Easter Island's native population was destroyed by internal warfare, one theory goes, but some researchers now disagree, saying the sharp triangles of volcanic glass found across the island were farming tools, not weapons.
"We found that when you look at the shape of these things, they just don't look like weapons at all," said Carl Lipo, an archaeologist at Binghampton University in New York, The Daily Mail reported
Lipo said an analysis of 400 of the blades, known as mata'a, showed that they were more like a gardening spade than anything else.
"There’s just no evidence to support that these were used in a systematic lethal fashion," he said. "They were wildly different than that and had really distributed kind of shapes that would be very poor weapons."
The new theory about the use of the mata'a supports a theory that the island's population collapse by the 1870s was not caused by infighting, but rather disease and other problems brought on by contact with outsiders.
"What people traditionally think about the island is being this island of catastrophe and collapse just isn't true in a pre-historic sense," said Lipo.
"Populations were successful and lived sustainably on the island up until European contact."
According to The Washington Post
, the first recorded contact with Europeans came in 1722, when Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen visited. Roggeveen and his men shot and killed about a dozen of them.
The coming disease and slave raids by Europeans eventually culled the population down to around 100 citizens.
Easter Island experts Paul Bahn and John Flenley have long taken issue with Lipo's theories about what happened to the population, and said prehistoric skeletons show evidence of lethal trauma, and that a longstanding oral tradition on the island tells of a violent past.
© 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.