I’ve always considered the head statues on Easter Island to be a great wonder of the world; however, I’ve never actually thought to learn more about them. In fact, I’ve been referring to them as “the head statues” my entire life, but they are actually called Moai! The Moai were carved by the Rapa Nui people between 1250 – 1500 CE. Up until now, it was believed that, although impressive in stature, the Moai were nothing more than just heads. However, it was recently discovered that there’s more than meets the eye with these head statues. They’re actually attached to bodies that are buried deep underground—and they’re covered in indecipherable writings called petroglyphs.The significance of these statues has always been somewhat of a mystery—it’s exciting to think that these petroglyphs could be the key to unlocking the meaning of these massive Moai!
Easter Island covers about 64 square miles in the South Pacific Ocean, 2,300 miles from Chile. The island is home to nearly 900 giant stone statues that date back several centuries.
First Human Inhabitants
The Rapa Nui are believed to have emigrated to the island around 300-400 A.D. It is held that the first king of Rapa Nui was Hoto-Matua, whose ship landed at Aneka, one of the few sandy beaches on the island’s rock-infested coast.
The statues stand at an average height of 13 feet and weigh roughly 13 tons. To this day, no one knows why they were constructed or how they were moved around the island.
The question of how the Rapa Nui moved the statues around became even more puzzling after scientists decided to do some digging. Literally.
Hidden from view, the heads are actually attached to bodies that extend several feet below the ground.
The tallest statue stands at nearly 33 feet and weighs approximately 82 tons. Another statue, found lying down, was measured at 71.93 feet in length.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
A few of the unearthed statues feature the same petroglyphs, referred to by researchers as the “ring and girdle” design. It is believed to represent the sun and rainbow.
Writing on the Wall
Found on the bodies of the statues were indecipherable writings known aspetroglyphs.
Below the Surface
They may not have bodies like this artist rendering, but knowing that they’re more than just a bunch of heads is truly awe-inspiring.
Name That Tuna
Tuna vertebrae was even found near the bottom of an excavation, backing the claim that the original carvers were rewarded for their work in meals of tuna and lobster.
According to Wikipedia, the tallest of the 887 Moai is over 30 feet tall and weighs 82 tons. Another, if completed, would have been almost 70 feet tall and would have weighed 270 tons! Incredibly, many of these enormous statues were moved to various places around the island. The faces represent ancestors that are seen as deities.
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