The more we learn about Easter Island, the more intriguing it becomes! “There exists in the midst of the great ocean, in a region where nobody goes, a mysterious and isolated island,” wrote French seafarer and artist Pierre Loti in the 19th-century. “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.” Originally named Easter Island by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who first spied it on Easter Day 1722, it has nearly 1,000 statues, some almost 30 feet tall and weighing as much as 80 tons, are still an enigma.
This mystery continues to baffle scientists because buried beneath the soil, the Easter Island heroes, or moai, have not only bodies but also fine petroglyphs, unscarred by erosion. The Easter Island Statue Project, headed by Dr. Jo Anne Van Tilburg, from UCLA, is the first legally permitted excavations in Rano Raraku quarry since those conducted by Thor Heyerdahl and the Norwegian Archaeological Expedition to Easter Island, in 1954-55.
Their goal is to record and preserve previously unrecorded, unique petroglyphs, and document and inventory statues. So far they have inventoried 1,300 monolithic sculptural objects within the island-wide survey sections, in museum collections, and within the Rano Raraku quarry zone, including complete statues, heads, torsos, fragments, and shaped blocks.
This HD video documentary reveals how Easter Island’s Moai statues were constructed by experimenting with ancient engineering methods and mysterious traditions, modern archaeological scientists and engineers. Although we try and recreate and decipher their secrets – they are far from seeing the light of day. In part, because they bring together elements of black magic, religious priests, chieftains writing strange hieroglyphic writing languages known as rongorongo. Yet this culture built monolithic statues not unlike Europe’s Stonehenge.
Without modern equipment, how were they built and moved?