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William Mulloy

Prior to his life’s work on Rapa Nui, Dr. William T. Mulloy was a well-known Plains archaeologist teaching

at the University of Wyoming. That changed in 1955 when he joined several other archaeologists on

Thor Heyerdahl’s Norwegian Archaeological Expedition and visited Rapa Nui for the first time. Between

1955 and 1978, Mulloy and colleagues investigated and restored portions of the Ahu Akivi - Tai Vera

complex, Ahu Ko Te Riku, Ahu Vai-Uri, the Tahai complex, and the ceremonial village of Orongo. This is

excerpted from William G. Solheim’s “Editor’s Note” in the 1978 Mulloy and Figueroa report on the Ahu

Akivi -Vai Tera complex published posthumously in the Asian and Pacific Archaeology Series (No.8) by

the Social Sciences Research Institute at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“…….Bill received a number of honors for his work in Easter Island, so well represented by this volume.

His final honor, before his death, came from the people of Easter Island. He and his wife Emily were

brought to Easter Island by the Chilean government early in 1978 and he was declared “Illustrious Citizen

of Easter Island, for his distinguished and unselfish work on behalf of our community” by the Mayor, Juan

Edmonds Rapahango, Municipalidad Isla de Pascua, Hanga Roa, Isla de Pascua, Chile on February 24,

1978 …. He had in 1975 been awarded the “Orden de Bernardo O’Higgins en el Grando de Oficial” by the

Republic of Chile. He had been appointed to a Research

Professorship at the University of Chile, to direct the work of investigation of and restoration of

monuments on Easter Island and as Director of the archaeological field school to be established there, for

five years to begin February, 1978…..”.

Mulloy passed away on March 25, 1978 in Laramie, Wyoming, a few days after he and Emily returned

from Rapa Nui. He is buried on Rapa Nui at the Tahai complex. Mulloy’s program to save the

archaeological heritage of Rapa Nui was first carried on after his death by Rapanui archaeologists Sergio

Rapu and Sonia Haoa and continues through the efforts of many other scholars.

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