IELTS Academic Reading Practice 42

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 27-41.

Questions 27-33

The reading passage has seven sections, A-G.

Choose the correct heading for sections A-G from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number i-ix in boxes 27-33 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
  1. Creative ways to farm in the harsh environment
  2. Other factors besides the people may have destroyed the forest
  3. An accepted answer to a question about the moai
  4. What can we learn from the story of Easter Island?
  5. A theory which supports a local belief
  6. A historical description of the barren island that was once lush
  7. How the statues may have worsened conditions on the island
  8. The future of the Easter Island
  9. The future of the moai statues

27. Section A
28. Section B
29. Section C
30. Section D
31. Section E
32. Section F
33. Section G
Questions 34-37

Complete the summary below.  

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in 34-37 on your answer sheet.

According to Jared Diamond, settlers who came to the island of Rapa Nui used trees for fuel.  However, pollen preserves found by researchers indicate that once covered the island. Diamond suggests that when there was no wood left to build boats, the islanders resorted to eating . In his view, the mighty moai statues were built to be a display of  .

Questions 38-41

Choose four letters A-F.

Write your answers in boxes 38-41 on your answer sheet.

In what points do Hunt and Lipo differ from Jared Diamond’s view?
  1. the loss of the island’s trees
  2. the influence of the moai on Rapa Nui’s society
  3. how the moai were carved
  4. the origins of the people who made the moai
  5. how the moai were transported
  6. who built the moai

38
39
40
41

Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


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Rapu Nui

Section A

“The moai” is the name given to a group of several hundred mysterious statues found on Easter Island. Easter Island, or Rapu Nui, as it's known by locals, remained isolated for centuries until it was settled by the Polynesians. Construction of the moai, some standing up to ten metres tall and weighing over 7,000 kilos, consumed all the energy and resources found on the island. In 1722, Dutch explorers came upon what could best be described as a culture from the Stone Age. Stone tools were used to carve the shapes of the huge moai, and the statues were then transported to massive stone platforms without the use of any wheel, animal, or vehicle. Throughout the time leading up to the mid-twentieth century, who built the moai remained, for the most part, a mystery. A Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer, Thor Heyerdahl, believed that the moai were made by Peruvian pre-Inca peoples. Erich von Däniken, a bestselling Swiss author, made claims of the statues having been built by aliens trapped on earth. Today, evidence gained from the fields of linguistics, archaeology and genealogy has effectively shown that Polynesians were the ones who built the moai, but how they moved the statues was still a mystery. The statues walked according to legends of the area. Researchers mostly maintain that people must have used ropes or logs to physically drag the statues themselves.

Section B

Populated by only a few scraggly trees, Rapa Nui was mostly grassland by the time European explorers arrived. However, during 1970s and 1980s, proof was discovered that the island had once been a land of lush palm forests for thousands of years, when researchers uncovered pollen left over in lake sediments. The Polynesians’ arrival on the islands marked the time of these forests’ disappearance. Jared Diamond, an American scientist, claims that the environment was destroyed by the ancestors of Polynesian settlers, or the Rapa Nui people. The delicate island environment was dry, cool, and too remote to be properly fertilised by windblown volcanic ash. Forests cut down by the islanders for firewood or agricultural use never grew back. As trees became harder to find, it was soon impossible to continue building wooden canoes for fishing, and they resorted to eating birds. Crop yields then dropped due to erosion in the soil. Finally, the Rapa Nui society broke down, leading to civil war and even cannibalism. The downfall of their remote civilization came before the time Europeans arrived on the island, Diamond writes, that it is a “worst-case scenario for what may lie ahead of us in our own future.”

Section C

Diamond believes that the creation of the moai only sped up their societies self-inflicted destruction. Diamond has interpreted the true meaning of the moai to be a demonstration of power by rival leaders. Due to the fact that they were trapped on a tiny, isolated island, there were not any other ways to establish their dominance. The leaders competed as they continued to build ever larger figures. To move the moai, Diamond assumes that the statues were placed sideways on wooden sledges, and pulled on log rails. However, to perform such a task, both an abundance of wood and people would have been necessary. Thus, even more land had to be cleared to grow enough food for all the people. After the depletion of wood, when the civil war began, the islanders started angrly knocking down the moai. By the nineteenth century, all of the statues had fallen.

