It's been held up for decades as a story of ecocide. A group of polynesian settlers land on the shores of Easter Island or Rapa Nui - they build farms and erect the giant stone statues which still stand on the islands today.
But the introduction of the Polynesian rat together with rampant deforestation wipe out all the natural food sources and farms fail as soil fertility drops.
Society breaks down and descends into warfare and cannibalism. In the end all that is left is the giant stone statues, obsidian spearheads and a small number of survivors.
Well that's one theory, but my next guest - Archaeologist Carl Lipo from Binghamton University, says it's not so simple.
He talks to Jesse Mulligan.