What destroyed the civilisation of Easter Island 什么破坏了复活节岛的文明 剑桥雅思11Test2Passage2阅读原文翻译
剑桥雅思11 Test2 Passage2阅读原文翻译
Easter Island, or Rapu Nui as it is known locally, is home to several hundred ancient human statues – the moai. After this remote Pacific island was settled by the Polynesians, it remained isolated for centuries. All the energy and resources that went into the moai – some of which are ten metres tall and weigh over 7,000 kilos – came from the island itself. Yet when Dutch explorers landed in 1722, they met a Stone Age culture. The moai were carved with stone tools, then transported for many kilometres, without the use of animals or wheels, to massive stone platforms. The identity of the moai builders was in doubt until well into the twentieth century. Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer, thought the statues had been created by pre-Inca peoples from Peru. Bestselling Swiss author Erich von Däniken believed they were built by stranded extraterrestrials. Modern science – linguistic, archaeological and genetic evidence – has definitively proved the moai builders were Polynesians, but not how they moved their creations. Local folklore maintains that the statues walked, while researchers have tended to assume the ancestors dragged the statues somehow, using ropes and logs.
复活节岛，也被当地人成为拉帕努伊岛，是数百个古代人类雕像（摩艾像）的所在地。这个遥远的太平洋岛屿在被波利尼西亚人定居之后，在好几个世纪里都保持着与世隔绝的状态。所有用于建造摩艾像的能源和资源都来自岛屿本身。其中一些摩艾像有10米高，重量超过700公斤。然而，当荷兰探索者在1722年踏上该岛屿时，他们见到的是尚处于石器时代的文明。摩艾像用石头工具雕刻，然后在不使用动物或轮子的情况下，运输好几公里，到达巨大的石头平台上。摩艾像建造者的身份直到20世纪都处于争议之中。挪威人种研究者、探险家Thor Heyerdahl认为，雕像由来自秘鲁的前印加时代的人建立。瑞士畅销书作家Erich von Däniken认为他们由滞留的外星人建造。现代科学-语言学，考古学和基因学的证据-证明摩艾像的建造者确实是波利尼西亚人，但尚不清楚他们如何移动自己的作品。当地人认为雕像会自己走动，而研究者则倾向于假定他们的祖先利用绳子和滚木以某种方式拖拽雕像。
When the Europeans arrived, Rapa Nui was grassland, with only a few scrawny trees. In the 1970s and 1980s, though, researchers found pollen preserved in lake sediments, which proved the island had been covered in lush palm forests for thousands of years. Only after the Polynesians arrived did those forests disappear. US scientist Jared Diamond believes that the Rapanui people – descendants of Polynesian settlers – wrecked their own environment. They had unfortunately settled on an extremely fragile island – dry, cool, and too remote to be properly fertilised by windblown volcanic ash. When the islanders cleared the forests for firewood and farming, the forests didn’t grow back. As trees became scarce and they could no longer construct wooden canoes for fishing, they ate birds. Soil erosion decreased their crop yields. Before Europeans arrived, the Rapanui had descended into civil war and cannibalism, he maintains. The collapse of their isolated civilisation, Diamond writes, is a ‘worst-case scenario for what may lie ahead of us in our own future’.
The moai, he thinks, accelerated the self-destruction. Diamond interprets them as power displays by rival chieftains who, trapped on a remote little island, lacked other ways of asserting their dominance. They competed by building ever bigger figures. Diamond thinks they laid the moai on wooden sledges, hauled over log rails, but that required both a lot of wood and a lot of people. To feed the people, even more land had to be cleared. When the wood was gone and civil war began, the islanders began toppling the moai. By the nineteenth century none were standing.
Archaeologists Terry Hunt of the University of Hawaii and Carl Lipo of California State University agree that Easter Island lost its lush forests and that it was an ‘ecological catastrophe‘ – but they believe the islanders themselves weren’t to blame. And the moai certainly weren’t. Archaeological excavations indicate that the Rapanui went to heroic efforts to protect the resources of their wind-lashed, infertile fields. They built thousands of circular stone windbreaks and gardened inside them, and used broken volcanic rocks to keep the soil moist. In short, Hunt and Lipo argue, the prehistoric Rapanui were pioneers of sustainable farming.
夏威夷大学考古学家Terry Hunt与加利福尼亚州州立大学Carl Lipo同意复活节岛失去了茂密的森林，而这是一场生态灾难。但他们认为这并不是岛上居民的错，也当然不是摩艾像的错。考古发掘表明拉帕努伊人做出了巨大的努力来保护他们受狂风席卷并且不肥沃的土地资源。他们建造了上千个环形石头防风林，在其中耕作，并利用破碎的火山岩来保持土壤湿润。简而言之，Hunt和Lipo认为，史前的拉帕努伊人是可持续农业的先驱者。
Hunt and Lipo contend that moai-building was an activity that helped keep the peace between islanders. They also believe that moving the moai required few people and no wood, because they were walked upright. On that issue, Hunt and Lipo say, archaeological evidence backs up Rapanui folklore. Recent experiments indicate that as few as 18 people could, with three strong ropes and a bit of practice, easily manoeuvre a 1,000 kg moai replica a few hundred metres. The figures’ fat bellies tilted them forward, and a D-shaped base allowed handlers to roll and rock them side to side.
Moreover, Hunt and Lipo are convinced that the settlers were not wholly responsible for the loss of the island’s trees. Archaeological finds of nuts from the extinct Easter Island palm show tiny grooves, made by the teeth of Polynesian rats. The rats arrived along with the settlers, and in just a few years, Hunt and Lipo calculate, they would have overrun the island. They would have prevented the reseeding of the slow-growing palm trees and thereby doomed Rapa Nui’s forest, even without the settlers’ campaign of deforestation. No doubt the rats ate birds’ eggs too. Hunt and Lipo also see no evidence that Rapanui civilisation collapsed when the palm forest did. They think its population grew rapidly and then remained more or less stable until the arrival of the Europeans, who introduced deadly diseases to which islanders had no immunity. Then in the nineteenth century slave traders decimated the population, which shrivelled to 111 people by 1877.
Hunt and Lipo’s vision, therefore, is one of an island populated by peaceful and ingenious moai builders and careful stewards of the land, rather than by reckless destroyers ruining their own environment and society. ‘Rather than a case of abject failure, Rapu Nui is an unlikely story of success’, they claim. Whichever is the case, there are surely some valuable lessons which the world at large can learn from the story of Rapa Nui.