Easter Island

Written on 11/02/2020


To access the reading and listening for this essay - click here.

The Essay:

The reading and the lecture are both about the collapse of the civilization on Easter Island. The author of the reading feels that there are three possible explanations for the collapse. The lecturer challenges the claims made by the authorHe is of the opinion that these explanations are faulty.

To begin with, the author argues that the collapse might have been caused by rats that ate the seeds of palm trees. The article mentions that this caused erosion and soil loss, which made it hard to grow food. This specific argument is challenged by the lecturerHe claims that even if deforestation occurred the people on the island would have had enough food. Additionally, he says that 60% of their diet came from the sea, and they also used rock gardens to grow potatoes in weak soil.

Secondly, the writer suggests that the collapse may have been caused by warfare. In the article, it is said that many curved blades used as weapons have been found on Easter Island. The lecturer, however, rebuts this by mentioning that the shapes of the blades suggest that they were not actually weapons. He elaborates on this by bringing up the point that they are neither sharp nor pointy, so they were probably just used as tools for cutting stone.

Finally, the author posits that the society on the island could have been destroyed by exposure to diseases brought by foreign visitors. Moreover, in the article it is stated that thousands died as a result of this. In contrast, the lecturer's position is that when contact with Europeans and South Americans began the population of the island was only about 3000. He notes that since the population was twenty thousand before contact, whatever caused the decline must have started long before then.