The A to Z Challenge is on! Hello and welcome to my Main blog. My name is Rose Anderson and I’m a romance novelist. Join me and more than 2279 bloggers and authors as we blog the alphabet throughout the month of April. My daily posts will be mostly history with some science topics here and there. I’ve chosen subjects that tickle my fancy and I hope you will find them interesting too.
Keep the topic rolling! If you have comments or questions, add them at the end of the post. I may not know the answer off the top of my head but I love research and would enjoy discussing my topics further. Comments can be made just below my bio in the tag section.
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Today’s Calliope’s Writing Tablet post is brought to you by the letter E ~
E for Easter Island Moai
The ancestors of the Polynesians reached the far corner of the triangular Pacific island territory that made up their world at about 1000 BCE. These peoples were nighttime seafarers and followed the heavens until they chanced upon a remote land mass and made it their home. We know that land as Easter Island.
It’s said the island once had a thriving population, as many as 15,000 inhabitants. Just 100 years before the Dutch arrived in 1722, the history of the island says two factions –the Short-Ears and the Long-Ears– had a civil war. In 1770 a Spanish expedition found a population of 3000. Just four years later when British navigator Sir James Cook entered the scene, only around 600 men and fewer than 30 women remained. By 1877 only 111 native peoples were left. Were I to guess, I’d say diseases like smallpox contributed to the population’s decline. Any western disease to an isolated population would exact a terrible toll.
Before the Dutch decided to name the island for Easter Sunday, the day of their discovery, oral tradition says one of the island’s names was Eyes looking to the sky. Others use the name Rapa Nui. I think Eyes looking to the sky fits beautifully because of more than 1000 Moai — the famous Easter Island heads.
Surprising fact #1: The familiar heads are actually full-bodied statues buried to their chins in sediment. Recent archeological digs reveal the Moai have arms and wear sculpted clothing. They have tattoos too.
With their heavy brows and chiseled profiles (no pun intended), these enigmatic statues epitomize the mystery of the place. All but seven watch over the land, their backs to the sea. The seven facing the vast blue ocean are thought to wait for their king. No one really knows why they’re there or what was meant in their creation. There’s an assumption that the Moai were made in the likenesses of ancestors. There is also some thought that the bodies housed the essence of the sacred. One of the more interesting bits of information I’ve uncovered has to do with Leprosy. There’s some opinion that the Moai’s severe physical features may indicate the ravages of that terrible disease — that perhaps the Moai were made to ritually undo the effects in the spirit world. (Apparently the afflicted were ostracized on other Polynesian islands.) As I haven’t uncovered more than that regarding leprosy, I’ll take that supposition with a grain of salt.
Another mystery is the complete lack of trees. Islands by nature are fragile ecosystems. By the time of European discovery, this one was deforested. To peoples relying upon the sea for most of their food, lack of wood would mean starvation in the long run. Perhaps this added to their population decline. If you can’t build boats, you can’t fish beyond the shoreline. Were the island’s forests cut down to make transport logs for the 13 ton Moai? That was the prevailing thought for years. But then someone made an brilliant deduction…
Surprising fact #2
Legend says the Moai walked from the places they were carved. That’s right, the 13 foot tall, 13 ton statues carved from volcanic tuff walked to their resting places. The largest statue made of a single block weighs about 82 tons and is approximately 32 feet tall. To see that walking down from the hills must have been a powerful sight.
I can’t explain it better than this. And seeing is believing!
Easter Island was made an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Come back tomorrow for my Funday Sunday post. The A to Z returns Monday with letter F!
Join me on my satellite blog April 7th – 12th http://calliopeswritingtablet.blogspot.com/
Authors’ lives outside of the books we write can be as interesting as the worlds we create. One of the more unusual things my husband and I have done was lead wild foods programs for Chicago’s Field Museum. For this event I’ll be sharing my recipes. I hope you stop by. You may have delicious ingredients waiting in your backyard. 🙂
One week to go in the 100 Things Blogging Challenge!
For nearly 100 days, I’ve post something from my chosen topic: Words on the Verge of Extinction. There are 7 entries to come.
Here’s one for today:
Dodrantal (adjective 1656-1883)
~of nine inches in length
See what’s happening on the RB4U blog today
Our April contest is on. We’ll have 3 winners and a lot of prizes to split among them. http://www.romancebooks4us.com/
Love Waits in Unexpected Places –
Scorching Samplings of Unusual Love Stories
Download your copy of my free chapter sampler!