Easter Island Warfare Is A Myth? Rapa Nui Didn’t Vanish During Bloody Confrontations And Neither Are Mata’a Artifacts Spearheads, Claims Study

Easter Island inhabitants may not have been wiped out by warfare, claims a new study. The artifacts, on which the long-drawn conclusions were based, aren’t weapons and serve a more peaceful purpose.

The ancient inhabitants of Easter Island were believed to have been wiped out by bloody warfare. Located in a remote location off the coast of Chile, Easter Island has always remained a fascinating but baffling mystery, and its history and the sudden disappearance of the natives have remained largely unexplained. It is only the strange and primitive artifacts that were used to draw the conclusions.

However, Carl Lipo, a professor of anthropology at Binghamton University in New York, has led to a new analysis of the stone objects called mata’a. Lipo and his team reasoned that the stone objects couldn’t have been weapons of war that led to the extinction of the Easter Island tribes due to primitive warfare. Lipo reasoned the shapes and sizes of the stone objects can’t be used in war, because warfare requires weapons design that always optimizes and tweaks the shape of the arms. Lipo and his colleagues have determined that this is unlikely, as the shape and characteristics of the mata’a indicate that they would have made poor weapons, reported Red Orbit.

“When you look at the shape of these things, they just don’t look like weapons at all. When you can compare them to European weapons or weapons found anywhere around the world when there are actually objects used for warfare, they’re very systematic in their shape. They have to do their job really well. Not doing well is risking death.

“You can always use something as a spear. Anything that you have can be a weapon. But under the conditions of warfare, weapons are going to have performance characteristics. And they’re going to be very carefully fashioned for that purpose because it matters…You would cut somebody {with a mata’a], but they certainly wouldn’t be lethal in any way.”

If not warfare, what purpose did mata’a serve? Lipo insists that contrary to common belief that Easter Island inhabitants engaged in organized combat and warfare using the mata’a, the tools served a far peaceful purpose. Given the rather odd shape of the tools, it is much more likely that they were used for processing plants and other eatable shrubs that the tribes collected. Since they were sharp, they could easily cut through the vegetation. Moreover, these tools could also be used for cosmetic reasons, including tattooing, reported the Daily Mail.

Historians had long concluded that the island’s ancient inhabitants were engaged in bloody confrontations over the region’s meager and steadily dwindling resources. Anthropologists have concluded that the civilization on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) ended in a bloody conflict over dwindling resources, reported the Examiner. They drew these conclusions solely based on the presence of strange and oddly-shaped stone objects that were scattered by the hundreds across the islands.

Based on the size, shape, and crude sharpness of the objects, experts concluded these stone objects could have been arrowheads or spearhead, reported Laboratory Equipment. Moreover, the fact that these objects were discovered in large numbers and were made of sharp glass, merely cemented the hypothesis that as the Rapa Nui culture began to run out of food and other resources, the people began to turn on one another, and the mata’a were used as their weapons of choice in this conflict, reported Science 2.0.

Easter Island Warfare Is A Myth? Rapa Nui Didn't Vanish During Bloody Confrontations And Neither Are 'Mata'a' Artifacts Spearheads, Claims Study

If not warfare, what might have killed the Easter Island inhabitants? The team has merely theorized about the peaceful purpose of mata’a. They haven’t figured out how and why the Easter Island’s ancient natives disappeared. However, since the island has had European contact, it might not be farfetched to assume the natives may have been systematically wiped out using relatively modern weaponry.

[Photo by De Agostini Picture Library/De Agostini/Getty Images]