Polynesians first arrived as late as 1200AD. There are no signs of violence---none of the fortifications common on other Pacific islands, no weapons, no traumatized skeletons. The palm trees that originally covered the island succumbed mainly to rats that arrived with the Polynesians and ate all the nuts. The natives burned what remained to enrich the poor soil and then engineered the whole island with small rocks (“lithic mulch”) to grow taro and sweet potatoes.(*) The population stabilized around 4,000 and kept itself in balance with its resources for 500 years until it was totally destroyed in the 18th century by European diseases and enslavement. (It wasn’t Collapse; it was Guns, Germs, and Steel.)The trees were not cut down to move the statues, the statues were walked upright using simple rope techniques, as demonstrable "100 yards in 40 minutes. A family could move one" - no trees needed. Book review of The Statues That Walked by Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo .
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