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Abstract

Rapa Nui (Easter Island) is often depicted as a microcosm for world ecosystem disaster (Diamond 2004; Kirch 2004; Flenley and Bahn 2002). The island is thought to have been settled around AD 700 and by ca. AD 1150 the population had risen to the point where descent groups were defining territorial units focused around spectacular ceremonial platforms and statues (Kirch 1984; Skj¢lsvold 1994; Stevenson 2002). Pollen changes have been interpreted as evidence for deforestation as early as AD 750, and between AD 950 and AD 1400 it is thought that virtually the entire island was cleared as a result of widespread agricultural development to meet the demands of increasingly competitive chiefdoms (Flenley and Bahn 2002).

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