Rapa Nui (Easter Island) is often portrayed as the locale of a dramatic societal collapse triggered by overpopulation and environmental degradation during the late pre-European contact period (before A.D. 1722). Despite the popularity of this collapse narrative, there is very little solid evidence for it. In this presentation, Dr. Mulrooney shares the results of recent archaeological research into settlement and land use on the island. This research suggests that the island’s history is characterized by successful adaptations and continuity through time instead of punctuated, detrimental changes during the late pre-contact period.
Mara Mulrooney completed her Ph.D. at the University of Auckland in 2012. Since joining the Bishop Museum in January 2013, she has initiated a number of collections-based research projects as part of the Ho‘omaka Hou Research Initiative, which she directs. Her current research includes collaborative projects that explore the archaeology of Rapa Nui, Aotearoa, and Hawai‘i.