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Online Program

Adventures Online: Easter Island & the Mystery of Rapa Nui

Program No. 24215RJ
Join an archaeologist for an immersive look into the fascinating history of Easter Island and its people, the Rapa Nui, on this online learning adventure, live from Chile!
Length
3 days
Rating (5)
Starts at
349

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DATES & PRICES

Online Program
Accommodation Details

Learn from the comfort of your own home.

DATES & PRICES

Online Program
Accommodation Details

Learn from the comfort of your own home.

At a Glance

Experience the wonders of Easter Island and learn about the fascinating Rapa Nui people with an expert archaeologist to answer all of your questions — all without leaving the comfort of your home! On this online educational adventure live from Chile, join archaeologists as they share their first-hand knowledge and research of this remote island. Go on virtual field trips to learn about the famous moai statues at Rano Raraku, Tongarik, Tepito Kura and Moai Quarry. Learn about Rapa Nui society and the eventual collapse of the old culture, and gain insight into how they have been influenced by the Western world. Take part in Q&A sessions and enjoy an opportunity to share your interest in the history and people of Easter Island with other Road Scholars like you.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Join Chilean archaeologists for an expert-led look into the lives of the Rapa Nui people and their society.
  • Thrill in virtual field trips to important archaeological sites like Rano Raraku, Tongarik, Tepito Kura and Moai Quarry to see the megalithic development of the original moai.
  • Take a virtual field trip to the unique Birdman Village in Orongo where the Birdman Festival was held until 1835.

