Until now, historians have tried to somehow justify the sad ending of this story: they say, the Polynesians cut down the trees and led themselves to decline. New research, meanwhile, shows that the natives lived, albeit in their own way, but relatively well - until that very unfortunate day, which for some reason coincided with the great Christian holiday.
The islanders called him either "the lost friend", or "breaking the wave." Hoa Hakananaya. Such translations of this name suggest sad thoughts. Or maybe this is a monument to a man who swam brilliantly, but died or was killed? The statue was found in 1868 by sailors of the British Royal Navy, it was half covered with earth. In general, by that time, on the triangular piece of land lost in the Pacific Ocean, there was already complete desolation and there were more amazing sculptures than people. And, I must say, statues - moai - on Easter Island 887. So this is 888, because it is not on the island, but in the British Museum. Largely thanks to her, this mysterious place is visited annually by about seven thousand tourists.
The site of the museum says that the "lost friend" is made of basalt, other sources say that this is a slightly different material. In any case, moai are composed of volcanic rocks, of which there is a whole wealth on the island - there are already four volcanoes. Local legend says that once upon a time there was a large land, but the staff of the formidable god Woke split it, and only over this edge he had mercy. Some have compared this to the Atlantean myth. In any case, this is the only Polynesian island with its own written language: linguists from all over the world are still fighting over the Rongo-rongo tablets. By the way, the planks themselves are made of sophora - this is a small tree, a relative of legumes. They are clear evidence that the island was not always "bald".
Most historians are inclined to believe that the Dutch were the first European guests of the Rapanui (Rapanui is the real, native name of the island). Navigator Jacob Roggeven was actually looking for terra incognita - "unknown land", the legendary southern continent. Fabulously huge and fabulously rich. His father devoted half his life to this dream. Therefore, the son eventually convinced the Dutch West India Company businessmen that the deal was profitable. Equipped three ships and a team of two hundred sailors and soldiers. We loaded 70 guns. In short, a typical research expedition.
Jacob's father is Agent Roggeven. Photo © Wikipedia
It is difficult to say how religious Roggeven was, but it was such a tradition to name new lands in honor of the events of biblical history, if the date of opening fell on those. And on April 5, 1722, it was the Resurrection of Christ. And it so happened that on that very day from the ships "Afrikanen Galei", "Tinkhovena" and "Arenda" they saw the island. Later they noticed that smoke was rising above him in several places. We also saw huge stone idols. All this was interesting, but the windy weather did not allow us to swim to the shore.
There is information that initially the contact was quite friendly: a canoe with a naked bearded man swam up to the ships. He was amazed at the sight of the huge boats. The Dutch invited him on board, and the communication turned out to be quite peaceful and calm. And then a whole crowd gathered on the shore. I must say, they were also mostly just curious. When the Europeans landed, the simple-minded owners even brought them their bananas and their chickens as a sign of greeting - by the way, sacred birds for the natives, because without chicken they probably would not have lived to see such a solemn moment. However, many other local residents did not get particularly warm feelings and behaved as they should be for savages: they surrounded the gentlemen, began to grab them by their clothes, by long pieces in their hands (guns). As a result, some gentleman got nervous and fired. And I got it. The shocked Polynesians fled, but quickly returned in slightly larger numbers. Roggeven realized that his people could simply be interrupted. And he ordered to open fire to kill. And all this on such a day.
But the biggest disaster for Rapanui was the very fact that the Europeans discovered this island. At first, its presence did not evoke practically any emotions in the "civilized" world. However, half a century later, Spain remembered the island, since she was keenly interested in the preservation and augmentation of her colonies in Latin America. The ship with the subjects of King Charles III arrived ashore in 1772. The Spaniards spent several days on the island, declared it San Carlos and read to the natives an official document on the protectorate (it would be interesting to see it). But, in fact, it was not possible to "attach" Rapanui anywhere.
James Cook sailed two years later. He described the natives as hungry, exhausted and, in turn, wondered how this wild people not only hollowed out such giant sculptures with stone tools (from 3 to 15 meters and sometimes weighing more than 10 tons!), But also dragged them to the desired place and put it on pedestals.
There was a French explorer François La Pérouse, who brought scientists with him, and they found out that once upon a time there were entire forests on the island. Of course, things got bad without trees. If there is no wood, there are no normal boats, which means there is no serious fishing in the sea, that is, there is a problem with food. The French left a few sheep and pigs as a gift in the hope that the Rapanui would breed them. We planted a citrus tree.
