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Experts Discover Six Kilometres of Caves in Easter Island

July 15, 2009

A team of experts recently discovered a six-kilometer-long lava cave system on Easter Island thought to have been used as a refuge by the island’s inhabitants during the 16th century. The team confirmed it is the largest cave on the island and the 11th-largest in the world in terms of area.

The expedition, which began in 2005 and focused on the Roiho sector in the east of the island, uncovered 45 caves with a host of archaeological finds, including arrowheads, spears, axes, utensils, petroglyphs (rock engravings), and some 30 human skeletons. Cave experts, or speleologists, confirmed the caves were used by inhabitants of the island as refuge from tribal wars at a time when society was on the verge of collapse as a result of infighting, severe environmental degradation caused by deforestation, droughts, and famine. 

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