General Notes

You’ll enjoy 2-3 hours of daily instruction, discussion and/or field trips, which includes sufficient breaks throughout the program. This online program is through Zoom, an easy-to-use web video service that includes closed captioning. All you need is an Internet connection and your computer. We’ll provide a how-to guide to make sure you’ll have a hassle-free experience. In keeping with our Traditional On-Site programs, ALL ADVENTURES ONLINE MULTI-DAY PROGRAMS (INCLUDING THIS PROGRAM) ARE PRESENTED LIVE; THESE PROGRAMS ARE NOT RECORDED. Please review the daily itinerary for start and end times to ensure you won’t miss a minute of this live experience. All times are listed in the EASTERN time zone. If you live in a different time zone, please adjust your schedule accordingly.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Claudio Cristino Ferrando
Claudio Cristino-Ferrando is an archaeologist and social anthropologist on the faculty of the University of Chile’s Department of Anthropology. He is the director of its Easter Island and Oceania Studies Centre. Since 1976, Claudio’s research has focused on the archaeology of the Pacific and important restoration projects including the famous ceremonial village of Orongo in Rapa Nui. He has previously served as Field Director of the Ahu Tongariki project, the largest ceremonial site in the East Pacific, and as Director of Easter Island’s Anthropological Museum.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Oscar Oviedo Velasco
Oscar Oviedo Velasco View biography
Oscar Oviedo Velasco is a native Peruvian with over 15 years of experience as a local expert and Group Leader. He has special expertise in the archeology, history and art of Peru and has conducted independent studies on the Viceregal history of Lima and ceramic and textile techniques of Pre-Hispanic Peru. Oscar has participated in various archaeological excavation projects and museum installations and studied photography at the Toulouse Lautrec institute, with concentrations in drone, nature, urban and archaeological photography, as well as photogrammetry.
Profile Image of Patricia Vargas Casanova
Patricia Vargas Casanova View biography
Patricia Vargas Casanova is a senior professor, archaeologist, and social anthropologist on the University of Chile faculty. She moved to Easter Island in 1976 and has conducted the ongoing archaeological survey of the island. In 1979, she co-founded the university’s Easter Island Studies Centre and served as its Director from 1991-2004. She also planned and co-directed the five-year Ahu Tongariki archaeological research and restoration project. An International Fellow of The Explorers Club, Patricia received the Lowell Thomas Award for her work on Easter Island.
Profile Image of Claudio Cristino Ferrando
Claudio Cristino Ferrando View biography
Claudio Cristino-Ferrando is an archaeologist and social anthropologist on the faculty of the University of Chile’s Department of Anthropology. He is the director of its Easter Island and Oceania Studies Centre. Since 1976, Claudio’s research has focused on the archaeology of the Pacific and important restoration projects including the famous ceremonial village of Orongo in Rapa Nui. He has previously served as Field Director of the Ahu Tongariki project, the largest ceremonial site in the East Pacific, and as Director of Easter Island’s Anthropological Museum.
Profile Image of Alex Searle
Alex Searle View biography
Alex Searle was born in Chile and raised in Argentina. He spent his childhood getting to know local cultures, then studied journalism at the University of Chile, followed by post-graduate studies at the University of British Columbia. He later worked as a producer in the news departments of Chilean TV, doing research and producing a successful late night show as well as a wildlife show. He has also worked for years as a naturalist and expedition leader in Polynesia, South America, Antarctica, and Rapa Nui.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Easter Island Sketchbook
by Susan A. Sternau
This treasure trove of whimsical watercolor and ink paintings brings Easter Island's mysterious relics to life. Sternau is particularly adept at rendering the mystical moai -- the large stone statues of the ancient Rapa Nui civilization, but she also captures the island's landscape: from its idyllic beaches to dramatic cliffs.
Insight Guide Chile
by Insight Guides
This glossy guide provides a full-color introduction by a team of experts to the land, people, history and attractions of Chile. Brief background essays highlight important topics. With many local and regional maps.
Pacific Journeys
by Peter Hendrie
A striking portfolio of 330 color photographs of the people, nature and landscape of the region, Hendrie's gorgeous book includes images from his many journeys to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, to Tahiti and the Marquesas, Tonga, Fiji, Easter Island and Hawaii over the last 20 years.
Easter Island, the Essential Guide
by Kay Sanger
An archaeologist who has worked on Rapa Nui since the 1980s and past president of the Easter Island Foundation, Sanger covers the history, archaeology, people and practicalities of Easter Island in this authoritative guide.
The Statues That Walked, Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island
by Carl Lipo, Terry Hunt
Drawing on archaeological evidence and their own work, Hunt and Lip challenge Jared Diamond's view of eco-catastrophe in this convincing new history of Rapa Nui.
Easter Island's Silent Sentinels, The Sculpture and Architecture of Rapa Nui
by Kenneth Treister
This richly illustrated survey of the history, culture and art of Easter Island includes the island's vernacular architecture.
The Happy Isles of Oceania
by Paul Theroux
The peripatetic author flies off to Australia and New Zealand with a kayak and ends up exploring much of Melanesia and Polynesia, including Tonga, Fiji and the Marquesas, in this wickedly funny, wide-ranging tale.
On the Road of the Winds
by Patrick Vinton Kirch
An excellent scholarly review of the prehistory and archaeology of Pacific civilizations before European contact.
Easter Island, Island of Enigmas
by John Dos Passos
An amateur archaeologist, novelist Dos Passos mixes travel and observation with the history of exploration of Rapa Nui in this brief, engaging book.
Easter Island
by Jennifer Vanderbes
In this mesmerizing novel, Vanderbes spins parallel stories of two young women on Easter Island, one an archaeologist with a 1913 expedition and the other an American botanist who visits 60 years later.
Island at the End of the World
by Steven Roger Fischer
Fischer's cultural and political history takes in the full sweep of Easter Island from prehistory through civil rights protests of the 1960s.
We, the Navigators, The Ancient Art of Landfinding in the Pacific
by David Lewis
This engaging classic examines how Stone Age Polynesians may have navigated the Pacific. The scholarly volume will appeal to seafarers and modern Pacific travelers.
Kon-Tiki, Across the Pacific by Raft
by Thor Heyerdahl, F. H. Lyon (Translator)
The hugely popular account of a daring 1947 voyage that sailed along the Humboldt and Equatorial currents from Peru to Tahiti. Apart from the sheer adventure, Heyerdahl wanted to show the world that Polynesians could have settled the region. With photographs.
Rapa Nui, Island of Memory
by Georgia Lee
Full of anecdote and incident, Lee's lively memoir of fieldwork on Rapa Nui celebrates the people and life on the island since the 1980s.
Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
by Jared Diamond
Diamond tackles nothing less than the history and fate of civilization in this compelling book in which he offers case studies, present and past, of societies that work and societies that do not, devoting 100 carefully reasoned pages, for example, to the fate of the Norse settlements in Greenland (climatic change, Inuit) and another big section on Easter Island (deforestation, hubris). This revised edition includes a new afterword.
Easter Island Map
by ITMB
A colorful topographic map (1:30,000).
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3 days
DAY
1
Orientation, Rapa Nui Origin & Evolution, Archaeology
From the comfort of your own home.

Activity note: Today’s session will begin at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time and end at 5:00 p.m.

