Easter Island Statue Project Official Website

Sustainable Archaeology: Rapa Nui Students and EISP Excavations

Jo Anne Van Tilburg, Ph.D.

Site overview of statues RR-001-156 (left) and RR-001-157 (right); Photo courtesy of Micheline Pelletier.

Statues RR-001-156 (left) and RR-001-157 (right); Photo courtesy of Micheline Pelletier.

Dear Friends of EISP,

We have just returned from our third season of excavation in Rano Raraku Quarry!  Our attention was directed throughout this field season on RR-001-156, the companion statue in Quarry 2 to previously excavated RR-001-157. Both statues, as you know from our previous letters, were excavated by the Mana Expedition to Easter Island (and other groups), although none of these digs ever reached the bases of the statues and  results were never published.

This season was especially interesting in that we were joined by five remarkable young students of archaeology and conservation at the Universidad Internacional SEK in Santiago.

Enthusiastic and skilled, with wide backgrounds in survey and excavation, the students are thrilled to participate in the first authorized excavations in Rano Raraku since Thor Heyerdahl and his Norwegian Archaeological Expedition of 1954-55.  Each of the students experienced a varied range of activities, including fine-grained excavation and removal of fragile bone and carbon, archival-safe storage of materials, and log book and catalog entry.  Informal lectures and other learning activities allowed us to share previous experiences and insight, and there were many opportunities to interact with tourists and other professional visitors. Several thesis project opportunities are embedded in our research, and one of the students has already embarked upon a follow-up study of the many dozens of stone tools we have collected.

Dr. Christian Fischer, in cooperation with Monica Bahamondez P.,  reinstalled our environmental monitoring equipment in order to transmit conservation data to DATASHARE.  Micheline Pelletier took valuable photos of our excavation using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). We will return to our Season IV excavation of RR-001-156 in July.

Read our preliminary report of Season III and Dr. Fischer’s conservation report. You are invited to follow our progress over the next few years on this web site.  Although we are partially funded by a generous grant from the Archaeological Institute of America, we need your help.  Please join Friends of EISP.  Click on support to become a member of our team as we work to conserve the stone giants of Rapa Nui.

Jo Anne Van Tilburg, Ph.D. — Archaeologist; Director, UCLA Rock Art Archive, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology; Project Director, Easter Island Statue Project Conservation Initiative

Posted on March 21st, 2011 by Jo Anne Van Tilburg, Ph.D. | Category: Letters from the Director |