The ‘walking’ statues of Easter Island
, 2022-09-07 02:00:00,
Why the Rapanui chose to walk the statues rather than drag them or roll them on logs came down to practicalities, according to Lipo. The weight of the sculptures would have crushed the logs, while dragging such huge moai would have demanded enormous manpower. On a remote, barren island bestowed with few resources, walking the statues would have been an efficient method. “You see the engineering that went into being able to make and move the moai with the least cost. The Rapanui people did it within the constraints of the island, basically by cooperation and ingenuity,” he said.
My walk from the Rano Raraku crater to Ahu Tongariki was just 800m in distance, but I wasn’t trying to guide an 88-ton moai with a few ropes. Other statues I visited stood on ahus up to 18km away from the quarry, making my bike ride there seem a breeze compared to the feats the ancient Rapanui civilisations accomplished.
Creating walking statues would have been a trial-and-error process. About 400 statues remain in and around the Rano Raraku quarry in various stages of completion, an indication that the stone carvers used the valley as an artistic laboratory to experiment with different prototypes before hitting on one that could be efficiently moved, said Lipo. “It really documents the history of craftsmanship, experiments, attempts and failures,” he added.
Once a statue was ready, it would be led out of the valley and guided towards its ahu. The ancient roads leading out of Rano Raraku were…
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