UH Manoa Anthropology Students to Travel to Rapa Nui This Summer to Conduct Research on Ancient Life

Field study hopes to provide primary records to aid in efforts of preservation

University of Hawaiʻi
Terry Hunt, 808/956-7310 or
Department of Anthropology
Arlene Abiang, 808/956-5637
Public Information Officer
Posted: May 17, 2004

HONOLULU — Fourteen graduate and undergraduate students from UH Mānoa‘s Department of Anthropology will travel to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) this summer to participate in a one-month continuing research and training project on aspects of ancient life and environment on the island.

The program is directed by Associate Professor of Anthropology Terry Hunt, who along with native Rapa Nui archaeologist Sergio Rapu, will work with the group of students. Twenty-five graduate students from various universities throughout the country and Canada will also participate in the field study.

Students will participate in a number of activities, including archaeological field research throughout Rapa Nui, attending lectures, working in the local museum, and helping to train native Rapa Nui high school students. Students will also document simpler aspects of Rapa Nui‘s ancient past, such as mapping stone remains of house sites, agricultural plots, earth ovens, stone chicken coupes, petroglyphs, and other remnants of day-to-day life in ancient times.

Now in its fourth year, the field study program of Rapa Nui has resulted in documentation of hundreds of massive statues and monumental structures for which the island is famous for. Hunt has also used new high resolution satellite images to trace the ancient roads used to move the colossal statues up to 10 miles over rugged terrain.

"We have many inter-related research questions about Rapa Nui‘s past, but hope to provide a primary record of the remains on the island to aid in local efforts for preservation," said Hunt. "We try to meet these objectives while training young native students on the island as well as our students from Hawaiʻi and other universities across the country."

Hunt added: "Despite a long history, I believe we still have much to do, much to learn, and many myths about the island‘s past to critically examine."

The field study of Rapa Nui is offered through UH Mānoa‘s Study Abroad Center. Students participating in the summer program will earn six university credits to go towards fulfillment of their degree. For more information, visit http://www.anthropology.hawaii.edu/projects/ppp/rapanui.html.