Rapa Nui or Easter Island, as it is commonly known is home to the enigmatic Moai, stone monoliths that have stood watch over the island landscape for hundreds of years. Their existence is a marvel of human ingenuity — and their meaning a source of some mystery. Ancient Rapanui carvers worked at the behest of the elite ruling class to carve nearly 1, Moai because they, and the community at large, believed the statues capable of producing agricultural fertility and thereby critical food supplies, according to a new study from Jo Anne Van Tilburg, director of the Easter Island Statue Project, recently published in Journal of Archaeological Science. Van Tilburg and her team, working with geoarchaeologist and soils specialist Sarah Sherwood, believe they have found scientific evidence of that long-hypothesized meaning thanks to careful study of two particular Moai excavated over five years in the Rano Raraku quarry on the eastern side of the Polynesian island. Van Tilburg’s most recent analysis focused on two of the monoliths that stand within the inner region of the Rano Raraku quarry, which is the origin of 95 percent of the island’s more than 1, Moai. Extensive laboratory testing of soil samples from the same area shows evidence of foods such as banana, taro and sweet potato. Van Tilburg said the analysis showed that in addition to serving as a quarry and a place for carving statues, Rano Raraku also was the site of a productive agricultural area. I think our new analysis humanizes the production process of the Moai,” Van Tilburg said.
Easter Island Moai
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Title: Female Figure (Moai Papa). Date: 19th century. Geography: Chile, Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Culture: Rapa Nui people. Medium: Wood, glass, paint.
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The Secrets of Easter Island
The dates of Easter Island are currently in flux in that the traditional dates have been challenged, so two different sets of dates must be given. The dates from the island depend on radiocarbon dating. These dates depended mostly on pollen analysis.
Ongoing archaeological studies suggest a still-later date: “Radiocarbon dates for the earliest stratigraphic layers at Anakena, Easter Island, and analysis of.
Its nearly 1, statues, some almost 30 feet tall and weighing as much as 80 tons, are still an enigma, but the statue builders are far from vanished. In fact, their descendants are making art and renewing their cultural traditions in an island renaissance. To early travelers, the spectacle of immense stone figures, at once serenely godlike and savagely human, was almost beyond imagining. James Cook wrote in He freely speculated on how the statues might have been raised, a little at a time, using piles of stones and scaffolding; and there has been no end of speculation, and no lack of scientific investigation, in the centuries that followed.
But the art of Easter Island still looms on the horizon of the human imagination. Just 14 miles long and 7 miles wide, the island is more than 2, miles off the coast of South America and 1, miles from its nearest Polynesian neighbor, Pitcairn Island, where mutineers from the HMS Bounty hid in the 19th century. Too far south for a tropical climate, lacking coral reefs and perfect beaches, and whipped by perennial winds and seasonal downpours, Easter Island nonetheless possesses a rugged beauty—a mixture of geology and art, of volcanic cones and lava flows, steep cliffs and rocky coves.
Its megalithic statues are even more imposing than the landscape, but there is a rich tradition of island arts in forms less solid than stone—in wood and bark cloth, strings and feathers, songs and dances, and in a lost form of pictorial writing called rongorongo, which has eluded every attempt to decipher it. A society of hereditary chiefs, priests, clans and guilds of specialized craftsmen lived in isolation for 1, years. History, as much as art, made this island unique. But attempts to unravel that history have produced many interpretations and arguments.
But by no means everything. When did the first people arrive?
File:Moai at Rano Raraku – Easter Island (5956405378).jpg
View of the northeast of the exterior slopes of the quarry, with several moai human figure carving on the slopes; a young South American man with a horse is standing in the foreground for scale, Easter Island, photograph, 8. This monumental carving of the head and torso of a man is almost twice life-size. The proportions are typical of these statues, with the head one-third of the total height.
The island is known to its inhabitants as Rapa Nui. The moai were probably carved to commemorate important ancestors and were made from around C.
