Ann Tickwittee in Chile
Ann: Welcome to Easter Island!
Most of these Moai sculptures on Easter Island were made on the 14th and 15th century, but there’s archaeological evidence that smaller statues were already been set up in the 8th century, and a few had been faded even earlier. Whew, it takes a level ahead to keep all these days straight!
These stone giants weigh an average of 16 tons, and some of them stand 12 miles from the quarry. They probably didn’t just get up and walk there, but that’s what the legends say. Easter Islanders thought of a special priest who order the statues to walk. The modern archaeologists suspect that the statues were pulled by ropes along round of the log.
Taking hints from some unfinished statues, we know that the workers carved the Moais when they were lying on their backs. Once the carving was detached from the surrounding rock, the finishing touches were added. Engraving patterns were cut into the statue’s back, and the Moais were painted red or white, and given coral eyes.
You can still find about 300 Moai statues lying in ancient quarries. Some barely roughed out, and others completely finished. The workers seem to have simply dropped their tools and left their work incomplete. Maybe they just lost their heads!
These Moai statues probably honored ancestors or high-ranking tribal chiefs. They were erected on platforms where the Easter Islanders gathered during community and religious ceremonies.
The great mystery of Easter Island is, who built these statues? Well, I’ll tell you: I don’t know! No one does. A civilization existed here as early as 380 AD, but we don’t know where the citizens came from. Since their style of housing was similar to that of people in South America, it’s possible that the original builders came from Peru.