Section D

Archaeologists Terry Hunt of the University of Hawaii and Carl Lipo of California State University concur that an “ecological catastrophe” took place on Easter Island. However, they don’t think that the islanders were the ones at fault, let alone the moai. Archaeological excavations show that the Rapanui undertook extraordinary protection measures to maintain the resources of their windy, barren soil. They constructed windbreaks out of stone in the thousands, and cultivated the soil behind those walls, using chips of volcanic rock to moisten it. Basically, Hunt and Lipo reason that the Rapanui discovered the use of early sustainable farming techniques.

Section E

Hunt and Lipo contend that moai-building was a peaceful, relationship building activity between the islanders. In their minds, a few strong people moved the moai with no wood, because they were moved upright. Hunt and Lipo argue that archaeological evidence found in Rapanui folk stories supports their claim. As few as 18 people could move a similar statue to the moai with three strong ropes and some experience. Experiments done in the last few years have revealed that even a 1,000 kg moai replica could be moved a couple hundred meters in a similar fashion. The moai figures would lean forward by the weight of their fat stomachs,  with a D-shaped base that would allow those carrying them to sway the statues sideways.

Section F

In addition, Hunt and Lipo speculate that the settlers were also not completely to blame for the disappearance of the island's trees. Archaeologists have discovered that nuts from the extinct Easter Island palm show tiny cuts from teeth marks of Polynesian rats. Hunt and Lipo estimate that the rats would have taken over the island in just a few short years after they arrived along with settlers. Even without taking the settlers’ actions of cutting down trees into account, reseeding of the slow-growing palm trees would have been prevented by the spread of the rat population, a death-sentence for Rapa Nui's forest. And of course, the rats ate the eggs of local birds as well. According to Hunt and Lipo, there is no proof that the civilization of the Rapanui fell when the palm forest died. Instead, they insist that their growing population stabilized until the arriving Europeans exposed them to lethal diseases from faraway lands. Later, the population which remained were taken into slavery by slave traders in 1877, reducing the number of islanders to only 111 people.

Section G

Hunt and Lipo visualize an island where amicable and creative moai builders lived as caretakers of the fragile land, and not as a place populated by war-driven people, careless about their surroundings. “Rather than a case of abject failure, Rapu Nui is an unlikely story of success,” they say. Either way, it seems that the rest of the world could stand to learn a lesson from the story of Rapu Nui and Easter Island.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
Rapu Nui

Section A

“The moai” is the name given to a group of several hundred mysterious statues found on Easter Island. Easter Island, or Rapu Nui, as it's known by locals, remained isolated for centuries until it was settled by the Polynesians. Construction of the moai, some standing up to ten metres tall and weighing over 7,000 kilos, consumed all the energy and resources found on the island. In 1722, Dutch explorers came upon what could best be described as a culture from the Stone Age. Stone tools were used to carve the shapes of the huge moai, and the statues were then transported to massive stone platforms without the use of any wheel, animal, or vehicle. Throughout the time leading up to the mid-twentieth century, who built the moai remained, for the most part, a mystery. A Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer, Thor Heyerdahl, believed that the moai were made by Peruvian pre-Inca peoples. Erich von Däniken, a bestselling Swiss author, made claims of the statues having been built by aliens trapped on earth. Today, evidence gained from the fields of linguistics, archaeology and genealogy has effectively shown that Polynesians were the ones who built the moai, but how they moved the statues was still a mystery. The statues walked according to legends of the area. Researchers mostly maintain that people must have used ropes or logs to physically drag the statues themselves.

