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John Flenley and Mark Horrocks

We've been working on logistical and practical details that aren't very interesting to relate in a blog, so I'll take this time to tell you a bit about the 3 Kiwis that are here with me. In today's picture, John Flenley (left) and Mark Horrocks (right) are discussing the statue building quarry at Rano Raraku. Just over John's head, you can see the head of statue that was in the process of being carved, including the protruding nose and chin.

John is a Professor Emeritus from Massey University, and has been the leader in developing the vegetation history of Easter Island through pollen studies of crater sediments from the main three craters. He began this research with a visit to the island in 1977, and has visited repeatedly. It is John's work that confirmed forests once thrived on the island, and that the deforestation process was associated with human settlement. With Paul Bahn, he's also written one of the most useful books on Easter Island.

When I originally discussed this project with John, he put me immediately in touch with Mark, who takes over John's role of pollen analysis in this project. In addition to pollen, Mark specializes in starch grain microfossils, which provide a promising tool for understanding the extent of past agriculture. Mark lives in Auckland, and is associated with Auckland University, but organizes his research as small consultancy business specializing in microfossil analysis.

John and Mark are great team, and love discussing all aspects of botany. But I have to say, these long discussions about plants and pollen often exceed my attention span, and David's too.

Troy Baisden

Was Collapse Inevitable on Easter Island (Rapa Nui)? Reconstructing a Civilisation's Failure is a Marsden Programme Troy Baisden is involved in.

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