The rongorongo script of Easter Island constitutes true writing since it displays
all the structural characteristics of such a system and it can be deciphered because
the Rapanui language it represents is known. In Words out of wood: Proposals for
the decipherment of the Easter Island script (2009), I have tried to demonstrate
this by assigning phonetic values to the most common signs and applying them to three
of the surviving texts – tablets A, B and E. Their translations suggest that these
texts consist entirely of dialogues, which possibly were meant to be read aloud by
different persons – perhaps even to be enacted in some way or other. Further studies
of the rongorongo corpus and certain points in the criticism of my book have encouraged
me to improve upon these interpretations.
On this web site, I plan to present the findings of the book in a more elaborate
way, to substantially review the translations of texts A, B and E and to provide
detailed studies of the other main texts (C, G/K, H/P/Q, I, R and S). To these will
be added essays on several brief inscriptions that can be found on a wide range of
such diverse objects as rocks, sculptures and ... people.
In his famous story about imaginary worlds Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius (1940), Jorge
Luis Borges wrote "Tlön is surely a labyrinth, but it is a labyrinth devised by men,
a labyrinth destined to be deciphered by men". To me, the same holds very much true
for the unknown world we call "pre-contact Easter Island culture". I am convinced
that the precious little that is left of its inscribed artifacts will eventually
enable a successful exploration of one of its darkest continents – the writing system
of rongorongo. And while it may often give us the impression of a labyrinth, we must
not forget it was never designed as one.