This book addresses the main enigmas of Easter Island's (Rapa Nui, in the Polynesian language) prehistory from the time of initial settlement to European contact with a multidisciplinary perspective. The main topics include: (i) the time of first settlement and the origin of the first settlers; (ii) the main features of prehistoric Rapanui culture and their changes; (iii) the deforestation of the island and its timing and causes; (iv) the extinction of the indigenous biota, (v) the occurrence of climatic shifts and their potential effects on socioecological trends; (vi) the evidence for a cultural and demographic collapse before European contact; and (vii) the influence of Europeans on prehistoric Rapanui society. The book is subdivided into thematic sections and each chapter is written by renowned specialists in disciplines such as archaeology, anthropology, paleoecology, ethnography, linguistics, ethnobotany, phylogenetics/phylogeography and history. Contributors have been invited to provide an open and objective vision that includes as many views as possible on the topics considered. In this way, the readers may be able to compare different of points of view and make their own interpretations on each of the subjects considered. The book is intended for a wide audience including graduate students, advanced undergraduate students, university teachers and researchers interested in the subject. Given its multidisciplinary character and the topics included, the book is suitable for students and researchers from a wide range of disciplines and interests.
Valentí Rull is biologist with a PhD in Paleoecology. During the last 40 years, VR has used past ecological evidence to address topics such as i) the type and characteristics of biotic responses to environmental change; ii) the role of human and climatic drivers as causes of ecological change; iii) the role of tectonics, palaeogeography and climate change on the origin of biodiversity; iv) hypotheses testing on long-term ecological processes; and v) predictions on biotic responses to eventual future climatic scenarios. VR has conducted his research on several temperate, tropical and subtropical regions as for example the northern tropical Andes, the Orinoco lowlands and delta, the Guayana region, the Maracaibo basin, Easter Island, the Azores Islands and the Pyrenees. Dr Rull has published 12 books and more than 280 articles and has been included in Stanford World's Top 2% Scientists for the period 1996-2020.
Christopher M. Stevenson received his PhD in archaeology in 1984. Previous professional experience has included cultural resource management investigations (1985-2000) within the United States and a position in the Virginia Department of Historic Resources as a regional archaeologist (2000-2011). For over 25 years he has conducted archaeological fieldwork on Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Chile, investigating regional settlement patterns and ancient farming strategies. Other areas of fieldwork include excavations at prehistoric and historic archaeological sites in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Canary Islands. Dr Stevenson has published multiple books on Rapa Nui prehistory and 105 journal articles. His analytical specialities include infrared spectroscopy, hydrothermal alteration of glass, and obsidian hydration dating of prehistoric artefacts.