Famed Easter Island Heads Have Bodies
By James Donahue
Back when Norwegian archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl made his journey on an open raft from South America
to Easter Island and then led an archaeological excavation of the island, it apparently never occurred to him that there might
be more to that strange row of giant carved heads than meets the eye.
In his book The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas, Heyerdahl presented his
theory that people traveled from Peru to Easter Island and settled there about 380 A.D. His expedition team uncovered evidence
of a once advanced civilization that briefly occupied the island until all of the trees were gone. He even offered theories
as to how the natives carved the heads, moved them from a quarry and used wooden beams to push them upright.
Heyerdahl’s work was hailed by the world archaeological community and his theories have stood,
nearly unchallenged, until 2010 when a fresh dig, the Easter Island Statue Project led by Jo Anne Van Tilburg, began digging
around two of the "heads" and made a startling discovery. The heads are only part of much larger statues that have full bodies
the go deep into the earth.
This puts the Easter Island "Moai," the traditional name for the heads, in league with the other great
world monoliths like Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids. Estimated to have been carved by ancient Polynesians between 1100
and 1500 A.D., the rock giants tower up to 70 feet in height. Their massive weight and size puts in question the Heyerdahl
theory that the natives used ropes and wooden poles to raise them to an upright position.
The research teams, refusing to believe that supernatural forces may have been at play on Easter Island,
have offered yet a new theory as to how the natives may have moved the moai statues once they were carved.
Archaeologist Carl Lipo and anthropologist Terry Hunt, in an article published in the July, 2012 issue
of National Geographic magazine, suggest that the natives used a system of ropes and manpower to collectively "walk" the 270-ton
monuments to their place on the hill looking out over the ocean.
Kipo and Hunt apparently assume that the statues were carved in their upright position, that the rock
from which they were made was already conveniently in place on the edge of the quarry, that the road to the hill was flat
and solid, and that there would be no problem "walking" the giants to their place on a sloping hill. The thought of the possible
tipping of one of the statues and failure on the part of the natives to move it farther seems almost inevitable. And if it
had happened that way, the road from the quarry to the row of Moai on the hill should be found strewn with the monster rocks
that didn’t make it.
Another theory has held that the islanders used some form of a sled to drag the statues to their destination.
This suggests that thousands of slaves were involved, much as some researchers believe the pyramids were built. This theory
also suggests that the deforestation of the island to be used in the statue transporting was linked to the destruction of
the island’s population.
The Van Tilburg research team has made a few other interesting discoveries after digging to the base
of the two statues. They rest on pavements made of rock. On the pavement under one of the statues was found a stone carved
with a crescent symbol thought to represent a canoe or vaka, a native sea-going vessel.
Van Tilburg also reports large quantities of red pigment found at the sites, suggesting that when
they were put in place, they were painted red.
The backs of the two uncovered statues are covered with petroglyphs, many of them also appearing to
Putting all of this new information together into a revised theory as to who the Easter Island inhabitants
were and why they used all of their resources to manufacture this amazing row of about 150 giants, all turned facing the open
sea, will obviously keep anthropologists guessing for years to come.
We may never know the answer.