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Sarah Holmes

CIED 1001

27 January 2017

Anthropology in the News

Published on January 26th, 2017, in an article titled New Book Summarizes Decades of
Easter Island Research by UW Scientists, Others, anthropologists at the University of Wyoming
seek to answer the mysteries surrounding Easter Island; who lived there, when did they settle the
island, what led to the decline of the advanced society, and how did they create the massive
statues they are known for? To answer these questions, anthropology professors and their
research students have been collecting data from human remains that were excavated on the
island during an expedition in 1981 that provided the team with 426 human skeletons to analyze.
Using craniometric data to measure anatomical features on the skull, anthropologists are able to
utilize numerous databases to find similarities between the skulls they have and ones that belong
to members of similar groups in the South Pacific Islands. While there are no definite answers to
when these peoples settled Easter Island, there is definitive proof that they may have arrived on
the island by accident. This information comes from DNA evidence that these peoples belong to
some form of South Pacific Islander as well as a small thread of Native American descent. This
leads researchers to believe that these people were voyaging to South America, where it is likely
that a group of islanders intermingled with Native Americans and in an attempt to return home,
became lost and arrived on the Easter Island coast soon after A.D 1200. Eventually leading to
their decline, marks present on human bone show that most injury marks were relatively minor
but that fighting to show dominance may have occurred without the intention to kill. As for how
these people's ability to carve and move such great statues, researchers have no explanation, but
through further archaeological excavation at the site researchers hope to find the answer.
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Anthropology in Text

As stated in Anthropology: A Beginners Guide from 2012, the study of anthropology


ranges from the 21st century all the way back through human history. Being able to live in such a
modern time has allowed todays anthropologists to access previously unknown research that
allows us to draw conclusions about how all people are related and to better understand our own
histories. The first anthropologists were people who often believed that we could apply Charles
Darwin's ideas of evolution to social groups, which lead to the destruction of innumerable
amounts of cultures as religious societies attempted to convert these savages. However, as the
study of anthropology changed over time, we learned that there is no such thing as uncivilized,
primitive or savage societies. Instead, we have groups with their own unique histories,
cultural practices, religious expressions, complex languages and social differences. Even after
experiencing colonization by civilized societies, affected cultures have passed on bits and
pieces of their past to their descendants, leading to the creation of culturally diverse groups that
were all once part of the same society.