Over a millennium ago Easter Island, one of the most remote places in the world, became a destination for passengers of a double hull canoe. This small group, isolated on the Island, grew into an incredible society in the hundreds of years that followed. For a yet unknown reason they used volcanic rock out of which to carve gargantuan statues. These moai as they are known have become wonders in the modern world. The Easter Island civilization named themselves Rapa Nui. From where did they hail and what accounted for their sudden disappearance? Science has studied a lot about the Easter Island mystery and as a result has solved or debunked some of the stranger ideas, but the mystery continues.
Science supports one of the strangest theories as to the origins of the Easter Island people. Around the middle of the 1500's the San Lesmems, a ship from Spain, was lost somewhere near Tahiti. Polynesians in the area, it is said, intermarried with some of the Basque survivors. These survivors or their descendants left Tahiti in the hopes of returning to Spain in the early 17th century they never made it. Basque genes were found in some Rapa Nui people.
Easter Island is most known for 288 moai that once stood on ahu, giant stone platforms also found there. There are approximately 250 ahu platforms about one half mile apart in a nearly unbroken perimeter line all around the island. 600 more moai statues, most in one way or another incomplete, are laying around the island, either still amongst the rocks from which they were cut or on the side of ancient roads that connect quarries with the coast where the completed statues are found. Most moai are carved from volcanic stone that comes from one volcano, the Rano Raraku. These statues average 14 tons in weight and nearly 14 feet tall. The largest statues top 33 feet and weigh an incredible 80 tons one was found incomplete, 65 feet long and if finished approximated at nearly 270 tons. Depending on how big the moai were, it has been determined that as many as 150 people worked together to drag them across the ground over sleds and rollers cut from trees found on the island.
Why the statues were created on Easter Island is still a mystery. People think their construction may have come from a seed rooted in similar statue creation seen around Polynesia, but which took its own direction when practiced on Easter Island.
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