Mystery Wonders
Easter Island Secrets

Geologically one of the youngest inhabited territories on Earth, Easter Island was, for most of its history, one of the most isolated. Its inhabitants, the Rapa Nui, have endured famines, epidemics of disease and cannibalism, civil war, slave raids, various colonial contacts, and have seen their population crash on more than one occasion. The ensuing cultural legacy has brought the island notoriety out of proportion to the number of its inhabitants. They’re not just pretty faces. The Easter Island heads have been hiding a pretty big secret for a few hundred years – they’ve actually got bodies hidden underground. And here we all were thinking they were just, well, heads. The secret bodies have been uncovered by The Easter Island Statue Project, who’ve been looking after the heads (can we still call them that?) since 1982. Archaeologists have actually been digging up the bodies for almost a century, but it’s the Easter Island Statue Project who’ve carried on the work and blown our minds with this news. Since 2012, they’ve been unearthing the hidden torsos of two of the statues – known locally as moai – and documenting the whole thing on their website. The reason the bodies have been hidden underground for so long is that the statues were build on the side of a volcano, which helpfully erupted all over the statues and buried them up to their necks. The Project is only working on two statues at the moment, but they hope to put together a detailed inventory of every statue on the island. Something tells us they’ll be there for a while…


Story continues below !





















“There exists in the midst of the great ocean, in a region where nobody goes, a mysterious and isolated island,” wrote the 19th-century French seafarer and artist Pierre Loti. “The island is planted with monstrous great statues, the work of I don’t know what race, today degenerate or vanished; its great remains an enigma.” Named Easter Island by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who first spied it on Easter Day 1722, this tiny spit of volcanic rock in the vast South Seas is, even today, the most remote inhabited place on earth. Its nearly 1,000 statues, some almost 30 feet tall and weighing as much as 80 tons, are still an enigma, but the statue builders are far from vanished. In fact, their descendants are making art and renewing their cultural traditions in an island renaissance. To early travelers, the spectacle of immense stone figures, at once serenely godlike and savagely human, was almost beyond imagining. The island’s population was too small, too primitive and too isolated to be credited with such feats of artistry, engineering and labor. “We could hardly conceive how these islanders, wholly unacquainted with any mechanical power, could raise such stupendous figures,” the British mariner Capt. James Cook wrote in 1774. He freely speculated on how the statues might have been raised, a little at a time, using piles of stones and scaffolding; and there has been no end of speculation, and no lack of scientific investigation, in the centuries that followed. By Cook’s time, the islanders had toppled many of their statues and were neglecting those left standing. But the art of Easter Island still looms on the horizon of the human imagination. Just 14 miles long and 7 miles wide, the island is more than 2,000 miles off the coast of South America and 1,100 miles from its nearest Polynesian neighbor, Pitcairn Island, where mutineers from the HMS Bounty hid in the 19th century. Too far south for a tropical climate, lacking coral reefs and perfect beaches, and whipped by perennial winds and seasonal downpours, Easter Island nonetheless possesses a rugged beauty—a mixture of geology and art, of volcanic cones and lava flows, steep cliffs and rocky coves. Its megalithic statues are even more imposing than the landscape, but there is a rich tradition of island arts in forms less solid than stone—in wood and bark cloth, strings and feathers, songs and dances, and in a lost form of pictorial writing called rongorongo, which has eluded every attempt to decipher it. A society of hereditary chiefs, priests, clans and guilds of specialized craftsmen lived in isolation for 1,000 years. History, as much as art, made this island unique. But attempts to unravel that history have produced many interpretations and arguments. The missionary’s anecdotes, the archaeologist’s shovel, the anthropologist’s oral histories and boxes of bones have all revealed something of the island’s story. But by no means everything. When did the first people arrive? Where did they come from? Why did they carve such enormous statues? How did they move them and raise them up onto platforms? Why, after centuries, did they topple these idols? Such questions have been answered again and again, but the answers keep changing. Over the past few decades, archaeologists have assembled evidence that the first settlers came from another Polynesian island, but they can’t agree on which one. Estimates of when people first reached the island are as varied, ranging from the first to the sixth century A.D. And how they ever found the place, whether by design or accident, is yet another unresolved question. Some argue that the navigators of the first millennium could never have plotted a course over such immense distances without modern precision instruments. Others contend that the early Polynesians were among the world’s most skilled seafarers—masters of the night sky and the ocean’s currents. One archaeoastronomer suggests that a new supernova in the ancient skies may have pointed the way. But did the voyagers know the island was even there? For that, science has no answer. The islanders, however, do. Benedicto Tuki was a tall 65-year-old master wood-carver and keeper of ancient knowledge when I met him. (Tuki has since died.) His piercing eyes were set in a deeply creased, mahogany face. He introduced himself as a descendant of the island’s first king, Hotu Matu’a, who, he said, brought the original settlers from an island named Hiva in the Marquesas. He claimed his grandmother was the island’s last queen. He would tell me about Hotu Matu’a, he said that day, but only from the center of the island, at a platform called Ahu Akivi with its seven giant statues. There, he could recount the story in the right way. In Tuki’s native tongue, the island—like the people and the language—is called Rapa Nui. Platforms are called ahu, and the statues that sit on them, moai (pronounced mo-eye). As our jeep negotiated a rutted dirt road, the seven moai loomed into view. Their faces were paternal, all-knowing and human—forbiddingly human. These seven, Tuki said, were not watching over the land like those statues with their backs to the sea. These stared out beyond the island, across the ocean to the west, remembering where they came from. When Hotu Matu’a arrived on the island, Tuki added, he brought seven different races with him, which became the seven tribes of Rapa Nui. These moai represent the original ancestor from the Marquesas and the kings of other Polynesian islands. Tuki himself gazed into the distance as he chanted their names. “This is not written down,” he said. “My grandmother told me before she died.” His was the 68th generation, he added, since Hotu Matu’a. Because of fighting at home, Tuki continued, chief Hotu Matu’a gathered his followers for a voyage to a new land. His tattooist and priest, Hau Maka, had flown across the ocean in a dream and seen Rapa Nui and its location, which he described in detail. Hotu Matu’a and his brother-in-law set sail in long double canoes, loaded with people, food, water, plant cuttings and animals. After a voyage of two months, they sailed into Anakena Bay, which was just as the tattooist had described it.




