Easter Island may have been first discovered over 5, years ago, though the oldest carbon dating is from about AD. Most sites are near the ocean and would have been washed and destroyed by waves over the many hundreds and thousands of years that man may have been on the island. Did a cataclysm tidal wave bury the statues in mud and muck around AD? It is known that Polynesia was settled many thousands of years before this-humans have been on Tonga since before BC according to the dating of Lapita pottery found there. In his fascinating book, Mysteries of Easter Islan Francis Mazier explores the legends of the statues and the lost land of Hiva.
They speak to you. They draw you in. They- they make you want to- to know more. I think that that's the power of them. She has been coming here for nearly 40 years, working with local researchers and artists, excavating and cataloging the statues, trying to understand the mysteries, and what she calls, the magic of the moai.
Jo Anne Van Tilburg: They- they don't give up their secrets easily. And they don't give 'em up to outsiders easily. To learn the moai's secrets, you have to start where nearly all of them were made. Around the vent of a dormant volcano, this is the ancient quarry of Rano Raraku.
There are some moai here, more than in any other spot on the island. The largest one, never raised upright, is almost 70 feet long and weighs at least tons, as heavy as some passenger jets.
Based on excavations Jo Anne Van Tilburg and other archaeologists have done, and analysis of soil samples and objects found around the statues, Van Tilburg believes the height of moai construction was around to the mid s.
Though moai did continue to be carved until or just after the first contact with Europeans in Anderson Cooper: I mean, is it not possible with carbon dating or other scientific techniques to know exactly when When the first archaeological survey was done on the island inall the moai except those in the quarry were found lying on the ground.
There are several plausible theories how they got there. Certain statues may have simply fallen from neglect, others were knocked over in earthquakes and some were intentionally toppled during fighting between competing family groups. Today some moai are only partially visible, just their famous faces stick out of the ground, the rest of their bodies are buried under sediment that's naturally built up over the centuries. Jo Anne Van Tilburg: Well they're different in the line of their mouth.
They're different in, of course, their size and shape. They're different in their expressions. Whether their head is tilted up, or lowered slightly, or to the side. Visitors here have long debated how the moai were made, given the stone age conditions on the island, when the statues were being carved. Van Tilburg says, the answer is all around.
There are thousands of stone-carving tools scattered throughout the quarry.
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Jo Anne Van Tilburg: This was a handheld instrument that was used. And if you hold it you can- actually feel where people may have put their fingers. Jo Anne Van Tilburg: And you put it in your hand, and you can feel where the other person's hand was who- who ac- who actually- used this. But magic alone couldn't move the moai from the quarry to sites on the coast, in some cases, more than eight miles away. That took muscle and ingenuity.
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Van Tilburg has tested a theory she believes. That moai were placed horizontally on sleds, and dragged over logs. Island legend says the statues walked, and some archaeologists have tested that theory as well, moving them upright, carefully wobbling them back and forth.
You may have also heard an out of this world theory about space aliens making and moving the moai. It may sound ridiculous but it's still believed by many visitors today.
Anderson Cooper: So, I mean, I just have to ask, any possibility of that? You don't believe it though. Easter Island was annexed by Chile in Half of the 8, people who now live here are Chilean immigrants. The other half are modern descendants of those original Polynesian settlers.
They call themselves, and the island, Rapa Nui.
Apr 21, Easter Island's famous moai statues slowly fading away. Anderson Cooper: I mean, is it not possible with carbon dating or other scientific techniques to know exactly when Moai statues on Easter Island at sunrise. Jeremy Woodhouse-Digital Vision/Getty Images; The early period is characterized by ahus at Tahai, Vinapu, and Anakena, carbon-dated to about - keitaiplus.com first two were admired and described by Captain Cook; the wall in Anakena remained hidden below ground until it was excavated archaeologically in
InChile finally gave them control of the national park where the moai and other important archaeological sites are located.
The park covers more than 40 percent of the island. The island of Rapa Nui was formed out of volcanic rock starting some 3 million years ago. There are now 3 dormant volcanoes that dominate the landscape. This one is called 'Rano Kau. Those three elements are, over time, destroying the moai. These statues may look as though they're solid stone, but they're actually quite porous. Jo Anne Van Tilburg showed us a small piece of the soft volcanic rock called tuff that the moai are made from. Jo Anne Van Tilburg: Tuff has really special qualities that- where it can be carved and it can be polished quite easily.
Anderson Cooper: It's good for sculpting because it- it's- with a harder stone, it's able to be chipped away easily. Jo Anne Van Tilburg: Correct. Anderson Cooper: So the very material which made- made these statues possible- also, long term, makes them vul- very vulnerable. Jo Anne Van Tilburg: Exactly. Rainwater and airborne seeds get into the pores of tuff, gradually breaking it apart. The wind whittles the stone away over time, and further damage is done by birds, and a type of algae called lichen.
Some moai are in worse condition than others.
Take a look at this one called Tukuturi. This photograph is fromwhen it was unearthed. This is how Tukuturi looks today. Jo Anne Van Tilburg: The stone breaks very easily.
It is just not stable. Anderson Cooper: Essentially, I mean, they're dissolving. Jo Anne Van Tilburg: Yeah, they are. I mean, if they're standing out in the rain, they're melting like sugar cubes.
Anderson Cooper: Like sugar cubes in the rain? It's that dramatic.
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In the s, with help from the Japanese government, the 15 moai at Tongariki, which had fallen or been toppled over, were reconstructed along with the stone platform they now stand on. The UN has declared Easter Island a World Heritage Site, and efforts to slow the disintegration of the statues with a chemical sealant have been underway for decades, but so far only about 20 moai have been treated.
