ARCHAEOLOGY OF EASTER ISLAND by

ARCHAEOLOGY OF EASTER ISLAND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Norwegian Archaeological Expedition to Easter Island reports in this volume on the Easter Island expedition headed up by the author of Kon Tiks and Aku Aku. The further expedition to the East Pacific will presumably be reported in a second volume. But we have here in extensive and intensive findings from the five key scientists of the expedition, that ""story"" that American readers will find of greatest interest. Heyerdahl's theory that the western of South America provided the springboard for the earliest migrations lies back of the interpretation of some of the expedition's findings, particularly where -as in the case of the types of structures- evidence strengthens this position. Opposing scientists will seize on some of the other discoveries as proving the contrary but the burden of evidence here presented seems if not conclusive, at least that there were probably two migrations -- one from the cast, one from the earlier known Polynesian establishments to the west. Heyerdahl's introductory material surveys previous expeditions and their findings, largely ethnological since there were no systematic excavations below the surface undertaken. His is the first stratigraphic archaeology attempted here. But earlier work provided a basis, often a point of departure. And future work may well reverse the theories again. He discusses the organization, the personnel and their functions, the preparations, the Itinerary from Oslo in September '55 to the return to Fanama in July. The findings added what is still fragmentary information on the ceremonial sites, the successive periods and their respective age (the earliest earlier by 1000 years than previously thought), the dwelling sites in surprising variety, the stone statues and their sources in the quarries of the volcano, the artifacts more numerous than expected, the rock paintings, relief carvings and weapons and tools. Heyerdahl, and to a less insistent extent Ferdon, feel that it all reflects a material culture related but basically different from the islands to the west and a strong link to South American cultures, now more than hypothetical. Careful records of literature cited, a meticulous index, plates, maps and tip-ins accounting for 42 more, make this a book of extensive scientific value in a special field.

Publisher: Rand McNally