The Prophecy of Rapanui

 

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ea1When the first Polynesian settlers arrived in Easter Island  with their large canoes more than a thousand years ago, they found a luxuriant, heaven like land covered with palm trees.The place was actually less hospitable than it seemed. The island was volcanic in origin, but its three volcanoes were dormant. Both temperatures and humidity were high and the only fresh water available was from the lakes inside the extinct volcanoes. Only a few species of plants and animals inhabited the land: there were no mammals, only few insects and two types of small lizards. Furthermore, as the waters that surrounded the island weren’t very fishy, the first inhabitants had to learn to live basically mainly on sweet potatoes and chickens.

ea6The islanders heavily depended on its native plants: giant palms, toronimo trees and basswood (hau).The woods from the giant palm trees were used for shelters and in particular for big canoes which enabled the settlers to fish in richer waters and catch dolphins. The basswood was used as fuel to cook or to keep warm and its fibers were used to make ropes or fishing nets. However, the forests were slowly cleared to improve farming and grow sweet potatoes. All this brought to a rapid increase in population (more than 15.000 inhabitants), but as the island was very small, its natural resources declined rapidly.

ea2Instead of taking measures of life sustainably, the clan leaders started to build large stone platforms, known as Ahu, which were used as burials, ancestor worships and to commemorate past clan chiefs. The majority of these constructions were built near the coast, around the island’s perimeter. One day they stated to erect huge monolithic stone statues (Moai) on these platforms, which took up immense amounts of  labour. Almost all the Moai have overly large heads three-eighths the size of the whole statue, which seemed to represent their deified ancestors. More than the carving, the greatest problem was the transport of the massive statues from the quarry to the Ahu and as they lack any draught animals, they had to rely on the effort of men who could only drag the statues across the island using tree trunks as wheels.

ea7The enigmatic faces of the Moai rapidly spread all over the island and they were always more and more enormous, in fact the bigger was the statue the stronger was supposed to be the clan which had made it, therefore a never-ending, competition among clans started; a devastating contest which required amazing quantities of timber. By 1600 as the island was almost completely deforested, the statue erection had to be stopped leaving many of them stranded and incompleted at the quarry. But, when did they exactly stop? When it was too late.

ea5The shortage of trees had already made people stop building houses from timber and find shelter in caves. Canoes couldn’t be built any longer, so it was now impossible to go fishing or even abandon the island. It had also become impossible to make nets for fishing. Furthemore the early deforestation had brought the island to a rapid desertification.The only source of food on the island was the chickens which became precious and primary object of theft. The lack of proteins available brought to cannibalism.The islanders were now trapped in their insane world and they  couldn’t escape the consequences of their self-inflicted, environmental collapse.

ea8Moreover the drop of the resources resulted in a state of almost permanent warfare. One of the main aims of warfare was to destroy the Ahu of opposing clans, therefore only a few burial places remained and many of the magnificent stone statues – which had cost so much – were pulled down. Only few remained standing.When the Dutch Admiral Roggeveen visited Rapa Nui on Easter Sunday 1722, the island had now become a barren wasteland, whose 3,000 inhabitants lived in a primitive state in squalid reed huts or caves, had resorted to cannibalism in order to escape famine and were still engaged in perpetual warfare.

 

The question is, how can it be that they didn’t realize what they were doing to their environment? Why didn’t they stop in time? Or better, will we be able to stop in time?

131 thoughts on “The Prophecy of Rapanui

  1. I think we are destroying the planet, like the Polonesians destroyed Easter Island. If we stopped in time maybe we could save the nature of the planet, but still there will be people who will not listen to the authorities and will continue to deforest trees, very important.

  2. The story of Easter Island, and its abitants should make us reflect on what is happening today, which in part is very similar to what happened there. In fact, today the men are exploiting natural resources without think to the consequences of their actions. in my opinion this will lead us to a non return situation, and which will lead us to a general regression and to enormous ambiental damage

  3. Hi teacher, I liked this article a lot because it talks about a very important topic.
    The Polynesians didn’t notice the disaster they wreaked because they didn’t think the resources were infinite.
    They did not notice the disaster because they had no knowledge of the damage they were causing.
    In my opinion we will not stop in time because to have the resources again once they are finished it will take too long compared to the life of man.

  4. I think that the people don’t understand the dramatic situation we are living. The deforestetion its too frequently , also the Amazon forest is in trouble, it is considered the green lung of the world and I think it is too late for changing. I don’t believe in the people at this point. The deforestation is one of many problems like the melting glaciers or the plastic in the oceans.

