The Cataclysm of Easter Island - The Museum in Hanga Roa (Part 6)
Our last stop was the archeological museum in Hanga Roa. Our group made a walk to the museum at the far end of town. We bought our tickets to museum and trailed in to look at the various exhibits in the two room, one-floor museum.
I noted, while there, that the area of the strong magnetic disturbance at Rano Aroi was a basalt formation on a geological map of the island. This made sense since basalt becomes permanently magnetized by the earth’s magnetic field as it cools. I also saw a perfectly round stone ball, about the size of softball, in a glass display case with some other stone artifacts. The sign said that they did not know what it was for. Was it a stone hammer?
I also noted a very Negroid head found in 1973 at Rano Raraku titled a “Moai Maea” head. It was much smaller than most moai, and its features were indeed very different and African looking. Similar heads have been found in Mexico. There was also the unusual statue of a woman with breasts and an extremely long head. Was she some sort of female conehead? Were the big statues in the quarry also figures of coneheads? It would seem so. Easter Island was essentially an island of coneheads. There was also an ‘alien-looking head’ with round eyes and only two holes for a nose that was excavated somewhere on the island in 1960 but not put on display at the museum until about five years ago.
Also interesting were the of the kava kava statues. These are small wooden carvings, hundreds of years old and traditionally of what appears to be an emaciated man, a virtual living skeleton. In island legend, the king was walking one night in the island and saw two kava kava men lying on the ground in a vision. They appeared to the king just as they are drawn today. A kava kava is generally said to be a kind of spirit.
Looking at the shrunken, almost mutated figure, I could not help but think that they bore a striking resemblance to someone dying of radiation sickness. I was then reminded of the startling tales of nuclear war in the Mahabharata, the ancient Dravidian text of pre-Aryan India. With the possible link to the Rama Empire with rongorongo writing, the platform of Vinapu and even Indo-Dravidian words like “mana,” was it possible that this was some sort of bizarre memory of radiation victims from that global war of pre-history? More in line with Thor Heyerdahl’s more mainstream trans-oceanic cultures making frequent yet dangerous trading trips across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, was this some starved sailor coming from Peru or Tahiti who had not seen an island for some months?
As a group, we watched the sunset at Ahu Tahai, a slow orange glow fading into the starry night. The four moai on their platform were silhouetted against the golden glow. Later, I sat on the steps of the hotel and looked up at the constellations. To the south was the Southern Cross, pointing the way to Antarctica, the next stop directly south. Had ancient voyagers stopped at Easter Island on their way to the lands of the pole? Someone had apparently mapped that continent in prehistory, as evidenced by the Piri Reis map now in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul. Did some ancient group map the world in ancient times as indicated with the Piri Reis map of 1531 AD? Who were the tall, red haired giants at Rapa Nui? They were apparently red-haired people who wore their long hair tied in a topknot at the apex of their bearded head. Today, this is the style of Hindu wandering holy men known as sadhus, with their long black hair tied as a topknot.
Easter Island undeniably was a culture in decline at the time of European discovery. When the first explorers reached the island the natives were living in reed huts. Yet, someone had constructed megalithic stone blocks of incredible perfection as witnessed at Vinapu. Was the precision stone work at Vinapu the result of power tools as some surmise were used at Tiwanaku and Puma Punku? Was the written language of the Rama Empire the same written language called rongorongo? It seemed fantastic!
What of the great cataclysm that had affected Rapa Nui? Had some tidal wave-tsunami hit the island—burying the statues in many meters of mud and muck? Had it struck thousands of years ago, or only a few hundred years ago? Here are our basic scenarios and dates for the cataclysm of Easter Island: 1) Easter Island was part of a now sunken Pacific continent and the statues are on a mountaintop from a cataclysm of perhaps 10,000 years ago or more; 2) Easter Island may have been somewhat larger and was an early base for Sumerian and Rama Empire navigators, circa 3000 BC. A cataclysm destroyed Easter Island (and maybe Tiwanaku as well) circa 2000-1000 BC. Trans-Pacific voyages continued to occur and by 300 AD Polynesians arrived to colonize the island. They began to re-erect the statues and built such post-megalithic sites like Orongo and many of the smaller ahus. Still, many statues remained buried just as they are seen today; 3) Polynesians arrived circa 300 AD and began the many megalithic constructions on the previously uninhabited island. A tsunami hit the island circa 900-1200 AD and buried the statues. Some statues were re-erected around the edge of the island, facing inward, to “prevent” other cataclysms. The war between the long ears and short ears takes place shortly afterward.
As waves washed onto the shore near the small port of Hanga Roa, I wondered which of scenarios was the most likely? When one is on Rapa Nui, there is a feeling that things are incredibly ancient. The strange rongorongo writing and its connection to ancient India made me think that number two was the most likely of all the scenarios. Some cataclysm had hit Easter Island many thousands of years ago, perhaps 900 BC as an estimate. Later Polynesians had arrived and other catastrophes occurred—some of them induced by humans—but others the product of Mother Nature and her awesome power. Easter Island must have been hit by a number of typhoons and tsunamis in its thousands of years. The question is: how many of the destructive cataclysms have these gigantic statues seen? Perhaps more than one.
That evening our group went back to the airport, this time to fly back to Lima. As the jet rumbled down the “Space Shuttle runway” to take off, I glanced out the window at the brown earth below. The island was a green and brown gem in an ocean of blue. It was truly an island of mystery and magic—one that seemed to go back to very mists of time. Easter Island is one great archaeological treasures of the world, and it belongs to the children of the future as well.
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