Easter Island. Collapse or Transformation? A State of the Art
ROYAL ACADEMY FOR OVERSEAS SCIENCES jointly with ROYAL MUSEUMS FOR ART AND HISTORY FEDERAL SCIENTIFIC POLICY
Since the publication in 1992 of the book Easter Island, Earth Island. A message from our past for the future by Paul Bahn and John Flenley, it has been generally admitted that the Rapa Nui culture is sinking into ecological disaster with famine and civil wars as a result. Easter Island would be a sad example of what will become to the rest of our planet Earth if we do not change radically our way of life. This view was recently adopted and strengthened in Jared Diamond’s latest book Collapse. How societies choose to fail or succeed, which came out in 2005. However, thanks to recent multidisciplinary research — particularly by members of our Academy — the ‘decline’ theory is being called into question and the tendency would go rather to a slow but fundamental transformation.
Since the “Franco-Belgian Mission” conducted by Henri Lavachery and Alfred Métraux in 1934-35, Belgium has maintained a research tradition on Easter Island. The Royal Museums for Art and History have indeed an important Easter island collection including, among others, a huge statue or moai.
The aim of such a conference is to bring together specialists in order to discuss these assumptions.
It is worth noting that four members of our Academy, i.e. Nicolas Cauwe and Dirk Huyge (Section of Human Sciences), Morgan De Dapper (Section of Natural and Medical Sciences) and Gaston Demarée (Section of Technical Sciences) have conducted or are still conducting research on Easter Island.