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The Statues that Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island
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The Statues that Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  296 ratings  ·  75 reviews
The monumental statues of Easter Island, both so magisterial and so forlorn, gazing out in their imposing rows over the island’s barren landscape, have been the source of great mystery ever since the island was first discovered by Europeans on Easter Sunday 1722. How could the ancient people who inhabited this tiny speck of land, the most remote in the vast expan ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 21st 2011 by Free Press
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Easter Island was always a mysterious place I've wanted to see. Now that I'm getting older, it is officially a bucket list item. While still an exotic destination, this book has taken all the mystery away. Everything (the statues, the people, the deforestation) solved. Great to read about and glad to finally have answers but while all very interesting it lessens the appeal of one of my favorite places. A little mystery is good.

I don't have too much to say on this one without spoiling it, so I wi
Yi-hsin Lin
In this book, Hunt and Lipo make the claim that contrary to Jared Diamond's account of Easter Islanders committing "ecocide", they were actually very good caretakers of their environment and that in the end it was all the fault of the Europeans who came in and messed everything up.

I am not sure how much my reaction to this book was informed by having recently read Flenley and Bahn's more recent book on Easter Island. In particular, because it meant I knew more about the investigations about East
The old story is that the crazy cannibal inhabitants of Easter Island cut down all their trees in order to make and move those giant statues, and then went about killing each other as their newly barren island could not support their population. The authors respectfully disagree. They argue that the Polynesian rat deforested the island (by eating the seeds of those palm trees that take 60 years to bear fruit), it only took a few individuals to move the statues refrigerator-style (rocking side to ...more
Margaret Sankey
Excellent piece of revisionist archaeology refuting both the Thor Heyerdahl "light skinned" Ancient Americans vs. Polynesian war and Jered Diamond's Eco-anvil about human fecklessness. When actual data is examined, it seems that the people who arrived around 1200 (a later date than first assumed) did innovative and workable things to make their old volcanic island produce for them, including rock mulching and leeching for their crops. The famous moai statues, far from being the forced focus of t ...more
Friends, I freakin love history. Especially ancient, INTERESTING history. Now, my excitement cues up a notch when said history is the subject of a non-fiction audiobook. YOU GUYS! I was beyond pumped up for my purchase of The Statues That Walked: Unraveling The Mystery Of Easter Island by Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo on audible during one of those super cheap sales. Unfortunately, the book was much cooler in concept than it was in execution and I ended up with a major case of eye glaze. You guys eve ...more
I went through a swing of reading the Graham Hancocks and Sitchins of the world years ago, so it was nice to return to a crumb of that subject matter, albeit from a more sober and credible angle.

The authors dig around and make the case for tweaking the narrative of the pre-European history of the island. The presentation is methodical and understated, but never grinds to a halt.

Based on the premise of the book I was fearing that a bunch of Noble Savage-ish sentiment would be shoved down the re
Two scholars who have done years of fieldwork on Easter Island have co-written this engaging and mostly satisfying study of the history of Easter Island and its magnificent statues. Plenty of maps and pictures keep the text lively and keep you focused on the island's central mystery: how the hell did people on that tiny, godforsaken island create and move all those hundreds of giant statues centuries ago?