The Russian traveler Yuri Lisyansky also visited Easter Island during his voyage around the world in 1804. And, by the way, in his book "Traveling around the world on the Neva ship in 1803-1806" he wrote that everything is in order there, bananas and sweet potatoes grow, and Easter eggs happily exchange all this for different nails, and especially on knives that were specially forged for them right on board the ship. But pets were not noticed. Only chickens, perhaps. It seems that cattle breeding has not gone well. What is characteristic: the Russians did not disembark ashore, only one messenger was sent with an exchange item, and then, for the most part, this was an excuse to give the local a special sealed bottle with a letter for the second ship of the expedition, with which they lost contact due to bad weather - for " Hope "under the command of Admiral Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenshtern, among other things.
Four years later, the Americans appeared - already on a specific case: they tied 22 people on the island and took them into slavery on the islands of Juan Fernandez in order to establish a seal hunt there in this way. Business idea. On the third day after sailing, that is, far in the open sea, the prisoners were untied, the chains were removed, and so on. And the natives immediately jumped overboard. "Civilization" began to catch them, but the "savages" stubbornly refused to catch them. And it must be emphasized that they were already very far from the island, the chances of reaching home are either scanty or zero. This is fundamentally important for understanding this act.
After that, of course, Rapanui Island became inhospitable. The Russians wanted to visit again - on the Rurik ship, but they were not allowed. This is understandable. Only it didn’t save. In the 1860s, the Peruvians needed gratuitous labor for their booming economy, and they came. They took almost one and a half thousand people. Soon, about a hundred remained alive, and they had to arrange international negotiations with the Peruvian authorities in order to return the unfortunate ones home. While talking, there were a dozen people left. They returned, but brought home smallpox and tuberculosis. This was roughly what the situation was like when Queen Victoria's fleet arrived.
Subsequently, scientists argued that still predetermined the disastrous outcome. Many people appeal to the fact that the Paschal people had a terrible confrontation between the two estates. They had "long-eared" - this, so to speak, "white people" among the Polynesians, they really were lighter and carried heavy loads in their earlobes, which is why it all hung down to the shoulders. If you please notice, idols are depicted as such. And there were "short-eared" - respectively, without these ornaments and in a subordinate position. When the famous Norwegian traveler Thor Heyerdahl sailed to the island in 1955, he found a single man of almost European appearance, red-haired, and he said that he was a descendant of "long-eared" and his grandfather made him listen and remember who he was as a child. According to legend, a long time ago the "short-eared" rebelled because they were tired of dragging volcanic boulders on the orders of the eared ones. For this, the exploiters dug a ditch for them and threw brushwood there. That is, they prepared a fire for the rebels. But the course of history was changed by a woman. Normally. It was the wife of one "long-eared" man. She knew everything, and it haunted her. And she could not resist and told the "short-eared" what was in store for them. As a result, the "peasants" planned everything so that the "bourgeois" fell into their own fire. That is, she did not prevent trouble. I just turned it over. It turned out the same, only in a mirror image. However, analysis of the ash and other contents of this pit did not reveal the presence of any bones or other traces of what the legend says.
But that's not the point. Supporters of the theory of self-destruction of the Paschal culture claim that everything was bad by the time the Europeans arrived on the island.
Scientists cannot take people's word for it. But they can believe the silent stones. So the moai are the main witnesses in this case. Many of them remained unfinished in the Rapanui quarries. Next to them are the bones of the builders and their cleavers. A recent study has shown that some of the statues are relatively young, and were worked on after the Dutch and up to the failed Spanish annexation. And this, you know, is evidence. If they built idols, then they continued to live their own lives. To end.
And finally, about how the multi-ton statues were raised. The last "long-eared" made friends with Thor Heyerdahl and nevertheless revealed the secret.
First, the ends of the logs are slipped under the moai, and helpers hang from the other ends. The commander - in this case a new friend of the Norwegian - lies on his stomach and shoves a pebble under the idol's head. Then another. Third. More. Much more. Etc. Patient monotonous work for ten days. Further, the stone head is wrapped with ropes and tied from four sides to thick stakes so that the giant does not fall somewhere wrong. In the end, the moai rises so high that it slowly leans back and stands on its pedestal. Well-coordinated team work. That's all. Fantastic!
- Leonardo, - I said, - you are a business man, tell me how in the old days they dragged these stone heroes?
“They walked on their own,” Leonardo replied.
Thor Heyerdahl, "Aku-Aku"