Easter Island statues
Easter Island statues. Row of megalithic moai statues on Easter Island (Rapa Nui) in the South Pacific. The statues top an ahu (burial platform) and look inland from beside the sea. This is Ahu Tongariki. These megaliths were carved from volcanic rock by the islanders from 400- 1500 AD. Around 1000 statues were carved, with about 100 of these re-erected by archaeologists. They are 3-12 metres tall and weigh up to 85 tonnes. Carving and erection ceased with the deforestation of the island, partly to provide rollers and levers to erect the statues. This led to soil erosion, starvation, civil war and the collapse of the island's culture.
© DAVID NUNUK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Close-up of moai heads still within the crater from where they were quarried
Close-up of moai heads still within the crater from where they were quarried and carved at Rano Raraku on Easter Island (Rapa Nui), UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chile, Pacific, South America
© Geoff Renner
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Moai statue of Easter Island with pukao topknot
Easter Island, also called Rapa Nui, is most famous for its large moai statues that were carved by native peoples between 1250 and 1500. The island is also considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and much of the island's land belongs to the Rapa Nui National Park. The production and transportation of the 887 statues are considered remarkable creative and physical feats. The tallest moai erected was almost 10 metres (33 ft) high and weighed 82 tons. Almost all moai have overly large heads three-eighths the size of the whole statue. Some moai had pukao on their heads; these were carved out of red scoria, a very light rock from a quarry at Puna Pau. Red itself is considered a sacred color in Polynesia. The added pukau suggest a further status to the moai.