you might be interested


Arizona Wave

Lencois Mranhenses Brasil

Ancient Atomic Bomb India

Fly Geyser

Taj Mahal

Two Headed Snake

Aurora

200 yo mummy not dead

GREAT SPHINX OF GIZA

Santorini

Rio de Janeiro

The Matterhorn

Spontaneous combustion

Sailing Stones

Tunguska Explosion Russia

Pillars of weathering

Bagan Myanmar

Sigiriya Sri Lanka

Largest Crab Ever

Stone Forest

Shroud of Turin

Easter Island Secrets

Underwater Cancun

Bermuda Triangle

Tutankhamun Mummy

Kittiwake Shipwreck

Antarctica

El Chupacabra

Grand Canyon

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Leshan Giant Buddha China

Nasca Lines

Wonder Rock

The Sahara Desert

Acropolis of Athens

Zhangye Danxia

Victoria Falls

Parícutin Vulcan

Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Mount Nemrut

Underwater Museum Cancún Mexico

Terracotta Army

Reed Flute Cave

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Valley of Love Ireland

Famous Petra

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

The Wonder Cave

Everglades Park

Twin Town

Great Pyramid of Giza

Iron Pillar Delhi

Alien Skulls ?

The Great Wall of China

Timbuktu

Lighthouse of Alexandria

Kukulkan Pyramid Chichen Itza

KAMPUNG KUANTAN FIREFLIES

Borobudur Temple

Angkor Wat

Lost Heracleion City

3,800 year old mummy Xiahoe

Giant Stone Balls

Black Hole

Colosseum Rome Italy

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Vimana Flying Machine

Blue Belize Hole

Area 51

Pompeii After Eruption

Valley of the Kings

Door to Hell

K2 Pakistan

Machu Picchu

Banaue Rice Terraces

Red Rain

Crystal Underwater Pyramid Cuba

Natural Zhangjiaje

Mount Rushmore

Yellowstone Park

Waterfalls Rio Tulija

Angel Falls

Underwater Pyramids off Cuba

The Ancient City of Mes Aynak

Pamukkale

Katmai Crater Lake

Hitler fled to Argentina

Memnon Colossi

Ark of the Covenant

Lost Kingdom Of Cleopatra

Stonehenge Stones

Plitvice Lakes

Colossus of Rhodes

Ayers Rock

Columnar Basalt

Blue Neon Waves




Stonehenge
Great Pyramid of Giza
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Colossus of Rhodes
Lighthouse of Alexandria
GREAT SPHINX OF GIZA
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Underwater Museum Cancún Mexico
Crystal Underwater Pyramid Cuba
Pompeii After Eruption
Underwater Pyramids off Cuba
Rio de Janeiro
Blue Belize Hole
Easter Island Secrets
Lencois Mranhenses Brasil
Colosseum Rome Italy
Leshan Giant Buddha China
Valley of Love Ireland
Kukulkan Pyramid Chichen Itza
The Great Wall of China
Underwater Cancun
Machu Picchu
Grand Canyon
Angkor Wat
Valley of the Kings
Angel Falls
Yellowstone
Sahara Desert
Matterhorn Mountain
Aurora
Victoria Falls
Parícutin
Pamukkale
Lost Heracleion City
Black Hole
Largest Crab Ever
Ayers Rock
The Wonder Cave
Mount Rushmore
Memnon Colossi
3,800 year old mummy Xiahoe
Arizona Wave
Wonder Rock
Lost Kingdom Of Cleopatra
Tutankhamun Mummy
Twin Town
Red Rain
Borobudur Temple
Banaue Rice Terraces
Sailing Stones
Spontaneous combustion
Paracas Skulls
Famous Petra
Terracotta Army
Kittiwake Shipwreck
Waterfalls Rio Tulija
Fly Geyser
K2 Pakistan
Natural Zhangjiaje
KAMPUNG KUANTAN FIREFLIES
Stone Forest
Katmai Crater Lake
Reed Flute Cave
Bagan Myanmar
Sigiriya Sri Lanka
Columnar Basalt
Blue Neon Waves
Bermuda Triangle
Shroud of Turin
Nasca Lines
Ark of the Covenant
El Chupacabra
Area 51
Iron Pillar Delhi
Tunguska Explosion Russia
Door to Hell
Everglades Park
Taj Mahal
Timbuktu
Zhangye Danxia
Two Headed Snake
Acropolis of Athens
Plitvice Lakes
200 yo mummy not dead
Pillars of weathering
Antarctica
Santorini
Hitler fled to Argentina
Ancient Atomic Bomb India
Mount Nemrut
Vimana Flying Machine
The Ancient City of Mes Aynak
Giant Stone Balls



back to top