Easter Island Statue Project Official Website

Sleuthing a “mystery” Photo!

Jo Anne Van Tilburg, Ph.D.

Phase 2 ventral excavation of RR-001-156. © 2013 Easter Island Statue Project/ Jo Anne Van Tilburg

Dear Friends of EISP,

We have had another wonderful, but really wet, field season during the month of August.  The nearly constant rains were a big challenge. However, they also gave us more time than usual in our field lab, which was good.  Our excavation goal was to expose the front of RR-001-156 to what we presumed was the level of a fire set nearby in 1920.  We are certain of the date because of a photo we were asked to identify (slide, collection, Douglas Stewart Fine Books Pty. Ltd.). We also found the large fire scar in the soil.

Which expedition set the fire? We came up with some possible culprits, but we’re not certain. Their goal was apparently to take photos depicting the “mystery” of Easter Island.  It might have been an American, Australian, or Chilean group.  We need help sleuthing this out. Have a look at the mystery photo on the web site above, and if any of you have a clue about which expedition might have taken  this photo and would like to share it, we’d be grateful! Drop us a note at mail@eisp.org.

Our major excavation goal this season was to document the rock art (petroglyphs) on the statue’s torso. We accomplished our goal, but it was rough going. We found dozens of what by now are very familiar stone tools (toki). We have well over 1,000 toki now under study.

Screening the heavy, wet dirt that came out of the excavation demanded more than the usual amount of patience, and our Rapanui team members deserve a big mahruru for their efforts!  We were also rewarded for our slogging by some really exciting finds!  The field report we’ve just posted here for the season includes a photo of one of the most interesting objects: a fishhook made of bone.

During our field season we were visited by a film crew from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The terrific program that resulted can be seen here.

Our work will continue in November and then again in March, 2014. Thanks for your interest in EISP!


Jo Anne Van Tilburg

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 October 31st, 2013 by Jo Anne Van Tilburg, Ph.D. | Category: Letters from the Director |