Easter Island (Rapa Nui) with its strange statues, known as moai, remains one of the great archaeological mysteries. As with most ancient enigmas, various writers have tried to link Easter Island with either Atlantis, Mu or extraterrestrials.
I cannot subscribe to such silliness and would not normally include Easter Island in this Encyclopedia, but in recognition of the level of general interest in the subject I have included a link(a) to the serious archaeological work that continues on the island. This study is now in its fifth season and is directed by Dr. Jo Anne Van Tilburg. One aspect of the work was to demonstrate that many of the Easter Island ‘heads’ have buried bodies, often, until now, with hidden petroglyphs(t). A recent (June 2015) blog(g) has proposed that some of the markings represent tattoos.
Van Tilburg has been working on Rapa Nui for more than three decades. Her Easter Island Statue Project is supported in part by UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. “A 2019 report from her radically alters the idea that all standing statues in the Rano Raraku quarry were simply awaiting transport out of the quarry,” Van Tilburg said. “That is, these and probably other upright Moai in Rano Raraku were retained in place to ensure the sacred nature of the quarry itself. The Moai were central to the idea of fertility, and in Rapanui belief their presence here stimulated agricultural food production.”(aa)
The other great Easter Island mystery(i) is the rongorongo script found there. All attempts to decipher it have failed(c)(d). An extensive article by Jacob Mikanowski offering insights into the history of the island and its script and the many efforts to decode it is available online(q). David Pratt has also compared rongorongo with ancient Chinese and Indus Valley scripts(r). Pratt has written a number of papers on various aspects of Easter Island(s).
>Jean-Michel Schwartz has noted [1792.93] the views of Dr. Heine Geldern who “pointed out strong resemblances between rongo-rongo signs and certain archaic Chinese characters, particularly from the Shang period.”<
Similarities between rongorongo and symbols carved on the Ingá Stone in Brazil have also been noted(v).
Some years ago Andis Kaulins wrote An Astrological Zodiac In the Script of Easter Island(x), in which he also links the Easter Island script with the Indus Valley as well as possible calendrical and astronomical associations.
“In 1932, Wilhelm de Hevesy was the first academic to suggest a link between Rongorongo and the Indus script of the Indus Valley Civilization in India, claiming that as many as forty Rongorongo symbols had a correlating symbol in the script from India. For a while, the idea was entertained and debated until radiocarbon dating of the Indus Valley culture was placed between c. 3,300 – 1,900 BC, a finding which officially separated the two cultures by over 2,000 years. Recent research however, has opened the debate again as the finding of Indus Valley DNA in Australian Aborigines suggest a contact between the two cultures c. 2,000 BC.”(v) There is also an extensive study of the two scripts available on the Academia.edu website.(w)
A new suggestion has recently emerged linking Easter Island and the ongoing discoveries at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey(b). This dates back to early 2010 and has now been given greater prominence in Robert Schoch’s recent book, Forgotten Civilization . On a lighter note, when Robert Schoch, suggested a link between Göbekli Tepe and Eastern Island(m), in spite of the eleven millennia time difference, it was no surprise that Jason Colavito scornfully dismissed the idea(n).
Pre-Colonial contacts between Easter Island and South America have recently been supported by DNA evidence(f). This would appear to be contradicted by a 2017 study by a team from the University of California -Santa Cruz, which appears to rule out pre-European contact with South Americans! Details are published in the October 12th edition of Current Biology.(p)
The Milwaukee Journal of June 17th 1923 had a headline that announced the disappearance of Easter Island(e), proving that you really can’t believe everything you read! Coincidentally, 1923 also gave us an early attempt(h) to link Easter Island with Atlantis.
For a long time it has been thought that warfare had wiped out much of its early population. This has now been debunked by a new study, led by Binghamton University anthropology professor Carl Lipo and published in the Feb. 2016 edition of the journal Antiquity(j). Shortly afterwards, a further study suggested that a more complex explanation for the early social collapse on the island has been put forward by Dr. Valentí Rull, who is a senior researcher of the Spanish National Research Council in Barcelona(k).
