8 Fascinating Easter Island Facts and Theories
Easter Island is one of the most isolated in the world. It is located in East Polynesia about 3, 700 kilometers off the coast of Chile. Perhaps because it is so remote, it is still so mysterious, as it also houses 887 giant stone statues (called moai ), which make the place even more fascinating.
According to National Geographic, these huge stone blocks, which feature head and trunk figures, are mostly four meters high. The effort to build these monuments and move them around the island must have been impressive, but no one knows exactly why the people of the place engaged in such a task.
Most scholars assume that the statues were created to honor ancestors, leaders, householders, or other important characters. However, due to the lack of written records and minimal oral history on the island it is impossible to be sure. Many of them were just tipped off the surface and were dug up, restored and aligned.
Each year, more theories emerge about the place, the statues and the people who lived there on Easter Island, also called Rapa Nui . And an article from the List Verse website, published by Estelle Thurtle, showed you the main facts and theories, which we will present to you below. Check it out below:
8 - The "walk" of the moai
What most puzzles scientists and Easter Island visitors might be: How did these huge, heavy statues get to where they are? To get an idea, as stated above, the average height of most statues is four meters, but there is one ( Paro ), which is almost ten meters long and weighs 82 tons!
Imagine moving all these monuments with scarce resources from ancient times - it is estimated that the island had its first human occupation before the year 900.
To try to reproduce what may have happened in those times, some researchers (in the early 1980s) made replicas of the statues (of the same size and weight) and tried to move them using only tools that might have been available in the past. With this, they concluded that this work was virtually impossible to do.
In 1987, American archaeologist Charles Love managed to move a 10-ton replica. How did he do it? Putting her in a kind of makeshift "vehicle" made up of two sleds. So he and 25 other men managed to drag the statue 46 meters in just two minutes.
Ten years after this feat, Czech engineer Pavel Pavel and Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl also built a replica and tied a rope around its base. Then, with the help of 16 other people, they were able to move the statue by swinging it from side to side.
The method was later confirmed by the Americans Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo, who also used the ropes and moved the statues in what looked like a "gait". Your team was able to move a replica this way for 100 meters. They also argue that this explains a Rapa Nui folklore, which tells that the statues walked because they were animated by magic.
7 - Devastation
There is a theory that the natives of the island devastated the forests of the place to make room for agriculture, believing that the trees would grow back quickly. Population growth would have made the problem worse and the island was no longer enough to support its inhabitants.
However, a new theory suggests that there is very little evidence that this actually happened. According to her, the members of the Rapa Nui people were, in fact, very intelligent “agricultural engineers”. One study showed that agricultural fields were often fertilized with volcanic material.
American researchers Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo also theorize that although the islanders cleared most of the forest, they replaced it with pasture. They do not believe there was a catastrophe that killed the islanders.
In a study by anthropologist Mara Mulrooney, it was concluded from radiocarbon data that Easter Island was inhabited for many centuries and its population fell only after Europeans began to frequent it.
6 - The influence of mice
Still in studies by researchers Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo, they offer an alternative explanation for the declining population. According to them, the lack of predators and overeating on the island provided a perfect haven for rats hidden in the canoes of the island's early settlers.
Also, although the natives probably cut down many trees and used to make fires, it was the rats that prevented them from sprouting again because they ate the new plants.
But while rats may have damaged the island's ecosystem, they gave the inhabitants a new source of food. The discovery of rat bones in garbage dumps on the island indicates that the natives consumed rodents.
5 - Aliens?
Obviously, if there is a list of theories, aliens need to be in it! There is a popular saying that moai statues were created (or at least influenced) by aliens.
One of the people who helped spread the theory was writer Erich von Daniken, who also believes that the ancient Egyptians could not have built the pyramids alone because they lacked intelligence and strength. Similar alien theories explain the Mayan pyramids and Nazca line drawings.
