Easter Island (Rapa Nui): Recent Research Resolves Many Mysteries

Terry Hunt
Mondays 2 PM - 4 PM
September 25, October 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30, 2023
Watch the video to learn more about this course

Easter Island (Rapa Nui): Recent Research Resolves Many Mysteries

Fall 2023
In Session
2 PM - 4 PM
September 25, October 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30, 2023

Course Format: 



Main Campus



This seminar will critically examine what we know about Rapa Nui's spectacular archaeological history. Over the past two decades, intensive multi-disciplinary research led by the instructor has dramatically transformed our understanding of this remarkable and often misunderstood island. This course reviews the evidence for Polynesian migrations and ancient American connections. We will examine Rapa Nui archaeology in detail, including how the massive statues (moai) were transported to every part of the island. And how did they place multi-ton "hats" (pukao) atop the giant statues? We consider deforestation, climate, and the constraints ancient islanders faced. Then our attention turns to the island's ancient population, resilience, and social life. We will conclude our class by contemplating Rapa Nui's contemporary problems and future challenges.

Recommended Reading: 

  • The Statues that Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island, Terry L. Hunt and Carl P. Lipo (2011), Free Press-Simon & Schuster

Meet Your Professor

Department of Anthropology

TERRY HUNT is an internationally renowned archaeologist and one of the world's foremost experts on the Pacific Islands, where he has conducted field research for more than four decades. Dr. Hunt has conducted field research over the past 22 years on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). The National Geographic Society and the National Science Foundation fund his current and continuing field research collaboration on Rapa Nui.


  • All classes will be delivered on-campus and online via live video streaming. Students will enroll in their preferred format during registration.
  • On-Campus classes will be held in the Rubel Room at the University of Arizona's Poetry Center (1508 E Helen St, Tucson, AZ 85721). Enrollment for in-person classes is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. All students enrolled to attend in person also have complete online access and may choose to attend one or all class sessions remotely if desired.
  • Online students may attend all classes via live video streaming and will be able to participate in all course Q&A sessions with the professor in real-time. A high-speed internet connection and a device capable of running Zoom are required to connect. Online access will be password protected and only available to enrolled students.
  • Class Recordings - All HSP classes are recorded and available for every enrolled student to watch for the duration of the course and one month after the last class session. This option is offered to aid students who cannot attend the live class times but desire to enroll and participate asynchronously. We hope this option also aids students who are traveling or have a necessary appointment that conflicts with a class session to stay connected and engaged with the course material.


Poetry Center
Dorothy Rubel Room
1508 E Helen
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States
Located on the SE corner of Helen Street and Vine Avenue, one block north of Speedway and three blocks west of Campbell Ave.

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