Abstract:
For the last three years, I have conducted archaeological and geological research on Rapa Nui for my doctorate at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, Australia (funded through a 2013 Centennial Scholarship, an UQ International Student Research Scholarship, Strategic School of Social Science Funding, and an Australian Research Council Grant). The title of my dissertation is: “ Identifying Prehistoric Interaction on Rapa Nui: Modelling the Development of Social Complexity in Extreme Isolation ”. My academic program is a “Ph.D. by publication”, meaning that I must publish at least four scientific articles in top-tier archaeological journals, along with an appropriate introduction and conclusion to earn my doctorate. With my publications, I am encouraged to cooperate with other academics and specialists to present collaborative and cross-disciplinary research. As such, the “Rapa Nui Geochemical Project” (RNGP; Twitter & Facebook: @RNgeochemPHD) joins more than 30 individuals from 20 institutions on the island and from around the globe. Our project uses: 1) field archaeology and geology (four campaigns from 2014-2016); 2) site and material culture documentation ( camera and drone photos/videos and artefactual 3D scanning); 3) state-of-the-art geochemical analyses ( portable X-ray fluorescence and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry) of geological and archaeological basalt stone resources; and 4) online datashare at http://www.terevaka.net/toki/ that displays RNGP results. In addition, the RNGP works with the Sebastián Englert Anthropology Museum and the Chilean Heritage Council to offer archaeological outreach, public archaeology, and educational opportunities for the Rapanui community. Undoubtedly, this research has been extremely rewarding as I have fulfilled a dream; to live on Rapa Nui (with a community I truly love), while conducting thorough and community approved scientific research.

Funding: University of Queensland Centennial Scholarship; International Student Research Scholarship; School of Social Science Strategic Planning Grant and Research Bursary; Australian Research Council Grant

Advisors: Professor Marshall Weisler, Dr Tiina Manne

Project members

Mr Dale Simpson

PhD Candidate