Foreword top ↑
The tight connection of Natural History and Ethnology is particularly distinct in the case of Easter Island, its position within the Pacific archipelago and its outstanding colonisation and the development of its culture. The Senckenbergische Naturforschende Gesellschaft has therefore, closely cooperating with the German-Ibero-American Society, assembled for the first time in an extensive exhibition features of the natural history and of 1500 years of cultural development of the Easter Island. Numerous objects of art and culture as well as specimens of natural history that had been dispersed throughout the world by discovers and explorers were hereby united for 5 months in the Senckenberg Museum in 1989.
In addition, Dr. HEIDE-MARGARET ESEN-BAUR, progenitor of this Easter Island exhibit, had brought together a number of outstanding scholars of Easter Island research in August 1989 in order to further comprise and comprehend scientificially the heritage of the actors who created this fascinating culture. In a four days Symposion in the Senckenberg Museum many aspects, often contradictory, were discussed, the results of which are to enlighten this enigmatic and strange culture beyond the inventory and to finally reveal their basic ideas and motivations.
The Volkswagen Foundation has supported the Symposion by providing financial aid. The Senckenbergische Naturforschende Gesellschaft has made available this volume of its "Courier" series, thus demonstrating its vivid interest in important anthropological features.
Dr. HEIDE-MARGARET ESEN-BAUR, untiring in her efforts and continuously in contact with the authors, has assembled and edited the manuscripts. Mrs. MICHELINE MIDDEKE has provided the computersetting and VOLKMAR THIER has produced the excellent lithographs of the often complex illustrations.
I am grateful to all of them for their respective contributions. May this volume contribute to further unravelling the fascinating and at the same time still enigmatic cultural history of the Easter Island.