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K. Kris Hirst

Nat Geo's Easter Island Underground

By June 9, 2009

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The saga of the research being undertaken at Easter Island continues in "Easter Island Underground", a new video from National Geographic. Produced by Geoff Luck and narrated by Peter Coyote, and photographed on the island in December 2008, the new program premieres this evening, June 9, 2009.

By accident, the wrong video was sent to me earlier and I reviewed that video last Friday. Thanks to one of the producers, the right video was shipped off to me this morning and this current review describes the new program that will air this evening.

Looking out from Lava Tube on Easter Island. <br>Looking out from a lava tube on Easter Island. <br>Photo by <a href=National Geographic (c) 2009

In "Easter Island Underground," researchers Claudio Cristino, Sergio Rapu and Terry Hunt describe their latest investigations into Easter Island society, concentrating on the complex reasons for the society's near-total collapse into chaos in the 17th century. The Polynesians who settled Easter Island were experienced colonizers, and most of the Pacific is filled with successful Polynesian colonizations. But Easter Island is unique: a failure partly due to its isolation from the rest of the world (1200 miles east of Pitcairn Island; 2400 miles west of South America's coastline); partly because the colonizing team were unable to bring dogs and pigs, crucial food sources; and partly—well, you'll just have to watch the video.

Entrance to Lava Tube, Easter Island.
Entrance to Lava Tube, Easter Island
Photo Credit: National Geographic (c) 2009

Easter Island Underground provides a fascinating glimpse into the end of days at the island, and what were literally underground communities, where homes, hearths, burials and rituals were conducted. The communities were living in lava tubes, over 320 caves created by one of three volcanoes on Rapanui, and the artifacts and architecture attest to the difficult times of the last centuries of the moai builders.

As is usual with NatGeo videos, many reconstructions are presented along with archaeological evidence. Fabulous photography, and Coyote's narration, make the hour-long program well worth watching.

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