Cranial and Postcranial Skeletal Remains from Easter Island
by Rupert Ivan Murrill
University of Minnesota Press, 1968
Paper: 978-0-8166-5834-3


Cranial and Postcranial Skeletal Remains from Easter Island was first published in 1968. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

An archaeological expedition to Easter Island and the East Pacific was organized and financed by Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian anthropologist of Kon-Tiki fame, in 1955 -1956. Although Professor Murrill was not a member of the expedition, he was asked to study and analyze, from the standpoint of physical anthropology, the human skeletal material which was found by the expedition in excavations on Easter Island. Professor Murrill conducted a detailed examination of the remains, using such methods as metrical measurements, morphological observations, and analyses of blood group gene frequencies.

In this book he presents the factual data resulting from his study, much of it in the form of comprehensive tables, and his conclusions. The findings throw significant light on the question of where the prehistoric Easter Islanders came from. Contrary to theories favored by Mr. Heyerdahl and others that these people and their culture derived from prehistoric settlements on the west coast of South America, Professor Murrill concludes that the Easter Island people were Polynesian in origin and that they may have come from the Marquesas Islands. He finds it unlikely that a Negroid migration (possibly from Melanesia) antedated a Polynesian one to Easter Island and, on the basis of his evaluation of blood group systems, he suggests that the Polynesian and the American Indian types may be derived from the same gene pool in East Asia.

The book is illustrated with photographs, drawings, and maps, and there is a substantial bibliography.

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