Easter Island covers roughly 64 square miles in the South Pacific Ocean, is an array of almost giant stone figures that date back many centuries. the moai culture, a new cult of bird worship developed on Easter Island.
The island is famous for its gigantic stone statues , of which there are more than , and for the ruins of giant stone platforms ahu s with open courtyards on their landward sides, some of which show masterly construction. Archaeological surveys were carried out in , , and ; archaeological excavations were initiated in The excavations revealed that three distinct cultural periods are identifiable on the island.
The early period is characterized by ahu s at Tahai, Vinapu, and Anakena, carbon-dated to about — ce. The first two were admired and described by Captain Cook; the wall in Anakena remained hidden below ground until it was excavated archaeologically in The excavations in Anakena have revealed that a variety of statues were carved in the early period, among them a smaller prototype of the middle-period busts, which mainly differ from the latter by their rounded heads and stubby bodies.
Another type was a realistic sculpture in full figure of a kneeling man with his buttocks resting on his heels and his hands on his knees, in one case with his ribs exposed, all features characteristic of pre-Inca monuments at Tiwanaku in South America. In the middle period, about —, statues were deliberately destroyed and discarded, and all ahu s were rebuilt with no regard for solar orientation or masonry fitting.
The sole desire seems to have been to obtain strong platforms capable of supporting ever taller and heavier busts, the classical moai of the middle period. Burial chambers also were constructed within the ahu s in the middle period. The sizes of the statues made were increased until they reached stupendous dimensions; the slim and lofty busts also had huge cylindrical pukao topknots of red tuff placed on top of their slender heads.
Most middle-period statues range from about 10 to 20 feet in height, but the biggest among those formerly standing on top of an ahu was about 32 feet tall, consisted of a single block weighing about 82 tons 74, kilograms , and had a pukao of about 11 tons balanced on its apex.
Growing Evidence Says People on Easter Island Were Still Okay When Europeans Landed
Explaining the processes underlying the emergence of monument construction is a major theme in contemporary anthropological archaeology, and recent studies have employed spatially-explicit modeling to explain these patterns. Rapa Nui Easter Island, Chile is famous for its elaborate ritual architecture, particularly numerous monumental platforms ahu and statuary moai. To date, however, we lack explicit modeling to explain spatial and temporal aspects of monument construction.
Date: – Location: Easter Island, Ahu Nau Nau – Anakena Moai: foot, ton original moai from Easter Island Method: Tied statue on its back to a.
Moai on platform. Volcanic figures of basalt base. Rapa Nui. Easter Island is called Rapa Nui by the people who live here. Original Location. Shown on a stone platform. Orongo – Stone village on Rapa Nui that is used for ritualistic purposes. As the environment of the island changed the religion also shifted which led to the end of the creation of the Moai. From C. E, statues began to be torn down. Last ones were torn down in
Brief History of Easter Island (Home of the Moais)
The production and transportation of the more than statues   is considered a remarkable creative and physical feat. The human figures would be outlined in the rock wall first, then chipped away until only the image was left. The lips protrude in a thin pout. Like the nose, the ears are elongated and oblong in form.
Moai s at Rano Raraku, Easter Island. Verbena litoralis and a more refined chronology for their sediment core based on radiocarbon dating.
A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America. DiNapoli has demonstrated that the people of Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, continued to construct monumental stone statues well after , a date around which some scholars believe society on the island suffered a collapse. The team investigated the construction sequence of the statues, also known as moai, by studying radiocarbon dates taken at 11 sites.
They found that the islanders began to build moai soon after they settled Rapa Nui in the thirteenth century and continued to construct them at least years after the supposed collapse around Accounts left by Dutch explorers who reached the island in suggest the islanders were still using the moai for rituals.
Later Spanish voyagers, who landed on the island in , also reported the moai were still in use, though by the British explorer James Cook found that Rapa Nui was in a state of crisis and that many moai had been overturned. Subscribe to the Digital Edition! Archaeology e-Update Subscriber Alert!