Section B

Populated by only a few scraggly trees, Rapa Nui was mostly grassland by the time European explorers arrived. However, during 1970s and 1980s, proof was discovered that the island had once been a land of lush palm forests for thousands of years, when researchers uncovered pollen left over in lake sediments. The Polynesians’ arrival on the islands marked the time of these forests’ disappearance. Jared Diamond, an American scientist, claims that the environment was destroyed by the ancestors of Polynesian settlers, or the Rapa Nui people. The delicate island environment was dry, cool, and too remote to be properly fertilised by windblown volcanic ash. Forests cut down by the islanders for firewood or agricultural use never grew back. As trees became harder to find, it was soon impossible to continue building wooden canoes for fishing, and they resorted to eating birds. Crop yields then dropped due to erosion in the soil. Finally, the Rapa Nui society broke down, leading to civil war and even cannibalism. The downfall of their remote civilization came before the time Europeans arrived on the island, Diamond writes, that it is a “worst-case scenario for what may lie ahead of us in our own future.”

Section C

Diamond believes that the creation of the moai only sped up their societies self-inflicted destruction. Diamond has interpreted the true meaning of the moai to be a demonstration of power by rival leaders. Due to the fact that they were trapped on a tiny, isolated island, there were not any other ways to establish their dominance. The leaders competed as they continued to build ever larger figures. To move the moai, Diamond assumes that the statues were placed sideways on wooden sledges, and pulled on log rails. However, to perform such a task, both an abundance of wood and people would have been necessary. Thus, even more land had to be cleared to grow enough food for all the people. After the depletion of wood, when the civil war began, the islanders started angrly knocking down the moai. By the nineteenth century, all of the statues had fallen.

Section D

Archaeologists Terry Hunt of the University of Hawaii and Carl Lipo of California State University concur that an “ecological catastrophe” took place on Easter Island. However, they don’t think that the islanders were the ones at fault, let alone the moai. Archaeological excavations show that the Rapanui undertook extraordinary protection measures to maintain the resources of their windy, barren soil. They constructed windbreaks out of stone in the thousands, and cultivated the soil behind those walls, using chips of volcanic rock to moisten it. Basically, Hunt and Lipo reason that the Rapanui discovered the use of early sustainable farming techniques.

Section E

Hunt and Lipo contend that moai-building was a peaceful, relationship building activity between the islanders. In their minds, a few strong people moved the moai with no wood, because they were moved upright. Hunt and Lipo argue that archaeological evidence found in Rapanui folk stories supports their claim. As few as 18 people could move a similar statue to the moai with three strong ropes and some experience. Experiments done in the last few years have revealed that even a 1,000 kg moai replica could be moved a couple hundred meters in a similar fashion. The moai figures would lean forward by the weight of their fat stomachs,  with a D-shaped base that would allow those carrying them to sway the statues sideways.

Section F

In addition, Hunt and Lipo speculate that the settlers were also not completely to blame for the disappearance of the island's trees. Archaeologists have discovered that nuts from the extinct Easter Island palm show tiny cuts from teeth marks of Polynesian rats. Hunt and Lipo estimate that the rats would have taken over the island in just a few short years after they arrived along with settlers. Even without taking the settlers’ actions of cutting down trees into account, reseeding of the slow-growing palm trees would have been prevented by the spread of the rat population, a death-sentence for Rapa Nui's forest. And of course, the rats ate the eggs of local birds as well. According to Hunt and Lipo, there is no proof that the civilization of the Rapanui fell when the palm forest died. Instead, they insist that their growing population stabilized until the arriving Europeans exposed them to lethal diseases from faraway lands. Later, the population which remained were taken into slavery by slave traders in 1877, reducing the number of islanders to only 111 people.

Section G

Hunt and Lipo visualize an island where amicable and creative moai builders lived as caretakers of the fragile land, and not as a place populated by war-driven people, careless about their surroundings. “Rather than a case of abject failure, Rapu Nui is an unlikely story of success,” they say. Either way, it seems that the rest of the world could stand to learn a lesson from the story of Rapu Nui and Easter Island.

 
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