Dissertation Writers: What had gone wrong with a civilization that had lived in peace for nearly a thousand years?
Reflect: When Dutch sailors landed on Easter Island, they found a warlike people recovering from anarchy and cannibalism. What had gone wrong with a civilization that had lived in peace for nearly a thousand years? Claudio Cristino, the island’s resident archaeologist; William Liller, of the Easter Island Foundation; Patricia Vargas Casanova, of the Easter Island Studies Institute at the University of Chile; and others offer their views on moai, rongorongo tablets, the Birdman Cult, and the devastating effects of overpopulation, to provide a captivating glimpse of a complex culture driven to the brink of extinction. An unresolved question concerning the anarchy on the Easter Islands involves the logical arguments explaining why and how it occurred or was the anarchy caused or constituted. Rationalists would argue that the anarchy resulted from a change in capabilities or material resources, while constructivists would argue that the anarchy was a result of changed ideas, values, or norms. Both schools of thoughts are able to explain the changes on the islands but one of them may make a stronger case in explaining anarchy.