search
Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

archaeology
subscribe
Special Introductory Offer!

Scientists Re-examine Easter Islanders’ Diet

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Easter Island dietBINGHAMTON, NEW YORK—A new study of the diet eaten by the Rapa Nui suggests that the people of Easter Island may have made better use of their natural resources than had been previously thought. According to a report in The International Business Times, researchers led by Carl Lipo of Binghamton University conducted carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of human, animal, and botanical remains recovered from the Anakena and Ahu Tepeu archaeological sites. The oldest samples dated from A.D. 1400. The scientists found high levels of nitrogen in the human bones, which suggests that Rapa Nui farmers enriched the soil with bedrock when they realized its nutrient level had dropped. The results also suggest the people obtained more than half of their protein from marine foods. It has long been thought that the Rapa Nui depleted the soil by relying on crop production after they wiped out the island’s forests by building canoes for fishing. Rather than drawing a picture of catastrophic failure, Lipo suggests that the people of Easter Island adapted to environmental challenges. To read in-depth about how Native Americans managed marine resources, go to "The Edible Landscape." 

Advertisement

Advertisement


Advertisement