Life Lessons: a lost culture on Easter Island

There’s nothing more exciting than a mystery. Especially a mystery that mines at the very elements of human culture and history, leaving us to contemplate the truth of our past.

The setting couldn’t be more appropriate. Easter Island is one of the most isolated islands on the planet. A thousand miles from the nearest island, and over two thousand from the nearest landmass, Easter Island is a lush, volcanic land that holds more questions than answers, and we think at the center of its mystery is a life lesson too great to be forgotten.

The questions yet to be answered on Easter Island are found in the statues, carvings and petroglyphs left behind by a lost culture, scattered around the island like ancient clues to the world’s greatest mystery. What is known is that a Polynesian tribe, Rapa Nui, settled the island around a thousand years ago. With their own language, script, music, art and customs, the Rapa Nui have survived to today, but much, if not most of their culture has been lost.

What remains is a language, without its original alphabet, carvings and indecipherable petroglyphs, fragments of belief systems and customs, and most famously, the incredible moais that stand guard over the island. The moais, giant stone statues are in themselves a mystery. How did a culture in an age without technology, mine, craft and move these captivating statues?

Over the last few hundred years, the tribe was almost completely wiped out by disease, war and slavery. The landscape was stripped bare, taking the history and culture of the Rapa Nui with it. But that’s why Easter Island offers a life lesson like none other. With the land revived and ever-more clues to the Rapa Nui story being discovered, we can start to piece together an ancient culture. We learnt that the devastation of Easter Island’s ecology coincided with the loss of much of the history, pointing to a deep connection between the people and the environment. Now with the island’s incredible biodiversity bountifully recovered, there has been no better time to experience life like it was on the island all those centuries ago.

We don’t know what clues you’ll find, or what discoveries you’ll make in piecing together the mystery of the Rapa Nui culture but what you find will teach you about a culture that survived extinction by the most razor thin of margins. Now you can help rebuild their history.

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