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How Easter Island statues were erected

Last Updated: Monday, June 25, 2012 - 17:45

New York: The massive stones heads on Easter Island were simply ‘walked’ by the island’s native inhabitants, a new theory has suggested.

According to the new theory, Rapanui, the island’s native inhabitants, ‘walked’ the massive maoi statues with ropes.

The 33-foot tall, 80-ton structures have remained a mystery since the island, which lies 2,150 miles west of South America, was first discovered by Dutch explorers on Easter Sunday in 1722.

Terry Hunt, an archeologist at the University of Hawaii, and Carl P. Lip, an anthropologist at California State University Long Beach, believe that three groups of the native people, known as the Rapanui, used ropes to slowly “walk” the sculptures to different locations up to 11 miles away from the quarry.

Last year, Hunt and Lip, who describe their theory in more detail in their book “The Statues That Walked,” demonstrated how just 18 people could easily maneuver a 10-foot, 5-ton replica with three heavy ropes.

In the demonstration, two groups helped moved the scultpure forward while another group used a rope to keep the replica upright.

The actual statues, carved out of volcanic rock, would have been much harder to move as evidenced by the roads leading away from the quarry, which are lined with dozens of fallen statues.

Many of the statues, however, did make it intact to their giant stone platforms.

For the past 60 years, scientists have offered a wide range of explanations for how the iconic structures, known as moai, were transported.

Some researchers believe the Rapanui strapped the moai to tree trunks and dragged them while others suggest that the moai were rolled on sleds.

Hunt and Lipo’s hypothesis is the first to be backed by Rapanui lore.

“The experts can say whatever they want,” the New York Daily News quoted Suri Tuki, a 25-year-old Rapanui man, as saying.

“But we know the truth. The statues walked,” he added.


First Published: Monday, June 25, 2012 - 17:33
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