This terrific video from the good folks at National Geographic tests a theory that the giant statues of Easter Island — the moai — were “walked” into place.
National Geograpic magazine has more on the subject, which I find very fascinating. How did the islanders move those 90-ton things without use of the wheel? (And why were several moai found buried up to their necks, leaving only the heads showing?) Why do some wear hats? But surely “getting there” was more than half the problem for these stone sculptures; the question has dominated talk of the island ever since it was discovered on Easter Sunday in 1722. Its official name is Isla de Pascua (Spanish for “Easter Island”), while the Polynesian name for the place is Rapa Nui.
While most people have recently contented themselves with the idea that the 887 moai were dragged into place by massive amounts of manpower using sledges, California State University at Long Beach archeologist Carl Lipo and Hawaii anthropologist Terry Hunt suggest the statues got there under their own power. Well, not quite. But they did “walk.” More precisely, the natives used a system of ropes and manpower to walk the statues across the island.
Lipo and Hunt actually recreated the walking method — and it worked! Now, admittedly, they used a 5-ton moai replica, but, says Hunt, “With the physics of the taller statue, you have [even] greater leverage. It almost gets to the point where you would have to do it that way.”