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Easter Island Mystery Solved? Sort Of!

Easter Island has long been a mystery to just about everyone who has ever read about or seen the place, with scientists leading the list. The quandary? What exactly happened to the Polynesians who lived there? Why did the population of Rapa Nuis dry up? Did these people flee this 64-square-mile island in the Pacific after food was no longer able to be sourced?

A study that was published in the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences that was conduction by researchers from all over the world have been on top of this, trying to find the answers. This team took soil samples in the place where hundreds of statues from the moia made the destination famous. These samples were studies and the results proclaimed that “nutrients in the soil eventually were depleted, pushing the Rapa Nui into decline long before European explorers arrived in 1722.”

Easter Island Mystery Solved? Sort Of!

And so, after scientists dug for answers by examining soil chemistry and the use of land over time, the results showed a much clearer regarding “shrinking and swelling in population numbers.” In fact, according to University of California at Santa Barbara’s Oliver Chadwick, there was “evidence of some communities being abandoned prior to European contact” on Easter Island.

But why?

After reviewing six agriculture sites on the island. where water that burst through the surface of obsidian spear points, the scientists were able to determine how much time this obsidian remained exposed. This determined the age of the end of the spears.

In the end, the team “determined that a very dry area of the island located in a volcano’s ‘rain shadow’ and a very wet area that featured a low nutrient supply were given up prior to 1722.”

Still, Easter Island maintained what was called a “robust population” after the Europeans came there. When making the trip, these explorers also introduced such diseases as smallpox, syphilis, and tuberculosis. Chadwick has determined that inhabitants were not able to “maintain the food resources necessary to keep the statue builders in business.”

That may well clear up what happened to this mysterious place, but so many other questions remain and are being studied, including the tooth plaque of the Rapa Nui. Still more information is yet to clear up the entire debate so stay tuned.