We set to work to excavate some of the statues which stood on the slope of the Raraku mountain. The natives were entirely indifferent whether they worked or not, but by paying high wages and giving any quantity of mutton, we were able at this time to get a certain amount of precarious labour for digging and camp work. The whole lot, including my maid-servant, went in for every week-end to the village, and it was always a matter of anxiety to know whether they would ever return.
-from Chapter XII
Western anthropology's first in-depth look at an isolated culture is also a daring adventure story of around-the-world travel.
In February 1913, archaeologist Katherine Routledge set sail on a custom-built yacht-with a small crew and the support of British Association for the Advancement of Science, the British Museum, and the Royal Geographical Society-for Easter Island, where she embarked up the first effort to catalogue the island's mysterious statues, interview the natives, and document their culture, folklore, and traditions.
Her scholarship is impeccable-this 1919 work is still considered foundational-but her lively writing and her practical perspective make this a delightful read that thrill armchair travelers and amateur ethnographers alike.
British archaeologist KATHERINE ROUTLEDGE (1866-1935) studied at Oxford University. She also wrote With Prehistoric People (1910), about her experiences in Africa after the Boer War.