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.
©2011 Terry Hunt and Carl Weber (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"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)
Since this is a documentary presenting research on an ancient culture, it is what it is somewhat dry and definitely not a page turner. I don't think the presentation could be improved, due to the type of book that this is. Audio was certainly the best way for me to get this information, because I never would have stuck with it in written form! The book was a great companion to gardening in 90+ degree heat, and that is why I do audio books--to keep me focused on physical and menial tasks...
I would recommend it with the stipulation that it is NOT fiction, and is NOT exciting...but the explanation of that culture, and the marvelous insights into an uneducated people who were able to develop effective farming and engineering practices amazed me!
Presentation was clear and understandable--given the material being read, it was a good performance.
Super educational value, and the only way I would have learned about these mysterious statues.
I've always been fascinated with the archeology of Easter Island. I hope to get a chance to go there some day, but this was a good second best alternative. Hopefully some day it will help me enjoy my trip there that much more.I was curious how they would fill 6 hours talking about the mysterious statues. They did so quite elloquently by dealing with a lot of related issues. I would certainly recommend it.
I would listen to it again because it is something that must be digested...
One of the most memorable moments was the depiction of how the moai could have moved across easter island.
The heads that face away from the sea.....
tiki jay one urban landscape specialist....
The Statues That Walked is a compelling and persuasive challenge to Jared Diamond's thesis in Collapse that the people of Easter Island committed ecological suicide. Actual archaeologists, Hunt and Lipo spent years on the island analyzing the evidence to conclude that the Easter Island natives were in fact great conservationists. For example, they invented a method of stone-spreading to reduce erosion and foster plant growth in soil Europeans would have deemed barren. Most compellingly, the authors challenge the idea that the statues were moved horizontally from quarry to destination using massive amounts of wood for ramps. (Diamond theorized the islanders chopped down their forests to make ramps!) How were the statues moved? They walked. You'll have to read the book to find out how!
The narrator is very effective, and I don't give HIM two stars for performance. I give two stars to the audio editor. There's a section of the book where the same sentence is read twice in a row -- most likely the reading from the end of one day and the beginning of another. Such a glaring mistake means there are likely plenty of other errors waiting to be discovered, and I encourage Audible to fix the error as soon as possible (if they haven't already done so).
This is a great companion to Jared Diamond's Collapse.
I wish I didn't spend money on this book. I thought it would be about the statues, call me crazy. It's actually a brief and very dull summary of a small civilization, who whether through ignorance, bad circumstance or stupidity, cut down all their trees, had lousy soil, failed and died out. Oh, and they made some statues, almost a side note in this book. End of story. Seriously. Don't waste your money or time on this. And this is coming from someone who is normally fascinated by ancient cultures, history, stories of earlier civilization, etc. This book is just dull and went NO WHERE.
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