Easter Island Moai

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Moai on Easter Island
Photo by Mòni

It’s tra­di­tional to fol­low up a post on Stonehenge with a spuri­ous con­nec­tion. This is a Moai on Easter Island, the most isol­ated spot on Earth where they had a sky. Just like Stonehenge. If I ever write my altern­at­ive archae­ology book then I’ll make a big deal of that.

The tale of Easter Island is one that has great sig­ni­fic­ance for our own times. The pur­suit of prestige led to the destruc­tion of envir­on­mental resources on the island. The col­lapse when it happened appeared to be sud­den and when the Europeans dis­covered the island what they found was a poverty-stricken civil­isa­tion trapped in the shadow of its past. Disease and slavery accoun­ted for all but twelve of the pop­u­la­tion by the twen­ti­eth cen­tury. The moral of the tale is either the usual one of the need for sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, or if you’re more mor­ally lax, “Party like there’s no tomor­row, because for your chil­dren there might not be.”

You can read more about Easter Island at Nova and Discovery.

Which Stonehenge?

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A couple of sum­mers ago I designed a mod­ule for the Interdisciplinary Science course, called Powers and Prophets. The brief I was given was “Do a mod­ule about Stonehenge, It has to have Physics, Geology and Archaeoastronomy in it with some Archaeology.” It was a fun, if intense exper­i­ence as the course was to be taught by Problem-Based Learning, so I had to find out what that was too. Eventually the over­all prob­lem I set was “Could a new Stonehenge be built authen­tic­ally and accur­ately at the new vis­itor centre?”

I’ve been think­ing about it more recently, for reas­ons which may become appar­ent around June 20. I did think to write another theme, like A Celtic Calendar, for Stonehenge run­ning between now and June 21. I’ve decided not to, for a couple of reas­ons. One is that the next batch of i-sci stu­dents might find this and decide what they find here is the ‘right’ answer. The other is that I don’t have the right answers and even writ­ing up my best guess will take more time than I cur­rently have to spare. However there are likely to be the­or­ies in abund­ance around over the next month, so I thought I could ask some inter­est­ing ques­tions instead.

The first is when a researcher explains his new Stonehenge the­ory, which Stonehenge is he talk­ing about? Phase One, dates from around 2950 BC. The end of Phase Three is bey­ond 1900 BC. That’s a thou­sand years dif­fer­ence and, as you can see from the plans below, quite a lot of rebuild.

Phase One and Three of Stonehenge
Stonehenge plans from the Wikipedia

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