Easter Island Statutes
The Easter Island statues are one of the world’s biggest mysteries. On average, the statutes stand over 13-feet tall, and each weighs up to 13.8-tons. Based on their size and presence, nobody really knows how these figures got there, and why they were placed in this area of the island. Over the years, there have been plenty of theories surrounding the statutes.
How the huge statutes got to the island is a mystery; however, what is an even bigger mystery is why the residents of Easter Island chose these particular areas to place the statutes. People wanted answers to these questions; therefore, a team of six researchers from educational institutions around the United States decided to put their heads together to figure it out. They analyzed the landscape and the surrounding areas to figure out why the civilization chose this particular area.
The 13th Century
Around the beginning of the 13th century, a handful of people from Marae Renga boarded canoes to explore the south-eastern portion of the Pacific Ocean. Their expedition brought them to Easter Island. This is a very remote area. For Easter Island residents to reach the nearest landmass, they need to sail 2,182 miles to Chile. This is the country that claimed the island in 1888.
The Population Died Out
The people on Easter Island began to die, and with them, died the secrets of the statues. Many people perished due to the changes in the land. A huge shift occurred due to the Polynesian rat. The rats caused damage to vegetation. They chewed and damaged seeds that have previously thrived. In about a century, the Rapa Nui population went from 15,000 to just 3,000 by 1722.
When the Europeans arrived on the island, much of the indigenous population was already gone. The newcomers brought diseases that wiped out even more of the natives. It is also believed that Peruvian slavers raided the area, forcing the natives to move to other islands such as Tahiti. It is believed that around 1250 AD, the Rapa Nui built their famous moai. These are the statues that we see on Easter Island today. How they managed to carve these stones is unknown due to their enormous size.
Because there were trees in the area, some experts believe that they were used to move the statues. They believe that the locals placed the statues on logs to roll them to their position. They estimate that it would have taken up to 150 people to move a single stone. Other experts believe that the people used a combination of human energy, ropes, and wood contraptions similar to sleds. Many experts believe that the people constructed tracks, also known as Easter Island roads. These roads would have made it much easier to transport the statues after completion.
There have been recent studies that have caused experts to come to a different conclusion. Evidence reveals that the Rapa Nui people wrapped ropes around the statues on opposite sides. It is believed that they pulled ropes to tilt the statues from side to side. This allowed them to do what they called a walk to each of the chosen resting places. To do this perfectly, as not to ruin the carvings, they had to coordinate the walk perfectly. The coordination was performed flawlessly while the people chanted. The rhythm of the chant would help each person to walk with perfect synchronicity.
There is a legend that has been passed down by the Rapa Nui people. The legend says that the people used divine power to allow the statues to walk themselves to their desired locations. Some believe that it was the king who had the divine power, and another legend says that it was a woman who lived alone on top of a mountain on the island who directed the statutes to their designated places.
Experts believe that the reason that the Easter Island Statues face inward is that they represent the spirits of chiefs, ancestors, and others who held important community positions. After death, these people guard the island and ward off evil. An archaeologist named Jo Anne Van Tilburg spent years studying the statues, and she believes that they represent the civilization’s most important chiefs. She believes that the people used the statues to communicate with the dead.
Regardless of the amount of research done and the number of theories that people come up with, the statues and their purpose remain a mystery. With no documentation, we may never know the real story behind the statues. Experts may have solved one of the most perplexing mysteries surrounding the Easter Island statues, but many more remains.