EASTER ISLAND, BACK TO THE PAST
Easter Island, With its’ fascinating gigantic stone statues scattered around the island, is presented today as the example of a civilisation collapse due to an ecological disaster of great magnitude. In this scenario, deforestation is said to have triggered chaos, famine and war, leading to the violent destruction of its sculptural heritage, the decline of its civilization and the near extinction of its population. The Franco-Belgian expedition led in 1935 is considered to be the benchmark study on Easter island. Belgian archeologist Henri Lavachery and the Swiss Alfred Métraux led the mission, after French archaeologist, Charles Watelin, died during the journey,. They brought back the head of a statue to France and a whole statue back to Belgium, which is now exhibited at the Musée du Cinquantenaire in Brussels. 65 years after this expedition, Nicolas Cauwe, curator at the Musée du Cinquantenaire in Brussel, decided to launch a new excavation campaign to find out more about the history of this statue and investigate further into the history of the mythical Island. After 10 years a multidisciplinary scientific research this expedition has led to astonishing new findings. contradicting the whole theories about tribal warfare and the violent destruction of the statues. The disappearance of the forest is not solely due to man, monuments have been turned into cemeteries rather than sacked, skeletons show no signs of malnutrition and statues have been layed down on the ground with the utmost care. All these evidences lead to a new understanding of the fate of this Polynesian population trying to cope and adapt to climate changes while shifting towards a new social and religious organization.