it possible that maybe three different cultures might have separately, and independently discovered the island at three different times, and stayed around and had children?
    Likely more plausibly the former. It is also possible, given vague description, that the people with red hair were actually Homo Neanderthalensis.
    The last H. neanderthalensis died around 30,000 - 45,000 years ago. There's no evidence of their migration beyond Europe and the Near East.

    One should take any link from the crystalinks.com domain with a serious grain of salt. Lots of quote-mining and mystery-mongering there.
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  5. #4  
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    Yes, Skinwalker, I know. I said what I said and I stand by it on the assumption that they're at all accurate.
    Om mani padme hum

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  6. #5  
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    Then clearly I've misread you. I don't understand how it would be plausible or even possible, given the circumstances, how H. neanderthalensis could be described.
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  7. #6  
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    I quoted the relevant descriptions that could indicate Homo Neanderthalensis. The skin tone, the hair, the descriptions of behavior, size, that sort of thing. Here's a relevant (cited) quote from the wiki article:
    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki
    A 2007 study suggested some Neanderthals may have had red hair and pale skin color.
    If we assume the stories are true, it opens up possibilities for a late form of Homo Neanderthalensis to be inhabiting areas never before considered.
    Om mani padme hum

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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    I quoted the relevant descriptions that could indicate Homo Neanderthalensis. The skin tone, the hair, the descriptions of behavior, size, that sort of thing. Here's a relevant (cited) quote from the wiki article:
    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki
    A 2007 study suggested some Neanderthals may have had red hair and pale skin color.
    If we assume the stories are true, it opens up possibilities for a late form of Homo Neanderthalensis to be inhabiting areas never before considered.
    Complete bollocks. A correlation between hair color of natives and the hypothesis that Neandertals had red hair is not suggestive of the existence of H. neanderthalensis half a globe away and over 30,000 years into the future.

    A more parsimonious explanation would be that the Polynesians that were encountered actually colored their hair and skin with ochre (a practice not unheard of) out of clan worship.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    I quoted the relevant descriptions that could indicate Homo Neanderthalensis. The skin tone, the hair, the descriptions of behavior, size, that sort of thing. Here's a relevant (cited) quote from the wiki article:
    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki
    A 2007 study suggested some Neanderthals may have had red hair and pale skin color.
    If we assume the stories are true, it opens up possibilities for a late form of Homo Neanderthalensis to be inhabiting areas never before considered.
    True, but if we stay within the quoted reference, (I agree it might not be reliable), these Neanderthals would have been alive in 1722 AD. That would be incredibly impressive.

    I'm happier with the idea of an errant European trade vessel having landed there maybe around 1500 or 1600 AD or earlier. But even that doesn't make sense because there would have to have been women among them. White skin is a recessive gene, so male sailors couldn't easily have passed it on to their offspring if they were marrying natives.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    I quoted the relevant descriptions that could indicate Homo Neanderthalensis. The skin tone, the hair, the descriptions of behavior, size, that sort of thing. Here's a relevant (cited) quote from the wiki article:
    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki
    A 2007 study suggested some Neanderthals may have had red hair and pale skin color.
    If we assume the stories are true, it opens up possibilities for a late form of Homo Neanderthalensis to be inhabiting areas never before considered.
    True, but if we stay within the quoted reference, (I agree it might not be reliable), these Neanderthals would have been alive in 1722 AD. That would be incredibly impressive.
    Thus why I mentioned it.

    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Complete bollocks. A correlation between hair color of natives and the hypothesis that Neandertals had red hair is not suggestive of the existence of H. neanderthalensis half a globe away and over 30,000 years into the future.

    A more parsimonious explanation would be that the Polynesians that were encountered actually colored their hair and skin with ochre (a practice not unheard of) out of clan worship.
    Now that's complete bollocks. I'm sure the record just conveniently happens to ignore such a ritual in spite of the likelihood that it would be mentioned. Explorers do tend to MENTION crazy or weird customs like that. All your doing is tossing away valid information because it presents a hypothesis you're unwilling to accept. You didn't even argue my quote, you just said "Nu uh!" and postulated a ridiculous stretch of logic with even LESS evidence than what I said. By less, of course I mean none.

    Incidentally, it's hardly a "hypothesis", unless you consider genetic analysis to be a wildly inaccurate practice subject to acts of God.
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  11. #10  
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    The fact they were described as "very pale skinned" instead of ethnically white seems to support Skinwalker's hypothesis. As I was researching the topic for my original post (actually for something else, but I thought it would be interesting to discuss this), I saw a lot of pictures of the natives painting themselves.

    Also, a lot of the statues sort of had these reddish colored hats, which had mostly fallen off by the time Europeans arrived, and which were made out of some kind of volcanic rock. Most of their religion centered on these statues supposedly containing "mana" or some such power, so it wouldn't surprise me if they tried to emulate them by dying their hair.

    Neanderthals is a fun possibility, though. I understand bones for different kinds of pre-humans are often found when digging on Pacific islands, but they're usually dated to a very long time ago.
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  12. #11  
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    Funny how that information would have been useful (and incredibly relevant) earlier.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    Now that's complete bollocks. I'm sure the record just conveniently happens to ignore such a ritual in spite of the likelihood that it would be mentioned. Explorers do tend to MENTION crazy or weird customs like that.
    I honestly haven't studied Polynesian culture in-depth and couldn't say. Regardless, the "Neandertal" speculation that you're suggesting is so implausible that it only barely qualifies as an hypothesis.