The process is expensive, money the island doesn't have. It's also not a permanent solution. The sealant only delays the inevitable. One day these moai will likely disappear.
Anderson Cooper: Is there a plan? A- conservation plan?
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An environmental plan for long term, in the future? Pedro Edmunds Paoa: No. Anderson Cooper: There's not? Pedro Edmunds Paoa: None. None at all. Mayor Pedro Edmunds Paoa is frustrated. There is a lack of consensus among the Rapa Nui about how to preserve the moai.
And the island's infrastructure is under pressure from all the tourists who want to come see the statues. A few decades ago there were only two incoming flights a week.
Now there are two almost everyday. Cruise ships also make regular calls, just long enough for passengers to get off the boat, grab some souvenirs and snap a few selfies. In all,tourists visited last year.
Visit Rapa Nui of Easter Island
Pedro Edmunds Paoa: That's too much. Cristian Moreno Pakarati: So in material terms- the community has never been better. But in general it's much less friendly than it was some time ago. He says the more the island caters to tourists, the less like home it is for the people whose ancestors built the moai. Continuing our circumnavigation of the island, takes us west along the north shoreline to Anakena beach.
This white-sand beach flanked with swaying palm trees is one of my favourite beaches in the world; Rugged, remote and restful.
Researchers have long puzzled over why the huge Easter Island statues were placed where they are. However, a new study says the people of Rapa Nui, as the island is called in the local language. The dates from the island depend on radiocarbon dating. The first, and now the traditional dates were given in a remarkable book "Easter Island, Earth Island" by the British archaeologist Paul Bahn and the New Zealand botanist John Flenley, first published in These dates depended mostly on . Carbon dating of artefacts on Easter Island shows the Polynesians landed around AD It seems they lived an isolated existence for the next thousand years on an island measuring 22x11km, roughly.
Venturing towards the west coast now, we arrive at Ahu Akiviwhich is unique because these Moai are the only ones to all face towards the sea, although it does overlook a village site too.
Access has now been restricted because of the risk of collapse, so I was fortunate to visit it before the restriction. This cave is actually a lava channel, formed from the volcanic eruptions that led to the creation of Easter Island.
But interestingly a discovery was made from broken fragments of coral found at many of the Moai sites. Archaeologists reassembled these fragments to form these white coral eyes with black or red coloured pupils.
The answer is no one really knows. There are various theories that revolve around the use of wooden rollers or sledges and ropes to pull the statues along. Finally, no visit to Easter Island would be complete without visiting the volcanic crater at Rano Kau. Competitors had to climb down the cliffs and swim out to the small island at Motu Nui. They would have to collect a fresh egg from the manutara bird and then swim back and climb the cliffs to the village.
The winner of the competition was the first person to return with an intact egg. This winner would then become the King for the year. However, another theory suggests that the arrival of the European settlers introduced disease and slavery, bringing about their downfall. Professor Stephen Hawking said this about the downfall of civilizations:. For more about Chile, read Why Chile is the perfect adventure travel destination.
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Just purchased a Moai replica for our pool area in Mexico. Thank you for the inspiration. Lots of similarities snd ideas that make sense from 2 islands 3, miles apart A lot to think about. A very captivating and informative blog, I will surely visit Christmas Island one day, awesome place of wonder and curiosity. Very Informative blog, gain a lot of knowledge from it and the pictures are truly inspiring. But I am a bit confused about the mystery of Easter Land, Could anyone explain in detail about it?
I think I may have a good idea off the statues purpose. They are all ona volcanic island, the have bodies buried in the ground. Maybe they were used to measure the lava flow. That could be why they are facing the flat city.
They are the warning to leave if the volcano ever blew.
Interesting Article. I wondered the same in my younger age for the Easter Island Statues. But, it was really an unveiling of a mystery when I got to know the real reasons.
Chile is a beautiful place for such wanderers like us. I have also read an another article as interesting as this one. Interesting article, and very captivating and vivid photos.
It seems like a really great place. Thanks for sharing. Easter Island is on my bucket list! There is something about the Pacific Islands that I just cannot get enough! I wish it was easier to Island Hop here, but we will get here with the kids soon!
Thanks for sharing! Really interesting article.
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I had no idea it was even possible to travel to Easter Island. The impression I get from documentaries was one of a tiny uninhabited rock.
Easter Island, Spanish Isla de Pascua, also called Rapa Nui, Chilean dependency in the eastern Pacific Ocean. It is the easternmost outpost of the Polynesian island world. It is famous for its giant stone statues. The island stands in isolation 1, miles (1, kilometres) east of Pitcairn Island and 2, miles west of Chile. Easter Island (Rapa Nui: Rapa Nui, Spanish: Isla de Pascua) is an island and special territory of Chile in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle in keitaiplus.com Island is most famous for its nearly 1, extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui keitaiplus.com , UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site Country: Chile. Jul 10, Easter Island may have been first discovered over 5, years ago, though the oldest carbon dating is from about AD. Most sites are near the ocean and would have been washed and destroyed by waves over the many hundreds and thousands of years that man may have been on the island.
Hello, The information given in this blog is great but we often read this on many travel websites. But he discuss some new things about the island. The quality and quantity of pictures about Easter Island are awesome too. The author brings more interest of readers when he includes the Anakena beach. In short it is a good post having great collection of pics. I Love it. I was always really wondering how the easter statues had managed to get to this island, and how they were formed.
Great post and beautiful pictures. The Statues looks amazing, surely an interesting place to visit. Great, that place is looking so beautiful and statues are one of the best attraction. What else I could say?
It is not only written beautifully but these professionally taken pictures make me feel like I am the part of the environment.
Easter island is still mistery and yes it should be on anyone travel wishlist. The photo that you were taken are stunning and by just looking at your picture it make us all want to visit it one day.