The Easter Island script

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The Easter Island script which goes by the – probably not historical – name of rongorongo has left only a very limited corpus of inscriptions. The most important of these can be found on a wooden staff and some twenty wooden tablets, most of which are severely damaged. Much shorter texts have survived on a wide variety of objects such as wooden breast ornaments, wooden figurines, tapa dolls, human skulls, and rocks.

As a result of the catastrophic impact of slave raids and imported diseases, expert knowledge of the writing system had completely disappeared by the time of its discovery to the rest of the world in the second half of the 19th century. Ever since, and despite numerous attempts at decipherment, the enigmatic figures have refused to give up their secrets. It is the intention of this website to show that they constitute nothing less than a fully developed script. And as such, these rongorongo glyphs stand alongside the great moai statues as a lasting monument of the inventiveness and artistry of the people of that remote Pacific island.


M. de Laat

Detail of tablet Keiti (destroyed in 1914 during the German siege of Louvain)