The Cataclysm of Easter Island - Stones Walking

The Cataclysm of Easter Island - Stones Walking (Part 4)

(Read the article on one page)

The theory that the statues had been moved to their places by the use of wooden rollers or sleds has some problems: one was that the island is so rocky, it would have been impossible to roll any logs across it, with or without statues on them.

Jean-Michel Schwartz says in his 1975 book The Mysteries of Easter Island that he believes the statues were not moved by wooden rollers or sleds but rather by using ropes around the statues which “walked” the statues in the same way as one might walk a refrigerator; by tilting it first to one side, shifting the airborne portion forward, and setting it down again. By this method, the statues would truly walk in a waddle fashion around the island.

Later, a Czech mechanical engineer named Pavel recreated this method along with Thor Heyerdahl. With twenty other men, they tied ropes around a statue and leaned it from side to side while pulling it forward with the rope, a slight variation on Schwartz’s method. The method worked, but was excruciatingly slow. It is an ingenious theory which takes into account the legends of the walking statues, but was it the actual method used?

Recently, National Geographic featured the “walk-like-a-refrigerator” theory as a major story in their July 2012 issue. The article, with the headline: “Easter Island, The Riddle of the Moving Statues” mentioned the various mundane theories, although they omit any reference to Schwartz, who first wrote about his theory in French in 1971, with his book was published in English by Avon Paperbacks in 1975.

National Geographic gives the following timeline of “theories” on how the statues were moved: 1) Thor Heyerdahl and crew move a statue on a crude wooden sled pulled by a rope (1955); 2) the William Mulloy theory of rocking a statue forward on its belly in a basic cradle and frame above it with ropes (1970); 3) Pavel’s standing up with rope twist and turn theory (1986); 4) the theory of Charles Love of wooden rollers and sled (1987); 5) Jo Anne Van Tilburg’s sled pulled over a wooden ladder matrix (1998); and finally to 6) the 2011 demonstration by Terry Hunt and Carl Lippo of a newer version of the “walk-like-a-refrigerator” theory which incorporates their unique “D-shaped” patterns that the tall moai made as they walked it with ropes.

The team of 18 moved a ten-foot-high statue weighing about five tons, several hundred yards during their test of their method in 2011. Hunt and Lippo theorized that only three teams of rope managers were needed to move the statues: two up front to twist and manipulate the statues from side to side in the “D-shape” and one group in the back to keep the statue stable. The National Geographic issue featured a team of islanders maneuvering a statue in this manner.

Essentially, we can put modern archeologists’ explanations of the moving of the statues into two categories: 1) moving the statues on their backs or stomachs on sleds or 2) moving them while they are standing up like a refrigerator. All the proposals are clearly based on these two schools of thought and Thor Heyerdahl is a leader in both, having jumped ship to the Schwartz-Pavel theory in the early 1980s.

But clearly, all the early investigators, when confronted with the problem of moving 5 ton statues all over the island (not just a few hundred yards), saw that moving them on some sort of sled on their backs and bellies would have been the easiest way to do it when you consider the crude (and otherwise) methods that we would suppose they had to use. So, dragging them downhill and across fields on a slick rainy day on sleds seemed like something that could have been achieved on a good day with a bunch of geniuses in control and lots of manpower to put energy into the project. The island is very rocky so roads and cleared pathways would have to be made.

But, this theory didn’t really jive with what the Rapa Nui folk were saying about their history. They were saying that the “statues walked.” They weren’t saying the statues slid into place and then got stood up… they were saying that they walked. It is worth noting that mainstream archeologists are saying that this was only a few hundred years before the contact so memory should be fresh in their minds, historically speaking.

So, “walk-like-a-refrigerator” theory is really the theory to go for, and it explains the walking part. Also, the Mulloy theory of rocking the statues did not work for the taller statues which were very tall and thin. Such 30-foot-tall statues being walked slowly around the island with ropes is certainly possible, but it would be slow going. It would be faster to drag them on sleds. Evidence indicates that they were completely finished, with all decorations, including ankh-like designs on their backs, before they left the quarry to go “walking.”

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Myths & Legends

A vase-scene from about 410 BC. Nimrod/Herakles, wearing his fearsome lion skin headdress, spins Noah/Nereus around and looks him straight in the eye. Noah gets the message and grimaces, grasping his scepter, a symbol of his rule - soon to be displaced in the post-Flood world by Nimrod/Herakles, whose visage reveals a stern smirk.
The Book of Genesis describes human history. Ancient Greek religious art depicts human history. While their viewpoints are opposite, the recounted events and characters match each other in convincing detail. This brief article focuses on how Greek religious art portrayed Noah, and how it portrayed Nimrod in his successful rebellion against Noah’s authority.

Human Origins

Cro-Magnon man communicating with each other and producing cave drawings
How human language began has been a question pestering researchers for centuries. One of the biggest issues with this topic is that empirical evidence is still lacking despite our great advances in...

Ancient Technology

The School of Athens
Much of modern science was known in ancient times. Robots and computers were a reality long before the 1940´s. The early Bronze Age inhabitants of the Levant used computers in stone, the Greeks in the 2nd century BC invented an analogue computer known as the Antikythera mechanism. An ancient Hindu book gives detailed instructions for the construction of an aircraft –ages before the Wright brothers. Where did such knowledge come from?

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article