rongorongo easter island
rongorongo easter island

How could I say no? The Chilean ambassador to the United Arab Emirates had invited Katie (Catherine E. Ulissey, my fiancée at the time) and me to not only visit him and his family in Santiago but also to join him on a short expedition to Easter Island (which has been Chilean territory since its annexation in 1888). This little spec of land is virtually synonymous with ancient mysteries, and it was a definite on my list of “must see” destinations.

Trying to make sense of the world is what drives me. I try not to readily accept simple pat answers uncritically. Studying so-called ancient mysteries, I have found that sometimes they are not quite so mysterious as they might initially seem. Sometimes data is misinterpreted (and, to put it bluntly, at times outright fraud is involved), while in other cases conventional and mainstream explanations serve to obscure and gloss over what are, in fact, genuine mysteries.

In the case of Easter Island, it quickly became apparent to me that the standard archaeological explanations were fundamentally flawed. These explanations include the assumptions that the island was first colonized by Polynesians about 1,500 years ago and that they were the ones who erected the gigantic stone heads called moai, carved the petro­glyphs, constructed the strange, associated stone houses, and, in the process, brought ecological devastation to their tiny island such that it was a poor and impoverished people whom the Europeans first encoun­tered in 1722.

I am a trained geologist (Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from Yale University, 1983) and, studying the varying levels of weathering and erosion and the degree of sediment build up around the moai (some that have been excavated were buried in up to six meters of sediment), I quickly became convinced that the standard story was improbable, to say the least. The high levels of sedimentation around certain moai suggested a much greater age than a mere 1,500 years. Were the carv­ings on the moai—perhaps ostensibly as part of an ancestor cult—really just “busy work” thought up by the chiefs and leaders as a way to keep the masses occupied and happy, so as to bond the elements of society together and avoid social turmoil? And what was the purpose of the low, thick, stone “houses” that oddly resemble modern bunkers or fall­out shelters? Why did the indigenous people sometimes occupy the natural caves of the island? What about the stories of giants inhabiting the island in past times?

rongorongo easter island

Perhaps most mysterious of all, what was the meaning of the unde­ciphered glyphs known as rongorongo texts? Was the rongorongo sim­ply an indigenous eighteenth-century imitation of European writing? If this was indeed the case, then the rongorongo texts would be stripped of any antiquity, being a few centuries old at most, and would have little significance—a mere childish attempt by the “primitive” Easter Islanders to emulate the superior Westerners.

One day during our trip to Easter Island, we visited El Museo Antropológico Padre Sebastián Englert, where many fantastic, and I would add somewhat inexplicable, artifacts from the island are housed, including a strange, alien-looking small female moai carved of basalt. Then, our bags already packed, it was off to the airport to catch a 2 p.m. flight to Santiago. In Santiago we transferred to a flight bound for New York City and from there caught our flight to Boston, Massachusetts, arriving home on the afternoon of January 6, 2010.

One evening shortly thereafter, my mind still racing from all I had seen on Easter Island—and perplexed at the genuine enigmas and disgusted by the conventional explanations (or should I say non-explanations)—Katie suggested that we re-watch a video titled Symbols of an Ancient Sky (Talbott 2009). One portion of the video discusses the work of Dr. Anthony L. Peratt, a plasma physicist associated with Los Alamos National Laboratory (New Mexico) who became interested in ancient petroglyphs (Peratt 2003).

rongorongo easter island

I already knew of Peratt’s work and, indeed, had met him at a conference many years earlier. In a nutshell, Peratt noticed that many petroglyphs found around the world appear to record the shapes that would be seen in the sky if there were a major solar outburst—a plasma discharge (ionized particles and associated electrical and magnetic phenomena)—in ancient times. If our sun discharged a huge ball of plasma toward us, it would have dire consequences for Earth, including life and humanity, as the surface of the planet would be literally fried by the incoming electric currents. Nothing like this has been seen in mod­ern times, although small plasma discharges, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are a regular feature of the modern sun. However, as a geologist I was aware that going back in time the sun has had periods of much higher activity, including at the end of the last ice age (circa 9700 BCE). Peratt and his colleagues postulated a major solar outburst in ancient times, but they did not specify a precise date or dates. They also had not considered one other very important thing.

Katie’s simple but profound observation while we watched the documentary was that the rongorongo glyphs look remarkably similar to the petroglyphs that Peratt believes record plasma discharges and configurations, due to a major solar outburst, seen in the ancient skies. Could the rongorongo be a text, a scientific text if you will, that records in meticulous detail what was happening in the skies long ago? Were the Easter Islanders in fact the keepers of an ancient, long forgotten, knowledge?

Dr. Robert Schoch

About the Author:Dr. Robert M. Schoch, a full-time faculty member at the College of General Studies at Boston University since 1984, earned his Ph.D. (1983) in Geology and Geophysics at Yale University. He also holds an M.S. and M.Phil. in Geology and Geophysics from Yale, as well as degrees in Anthropology (B.A.) and Geology (B.S.) from George Washington University. In 2014, Dr. Schoch was awarded the title of Honorary Professor of the Nikola Vaptsarov Naval Academy, Varna, Bulgaria.

Forgotten Civilization by Dr. Robert Schoch © 2015 Destiny Books. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International.

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