Rapanui writing is one of the most mysterious sign systems created by the Easter Island civilization. The people flourished in the X century, creating their own culture and writing, but soon fell into decay.
At the same time, the tablets on which the Rapanui people wrote are still not fully deciphered.
Easter Island is the most remote inhabited island in the world, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean 3500 km off the coast of South America. It is best known for its monolithic stone statues — moai.
Once Rapanui, as the locals call their land, was densely covered with forest. However, over time, the Rapanui people outlived the entire forest, the black soil was destroyed by wind erosion, and the population suffered a terrible famine.
At the end of the 15th century, Easter Island was visited by the Inca fleet, and in 1722 the land was discovered by Dutch sailors. In 1862, the territory was taken over by Peru. The new government brutally treated the aborigines and took the entire adult population to America as slaves.
Of the two thousand Rapanui residents, only 15 people returned home. They brought with them tuberculosis and smallpox, which is why civilization finally fell into decay. As a result, from 15 thousand at the peak, the number of islanders fell to several hundred.
The Rapanui people used wooden planks as a material for writing. Only 25 «manuscripts» survived to the present day, the rest were mercilessly destroyed by Christian missionaries.
Bishop Etienne Jossant first became interested in their content in 1868. However, the researcher was a little late, the last literate Rapanuets died 2 years earlier. So the knowledge about the tablets was lost and they had to be restored from scratch.
The rongo-rongo writing system has no analogues in the world. These are hieroglyphs, similar to Egyptian or Phoenician, with some represented by understandable figures, and some by unknown symbols. Total scientists
For local residents, tablets with hieroglyphs were magical objects. Reading the text, a person animated its content. For example, after reading a tablet telling of revenge, it was possible to kill an enemy, and reading a tablet about a child ensured a successful childbirth for a woman.
The difficulty in deciphering lies in the fact that one symbol can denote a syllable, a word, or a whole sentence. Also, researchers do not have translations into other languages on which to rely.
The natives themselves added the confusion to the decryption. For example, in 1874 the tablets were “read” by Rapanuets Metoro Tau. Later it turned out that the islander deceived everyone, writing the text on the go.
True, linguists have some success. It turned out that one of the tablets was a Rapanui lunisolar calendar. The natives divided the year into 13 months, each month for 28 days.
In 1995, linguist Stephen Fischer managed to read part of the tablet. Researcher
By this analogy, other tablets are believed to tell about the secrets of farming and magical rituals.