Rapa Nui was re-discovered by a Dutch sea captain named Jacob Roggeveen. He is the one that dubbed it “Easter Island” because he found it on April 5, 1722, which happened to be Easter. Even though he is credited with discovering the island, he was not the first to set foot. Not much is known about exactly who inhabited the island, but there are theories that those from the Marquesas islands were those inhabitants. As you would expect from an environment not touched by humans, the island was very forested. Now, sadly the island does not house many trees, but it does attract tourists. One main reason for this are the moai.
The mo-what now? The moai (pronounced mo-eye), are the stone heads that are found all over the island. There are 250 just surround the perimeter of the island; all exactly half a mile apart from each other. But the awe does not stop here. There are 600 more of these moai statues scattered all around the island, all were not completed. The moai are not the only item in abundance. By this I mean the island also has a few volcanoes of which helped create the moai. I am not saying volcanoes made the moai , but that all of the moai were made from material the volcano makes. Most of them were made with tuff which is “a light, porous rock formed by consolidation of volcanic ash.” The others were made of other material the volcano, such as basalt, trachyte, and scoria.
Moai statues that surround the island measure 30 feet high and the weight is up to 82 tons. To give you an idea how heavy these are, one ton is equal to 2000 pounds or 907.184 kilograms.25 baby whales (one is 3 tons) together would be lighter than just one of these moai. So just how did they transport them within exactly half a mile from each other, not only that but to get them away from the quarry? The answer to this is a question; how did the Egyptians transport their blocks? Rolling technology. They would cut down trees, de-bark them to make them smooth, and place the object on several, drag/roll it, and take the tree it already rolled on, put it in front, and continue with this method. That said, it does sound easy, but pushing or pulling 82 tons is no walk in the park. Depending on the size it would take 50 to 150 people to move it.
We still do not know why they made these huge faces, some with shoulders some just the head, but there are several theories. The one that makes the most sense is that these represent their ancestors. Even though we can theorize on how they moved these works of art or why, we can never truly know. For example, if they did use the roll technology, how did they get it on the logs? If they carved them when they stand, they would have to be very careful when placing it on the trees, and if they carved them on the ground they could not roll it over and to just place it on the logs would take several hundred if the maximum amount to pull one is 150. It is frustrating to to know exactly how things were done, but it is exciting to theorize. It is also wonderful how we still have such artifacts, moai, the pyramids, stone henge, to excite our brains with one question: how?
Please feel free to comment on what you thought of the blog, or other physical anthropological subjects you would like me to cover.