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Studying ancient roads on Easter Island

Researchers study roads once used by ancient Easter Islanders to move multi-ton stone figures


Scientists are studying roads once used by ancient Easter Islanders to move multi-ton stone figures to the coastline where they now reside.

Charlie Love, a geology professor at Western Wyoming Community College (WWCC), along with a crew of 17 students from WWCC and the University of Wyoming, archaeologists and islanders, spent two summers working and conducting research on Easter Island. Together they cleared and excavated sections of road.

The research helped supply important details on Easter Island's prehistory, including understanding the labor force necessary to create 30 miles of road on an island only 12 miles long; the integration of labor and motivation to carve, move and place multi-ton statues all across the island; the magnitude of the ecologic catastrophe these desires ultimately created; and the timing of the resulting equilibrium between food production, birth rates and warfare.

This research was funded in part by two grants from the National Science Foundation's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) for the state of Wyoming. A brief article about this research appeared in the December 2000 issue of Discovering Archeology, a magazine published by Scientific American. [See additional reference: NSF grant number EPS 99-83278.]

Credit: Dr. Charles Love, University of Wyoming

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