A further report(o) from Lipo highlighted further the complexity underlying the societal disintegration that took place on the island. Lipo outlined the commonly held explanation as follows; “One of the resources that they supposedly used up was trees that were growing on the island. Those trees provided canoes and, as a result of the lack of canoes, they could no longer fish. So they started to rely more and more on land food. As they relied on land food, productivity went down because of soil erosion, which led to crop failures…Painting the picture of this sort of catastrophe. That’s the traditional narrative.” Lipo’s studies has employed new technologies that have disproved these popular ideas and obviously forced a radical rethink.
There is a brief Smithsonian video clip available(l) which deals with the cutting and transportation of the moai.
The latest moai theory has come from a team of researchers, led by Carl Lipo, from New York’s Binghampton University, who have concluded that the statues were placed at location where potable water was available(u). To me it seems an excessively elaborate way of marking locations.
A recent study has added some confusion to conventional assumptions regarding early warfare on the island, claiming that there is now evidence that “Easter Island society did not collapse prior to European contact and its people continued to build its iconic moai statues for much longer than previously believed, according to a team of American researchers” Their conclusions were published in the February, 2020 issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.(y)
In the April 2020 edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science, Lipo et al offered a new paper(z) further debunking the Rapa Nui societal collapse theory.
(e) https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1499&dat=19230617&id=9f1EAAAAIBAJ&sjid=XyEEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5420,3683626 (inaccessible Sept. 2016)
(m) https://web.archive.org/web/20160911175943/https://www.robertschoch.com/articles/schochgobeklitepenewdawnsept2010.pdf See: Sept/Oct 2010 edition of New Dawn Magazine (Issue 122)
Robert M. Schoch is a Yale scholar, geologist and palaeontologist. At the invitation of John Anthony West he agreed to inspect the Sphinx and offer an opinion of the nature of the erosion to be seen on it. He found that the cause of this erosion was due to precipitation rather than windblown sand. As Egypt has had an arid climate for many thousands of years, Dr Schoch reached the conclusion that at least the front of the Sphinx had been carved between 7000 and 5000 BC, when the climate had been considerably wetter.
In the same book, Voices of the Rocks, he endorsed (p.123) the conclusions of Mary Settegast who claimed that Plato’s Atlantis story was a reference to the Magdalenian culture that inhabited the coastal regions of the Western Mediterranean during the 9th millennium BC. Schoch devotes a chapter to the subject of Atlantis and interestingly lists (p.87) a number of sites to which the Greeks applied the appellation ‘Pillars of Heracles’ apart from the Strait of Gibraltar.
In his Voyages of the Pyramid Builders he reiterates his conviction “that Plato’s story is, at least in part, a fictionalized account of a great Mediterranean war at a time of intense climatic change between the tenth
and eight millennia BC.” A highly critical review of Schoch’s Book can be read online(n).
This 1990 declaration regarding the Sphinx generated an international reputation for Schoch. Such a controversial conclusion was obviously greeted warmly by the supporters of the 9,000 year old date for Atlantis allegedly given by the Egyptian priests to Solon. This accidental intervention by Schoch in the debate regarding the dating of Atlantis has unfortunately done nothing to resolve the issue. Fierce debate continues regarding the date of the Sphinx. However, there appears to be a gradual acceptance of Schoch’s views by other professional geologists such as David Coxhill. Another geologist, Colin Reader, while not accepting all of Schoch’s conclusions, believes that the Sphinx predates King Khufu, the father of Khafre, who has been traditionally accepted as the builder of the Sphinx, with the monument bearing his image(v).
It appears that Schoch’s experiences regarding the Sphinx has whetted Schoch’s appetite for prehistory as he has now written a further book, again with R.A. McNally about the origins of the pyramid builders. Unfortunately, he includes a reference to Ireland’s Newgrange as a form of ‘pyramid building’, an idea I reject, since it shares neither form nor function with the Egyptian pyramids. Dr.Greg Little has written a very critical review of this book.