Hunt and Lipo have done a lot of research and a lot of digging, and they have created a comp
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. This is archaeology at its absolute best - deeply exploring a culture and history in a systematic and integrated fashion. The prose is reader friendly and the authors' willingness to question and test assumptions is refreshing. All of the theories expounded here may not hold up in the longrun, but if they are debunked with as much class and erudition than that will be a very good thing. So glad I finished this on my flight to Rapa Nui and can't wait to ...more
I'm going to Easter Island next month, in large part because of the description of the history in Jared Diamond's book Collapse. This book just told me that Jared Diamond was, in large measure, wrong. The story of the islanders, the destruction of their forest and the carving and erecting of the Moia told in this book makes the island that much more of a draw for me. It is amazing the detective work that was done to try to recreate the history of Easter Island. A must-read for anyone interested ...more
Ishmael Seaward
Fascinating. I have read a number of books and articles over the years that have attempted to explain Easter Island. This is by far the most complete and thorough explanation, based on solid science, that I have come across.
The author taps into prior work by other investigators, and identifies where there is conflicting conclusions or supporting data. The author also gives these prior investigators credit where credit is due.
The description of how the statues were "walked" to their location is s
A great book for anyone who is interested in Rapa Nui, and the story of the moai. The writers seem very credible offering their new research as well as taking into a count the work of many others before them. They combine all of this information together and present theories on- what happened to these people and their environment from first colonization to now. The book talks about how they lived, farmed, why it was so important to build these huge statues, how they moved them, and what life was ...more
Visiting Rapa Nui (Easter Island) is on my short list of things to do. I enjoyed this account of what may have happened on Easter Island. Obviously there is no way to definitively know the island's complete history, but there is good archeological evidence that it was not a mere ecocide as depicted in Jared Diamond's "Collapse". The first half of the book deals primarily with facts and comparisons to other similar cultures. Later chapters have much more conjecture as they grapple with the cultur ...more
Ray Campbell
Who doesn't think Easter Island is cool? OK, I have a BA and MA in history and am just fascinated by this stuff. The mystery of physical artifacts such as the giant statues on Easter Island are a soft spot for me. So, I picked this up and enjoyed it.

The book is ultimately a fairly dry account of the findings of Terry Hunt and a team of graduate students who did some archeology on the Island a few years back. In addition, Hunt does some synthesis of older works including that of Thor Heyerdahl.
Wes Cobb
Alternating between fascinating and mind-numbingly boring, Hunt’s position is fundamentally a contrarian one to the “ecocide” theory (espoused most famously by Jared Diamond) of Easter Island’s collapse. Hunt argues that the Rapa Nui people did not arrive on the island c. 500 AD and live in harmony with the island’s environment for 500+ years before cutting down all of the trees to use as rollers for the moai. Instead, he believes, based on some fairly compelling archaeological evidence, that th ...more
Well the statues did walk (think refrigerator moving), but the authors were never really able to answer the question "Why". But they did explain why we will never know why the islanders created those giant statues and set them up the way they did. After the island was colonized, it reached a stable, self-sustaining (marginally)population. When Europeans visited the island for the first and subsequent visits, disease and different artifacts were introduced. It was mostly the decimation of the pop ...more
Trish Remley
Again would give this a 3.50. Very intriguing. How research was done to put the story straight was very good. The theories put forth on human behavior, human communities and how this explained the way of life intertwined with the accounts of explorers through time was very good. I can't get over the theme I keep reading in books of how when explorers interfer with the native people's disaster follows. So interesting the Rapa Nui penchant for all things foreign and how their building of Ahu (plat ...more
Philip Wulven
This book is a sober fact-based appraisal of current research into the history and archaeology of Easter Island.
Careful and methodical research has shown the high level of development in the islanders' agricultural methods. They achieved yields of food crops from infertile soil under constant battering by wind and salt spray, and sustained a high population from very little arable land.
At the same time, the authors show that people were not directly responsible for the deforestation of the isla
Anne Broyles
It’s been several years since I visited Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Reading this book made me want to return. Hunt and Lipo share new research findings not only about how the monumental statues were transported around the island, but also, about what Rapa Nui’s culture and history tells us. I was particularly fascinated with how, because they lived on a small island without wood to build ships to get away, the Rap Nuian people needed to find ways to get along. They had more pressing reasons (survi ...more
brian dean
I have long been interested in Easter Island and the book that sparked that interest was Heyerdahl's Ahu-ahu, describing his archaeological work on the island. Turns out, he was mostly wrong in his conclusions.

Although there is no complete explanation for why the statues were made and transported in the first place, all the hows are worked out. Incredible as it seems, they were 'walked' or shifted in the same way we might move a refrigerator in our own homes.

There was likely no huge battle betwe
John Marr
An outstanding book on Easter Island. The authors, serious professional archelogists who have put in more than their fair share of fieldwork on Easter Island, make a strong and compelling case that:

1) Easter Island was not deforested by a statue-mad culture cut down every tree on the island in their quest to carve more moai, but by the rats the original settlers brought with them.

