Known as Moai by the Rapa Nui people who created the figures in the tropical southern Pacific directly west of Chile, these huge statues were carved in stone found on the island between 1100 and 1500 AD Almost half is still in Rano Raraku, the main quarry of moʻai, but hundreds were transported from there and placed on stone platforms called Ahu around the perimeter of the island. Moʻai are the living faces of deified ancestors, but over time, archeologists they found that parts of the statues were buried in sediment and rock.

A team of experts at UCLA developed on Easter Island Statue Project to study and better preserve the artefacts.

Through this work, the researchers dug several heads to reveal the underlying bust and body.

Jo Anne Van Tilburg, a researcher at the University of California, said in 2012: “The reason people think they are [only] at the head there are about 150 statues buried up to the shoulders on the slope of a volcano.

“These are the most famous, most beautiful and most photographed statues of all the Easter islands.

“This suggested to people who hadn’t seen the photos [other unearthed statues on the island] which are just heads. ”

In total, the team documented and studied nearly 1,000 statues on the small Pacific island.

The project lasted nine years in which the team determined the meaning, function and history of each individual statue to the best of their ability.

After approval, archaeologists excavated two Easter Island heads to reveal the bust and truncated life.

The heads had been covered by successive mass transport depots on the island that buried the statues in the lower half.

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These events enveloped the statues and gradually buried them in the head as the islands naturally altered and erupted over the centuries.

Easter Island is located within the Nazca Plaque and is a volcanic hot spot that produced the Sala y Gomez ridge that extends to the east while the Pacific Ocean opened through the East Pacific Rise.

The island itself was formed by successive Pliocene and Holocene volcanic flows consisting of basalt and andesite.

Furthermore, volcanic tuffs were deposited in the tuff volcanic crater, which is the primary stone used to sculpt the monolithic Moai statues.

Most of the statues are located along the volcanic cone of Rano Raraku, which served as a quarry that supplied Rapa Nui with the monolithic stones used for sculpture.

During the excavation of the statues the team found petroglyphs on the back of the figures, commonly in the shape of a crescent to represent the Polynesian canoes.

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The canoe motif is probably the symbol of the carver’s family, providing clues to several family or group structures on the island.

In order to sculpt and position the statues in a vertical position, Rapa Uni used large tree trunks which were placed in deep holes adjacent to the statues.

They then used the rope and the large tree trunk to lift the statue into position.

The Rapa Nui sculpted the heads and front side of the statues while they were lying on the ground, then completed the shoulders after resting the stone statues. The tallest of your statues reaches 33 feet in height and is known as Paros.

Abundant red pigments were found in the human burial sites of several individuals, suggesting that the statues were painted red probably during the ceremonies.

These burials often surround the statues, suggesting that the Rapa Nui buried their dead with the family statue.


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