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  • Terevaka Archaeological Outreach (TAO) 2015 field report:Archaeology, conservation, and toponymy
  • Britton L. Shepardson, Beno Atán, Toria Calderón, Gonzalo Droppelmann, Julia Godinez, Catalina González, Victoria Guerrero, Yumi Ika, Madison Ledesma, Omar Monares, Erin Mullin, Ariki Nahoe, Tiare Pakarati, Franco Pérez, Ietu Quezada, Sara Sanford, Dylan Shepardson, and Ma'eha Te Ra'a


Terevaka Archaeological Outreach (TAO) is a volunteer program that has provided educational opportunities for youths local to the Rapa Nui community since 2003. The long-term goals of TAO are: (1) to offer experiential learning opportunities specific to cultural and natural resources that surround the local community; (2) to promote awareness and expertise in conservation measures and sustainable development; and (3) to document and study both cultural and natural phenomena of the past today.

TAO has now provided educational opportunities to approximately 115 local high school students. Our alumni have gained inspiration to complete university degrees in fields such as archaeology, conservation, history, and cultural anthropology. Several of these students now hold official positions in governmental, private, and educational organizations on the island that will be of critical importance in the island's near and distant future.

In many ways, the three central goals of TAO are inextricably linked. However, consolidating our objectives in a cohesive manner in the confines of a two-week intensive instructional period has become an increasingly challenging prospect – especially given the varied and diversified interests amongst island authorities (e.g., Secretaría Técnica de Patrimonio Rapa Nui, Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales de Chile, Corporación Nacional Forestal, Parlamento Rapa Nui, Corporación Nacional de Desarollo Indígeno Isla de Pascua, Museo Antropológico Padre Sebastián Englert, etc.).

Additionally, over the course of twelve years of educational outreach, TAO has designed projects that are completely non-invasive, requiring minimal contact with the island's fragile cultural and natural resources. Our projects in the past have ranged from archaeological survey, to lichenometry, photogrammetry, documentary filmmaking, and archival research (Rutherford et al. 2008; Shepardson 2006, 2010; Shepardson & Torres Hochstetter 2009; Shepardson et al. 2004, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014; Torres Hochstetter & Shepardson 2005). The results of TAO projects have been made publicly available via the Internet (

To complement our usual focus on the island's archaeological heritage, in July of 2015, TAO launched a pilot program related to sustainable development in the context of the island's natural resources. (See "Terevaka Archaeological Outreach (TAO) 2015 field report: Engineering and renewable energy" in this edition of the Rapa Nui Journal). The 14 local high school students who enrolled in TAO 2015 were able to choose whether to specialize in either the archaeology/conservation curriculum or the engineering/renewable-energies curriculum. Ultimately, seven students chose to concentrate in archaeology, and seven pursued engineering.

Island Toponymy Project

During July of 2015, local students who chose to focus on archaeology/conservation undertook a project to launch a publicly accessible and editable digital database of place names on the island. As a starting point, students consulted modern maps, a small toponymy manuscript published in the late 20th century (Duque 1982), a rare toponymy study published in book format in the mid-20th century (Charlin 1947), and an inventory of island ahu published in the late-19th century by Thomson (1889).

The student toponymy project was contextualized by a variety of supporting activities. Several local and foreign experts offered presentations specifically for the TAO students within the two-week program. Mahanua Wilkins (Corporacíon Nacional de Desarollo Indígeno Isla de Pascua) presented an overview of the island's natural history. Haŋarau Ika (Universidad Andrés Bello) provided students with an overview of how TAO helped to prepare him for his undergraduate studies in eco-tourism at his university in Santiago. Sebastián Pakarati (Manu Project) presented his recent work in conservation of both marine and terrestrial bird species around the island. Paula Valenzuela and Francisco Torres Hochstetter (Museo Antropológico Padre Sebastián Englert) presented their work on conservation and geology, respectively. Cristián Moreno Pakarati (Ahirenga Historical Research) offered a synopsis of his research regarding 19th and 20th century social and political maps of the island. And Merahi...


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pp. 47-51
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