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Collapse notes - Easter Island 23:12 Intensive agriculture...

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Easter Island 23:12 Intensive agriculture? Rock gardens (windbreaks for plants) make soil moister (reduces evaporative water loss) absorb solar heat during the day and release it at night protect soil against being eroded by water droplets contain needed materials that eventually leach out into the soil Lithic mulches (partly filling soil with rocks) Double the soil moisture content Lower maximum soil temperatures during day Minimum soil temperatures at night Higher yields for every one of 16 plant species grown Hierarchy Chiefs/elite Lived in hare paenga (canoe houses) Commoners Lived in smaller house + chicken house + oven + stone garden circle + garbage pit Integration Island was divided up like a pie But the people were connected religiously/economically/politically under one chief Why? Valuable resources on each territory, distributed all over Easter Island, found in statues Stone for carving statues
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Quarries of obsidian Fish Basalt Statues Statues = moai Stone platforms = ahu How did they do it?! Ladders Ropes from trees Easter Island’s collapse THERE USED TO BE TREES! How do we know this? Pollen analysis (palynology) – boring out a column of sediment deposited in a swamp or pond; the surface level mud = most recently deposited Largest palm tree in the world—extinct!!! Plus a bunch of other trees there used to be a diverse forest Bone analysis (ornithology) Lots of birds! Heron, rails, parrots, barn owls 25 nesting seabird species formerly the richest breeding site in all of Polynesia albatross boobies frigate birds fulmars petrels
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prions shearwater storm petrels terns tropicbirds seals Common Dolphin Fish (not a lot), molluscs, sea urchins Rugged coastline Steep drop-offs to ocean bottom Rats Deforestation :( Radiocarbon dates on palm nuts are all before 1500 Radiocarbon-dated charcoal samples from ovens/garbage pits (wood charcoal gave way to herb and grass fuels) Pollen cores: no more palm, tree daisy, toromiro, shrub pollen Loss of raw materials Native plants and birds Wood—no more statues/canoes Rope—same Bark Feathers Loss of wild food sources Palm nuts Malay apples
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Porpoises Tuna Pelagic fish Land birds Decrease in crop yields Soil erosion by rain and wind Dessication Nutrient leaching Cannibalism!!! “the flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth” :O Increase in statue size toppling rival clans’ statues Europeans Disease kill/kidnap Brought sheep, which eroded the soil even more Islander v. mainland-born Chileans Rongo-rongo writing system Questions Several objections to the idea that Easter Islanders deforested the island Some disruption caused by unrecorded European visitors before Roggeveen arrived Natural climate changes droughts El Nino They wouldn’t cut down a forest that is so obviously vital Why does Easter Island have such an extreme amount of deforestation? (in bold)
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Deforestation is more severe on Dry islands than wet islands Cold high-latitude islands than warm equatorial islands Old volcanic islands than young volcanic islands
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