Schoch seems to be venturing further and further from his natural comfort zone of geology. In 2007, he wrote an article on Telepathy(d) and was later due to address the Electric Universe Conference in Las Vegas in 2012(c) and deliver a paper entitled The Catastrophic Termination of the Last Ice Age. In it, he will claim that that around 10,000 BC the Earth underwent ‘dramatic catastrophic changes’ as a result of ‘our unstable Sun erupting at the end of the last Ice Age, melting the extensive glaciers and triggering climate warming. The full paper should be an interesting read. He continues to argue against the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis(r).
His retreat from conventional science may be now complete as he delves into the strange world of lycanthropy (the study of werewolves)(o).
Schoch’s work is now promoted through his own website(b), which includes a wide range of articles. On it both he and his associate, Colette Dowell, have been very critical of the Bosnian pyramid claims of Semir Osmanagic following a visit there in 2006. However, in what appears to be an article(l) written in 2011 or 2012, Osmanagic responds with a scathing criticism of Schoch’s work.
Schoch has now turned his attention to the emergence and demise of very early civilisations, before that of dynastic Egypt or Sumeria. When he combined his early date for the Sphinx with other discoveries such as that of Nabta Playa and Göbekli Tepe and Gunung Padang(m), he concluded that the origins of civilisation go back much further than generally accepted. He then looked at the bigger and perhaps more important question of the cause of their collapse. In a 2009 special edition (N0.8) of New Dawn magazine he speculated on the possibility that the ending of such early civilisations was caused by the earth’s encounter with one or more asteroids or comets.
In his book(f), Forgotten Civilization, Schoch claims that coronal mass ejections from the sun around 9700 BC devastated our planet with electrical discharges, the triggering of seismic and volcanic activity as well as ending the Ice Age with its consequent floods. All this ‘eradicated the civilisation of the time and set humanity back thousands of years, only to re-emerge around 3500 BC with scattered memories and nascent abilities.’ In an article written(g) in March 2012, Schoch wrote about the ‘Carrington Event’ of 1859 which resulted from a massive solar event that year.
Schoch’s paper had the somewhat disturbing title of ‘Death Star’ and perhaps even more unsettling was the revelation in March 2019 that evidence of at least three major solar ‘proton attacks’ over the past 3,000 years. The suggestion being that these episodes are to be expected with some degree of regularity, which may create ever increasing disruption as our dependency on electricity expands. The recent report(q) indicates that the most powerful event identified so far, took place around 610 BC. Without power grids to damage at the time, we are unaware of what effect it had on the peoples of that time and I would hope that a review of the literature of that era might reveal some corroboration.
A video clip is from his recent Las Vegas lecture is now available on YouTube(h). His talk is based on an article(i) in the July-August edition of New Dawn magazine, which is now available online and will play a large part in his Forgotten Civilization. He highlights some fascinating similarities between the Rongorongo script of Easter Island, the Nasca petroglyphs and the plasma figures of Dr. Anthony L. Peratt together with their possible association with the ending of the last Ice Age.
For me, the most disturbing aspect of Schoch’s book is his apocalyptic vision of global catastrophes that he anticipates may turn the few survivors back into troglodytes!
However, Jason Colavito has reviewed Schoch’s claims relating to both the Rongorongo script(j) and Göbekli Tepe(k) and has found his ideas wanting. Colavito found further ammunition in the forthcoming book, Origins of the Sphinx, which Schoch co-authored with Robert Bauval, describing it as ‘a virtual rewriting of’ Keeper of Genesis(p). In 2019, Schoch expanded further on his opinions regarding the importance of Göbekli Tepe with a claim that its builders possessed some level of literacy(s) , provoking further criticism from Colavito(r).
>(t) New Dawn Magazine -July August 2010
(u) New Dawn Magazine- Special Issue No.8 2009)