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The Statues That Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island | [Terry Hunt, Carl Lipo]

The Statues That Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island

The monumental statues of Easter Island, both so magisterial and so forlorn, gazing out in their imposing rows over the island’s barren landscape, have been the source of great mystery ever since the island was first discovered by Europeans on Easter Sunday 1722. How could the ancient people who inhabited this tiny speck of land, the most remote in the vast expanse of the Pacific islands, have built such monumental works?
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Publisher's Summary

The monumental statues of Easter Island, both so magisterial and so forlorn, gazing out in their imposing rows over the island’s barren landscape, have been the source of great mystery ever since the island was first discovered by Europeans on Easter Sunday 1722. How could the ancient people who inhabited this tiny speck of land, the most remote in the vast expanse of the Pacific islands, have built such monumental works?

No such astonishing numbers of massive statues are found anywhere else in the Pacific. How could the islanders possibly have moved so many multi-ton monoliths from the quarry inland, where they were carved, to their posts along the coastline? And most intriguing and vexing of all, if the island once boasted a culture developed and sophisticated enough to have produced such marvelous edifices, what happened to that culture? Why was the island the Europeans encountered a sparsely populated wasteland?

The prevailing accounts of the island’s history tell a story of self-inflicted devastation: a glaring case of eco-suicide. The island was dominated by a powerful chiefdom that promulgated a cult of statue making, exercising a ruthless hold on the island’s people and rapaciously destroying the environment, cutting down a lush palm forest that once blanketed the island in order to construct contraptions for moving more and more statues, which grew larger and larger. As the population swelled in order to sustain the statue cult, growing well beyond the island’s agricultural capacity, a vicious cycle of warfare broke out between opposing groups, and the culture ultimately suffered a dramatic collapse.

When Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo began carrying out archaeological studies on the island in 2001, they fully expected to find evidence supporting these accounts. Instead, revelation after revelation uncovered a very different truth.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2011 Terry Hunt and Carl Weber (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Hunt and Lipo make a major contribution to global history. They decipher the tangled skeins of Easter Island’s history with cutting edge scholarship and vivid writing. Their meticulous research tells a tale not of ecological armageddon, as so commonly believed, but of brilliant human achievement under difficult, isolated circumstances. This important book revolutionizes our understanding of ancient Polynesia and is a must-buy for anyone visiting this extraordinary place." (Brian Fagan, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara)

"Finally, a fair and balanced account of the deeper human and environmental histories of Easter Island by people who not only know the records intimately but also helped produce them. In the midst of an ocean of sensationalist accounts of these histories, The Statues that Walked rights many wrongs." (Donald K. Grayson, Professor, Department of Anthropology and Quaternary Research Center, University of Washington)

"A great read and a genuinely exciting account of how the science of archaeology is done at its best." (John Edward Terrell, Professor and Regenstein Curator of Pacific Anthropology, Field Museum of Natural History)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Andrzej Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada 07-11-12
    Andrzej Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada 07-11-12
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    "Fascinating story"
    What made the experience of listening to The Statues That Walked the most enjoyable?

    The most enjoyable were the clear and convincing arguments for what really transpired on the island, and the realization that the island's history is vastly different than what was believed until very recent times.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The most enjoyable part of the story was the authors reasoning for purpose of statue building and how that played an important role in the island's delicate ecosystem.


    What about Joe Barrett’s performance did you like?

    Very clear and well read. Excellent preformance.


    Any additional comments?

    Also fascinating were the lessons that can be drawn from the island's history, which can provide valuable insight into present day global issues of diminishing resources.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 05-16-13
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 05-16-13 Member Since 2011

    I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.

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    "The process of solving a great mystery"

    The description of this book is not very good. Here's the story: there's an island, it's isolated from those near it. It's devoid of trees. It has no reefs, so there are few fish to catch. There are no large animals to hunt. It's only 64 square miles large. Oh yeah, and somehow and for some reason the indigenous people didn't die out but managed to make over 900 multi-ton statues of human faces and move them from a quarry in the middle of the island to the shores, all facing inward. So what happened?

    This book, written by two scientists who have studied Easter Island for many years, take you through the evidence in the soil, the remains and the artifacts and tackle one individual mystery after another until your perception of this small island and these amazing people has completely altered. It's a little clerical, a little less storytelling than scientific analysis, but it's an amazing read. The thought process and the way these people look at the real data and come to completely new conclusions that in hindsight make such sense, is the way people should confront the problems in their own lives.

