Buried Easter Island Moai statue devoid of weathering shows detailed carvings

Archaeologists have discovered bodies attached to human heads and have found interesting discoveries that help us understand more about the Easter Island civilization and how they made the monoliths.

The heads of Easter Island were called Moai by the Rapa Nui people, who carved figures in the tropical South Pacific just west of Chile. The monoliths of Moai, carved from rock found on the island, date from 1,100 to 1,500 AD. A bit out of the way, but CE refers to the “Common Era” and sometimes supersedes the use of AD in historical and archaeological communities.

As with many things on Earth, time has affected the statues and buried them in sediment and rock, concealing and preserving the bodies of the heads of Easter Island. However, a team of archaeologists at UCLA developed the Easter Island Statue Project to better study and preserve the artifacts. Through this work, the team excavated several head sections to reveal the torso and body underneath.

To carve and place the statues vertically, Rapa Nui used large tree trunks placed into deep holes close to the statues. They then used ropes and large tree trunks to lift the statue upright in place. Rapa Nui carved the heads and fronts of the statues while they were lying on the ground, then finished the backs after lifting the stone statues. The tallest of these statues is 33 feet tall and is called Paro.

In total, the team profiled and studied nearly 1,000 statues on the small Pacific island. The project lasted nine years, during which the team determined to the best of their ability the meaning, function and history of each individual statue.’

Red pigment has been found at the burial sites of some individuals, suggesting that the statues may have been painted red during the ceremonies. These tombs often surround the statues, suggesting that Rapa Nui also buried their dead along with the family statue.

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