Mystery of the Moai statues

Ever wondered how the native inhabitants of Easter Island managed to move their 33 feet, 80 tonne statues – known as ‘moai’ – to their positions on the coast without any use of wheels or draft animals? Scientists say they’ve got an answer: it was a combination of manpower, patience and ropes that allowed the statues to ‘walk’ to their current locations. This idea, first put forward by anthropologist Terry Hunt, was put into practice with the help many volunteers. What makes this all so wonderful is that the Easter Island natives, the Rapanui, have long claimed in their myth and traditions that the statues did indeed walk, so this all fits together rather wonderfully. In the Rapanui oral tradition, the moai were animated by mana, a spiritual force transmitted by powerful ancestors. An experiment involved two groups rocking the statue from side to side while a third stabilized it from behind. This showed that a minimum of 18 people could move the 10-foot, 5-ton moai a few hundred yards without it tipping over. As a team of volunteers pulls in one direction and a group across from them coordinates, a full-scale replica of an Easter Island moai ‘walked’ down a road in Hawaii, where the experiment was conducted.

RELATED: Things to do on Easter Island

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