    Also, it's such a good story of history and pre-history that you should definitely add it to your cart.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katie Lolo, MT, United States 03-31-13
    Katie Lolo, MT, United States 03-31-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Take Another, Different Look at Easter Island"

    I'm not a big reader (or listener) of non-fiction books (though I'm big on National Geographic, Smithsonian, Science magazines), but I found this book kept me as fascinated as a great novel - not a dry text book style non-fiction book, but rather one that gives life to history. I enjoyed this very much and it has led to many discussions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Rasco San Antonio, TX 02-11-13
    C. Rasco San Antonio, TX 02-11-13

    SBGamesCone

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    "Not what I was expecting, but worth the listen"

    I originally picked this book up to get a more thorough understanding of the history of the statues that exist on Easter Island and what I received was so much more. The authors take you on a journey of understanding the inhabitants of this small island, their challenges, and what life was like with finite resources. You leave understanding why they created the statues in such mass, how they moved them, and what life was like after they were visited by various expeditions.

    It was an eye opening listen that I'm glad I endured. Be prepared for a bit of social psychology, physics, and history all rolled into this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christine Marlton, NJ, United States 11-08-12
    christine Marlton, NJ, United States 11-08-12 Member Since 2011
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    "New info for me"
    If you could sum up The Statues That Walked in three words, what would they be?

    I remember watching shows on Easter Island but this book was fantastic as far as the history of the island and how they carved the stones and moved them. It was a great learning experience for me.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Campbell Glastonbury, CT, United States 10-25-12
    R. Campbell Glastonbury, CT, United States 10-25-12 Member Since 2002

    Ray Campbell

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    "Great Archeology"

    Who doesn't think Easter Island is cool? OK, I have a BA and MA in history and am just fascinated by this stuff. The mystery of physical artifacts such as the giant statues on Easter Island are a soft spot for me. So, I picked this up and enjoyed it.

    The book is ultimately a fairly dry account of the findings of Terry Hunt and a team of graduate students who did some archeology on the Island a few years back. In addition, Hunt does some synthesis of older works including that of Thor Heyerdahl. Of course Heyerdahl was trying to show that ancient South American's brought statue moving technology to Polynesia... Never the less, well written and engaging.

    The high point of the story is the myth of the statues walking. It turns out that they were made to walk with a little help of a team of islanders and then modified to stay in place once moved. Hunt's chapters on how the 9 to 19 ton statues moved from the quarry to their posts on platforms around the island is really interesting. Other explorations of how grass grew - not so much. Never the less, this is a complete history of the island and it's people based on the most current study. Well researched, well written and clearly articulated. I enjoyed this book, though I am not sure a non "history geek" would be riveted. If you are interested, this is a relatively short study. If you are not a fan of non-fiction, this is not a good book to experiment with.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary NEWARK, IL, United States 10-19-12
    Gary NEWARK, IL, United States 10-19-12 Member Since 2012
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    "They walked into my future. Want to learn more"
    What did you love best about The Statues That Walked?

    The interesting people that inhabited Easter Island.


    What other book might you compare The Statues That Walked to and why?

    Kon Tiki


    Have you listened to any of Joe Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Wish I could.


    Any additional comments?

    Great history lesson for one and all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bpjammin Hawaii 09-18-12
    bpjammin Hawaii 09-18-12 Member Since 2012

    benjamin of bouillis, with a spolish olive to middlepoint its zaynith,

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    "an interesting revison of the Easter Island story"
    Where does The Statues That Walked rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    A book of really interesting and well supported theories, that counter the prevailing theories about what happened to the statue builders of Easter Island. It also provides insight into Polynesian culture and its adaptability in difficult circumstances.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael NAPERVILLE, IL, United States 08-28-12
    Michael NAPERVILLE, IL, United States 08-28-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "No More Mystery"

    Easter Island was always a mysterious place I've wanted to see. Now that I'm getting older, it is officially a bucket list item. While still an exotic destination, this book has taken all the mystery away. Everything (the statues, the people, the deforestation) solved. Great to read about and glad to finally have answers but while all very interesting it lessens the appeal of one of my favorite places. A little mystery is good.

    I don't have too much to say on this one without spoiling it, so I will sum it up with a quote from Commander Barclay of the HMS Topaz from the book. It is regarding the consequence of Europeans arriving on the shores of Easter Island.

    "It is a sad fact that in these islands as in North America, wherever the white man establishes himself, the aborigines perish."

    No matter how benign their intent, makes me wonder what would happen to us should aliens ever come to Earth.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Asako MOUNT KISCO, NY, United States 08-07-12
    Asako MOUNT KISCO, NY, United States 08-07-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Mystery of Easter Island is solved by archeology"
    If you could sum up The Statues That Walked in three words, what would they be?

    Mysterious Polynesian People


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Engineering of Rapanui people: how they curved and moved the statues are amazing.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Not really, there were too many examples of archeological surveys in other areas.


    Any additional comments?

    Archeological survey does not always reveal truth, because sometimes it is based on hypothesis.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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