复活节岛之“生死”谜 The Mysterious Easter Island

The Mysterious Easter Island
英式发音 适合泛听

在这个神秘的太平洋小岛上,究竟有着什么样神秘的故事……

Life on an isolated Pacific island is eternally poised on a knife-edge. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the single most remote island in the Pacific—Easter Island. This tiny 1)speck of land has an extraordinary story to tell, with new twists turning up still to this day.
在太平洋的孤岛上,生命就像悬在刀刃上一样,总是朝不保夕。最典型的例子莫过于太平洋上这个最偏僻的孤岛——复活节岛。这一小片陆地有个奇特的故事,时至今日仍有新的转折。

Just 20 kilometers long and 11 kilometers wide, Easter Island rises like a fortress from the waves, surrounded by thousands of kilometers of ocean in every direction.
复活节岛只有20公里长,11公里宽,它像一座堡垒从海面耸起,四周是一望无际的大海。

People first arrived here less than one thousand years ago; most of what we know about their civilization can only be pieced together from the relics that remain. It is a strange and 2)desolate place. The most striking features in this 3)bleak and windswept landscape are the hundreds of giant stone statues, known as moai, thought to be carved in the likeness of chiefs or ancestors.
不到一千年前,人类第一次到达这里。我们对他们文明的大部分了解只能从留下来的遗物拼凑起来。这是一个奇特且荒凉的地方,而在这片暴露在风中的荒野上最显著的特征就是数百座被称为“摩艾”的巨型石像,应该是照着酋长或是祖先的样子雕刻的。

It’s difficult to believe that an advanced culture, capable of carving and erecting these 4)monoliths, grew up in such a barren landscape. The truth is, it didn’t. When those first colonizers discovered Easter Island, this was a paradise.
能够雕刻并竖立这些巨石的先进文明,却生活在这样贫瘠的地方,的确令人难以置信。事实确实并非如此。当第一批开拓者发现复活节岛时,这里是个天堂。

These empty cliffs were once home to the largest seabird colonies in the South Pacific. Rich volcanic soils nourished a forest of giant palms that was home to many unique species, including Easter Island versions of 5)herons, parrots, 6)rails and owls. Today, they are all gone. The people ultimately didn’t do much better: the rise and tragic demise of the Easter Islanders, the Rapa Nui, is now legendary.
这些空寂的峭壁曾是南太平洋最大的海鸟群栖息地。肥沃的火山灰滋养了一大片棕榈树林,那也曾是许多珍稀物种的栖息地,包括生长在复活节岛上的苍鹭、鹦鹉、秧鸡和猫头鹰,而如今他们都消失了。岛民最终的遭遇也好不了多少:经历了复活节岛的兴盛和悲惨的灭亡后,拉帕努伊人如今已成为传奇。

This 7)quarry once occupied the majority of the island’s workforce, thousands of people, with each clan trying to carve and raise a bigger, grander figure than those of their neighbors. Vast amounts of 8)timber would have been required to transport and erect the giant moai, and slowly but surely, the forests vanished. As resources 9)dwindled, Easter Island society descended into chaos and warfare. The giant statues were pulled to the ground, possibly acts of sabotage between rival clans.
曾有数以千计的岛民在岛上的采石场工作,每个宗族都想把塑像雕得比邻族更大更高。运输和竖立巨型石像需要大量木材,于是渐渐地,森林消失了。当资源逐渐减少时,复活节岛的社会陷入了混乱和战争。很可能由于宗族之间的破坏行为,石像被推倒了。

Houses were abandoned and the foundation stones used to construct 10)fortified 11)dwellings in caves underground. Some evidence even suggests that once everything edible had been consumed, the starving were driven to that most desperate of acts: 12)cannibalism.
房子被弃置,而房屋的基石则用来修建加固在地下洞穴里的居所。甚至有证据显示当所有能吃的东西都消耗殆尽后,饥饿把岛民赶上了绝路:同类相食。

Understandably this version of Easter Island’s history remains controversial because it suggests the Rapa Nui were incredibly short-sighted. As the trees dwindled, why did they do nothing about it?
这个版本的复活节岛历史仍然具有争议性,这可以理解,因为如果这个版本是真的,那就意味着拉帕努伊人太鼠目寸光了。当树木减少时,他们怎么会坐视不理呢?

But a new theory suggests the Rapa Nui were powerless to prevent their downfall, for when they arrived on this island, they were not alone. Rats traveled with people to every corner of the Pacific. On Easter Island, their impact may have been 13)catastrophic: 14)multiplying to 15)plague proportions they would have 16)devoured the wild fruits, the seabirds, even the nuts of the giant palms, so that the trees may have stopped reproducing long before the last one was felled. Perhaps the fate of Easter Island was not 17)sealed by the human who felled that last tree, but by the rat that ate the last palm nut.
然而,一个新理论认为拉帕努伊人根本无力阻止衰落,因为他们抵达小岛时,还带着伴。老鼠跟随人类到达太平洋每个角落。在复活节岛上,它们的影响可能是灾难性的:老鼠大量繁殖成灾,它们会吃光野生果实、海鸟,甚至棕榈树坚果,所以可能早在最后一棵树被砍倒之前,树木已经不再生长了。也许,复活节岛的衰败并非是由于岛民砍光了所有的树,而是因为老鼠吃光所有的棕榈树坚果。

Other South Pacific islands have also seen civilizations rise and fall, though none have left such dramatic reminders of their passing as the giant statues of the Rapa Nui. Now re-erected, they’ve come to symbolize how precarious life can be on an isolated island. For this island has not been abandoned, a few Rapa Nui survived and now they’re thriving once more, entertaining visitors from the outside world. Trees have been planted, though it’s too late for the unique creatures that once lived here.
其他南太平洋岛屿同样经历了文明的兴盛与衰落,但它们并没有留下拉帕努伊的巨型石像,这些石像成了复活节岛文明消失的引人注目的见证。如今石像被重新竖立,它们象征着孤岛上的生命是多么难以捉摸。但这座孤岛没有被遗弃,很少一部分拉帕努伊人幸存了下来,如今再次兴旺了起来,他们接待来自世界各地的游客,也重新栽种了树木——尽管对那些曾生长在这里的珍稀动物来说已太晚了。Jonathan Clay/文