Arts and Entertainment Face facts: ‘Easter Island: Mysteries of a Lost World’ with Dr Jago Cooper

When most of us think of Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, we think of moai, the 887 magnificent statues that guard its shores. But the mystery of BBC4's Easter Island: Mysteries of a Lost World wasn't how these monoliths were made, or how they were moved into place (aliens, obviously) or even whether the ancient Rapa Nui people were responsible for their own decline, it's why the myths have persisted for so long.

Letter: Macedonia: misunderstandings about anthropology

Sir: May I comment on the recent articles and letters concerning the Macedonian question and the work of Anastasia Karakasidou?

Letter: For 'civilised' read racist

ANTHROPOLOGISTS, and among them, ethnologists, have only lately been waking up to the distance between their field and public debates on contemporary issues. Alberto Manguel drags ethnologists into his review of A History of Civilisations by Fernand Braudel ('The shape of things past', Review, 6 March) and makes it clear just how far anthropological concepts, even one as central as 'culture', remain from the popular domain. Which ethnologists, for example, have provided Manguel with the offensive notion that 'certain societies are 'civilised', that is to say materially advanced, while others are merely 'cultured' '?

Letter: Eating people was not a routine activity

Sir: I'm not sure that Captain Cook makes a strong witness for cannibalism 'as a routine form of sustenance' among natives. He describes 'some of the officers' going ashore 'to amuse themselves'. They then come across a fresh corpse, and 'one of the gentlemen pick(s) off the head and brings it on board'.

Yorkshire Archaeological Society

The Yorkshire Archaeological Society has awarded its silver medal to Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby, of Askrigg, North Yorkshire, for their contribution to the study of Yorkshire's past, in particular the history of the Yorkshire Dales and Moorlands.

Letter: Battlefields that must be defended

Sir: Desecration of battlefields has not become the sole prerogative of the British (leading article, 6 August). There is a row in the US over a proposal for a living-history theme park at Little Big Horn where, for a fee, the visitor can converse with a reincarnated General Custer or Sitting Bull. As for Gettysburg, the dominating steel and glass observation tower makes the semi-sunken new road at Naseby quite acceptable.

Letter: The fallacy of ethnic territorial claims

Sir: A new term has entered our vocabulary: 'ethnic cleansing'. By this is meant the forcible eviction of particular populations variously defined by their ethnicity and culture, including religion and language, from areas that are claimed by other groups. The situation in Bosnia is one such current example, but there are, alas, also others.

Obituary: Sir Colin Allan

WITH REFERENCE to the obituary of Sir Colin Allan (by Kenneth Bain, 13 April), it may be of interest that the striking monumental slit-gong from Vanuatu in the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology owes its presence there to him, writes Sir John Rennie.

Letter: Better protection for archaeological sites

Sir: Your report (' pounds 1.5m bronzes for museum', 27 January) that the Icklingham Roman temple bronzes will eventually be inherited by the British Museum is very welcome. However, this case has shown that the British government has no powers to recover objects which were illegally looted from a scheduled archaeological site and illegally exported. We have had to rely on the determination of the landowner, John Browning, to fight the case as an individual in the American courts and to win our right of access to these pieces of our past.

BOOK REVIEW / Fearful similarity in the old and new worlds: 'European Encounters with the New World' - Anthony Pagden: Yale, 18.95 pounds

ANTHROPOLOGY has always provided Western thought with deep-rooted convictions about non-European cultures. These amount to a political cosmology, which guides new work on the lives of 'other' cultures. Anthropology ensures, in other words, that the more things change, the more Western perceptions of non-Western cultures stay the same.

Media: Anthropology's loss: Talk of the Trade

LAST week's International Festival of Ethnographic Film may be the last to be held in Manchester. It had depended on the patronage of Granada Television, which also helps fund Manchester University's Centre for Visual Anthropology. Granada's long interest in anthropology stems from its former deputy chairman Sir Denis Forman, and resulted in ITV's distinguished Disappearing World series. Granada has put pounds 12,000 towards the event, but Jonathan Benthall, director of the Royal Anthropological Institute, suspects the new cost-conscious regime will not be so sympathetic, and the biennial event may move to Kent University. There is also considerable concern about the future of anthropology on commercial television, which has played a large part in actually funding expeditions. Disappearing World is at present making a series on South Africa for ITV, to be shown at 10pm, rather than the traditional 9pm.

Treasure hunter sells galleon's riches: Correction: Mr Rex Cowan

The Independent regrets the description of Mr Rex Cowan, the historic shipwreck explorer, as a 'treasure hunter' in an article published on 20 May.
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