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Caroline and Patrick on the Easter Island - page 3

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A glimpse in the past

A Franco-Belgian expedition to Easter Island: 1934-1935

About 70 years ago Henry Lavachery, archaeologist at the Royal Museums of Art and History, spent several months on Easter Island. In 1935 he published a long article in which he described his stay from 30 July 1934 till 3 January 1935: living in a tent on a vitamin-poor diet. Together with a French and a Swiss scientist, he studied maoi, ahu and other constructions. Their many photographs are still kept at the Royal Museums of Art and History. Our colleagues from that museum were so kind to scan some of them, so we could put them on this page.

Picture of moai (1935)

 

Picture of Easter Island natives

Four Belgian partners backed the expedition: the Belgian government, the newly created National Fund for Scientific Reseach and two sponsors. Those were Gevaert, who provided photographic film and Union Match, who gave 2000 matchboxes for the natives.

View of Easter Island

A lot of questions were left unanswered in 1934. The natives were unable to give much information about the island's past. Henry Lavachery even writes that the explorers and islanders often discovered the petroglyphs (drawings on rocks - see photographs) simultaneously.

Picture of petroglyphs

The local authorities had allowed the explorers to ship a giant statue as well as other objects to Belgium. This statue differed from the maoi: it was of Pou Hakanononga, the fishermen's god. His effigy still thrones at the Royal Museums of Art and History, in Brussels'.

The scientists were accompanied by a physician who was undertaking research on leprosy on behalf of the Chilean government. At that time five percent of the island population suffered from this disease!

Picture of Easter Island natives

 


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Last modified : May 07, 2007