  5. At that time, there wasn’t enough knowledge to understand the damage caused by deforestation, Polynesians lived on Easter Island over a thousand years ago.
    They probably just thought that the nature would have solved the problem without changing their habit of building these Moai Statues.
    We should’ve learned from the past but still today in 2021, nothing seems to be changed. World leaders aren’t doing nothing to avoid the problem of pollution and deforestation. If nothing will change, the Earth will risk to become another Easter Island.

  6. This story is very charming and so contemporary and this makes me creep. In facts we are doing a similar thing and if we don’t hurry to fix all things we will end up like them. I hope this never happens because that end is horrible and so stupid , then we must begin to sensitise people to save our environment

    • I think that the lesson that this story teaches us is very significant and it should make us reflect. The Polynesian destroyed the environment without knowing about the consequences. Today we haven’t learned anything about this story and we are doing the same mistake. If we respect nature we will save our planet and our lives.

  7. For me it’s important to remember what is happened in Easter Island as an example what don’t do.
    Infact, as the Easter Island’s inhabitans, we run the risk to destroy our planet. We are still in time to save our beautiful planet but we must respect the nature to avoid to finish as the people of Rapa Nui.

  8. a very beautiful story. I liked it. Like a prophecy that is about to come true. We are slowly losing resources as in history, now we just hope that man is right.

  9. Hi teacher,
    I have read this article and I think it is really interesting. I also think our situation is the same as Rapa Nui. We are wasting all the resources too and if we start to resolve the problem now, we will be able to save ourself.

  10. I think the story being told is very important, taking care of the environment is a very important. It also explains how man has the horrible habit (at times) of leaving marks of his passage, we should all protect the environment.
    Speaking personally: I, recognize the values ​​of the environment that surrounds us having grown up with the Pixar film, WALLE, a film that talks a lot about caring for the planet and obviously the environment, I understand this problem a lot.

  11. I think destroying an island for a religious and personal purpose is foolish. But at that time people might not understand what they were doing. We at the today’s time understand that exploiting our resources too much is disadvantageous but we continue to do it. The Polynesians did not understand it but we do and we continue to make mistakes. History repeats itself.

  12. I think the story that is being told is very important, taking care of the environment is very important, otherwise you risk damaging both we and the planet. It also explains how man has the horrible habit (at times) of leaving signs of his passage and thus destroying the forests to make room for buildings and monuments, on top of that there is also pollution that damages the environment.
    Speaking personally: I recognize the values ​​of the environment that surrounds us having grown up with the Pixar film, WALLE, a film that talks a lot about caring for the planet and of course the environment, I understand this problem a lot

  13. I think the story that is being told is very important, taking care of the environment is very important, otherwise you risk damaging both we and the planet. It also explains how man has the horrible habit (at times) of leaving signs of his passage and thus destroying the forests to make room for buildings and monuments, on top of that there is also pollution that damages the environment.
    Speaking personally: I recognize the values ​​of the environment that surrounds us having grown up with the Pixar film, WALLE, a film that talks a lot about caring for the planet and of course the environment, I understand this problem a lot.

  14. The story of Rapa Nui could be the story of mankind, where man didn’t respect nature and went suicide. The lack of a site to the future had killed an island making impossible to survive. The Rapa Nui story it is a warning to all people in the world: destroying the habitat is equivalent to killing ourselves

  15. This article speaks about a very important theme because taking care of the environment should be our priority, especially now that we are experiencing a similar situation. We are destroying our planet without realising it. We are doing exactly the same thing they did centuries ago. I think we can still change it if we open our eyes and if we don’t just think about money.

  16. I think the problem of deforestation is fundamental but unfortunatly the mass media and social networks don’t treat well; only recently a young girl named Greta Thumberg founded a movement which deals with “world green problems”. The most affected areas are the Amazonia, Indonesia and Argentina.
    In the article the Polynesians with their comportaments, caused desertification of island lendig to a worse life conditions; I hope our generation can act differently to protect our planet.

    Valentina Aureli 2A

  17. In my opinion, the story of Easter Island can be compared to what is happening to our planet nowadays. In this story it is said that the environment was neglected to build Moai, leading to deforestation. I think we won’t be able to avoid what happened on the island because that’s exactly what society is doing today.

  18. The story of Easter Island is a bit what is happening to our planet, in fact it should make us think and start to fix so that the same thing does not happen to us

  19. My thoughts about this situation are very negative. I think by now if we all don’t understand what we are doing to our planet by continuing to behave in this way in a few years the situation will be unrecoverable.We are destroying a forest like the Amazon,the lung of the world not to mention the numerous presence of plastic inside the sea.

