How Archaeologists Reconstruct Ancient Environments
Archaeology is a complex, multifaceted discipline which pursues an objective of paramount importance. The aim of this field is to unravel the lost mysteries of the past, shedding light on the life and culture of ancient civilizations. While it is nearly impossible to draw a conclusion with absolute certainty, archaeologists attempt to provide information with maximum precision. In order to attain this objective, they utilize an array of instruments that ensure a better understanding of a site’s history.
Easter Island is one of the most challenging areas for contemporary archaeology. While its unique ancient monuments are of great interest to researchers, little information is known about their origins and purpose. Rapa Nui people lived in isolation on a remote piece of land, and they left no written records of the mo’ai origins. Accordingly, local legends transmitted orally and distorted by centuries became the primary source of information for archaeologists.
Nevertheless, experts could not be satisfied with limited, subjective data, which is why they relied on other methods of restoring information. First of all, archaeologists analyze artifacts found at a site in the context of their material, history, and purpose. In the case of Easter Island, colossal mo’ai statues became such artifacts of pivotal importance. In order to observe the evolution of the island’s environment, archaeologists subjected its soil and stones to rigorous scientific analysis.
Consequently, they were able to detect the presence of tree varieties, which are no longer found on the island. Simultaneously, computer technology enables quicker and more reliable research. As such, experts have recreated the process of mo’ai construction and transportation using digital simulations. Finally, despite scientific and technological progress, meticulous manual work remains the primary tool of an expert archaeologist. This set of instruments helps researchers recreate ancient environments and enables a better understanding of lost mysteries of the past.