    All your doing is tossing away valid information because it presents a hypothesis you're unwilling to accept.
    It isn't a matter of what I'm willing or "unwilling to accept." If evidence were produced to support such an idea, then I would accept it. The fact is that there are no good reasons to believe that red hair and light skin on a Polynesian island is the result of the Neandertal genome. Not only is there no evidence of Neandertal migration anywhere near that far east, but there's no evidence of cross-breeding between neandertals and modern humans. Common characters between the two species like the FOXP2 gene, implicated in the development of language skills, likely came from a common ancestor at a divergence of about 600-500 kya (Krause et al. 2007).

    You didn't even argue my quote, you just said "Nu uh!" and postulated a ridiculous stretch of logic with even LESS evidence than what I said. By less, of course I mean none.
    What I said was, that there are more parsimonious explanations, of which I gave one. The idea that the people encountered painted their bodies and hair requires far fewer assumptions than suggesting that Neanderthals not only traveled half way around the globe but also survived their extinction long enough to convey the genes necessary for light skin pigmentation and red hair. And they would have had to survive an additional 30,000-40,000 years since such a gene would have long been selected against in the climate where Polynesians reside.

    Another more parsimonious explanation is the Founder Effect where a few individuals introduced the gene(s) just a few generations earlier, perhaps from shipwrecked or colonizing Europeans.

    So, yes, I'm saying "nu, uh!" by saying that speculating that Neanderthals from 30-40 k years prior traveled half-way around the globe leaving no evidence beyond an 18th century sailor's account that the people who greeted him had "red hair" and "pale skin" is utter poppycock.

    Incidentally, it's hardly a "hypothesis", unless you consider genetic analysis to be a wildly inaccurate practice subject to acts of God.
    It is most definitely an hypothesis. Even the authors of the paper that revealed the MC1R (Melanocortin 1 Receptor) gene present in the few samples they were able to test agreed with this when they state, "Neanderthal individuals [...] may have had reduced pigmentation levels, possibly even similar to the pale skin color and/or red hair observed in modern humans." What you're doing is creating a fallacy of logic, poisoning the well by equivocating the scientific method of "genetic analysis" with the results of Lalueza-Fox et al. (2007), the authors quoted in this paragraph. You're doing what they do not, which is ignore their small sample size and the very real possibility of contamination (Wall and Kim 2007) since the samples used are well-known and handled -very probably by modern humans who carry the MC1R gene.

    To sum: your Neanderthal speculation is crap; the idea that Neanderthals, while it seems likely and predictable given the selective pressures at hand, had red hair and light skin is an hypothesis.

    References

    Jablonski, N. G., and G. Chaplin (2000). The evolution of human skin coloration. Jornal of Human Evolution, 39, pp. 57-106.

    Krause, J., et al. (2007). The derived FOXP2 variant of modern humans was shared with Neandertals. Current Biology, 17, pp. 1-5.

    Lalueza-Fox, C., et al. (2007). A Melanocortin 1 Receptor allele suggests varying pigmentation among Neanderthals. Science, 318:1453-1455.

    Wall, J.D., and S. K. Kim (2007). Inconsistencies in Neanderthal genomic DNA sequences. PLoS Genetics 3:862-1866.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    Funny how that information would have been useful (and incredibly relevant) earlier.
    True, but earlier I hadn't considered the possibility of them painting themselves, so none of it seemed relevant. I only started thinking about it after Skinwalker brought it up.

    It was the original explorer, Jacob Roggeveen, who noticed it, and I'm betting he probably didn't look into the matter enough to determine whether the pale, red haired natives were painting themselves or not. I wonder on what occasions they painted themselves for, though. I can't imagine they would have walked around like that all the time.

    I also wouldn't want to under-estimate Roggeveen's powers of observation unfairly. He might have been sophisticated enough not to be fooled by paint. Or, on the other hand, maybe he simply saw what he wanted to see.
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  15. #14  
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    Rapa Nui warrior in body paint, standing at the edge of the volcanic crater at the ceremonial site of Orongo.

    Read more: http://channel.nationalgeographic.co...#ixzz0QNZ7o9Qj



    Rapanui dancer (Easter island) 8th festival of Arts Noumea New Caledonia, 2000

    Read more: http://www.thebigidea.co.nz/show/pic...w-caledonia-20
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  16. #15  
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    hmmm. The paint theory is starting to look even more parsimonious for the very pale, red haired people...

    So, what about the "long ears" vs. "short ears"? Do still think it'sl possible that there were two ethnicities on the island? Would it be like the "Hutus" vs. "Tootsie" problem in Rwanda, where the two ethnicities were deliberately created out of a single ethnicity, or could we be looking at separate and independent discovery by two different cultures?
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  17. #16  
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    White skin is not One recessive gene, there is a lot more involved
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  18. #17  
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    The different groups could have been different social classes with the same genes. It is totally normal for labouring classes, for example, to be darkly tanned while their aristocratic cousins are "very pale skinned". And a long ear is easy to pull off when you have jewelry.

    More remarkable, if the classes did not visibly distinguish themselves.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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