  20. in my opinion this story is very interesting because it tells us that men destroy nature to build monuments. I also think that at the moment we are in the same situation as rapa nui and we absolutely have to do something to protect nature.

  21. I really enjoyed this short story becasue it talks about a very interesting history fact and also it talks about an important topic. The disaster that Polynesuans caused could repeat in nowdays if we don’t start to do something. In my opinion this story should make us think and understand that we could find ourselves in the same situation as Polynesuans. We must act quickly because the time left is very little.

  22. After reading the story of Easter Island I think that the islanders didn’t realize what was happening because at the moment their target was to create more statues, I see this a lot in our days with money, in fact we do the same thing, because we want more and more money and doing so we destroy more and more the environment to enrich ourselves. I think that to limit the depletion of resources, the only solution would be to reduce the felling of trees and obviously reduce the importance of money which, in my opinion, is the main problem underlying a community.

  23. The rapa nui’s popolation didn’t realize what they were doing to their environment because they underevaluate the important of the basic resources like the tree, we too are doing the same thing, we are so busy to make money to understand what we are doing to the planet.
    The two events are so differents but in the same time so similiar.
    They both have the same guilty, the humans and the same cause, a huge use of resources without sense of responsability.
    The differents is the place of the environmantal disaster, one was in a small island with three thousand people and one is a planet with seven billions people but the main different is related to the fact that today we have the evidence of what is happing but we are not able to stop it.
    We can’t stop it but we can try to contain the damage.
    We need to revice our global economical politics that is the reason of these inrational abuse of the natural resources.

  24. the theme treated in this story is the “sensitivity” towards the environment. I found the story interesting and meaningful. the history of the Polynesians should make us all reflect, think before acting. probably in those days we only thought about solving a problem, without knowing the consequences.

  25. I think this historical episode is very important for all of us, because it describes very accurately the situation we are currently living with the resource management. Like as Easter Island’s inhabitants we are consuming the resources coming from our countries without realizing many of them aren’t renewable. In lots of cases it’s easier and more efficient to use them than the ones that are sustainable, but we now have to start to think to the future and to what will happen to our planet in the next few years. It has already happened that climatics changes caused extreme natural events during the last past decades. people already started noticing this and began to worry, but by continuing to deplept our resources, we are only getting the situation worse.

  26. I found this article very interesting especially because we are reliving the same thing today and soon the whole world will be a world of stones

  27. This story is one of many examples of what we are doing to our planet today.Obviously we will not get to cannibalism, but to the destruction of our planet yes.I don’t think we will be able to avoid what happened on the island because, unfortunately, we can slowly see this happening around us in our society today.

  28. In my opinion this story perfectly represents the situation that we are living, in fact we are destroying the world and running out of resources, but the wrong thing, is that each of us knows it, but does nothing to prevent it. For me if there is a new habitable planet, the few lucky people will go there to live, while the rest of the people in the world will end up like the inhabitants of Easter Island. Our selfishness can negatively affect the lives of future generations, so I hope that this story can make people understand that we need to act, even with small gestures.

  29. I found this story very interesting and important. I think they didn’t know what they were doing to their environment, like the forests, and what they were doing to them. The past helps us understand what to do. So, we don’t have to make the same mistakes they made on Easter Island. We must protect the animals and the nature in every way for us and the world.

  30. For me they could not stop in time because they were still inexperienced, and for this reason they did not notice the damage they were doing.
    So the thing that got wrong is that as I announced before they were inexperienced, and maybe they thought this wouldn’t be a problem, and for this reason they went too far and didn’t try to stop but they also unleashed a war, so the reason they didn’t stop in time is a mix of factors that got worse and worse one after another. We will not stop in time because based on what I see right now, every country thinks to it self and no one would stop in time more than failing in its enterprise.

  31. in my opinion the men in history have been very reckless because the desire to build these fantastic statues did not make them think about the consequences. for me you have to take this story as an example in order not to end up the same. Although I think that sooner or later we will do the same because man is putting trade and industry at the center and this thing is wrong because for me nature is one of the most important factors in the world.

  32. unfortunately I found great similarities between what happened on the easter island and what is affecting us and our environment right now and I sadly think the ending will be similar too

    • For me this story could have gone way better if they handled the situation with much more Awareness of what they were doing , or how they possibly could solve the situation, but even today somehow some things are the same, we still are doing A little bit like this in some situations, we still have time to save our planet and our nature, I’m not sure if we will be in time or we will end up like them, however we definitely learned a little bit let’s hope together we can save our nature!

