Quarrying stone for Easter Island statues made soil more fertile for farming
Easter Island’s Polynesian society cultivated crops in soil made especially fertile by the quarrying of rock for massive, humanlike statues, a new study suggests. Soil analyses indicate that weathering of volcanic sediment created by quarrying enriched the slopes of Easter Island’s major rock quarry with phosphorus and other elements crucial for farming. Microscopic plant remains suggest that food grown in the enriched soil included sweet potatoes, bananas, taro, paper mulberry fruit and probably bottle gourd, say anthropological archaeologist Sarah Sherwood and colleagues.

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