Robert M. Schoch: Research Highlights
Easter Island

Image of Robert Schoch and Katie Ulissey on Easter Island
Image of Robert Schoch and Katie Ulissey on Easter Island. Photo taken in 2010.

Located in the South Pacific, some 2300 miles (3,700 kilometers) west of South America, Easter Island is one of the most remote locations on Earth. It is a tiny island steeped in ancient mysteries. Here are found hundreds of giant heads and torsos carved from stone, known as moai. Some are up to 33 feet (10 meters) tall, and an unfinished moai is about 69 feet (21 meters) long. They boggle the imagination. How, when, and why were they carved and erected?

There are more mysteries on Easter Island than just giant heads. Easter Island is one of the few areas of the Pacific that developed an indigenous written language. The rongorongo script is a beautiful artistic creation that was carved in hieroglyphic-like characters on wooden tablets. It has yet to be definitively deciphered (although we have a compelling theory as to what it represents – see the Plasma, Solar Outbursts, and the End of the Last Ice Age page of this website, under Research Highlights on the top navigation bar) and unfortunately nineteenth-century missionaries to Easter Island encouraged the natives to burn most of the ronogoronogo tablets.

The eighteenth-century European discoverers of Easter Island described living "giants" (men some 12 feet tall [3.65 meters] and women 10 feet tall [3 meters]). Could these stories be true? Ancient legends of giants abound throughout the world. Could there be some truth to such legends and could a relict population have persisted on Easter Island right up to European contact? Until recently such a notion might have seemed impossible, but with the discovery of a diminutive species of humans (Homo floresiensis), commonly known as "hobbits," that persisted until relatively recent times geologically (up to the end of the last ice age, and some suggest possibly much later) perhaps the notion of a relict population of "giants" is not so crazy after all.

In January 2010 I first traveled to Easter Island with my then fiancée, now wife (we married on Easter Island), Catherine Ulissey. We fell in love with the island and its heritage. We were moved by the warmth and generosity of the Rapanui people. They not only helped us with our research, but they literally took us into their hearts, even arranging and hosting our wedding! Katie and I send out a big Thank You to everyone on Rapa Nui. We have returned a couple of times since 2010, and can hardly wait for our next trip there!

I write a great deal about Easter Island, the rongorongo, petroglyphs, the end of the last ice age, solar outbursts, and more, in my book Forgotten Civilization, if you'd care to read on – with, of course, my thanks to you for your interest in and support of my work.

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