  33. This story is very interesting and makes me think that we should have already learned from the mistakes that the inhabitants of Easter Island made, but still today we have not solved anything. Perhaps in those days the people of the island did not know the risks they ran by polluting nature. In my opinion we still have time to save the environment but we must do it now or we will always remain in this situation; which will gradually get worse and worse.

  34. This story made me realize that the situation of Easter Island’s population is quite similar to the modern age we are living. The settlers believed that natural resources were endless so they cut down most of the forest to build stone statues called Moai. They didn’t think about their future and the risk of deforestation. Unfortunately today most of the people don’t care about the environment, because they only think about money . I don’t know if we will be able to stop in time but especially in the last decade it seems that there are more awareness and willness to protect our planet . I hope that we can learn from mistakes of the past to save the world and our future.

  35. In my opinion, the story of Easter Island can be compared on what is happening to us Because they deforested the forests and ruined the environment to build the statues

  36. in my opinion they were not aware of what was happening to the world and for this reason they lived in primitive conditions and could reflect and stop instead they preferred to continue to damage the planet just as it is happening to us, who continue to consciously neglect our planet while we should stop and reflect on our attitudes and mistakes
    this story made me think a lot ..

  37. The story of Easter Island struck me because I found it a very current topic; It mainly made me think about the risk we are running into if we keep on deforesting, wasting raw materials and polluting our environment and seas. In my opinion people who can really do something to save the planet are not the ones who will benefit from a change of course, for this reason I’m afraid that when it will be up to our generation to change things, it’ll be too late.

  38. This story is very interesting and makes me think that we should have already learned from the mistakes that the inhabitants of Easter Island made, but still today we have not solved anything. Perhaps in those days the people of the island did not know the risks they ran by polluting nature. In my opinion we still have time to save the environment but we must do it now or we will always remain in this situation; which will gradually get worse and worse..

  39. I think that this story is very engaging, because talks about a historical event which is happening again now a day. This leads me to believe that we have to think about what we are doing to our environment and maybe we will stop us in time

  40. I think they certainly could have chosen a better organization to build these monuments, maybe they could build them slowly, waiting for the wood to grow back from year to year, but I think they were also driven a lot by the haste of wanting to finish them as soon as possible, being monuments still truly wonderful today.

  41. Reading this text I have understand all the possible consequences of using all the raw materials and so I have understood what could happen if we continue to use them.

  42. I’ve really enjoyed reading this article because it has made me think. Reading this text I have understood all the possible consequences of using all the raw materials and so I have comprehended what could happen if we continue to use them.

  43. This story is very interesting because even though it is ancient we can find similar facts all over the world. Therefore from this story we can understand how not to make the same mistake and let this story be taught

  44. After reading this story, I immediately thought that this is an example of what happens when men don’t consider the environmental impact of their actions. This history is showing that mankind should always we aware of the changes they produce to nature, also because once damage is done it could be practically irreversible and make living in the area not possible anymore. We must learn from this example that we must protect the environment where we are living, so that such disasters will not happen in the future anymore.

  45. in my opinion what happened on Easter Island is also what is happening on our planet except that, being bigger, we can still do something. Numerous signs say that we are destroying the earth and in my opinion we are slowly realizing it and we will be able to save ourselves.

  46. Hello everyone, in the meantime I would like to congratulate the writer for the clarity in the writing of this article/story. In my opinion when people dispute or are competing in the end they never get to understand the things that are really important. In fact, when we have something, we want to consume it as much as we can, because we have it so much, but nobody thinks about what will happen in the future when we no longer have it, perhaps because the biggest part of mankind is self-centered? I don’t know .. it’s a little example of many people who got rich quickly, spent all their money, and when they don’t have it anymore? What they do… no one realized what they were doing, it was like some kind of drug. I therefore believe that the Polynesians have had to think about their future instead of building statues and maybe later they should have made the statues with the resources they had left over. Fortunately, this ancient mentality is slowly changing, But it will still take Generations and Generations.

    FT

  47. This article is very important because it makes you think about a situation that is actually happening. The Polysian settlers didn’t realize about evirnomental damage they were causing, because they thought the resources were infinite, therefore they continued to build until the island became deserted. This fact happens actually because we continue to build industries although we know that the natural resources aren’t infinite. So my opinion is if we continue to avoide the evirnomental damage that we are provocating , we won’t be able to stop in time.

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