Sunday, September 6, 2020

Identifying Prehistoric Interaction on Rapa Nui (Easter Island): Modeling the Development of Social Complexity in Extreme Isolation

Speaker: Dale F. Simpson Jr., PhD
September 27, 2020 • 3:30pm • Zoom!

Dr. Dale F. Simpson Jr. is Adjunct Instructor of Anthropology at the College of DuPage (11th year) and the director of the Rapa Nui Geochemical Project. He has recently returned after an unexpectedly lengthened visit to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), due to current conditions. Speaking to its isolation will be spot-on for those of us in lockdown here. He writes:

Anthropological archaeologists have been investigating ancient human interaction for decades as interaction studies highlight how humans have communicated for 200,000 years at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. With the development of provenance studies and improved geochemical sourcing techniques, researchers can better document the movement of raw materials and formed artifacts from sources to habitation and ceremonial sites to understand economic, ideological, and sociopolitical interaction.

Rapa Nui has been the subject of various scientific investigations. Much of this work has been dedicated to moai (statues) and ahu (platforms) and how these megalithic features venerated the island’s chiefly ancestors and supported sociopolitical organization, ideological communication, economic (re)distribution, and elite management over the island’s ancient political economy. However, archaeological investigation of the island’s many basalt sources and artifacts, including their geological provenance and geochemistry, has been minimal. This lack of comprehensive geochemistry for basalt sources and artifacts has restricted the potential of ancient interaction studies on Rapa Nui.

To fill this gap in the archaeological literature, the “Rapa Nui Geochemical Project (RNGP)” was established in 2013. Over six years, the RNGP collaborated with more than 30 individuals from 20 institutions from around the globe to conduct field archaeology, geoarchaeological and material culture documentation, geochemical analyses, radiometric dating, artistic site reconstructions, and educational outreach. This presentation highlights the last seven years of research, as well as Dr. Simpson’s 20 years investigating and living on Rapa Nui.

Join us for this fascinating talk and get the insider’s story from the main researcher!


Zoom session for members starts at 3:15PM.  Lecture begins at 3:30PM.

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Meeting ID: 917 5520 0866
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