Afternoon: 2:00 p.m. Welcome, Orientation, Introductions. Our Group Leader will greet everyone and review the program theme, the daily schedule and any changes, Zoom meeting protocols, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions. We will then say hello to our fellow Road Scholars. 2:30 p.m. Lecture. Our expert instructor will review ideas about the origin and evolution of the Rapa Nui culture. We’ll also learn how Polynesians mastered ocean navigation techniques and how their exceptional knowledge of currents, winds, stars, and canoe technology made them expert explorers. 3:00 p.m. Virtual field trip. We’ll learn about what the Rapa Nui people called “Te Pito O Te Henua,” roughly translated as “Navel of the World.” Covering only 66 square miles, this is the most remote island on earth, 2,000 miles from Tahiti and 2,500 miles from Chile. Rapa Nui National Park is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. From the UNESCO inscription: “Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island, bears witness to a unique cultural phenomenon. A society of Polynesian origin that settled there c. A.D. 300 established a powerful, imaginative and original tradition of monumental sculpture and architecture, free from any external influence. From the 10th to the 16th century this society built shrines and erected enormous stone figures known as moai, which created an unrivalled cultural landscape that continues to fascinate people throughout the world.” 3:30 p.m. Q&A session. 3:45 p.m. Break. 3:55 p.m. Lecture. We will learn about oral traditions and archaeological findings of Rapa Nui colonization as well as evidence that some explorers continued towards Chile. In addition to the moai, still a mystery are the engraved wood Ongorongo tablets that, even today, cannot be translated. 4:40 p.m. Q&A. 4:55 p.m. Wrap-up and notes for tomorrow. 5:00 p.m. Today’s session will end.

DAY
2
Megalithic Culture, Archaeological Sites, Collapse & Change
From the comfort of your own home.

Activity note: Today’s session will begin at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time and end at 5:00 p.m.

Afternoon: 2:00 p.m. Review of the day with our Group Leader. 2:10 p.m. Lecture. We will learn about the emergence of a megalithic culture, before the moai and ahu. Where did the model for the gigantic “moai” come from? We will delve into the origin of their construction, techniques used to move the monumental moai, and compare those on Rapa Nui the Island to others found in Polynesian societies. 2:45 p.m. Virtual field trip. With our expert instructor, we “visit” archeological sites to see the megalithic development from the original moai. We will also see the archaeological sites of Rano Raraku; Tongarik, with its 15 huge restored moai; Tepito Kura and the impressive moai quarry where 400 remain in different stages of carving; and the destroyed Ahu Vinapu with its Inca-like masonry. We will end our field trip in Anakena Beach and hear the beautiful legend behind the beginning of this Island society. 3:30 p.m. Q&A session with our Group Leader. 3:45 p.m. Break. 3:55 p.m. Lecture. We will focus on the collapse of Rapa Nui Society. It was once thought that the old culture collapsed because of the society’s over-consumption of scarce resources, but theories have changed dramatically. We’ll learn how they were able to adapt the social, political and economic order after a natural catastrophe. br> 4:30 p.m. Small group discussion. We will break into smaller groups to further discuss the collapse of the Rapanui Society. 4:55 p.m. Wrap-up and notes for tomorrow. 5:00 p.m. Today’s session will end.

DAY
3
Birdman Village, Contact Since 1722, Restoration & Crisis
From the comfort of your own home.

Activity note: Today’s session will begin at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time and end at 5:00 p.m.

Afternoon: 2:00 p.m. Review of the day. 2:10 p.m. Virtual field trip. We will “explore” the restored ceremonial village of Orongo, This village was used only a few weeks each year, particularly as the focus of the Tangata Manu — Birdman — cult. We will learn about the annual games that determined which tribe would have enhanced powers and privileges. Each tribe would choose a champion to compete in a demanding race and the winner was declared the “birdman.” This peculiar event was held in the spring of each year until 1835. 2:45 p.m. Lecture. Our expert instructor will address the contact Rapa Nui has had with the western world since 1722. We will learn about the dramatic slavery raids and epidemic diseases in 1862, the annexation to Chile in 1888, the lease to a British sheep company, the new deal since 1966 with Chile, and the Easter Island Law. 3:30 p.m. Q&A. 3:45 p.m. Break. 3:55 p.m. Lecture. We’ll have a presentation on the economic and social impact of tourism, the restoration of the Rapa Nui culture, and the present crisis revolving around the exhaustion of natural resources, waste management, and rising sea levels. 4:30 p.m. Small group discussion. We will break into smaller groups to discuss how modernity impacted and continues to impacts the old civilization’s traditions, as well as the pros and cons of changes. 4:50 p.m. Wrap-up and farewells. 5:00 p.m. This concludes our program.






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