The Easter Islanders had no metal tools and their small, weak stone tools would be about as effective as a knitting needle to cut out and shape blocks of the hardest basalt ... One archaeologist calculated that it would take a man’s life-time to carve one stone of such intractable material, even if it were possible without modern power machinery. The ahus are a far greater mystery than the statues so far as their fabrication is concerned"
"Most moai were carved face up, in a horizontal or slightly reclining position, usually with their base pointing down-slope, though some point the other way, others lie parallel to the mountain, and some are almost vertical – apparently to avoid wasting any space.
First the sculptors opened up channels about 60 cm wide and 1.5 m deep around a volume of rock, and then proceeded to carve the head, body and sides, leaving a keel along the back, to keep it attached to the bedrock. With the statue held firm by a packing of stones and fill, the keel was finally hacked away.
The quarry displays plenty of evidence of breakage or of figures having been abandoned due to defects in the stone."
"The statue then had to be moved down the slope (of about 55°), without damaging it or any other statues on the way down. Depressed runways or channels of earth seem to have been used for this purpose. It is thought that ropes may have been attached to horizontal wooden beams set transversely in the channels leading down the slopes.
Some moai had to be lowered down the vertical cliff face, and then maneuvered over statues on which work was still proceeding on the ledge below."
"The islanders have a legend that the statues were moved to the platforms and raised upright by the use of mana, or mind power. Either the god Makemake, or priests or chiefs commanded them to walk or to float through the air, and according to one legend, use was made of a finely crafted stone sphere, 75 cm (2.5 ft) in diameter, called te pito kura (‘the golden navel’ or ‘the navel of light’), to focus the mana.
Legends about the use of levitation in the construction of megalithic monuments are found all over the world."
"A major problem would arise as the columns of people pulling the sledge neared the coastal platform, as there would be nowhere for them to go – except into the sea. It is thought that this problem could have been solved by using levers. In one experiment, 12 men levered a 6-ton rock 15 ft in 1.5 hours. However, it has not yet been demonstrated that these methods could be used on a statue of average height and weight without damaging it.
Geologist William Mulloy suggested using a curved Y-shaped sledge made from the fork of a big tree, on which the statue rests face-downwards. Two gigantic wooden legs in the shape of a ‘V’ are attached to the statue’s neck by a loop, and when the legs are tilted forward, the rope partially lifts the statue and takes some weight off the sledge. The statue could therefore be rocked forward using the bulging abdomen as a fulcrum or pivot point.
However, this technique – which has never been tried out in practice – puts particular stress on the statues’ fragile necks and not all the statues have the protruding stomachs ideal for this method."
A unique discovery at Rano Raraku was the kneeling statue Tukuturi, which was almost completely buried. With a total height of 3.67 m, the figure kneels with its hands on its knees and its buttocks resting on its heels. Its round, upturned face has short ears and a goatee beard. Another complete but badly eroded kneeling statue has been found inside the crater.
"Heyerdahl compares Tukuturi to the smaller kneeling stone statues that were typical of Tiahuanaco. Conventional researchers compare it to a small squatting stone statue from Tahiti.3 There are notable differences in both cases, and again the question is who, if anybody, inspired whom. Orthodox writers point out that ribs were an essential feature of the kneeling statues from Tiahuanaco, but Heyerdahl countered that fragments of a kneeling image were found buried deep in the sand by the great ahu at Anakena, one of which had clearly marked ribs."
The ambiguous evidence reviewed is clearly open to multiple interpretations. Connections of some sort can be discerned between the culture of Easter Island and that of Polynesia, South America, Egypt, and other places. The exact nature and relative importance of these influences, and their timing are uncertain.
Easter Island Mystery: David Pratt
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