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Te Pito Te Henua, or Easter Island, by William J. Thompson, [1891], at


The Poike Plains are extensive tracts of fine red volcanic sand and dust with occasional patches of hummock-grass struggling for existence in this barren waste. Manga Tea-tea (White Mountains), so called from the grayish appearance of the rocks, furnished the stone implements of the natives. The material was chipped as nearly as possible into the desired shape and then ground down to a point or edge by friction upon a hard surface with sand and water. At Anakena and other points convenient to the sand beach we found grinding-stones, together with unfinished and broken implements.

The traditions assert that the island was in former ages densely populated, and the legends are supported by the gigantic works of the image and platform builders and the ruins of various sorts scattered about. While the accounts are probably greatly exaggerated in regard to the number of inhabitants at one time, there is every reason to believe that the people were numerous enough to severely tax for their support the limited area of ground available for cultivation. The Incas of Peru usually, selected for burial-places the rocky and steep slopes of the hills or the low sandy plains, where cultivation was impossible, and presuming that a similar economy might have been practiced here, much time was devoted to a thorough examination of the sand-wastes at the eastern extremity of the island. Excavations were made at the expense of great labor in several places where the indications were most promising, but with barren results. Digging to a depth of 9 feet in a depression near Cape Anataavanui we found several flat stones of large size, such as were used for facing the platforms, but the loose, shifting nature of the sand made it impossible with our small force to thoroughly investigate them. The trade-winds freely sweep these elevated plains, blowing the sand about, and creating ridges that may be leveled again by stronger currents at some other season. Hills and depressions simply represent the force and direction of the wind at the time.

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