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


On the high bluff west of Kotatake Mountain we discovered the ruins of a settlement extending more than a mile along the coast-line and inland to the base of the hill. These remains bear unmistakable evidences of being the oldest habitations on the island. The houses are elliptical in shape, with door-ways facing the sea, and were built of uncut stone. Some of the walls are standing, but the majority are scattered about in the utmost confusion. An extremely interesting feature of these ancient ruins is the fact that each dwelling was provided with a small cave or niche at the rear end, built of loose lava stones, which was in a number of instances covered by an arch supported by a fairly shaped key-stone. The recesses were undoubtedly designed to contain the household gods, and the key-stone, although extremely rough in construction, is unmistakable in its application. Our guides had no knowledge of this locality and knew no distinctive name for it.

Messrs. Salmon and Brander had not visited the spot, because the location is bleak and desolate and, as far as they had heard, was a trackless waste, devoid of all interest.

p. 487

Camp Mohican was formed a few hundred yards in the rear of platform No. 7. We reached the spot just as the shades of night were closing in, foot-sore and weary from the hard day's march. The camp was not more than 5 miles in a direct line from our starting point in the morning, but we had traveled many times the distance in making a thorough inspection of the ground. A narrow pathway follows the coast-line for a part of the distance, which affords safe footing for the natives; everywhere else the ground is covered with volcanic rocks of every conceivable size and shape, making the walking both difficult and dangerous. The site for the camp was selected because of the proximity of a water-hole, the only one to be found in this neighborhood. It proved to be a shallow cave where the rain-water collected from the drainage of the surrounding hills; the fluid was full of both animal and vegetable matter and decidedly it unpleasant to taste and smell. A shelter-tent was improvised by suspending a blanket at the ends from boarding pikes planted in the ground, and after a hasty meal all hands sought the much needed rest. About midnight ominous looking clouds rolled up from the southeast, and it rained in heavy squalls until morning. Wet and unrefreshed, we turned out at daylight to resume the march with everything completely saturated front underclothing to note-books, but with undaunted resolution to continue the work in spite of the elements.

Platforms 7 and 8 are within a few hundred yards of each other and close to the edge of the bluff, which is at this point 390 feet above the sea level. From beneath these ancient piles many interesting Specimens of crania were obtained, together with obsidian spear-heads and stone implements. An extensive settlement must have been located here at a comparatively recent period. Narrow curbing stones indicated the position of the houses. These stones had been squared, with 2-inch holes sunk in the upper face at short intervals to receive the ends of the poles that supported the thatched roof. These dwellings had been built upon terraces descending towards the sea, and though they differed greatly in size, the same characteristics were preserved in all cases. The style of architecture must have been suggested by an inverted canoe. The curbing walls of the house in the center of this collection measured 124 feet in length, 12 feet wide in the center, and converging to 15 inches at the ends.

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