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The Rapanui people of the island Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, at one time had a system of “writing” called Rongorongo. Unfortunately, the ability to read Rongorongo has since been lost. So currently archaeology and oral tradition are the only available sources for information about the early people of the island. Oral tradition states that the houses originally had upside down canoes for their roofs, and thus they are called hare paenga, or in English, boat-houses. In the literature, these boat-houses are said to be elliptical in shape. In this activity, we will investigate the shape of archaeological remains of foundations of the boat-houses to try and determine if they are indeed in the shape of an ellipse.

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history of math, Rapanui, Easter Island, multicultural math, ellipses, algebra


Algebra | Mathematics | Physical Sciences and Mathematics

What is the Shape of a traditional Rapanui house on Easter Island? A Multicultural Mathematical Activity Involving Ellipses

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Algebra Commons



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