Easter Island, or Rapa Nui , in the Polynesian language, is a small remote island a few thousand miles west of South America. One of the most interesting features of this island is its 887 giant monolithic statues named moai. While the initial name of the island was considered to be ‘Te Pito O Te Henua’, which means the Navel of the World, it was renamed in 1722 when the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen rediscovered it and has been known as ‘Easter Island’ since.
Until recently you could only see the upper part of the statues, mainly the heads. But a year ago, in 2011, it was revealed that not only did the statues have a full body deep underground, but also strange ancient petroglyphs were carved onto them—though some were found to be added in the 17 th century. The excavations have also shown how the statues were moved into their current position, which excludes the magical interference of aliens or the statues walking on their own, as local legends say.
The largest Moai is 21 meters high and weighs about 180 tons. The material used to fashion each one was local volcanic material, and the statues were carved directly on the stone. With the tools available 2000 years ago, carving the statues would have been difficult but not impossible. The obvious question is who built these huge statues on such a remote island and why were they placed there? Mainstream archaeology considers the island to have been inhabited by Polynesians between 300 and 1200 CE. One theory asserts that the statues represent the status symbols of the different Easter Island tribes. Another theory says that the Easter Island was part of an ancient civilization that was submerged in the sea, and only Easter Island remains as a reminder of that civilization. There is no verifiable theory explaining the use of the Moai statues and the stone platforms some are on and why they all stare in the same direction and towards the sky – are they facing the ‘Gods’?
The name itself, the ‘Naval of the World’, is very interesting. It was obviously considered to be a very significant site at some stage. Some say it is possible that this island indeed existed in a pre-cataclysmic period.