For years, archaeologists have been stumped about how, exactly, Polynesian natives moved the famed Easter Island statues.
Starting at around the year 1250, the Rapa Nui, as the island’s inhabitants are known, moved the huge stones several miles from a quarry to the coast. These things are behemoths, weighing in at an average of 15 tons each. Yep, you read that right — the typical Easter Island statue, known as Moai, weighs about as much as 7 cars. The largest weighs in at a whopping 82 tons.
Archaeologists from Cal State-Long Beach and the University of Hawaii think they know how this amazing feat of engineering was done, and it’s an astonishingly simple method. Yep, there’s highly convincing evidence that the Rapa Nui “walked” the stones “with ropes by tilting them back and forth on their bases.” The research team even demonstrated how, successfully moving a 5 ton stone with the efforts of 18 people. (You can see video of the successful experiment on the next page.)
Previously, the most prevailing theory held that the Rapa Nui built wooden sleds for the stones and guided them on wooden rails. The logistics of that method, though, were a little off — think of all the manpower and valuable wood that would have required!
Rapa Nui myths tell the story of how the moai, which represent the living faces of deified ancestors, “walked” across the island, adding more credence to this theory.
Next Page: Video of Researchers Moving Statue