The Santiago staff is the single longest remaining text. It is incised lengthwise on a cylindrical piece of wood. The staff is tapered with one end slightly thicker than the other. One notable feature is that there is a single short line, which does not reach the thin/tapered end. There is an inherent problem in knowing where to start reading, and thus, how to number the lines. At least 3 different numbering schemes have been proposed:

  • The “standard” numbering is due to Philippi, who arbitrarily chose a line as the starting point, dubbed ‘Line 1’. This line will be right-side up, if the thicker end of the staff is on the left, and the the thinner end on the right. He then continued numbering lines clockwise—looking at the thicker end—with Line 2 immediately below Line 1 and so on. This is the order in which the lines are presented in Barthel. Under this numbering the short line is Line 12. One problem with this order is that, if read this way, reading would be “backwards”. This is because when we reach the end of a line, we expect the next line to be the reversed line immediately above the read line. For Line 1, this would be Line 14.
  • A second numbering was proposed by Fischer. Fischer suggested that the short line (‘Line 12’) should be the first one. Since this line will be right-side up if the thinner end is on the left, and the thicker end on the left, the expected reading order will be reversed. Thus the order—but not the starting point—of Philippi becomes correct. So Fischer’s order when expressed with the standard line numbers becomes: 12-13-14-1-2-…-10-11.
  • A third numbering was proposed by Paul Horley in Rapa Nui Journal Vol. 25:1. According to this paper the proper beginning should be Barthel’s Line 11, while the short Line 12 should be the end. Thus this ordering inverts the order proposed by Fischer. Expressed using the standard line numbers the order becomes: 11-10-9-…-2-1-14-13-12. This is the order that is used in the corpus on these pages. For example if a glyph search returns a hit on line ‘Ia01’, this glyph will be found on “Line 11” in Barthel, and on “Line 14” in Fischer.

The following diagram may be helpful to understand the different orders:

Santiago Staff reading order diagram

Below are links to some of the displays of Item I in these pages:

Barthel graphics
Fischer graphics
Barthel/Fischer comparison
Tablet view

And here links to other pages for this item:
Page for Item I on old site.
Item I on
Item I on Wikipedia
Paul Horley’s article on the Staff in Rapa Nui Journal