Desolation of Easter Island, 1770s

Desolation of Easter Island, 1770s

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Desolation of Easter Island. 18th-century illustration showing Moai statues and a skeleton amid desolation on Easter Island, as visited by Captain James Cook in 1772. Cook found a once vibrant civilization on the verge of collapse. It is believed that deforestation of the island by its isolated inhabitants led to a loss of ocean-going craft and a reduction in the food supply. That in turn caused widespread social upheaval and war. The islands are seen by many as a microcosm of the Earth if we do not wisely maintain sustainable resources. However this theory of what happened has been revised as new evidence emerges. This artwork, with later colour added, was published in 1779.

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Keywords: 1700s, 18th century, artwork, collapse, colored, coloured, damage, dead, death, deforestation, degradation, desolation, easter island, ecological, ecology, environment, environmental, exploration, geographical, geography, historical, history, illustration, james cook, loss, moai, no-one, nobody, pacific, rapanui, remains, resources, second voyage, skeleton, starvation

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