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Friday, 28 August 2020

See These Amazing Images of Easter Island Statues With Bodies—Who Knew? + more: Sarah Cascone

 See These Amazing Images of Easter Island Statues With Bodies—Who Knew?

There is more to the iconic Easter Island heads than meets the eye.

A fully excavated Easter Island head. Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.
A fully excavated Easter Island head. Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Easter Island’s monumental stone heads are well-known, but there’s more to the story: all along, the sculptures have secretly had torsos, buried beneath the earth.

Archaeologists have documented 887 of the massive statues, known as moai, but there may up as many as 1,000 of them on the island. Most were carved from volcanic rock between 1100 and 1680.

While the island is a popular tourist destination, the statue’s sheer size certainly discourages the type of theft experienced at other historic archaeological sites.

The Easter Island bodies were news to us, but apparently this is not a recent discovery. Photographs of the statues undergoing excavation began circulating in May of 2012, and Live Science asserts that archaeologists have actually known about the bodies since archaeological research on the island, located 2,000 miles west of Chile, began over a century ago, in 1914.

More Easter Island excavations. Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

More Easter Island excavations.
Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

“There are about 150 statues buried up to the shoulders on the slope of a volcano, and these are the most famous, most beautiful and most photographed of all the Easter Island statues,” Easter Island Statue Project director Jo Anne Van Tilburg told Live Science. “This suggested to people who had not seen photos of (other unearthed statues) that they are heads only.”

It was photographs of Tilburg’s 2010 excavations of two of the statues’ buried bodies that sparked online interest in the missing halves of these ancient sculptures. The images attracted so much interest when people started emailing them in 2012 that the Easter Island Statue Project’s website crashed under a rush of three million hits.

Tilburg’s work, which began in 2000, marked the first time the moai were excavated by a scientific team that thoroughly documented the process. “It’s always important to get beneath the surface of things,” she told Fox News.

See more photos of the Easter Island statues below.

An excavated statue on Easter Island. Photo: Greg Downing.

An excavated statue on Easter Island.
Photo: Greg Downing.

More Easter Island excavations. Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

More Easter Island excavations.
Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Excavations on the Easter Island head. Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Excavations on the Easter Island head.
Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.


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Sarah Cascone

Senior Writer


The Civilization on Easter Island May Have Collapsed a Lot Later Than Previously Believed, a New Study Says

A new study shows that Easter Island society was still going strong when the first Europeans arrived.

Moai set in the hillside at Rano Raraku on Easter Island. Photo by Aurbina via Wikimedia Commons.
Moai set in the hillside at Rano Raraku on Easter Island. Photo by Aurbina via Wikimedia Commons.

Archaeologists have long assumed that the ancient society that erected the colossal Moai figures on Chile’s Rapa Nui, better known as Easter Island, collapsed many centuries ago. Now, a new study indicates that the islanders’ civilization was still going strong when Europeans arrived in 1722.

The island was settled in the 13th century by Polynesians, and is known for the famed Easter Island “heads” (many of the bodies have been buried by erosion over the centuries).

The research, which appears in the Journal of Archaeological Science, contests the accepted timeline that the Easter Island society was already in decline by the year 1600 and its massive stone statues left to fall into disrepair.

Conducting radiocarbon dating on 11 sites on Easter Island, the authors determined the timeline of each monument’s construction. Their findings indicate that Easter Islanders were still actively building new Moai figures, and maintaining existing ones, up until at least 1750.

Trekking at Rano Raraku Volcano on Easter Island. Photo courtesy of Wheel the World.

Further supporting these results are historical documents from the island’s first European visitors. Written accounts from the Dutch explorers who arrived in 1722 found that the monuments were in active ritual use, with no signs of decline, and the same goes for the Spaniards who landed in 1770. It was only in 1774 that James Cook found the giant statues in ruins and the figures knocked over.

“The way we interpret our results and this sequence of historical accounts is that the notion of a pre-European collapse of monument construction is no longer supported,” lead author Robert DiNapoli told Archaeology & Arts.

“Once Europeans arrive on the island, there are many documented tragic events due to disease, murder, slave raiding and other conflicts,” added co-author Carl Lipo. “The degree to which [the Rapa Nui people’s] cultural heritage was passed on—and is still present today through language, arts, and cultural practices—is quite notable and impressive. I think this degree of resilience has been overlooked due to the collapse narrative and deserves recognition.”


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A Mayor on Easter Island Is Up in Arms After a Runaway Pickup Truck Knocked Over a Sacred Statue

A sacred Moai sculpture suffers severe damage in an accident blamed on a catastrophic brake failure.

A Moai, monolithic human figure on Easter Island. Photo by Andia/ Universal Images Group via Getty Images.
A Moai, monolithic human figure on Easter Island. Photo by Andia/ Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

The mayor of Easter Island is determined to restrict vehicular access to heritage sites after a runaway truck collided with a sacred statue. The accident caused “incalculable” damage to one of the island’s famous moai statues. The pick-up truck, which was driven by a Chilean national who lives on the Pacific island, rolled down a hill and toppled the standing figure in the crash. Preliminary investigations suggest that the accident was due to a brake failure.

Moai are sacred to the indigenous people of the island, which locals call Rapa Nui. The community believes that the monuments contain spirits, and the stone figures are regarded as living embodiments of their ancestors. 

The island’s mayor, Pedro Edmunds, says he will propose new traffic rules to the city council after the accident on Sunday, March 1. The politician says he wants to ban vehicles from entering heritage and archaeological sites to protect the sculptures and avoid a repeat of the accidental damage.

He told local media outlet El Mercurio that a municipal ordinance restricting vehicle access to sacred sites was proposed eight years ago but “everyone refused.”

That reluctance looks set to change as the number of tourists continues to grow. The mayor said that around 12,000 tourists arrive each month, swelling the island’s population, which has recently jumped from 8,000 to 12,000 people.

A photo of the aftermath from the posted to the Facebook page of the Comunidad Indígena Ma'u Henua. Courtesy @comunidadmauhenua on Facebook.

A photo of the aftermath from the posted to the Facebook page of the Comunidad Indígena Ma’u Henua. Courtesy @comunidadmauhenua on Facebook.

The owner of the truck has been formally charged with the crime of damaging a national monument. He faces a fine of between 2,502,050 and 10,004,200 Chilean pesos ($3,000 to $12,000) as well as other criminal consequences pending the conclusion of a 90 day investigation into the incident. 

The standing figures are shrouded in mystery. Archaeologists recently proposed that they were placed close their sources of fresh water—a precious resource. As well as moments to their ancestors, it turns out they may have also served a more utilitarian purpose.


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source:  https://news.artnet.com/art-world/easter-island-head-bodies-293799