Evidence for Three Prehistoric Migrations to Easter Island
For well over two centuries, scholars have debated the origin of the people of Easter Island-and with good reason. The Island is far removed from all other inhabited places on earth and its people, at the time of European contact. were remarkably diverse. Carl Friedrich Behrens, a companion of Roggeveen, the Island's European discoverer in 1722, noted that the islanders in general were 'brown like the Spaniards,' but that some were 'pretty black.' some 'quite white.' and others of a reddish complexion as if burnt by the sun. The English archaeologist Katherine Routledge, who spent several months on Easter Island in 1914, found Behrens' description 'still accurate' and the islanders 'very conscious of the variations.' 'When we were collecting genealogies," she wrote, 'they were quite ready to give the colour of even remote relations' (Langdon 1975: 260,265).