To start off with, McCullough introduces the reader to the cultural settings operating in and beyond the island, which has, as it shall be noted later with an almost alarming and amusing degree of wry cynicism, not been so affected by the impact of rampant globalization. Reading the cultural nuances involved in the life and times of the inhabitants of the island, on a landmass so close to another great civilization that had almost been driven to extinction and exile, is a chilling read, casting aspersions on the way civilization is perceived in terms of material progress.
For instance, McCullough’s description of the Ruin Island and the phase sites incorporated within it is almost picturesque, catering to a wide variety of socio-cultural impressions on this timeless part of human history. Echoing the spirit of KonTiki, McCullough glides over the visual revelry towards a more succinct and channelized study of the artefacts on the phase sites.
Archaeology is the study of chronology, in a sense. It is an attempt to piece together the missing links in the ever-progressing civilization and our idea of a universal human ethos, and hence, any anthropological study is deemed incomplete without a chronological study of the subjects it addresses. McCullough has done this with much relish and to the delight of many. The academic diaspora comprising anthropologists, ethnographers, archaeologists and even genealogists have drawn plenty of inspiration not only from the scope and inspiration behind the book, but also the method, and the subtle use of the winding narrative, to discuss the chronology of the Ruin Island Phase Sites since the time they can be placed the farthest, to what we see and are awed by even today.
Perhaps the seminal chapter of this book occurs when the author, having set the background for the narrative, delves into ‘placing’ their cultural features in tandem with the cultural norms that have been the defining feature of the direction in which information and civilization progress.