But it is well known that the stone used to build each of the statues was actually taken from the island itself, from an extinct volcano on the northeast side, not from another planet. In fact, there is no real mystery about who built the statues, but why they did it.
4 - Strange Comparisons
In 2012, Natural Sciences professor Robert M. Schoch stated in a theory (labeled as crazy) that Easter Island's writing system would actually be 10, 000 years older than popularly believed. This statement could also assume that the island itself was inhabited much earlier than originally thought.
Robert came to this conclusion after exploring Gobekli Tepe, a set of ancient stones in Turkey believed to have been erected 12, 000 years ago. According to List Verse, the place has no evidence of housing or agriculture, indicating that it may have been built solely for the purpose of maintaining ceremonies and rituals.
According to the teacher, the stones of Gobekli Tepe and the moai statues of Easter Island are almost the same, because of similarities in the style of the figures.
He simply disregards the 12, 000 year difference between the two ancient places and also ignores that Easter Island heads are large, while Turkish figures are thin and have no noticeable heads. According to island scholars, the teacher's statements are unfounded.
3 - The matter of the ears
Several human skulls were found on Easter Island, but they had some distinct characteristics. According to List Verse, researcher Rupert Ivan Murril mentioned in his book that the skulls found on the island were long and narrow. Their analysis also suggests that their ears were longer.
In the book Aku-Aku: The Secret of Easter Island by Thor Heyerdahl, the author mentions that there was a mortal struggle or even a war between peoples that were distinguished by "short ears" and "long ears".
The story goes that around 1675 the long-eared people who first inhabited the island dug a ditch and filled it with weeds. The problem was that a long-eared man revealed to his wife (who had short ears) that his people planned to take the little ears to the ditch and burn them alive.
Obviously, the woman would have been shocked and told her all about her plans, betraying her husband's confidence to save her people. Then the battle took place and it was the group of long ears that were burned, including women and children, who ended up in the ditch.
The author Heyerdahl described those with long ears as Peruvians and those with short ears as Polynesians. Captain James Cook visited Easter Island between 1772 and 1775 and saw many people with long ears, which raises some questions about the truth of the tale.
2 - The stone bodies
Many of the moai statues were buried and were excavated to have the entire dimension analyzed and exposed. In 2011, some scientists dug around some of them, revealing that the huge stone heads had their torso buried deep in the ground.
Researcher Thor Heyerdahl himself had excavated a statue from those decades before, but the new excavation uncovered statues seven meters high. On the stone torsos are not decipherable writings. Project director Jo Anne Van Tilburg also confirmed other interesting findings such as the cables connecting the statue to a tree trunk in a deep hole.
Her theory is that the Rapa Nui people used the ropes and trunk to pull the statue to an upright position, but before they did so, they carved the writing on the front of the statue. Another intriguing finding was the red pigment contained in a hole used to bury the stone, which they believe was used to paint the moai in rituals.
In addition, human bones were also found around the statues in the holes, leading to the belief that the ancient priests used red pigment as part of a burial practice.
1 - The cult of the "birdman"
Rano Kau Crater
The Rano Kau Crater is 324 meters high from an extinct volcano in the southwest area of Easter Island. Glued to the crater are the ruins of Orongo, which was a village where competition was held to honor the fertility god Makemake . The winner would be the one who managed to get down the very steep slopes of the crater, swim in the open sea and reach a nearby islet without being eaten by a shark. Cool huh?
On this little island they were supposed to reach would have an egg that needed to be brought back intact to the main island. It was practically a scavenger hunt, but much more risky. The one who could complete the feat was named “birdman” and took over the leadership of the village.
Victor worship became the main religion on the island until 1867, when missionaries arrived on the island and converted the inhabitants to Christianity. His traditional clothes, artifacts, tattoos and body painting all became history. Today, few people remain in true ties with the original people of Rapa Nui .
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Easter Island was named after the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen in 1722 crossed the Pacific from Chile in 1722, and after seventeen days of travel landed on the island on Easter Sunday and the name picked up due to this event.