2) A small group of people with ropes can "walk" a huge statue just like you can walk your refrigerator across your k
Who knew a book about archaeology would read like a CIS-themed novel? Fascinating read about the huge Easter Island statues -- who made them, how they were transported, and what happened to their creators. The mystery is finally unravelled. If you liked Kon-Tiki or Aku-Aku you'll love this. Rating: 3.5 atolls out of 5.
A very interesting historical and anthropoligical account of Rapa Nui, mostly known as Easter Island because it was 'discovered' by the Dutch around Easter. Those amazing statues have always fascinated me. No one really knows for sure why they invested so much energy to move and place these multi-ton statues around the edges of the island- facing inward, but maybe they like the feeling of some watching over them... And throughout the centuries, maybe they wanted to leave their mark and make sure ...more
Feb 05, 2012 Sull rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sull by: Library find
This was an excellent read. I never understood the "old" doom-laden explanations (via Thor Heyerdahl et al) of how & why those giant stone heads came to be set in the middle of that bleak, blasted island at the end of the world. These authors nicely explicate the old ideas, then proceed to explode each one. These "new" explanations make sense, in a far less dramatic way, though who knows if they will stand the test of time for the next 50-odd years?

And the ending is sad as always when nativ
Christopher Obert
I really enjoyed this book, it was interesting and informative. I have always been fascinated with Easter Island and its famous statues and now I know much more about them. The book draws on past research but brings that research up to date. I found the book well written and the material presented in a logical order. The book uses images such as photographs, maps and charts to illustrate the data but I would have liked to have seen more images. Overall the book is a fun read that told me the his ...more
Nov 18, 2011 Joan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: archeology fans
Shelves: adult-books, history
Some of this was quite nicely done, but a lot seemed like learned speculation rather than proper evidence based on actual evidence. It was interesting, and I found their ideas on how the islanders got the statues from quarry to final location very interesting. I also felt that some of their guesses that actually they didn't have a crash in their civilization until the Europeans got there, fairly convincing. I didn't necessarily find their speculation on the island culture being peaceable and the ...more
Blake Charlton
you've probably heard the most popular story of eastern island and it's mysterious statues. it's usually a cautionary tale about ecological stewardship and how an island civilization brought they're own downfall but cutting down there last tree. this story has been advanced by many popular thinkers, including jarad diamond of guns, germs, & steel fame. in the statues that walked, hunt offers an interesting and scholarly alternative disputation of the accepted story and offers a believable al ...more
Susan Olesen
Fascinating expose on the archaeology of Easter Island (Rapa Nui), on how and why the statues were erected. Why remains somewhat of a mystery, but the how they got there is a surprise, with no transport or even logs to roll them on. A tale of a very isolated island that was a paradise - until Western men found it, and came darn close to wiping out the people through disease and slavery. It's a short book, easy to read, and not technical at all. If you're intrigued by the statues, you'll like thi ...more
Really interesting archaeological and anthropological research that shows something completely different than the stories that have been told about the people of Rapa Nui in the past (i.e. that they foolishly cut down all of their trees, causing an ecological disaster). Hunt and Lipo put forth their new interpretations of Rapa Nui's history in a well-organized and well-explained manner, and Joe Barrett did a great job with the narration. Well worth a read if you're interested in this sort of thi ...more
While this book was interesting, it did not contain as much detail as I expected. The authors provide a brief overview of the history of Easter Island, the changing ecology of the island and briefly mention their supposedly "new" theory for moving the giant statues. There were a few black and white photographs, but the book should have included many more photographs, especially coloured photographs, and a decent map of the island.

Not a bad book, but not a great one either.
I've had a fascination with Easter Island since I was a kid, so this title really caught my eye when I saw it on in the bargain bin on

It was definitely much more academic and scientific than I was expecting (or hoping for) but for what it set out to do, it was an excellent and thorough book. It deals not only with the statues of Easter island but the entire history of the island, touching also on the history of Polynesia as a whole.
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Secrets to Tell, Secrets to Keep Ancient Wisdom for a New Age: A Practical Guide for Spiritual Growth Ipswich Town FC: The 1970s. Compiled by Terry Hunt Sabiduria Antigua Para Una Nueva Era: Una Guia Practica Para El Crecimiento Espiritual Ipswich Town FC: The 1980s. Terry Hunt, Evening Star, East Anglian Daily Times

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