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Easter Island’s ‘Walking’ Stone Heads Stir Debate (Video)

An idea suggesting massive stone statues that encircle Easter Island may have been “walked” into place has run into controversy.

In October 2012, researchers came up with the “walking” theory by creating a 5-ton replica of one of the statues (or “moai”), and actually moving it in an upright position, and have published a more thorough justification in the June issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science. If the statues were walked into place, then the islanders didn’t need to cut down the island’s palm trees to make way for moving the massive carvings, the researchers argue.

The findings may help dismantle the traditional storyline of Easter Island, or Rapa Nui: that a “crazed maniacal group destroyed their environment,” by cutting down trees to transport gigantic statues, said study co-author Carl Lipo, an anthropologist at California State University, Long Beach.

An idea suggesting massive stone statues that encircle Easter Island may have been “walked” into place has run into controversy.

In October 2012, researchers came up with the “walking” theory by creating a 5-ton replica of one of the statues (or “moai”), and actually moving it in an upright position, and have published a more thorough justification in the June issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science. If the statues were walked into place, then the islanders didn’t need to cut down the island’s palm trees to make way for moving the massive carvings, the researchers argue.

The findings may help dismantle the traditional storyline of Easter Island, or Rapa Nui: that a “crazed maniacal group destroyed their environment,” by cutting down trees to transport gigantic statues, said study co-author Carl Lipo, an anthropologist at California State University, Long Beach.

But not everyone in the field is convinced. While some experts find the demonstration persuasive, others think it’s unlikely the large statues could have been walked upright on the island’s hilly, rough terrain. [Aerial Photos of Mysterious Stone Structures]

Ancient enigma

Rapa Nui’s majestic rock statues (also known as Stone Heads of Easter Island) have been a mystery since Europeans first arrived in the 1700s on the island, located in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of Chile. Though the island was filled with a giant palm forest when Polynesians first arrived in the 13th century, the first European explorers found massive megaliths on a deforested, rock-strewn island with just 3,000 people.

In the past, archaeologists proposed that a lost civilization chopped down all the trees to make paths to roll the megalithic structures horizontally for miles on top of palm trees used as “rolling logs” of sorts, from the quarries where they were created to ceremonial platforms. That transport method would have required many people, and led to deforestation and environmental ruin that would’ve caused the population to plummet.

Walking statues

But Lipo and his colleagues wondered whether that made sense. For one, other archaeological evidence in villages suggested the island’s population was never that large, and the palm trees, essentially hardwood with a soft, foamy material inside, would be crushed by the rolling statues, Lipo said.

Along the road to the platforms are moai whose bases curved so they couldn’t stand upright, but instead would topple forward, meaning the ones in transit would have to be modified once they reached the platform. That made the researchers wonder why the statues weren’t made to stand upright in the first place if they were meant to be rolled into place, not walked, Lipo said

And the statues found on the roads to the platforms all had wider bases than shoulders, which physical models suggested would help them rock forward in an upright position.

To see whether the statues may have been walked, the team transformed photos of one 10-foot-tall (3 meters) statue into a 3D computer model, and then created a 5-ton concrete replica. Last October, on a NOVA documentary, the team tried walking the replica, using people holding ropes on each side to rock the statue forward and back on a dirt path in Hawaii.

The statue moved easily.

“It goes from something you can’t imagine moving at all, to kind of dancing down the road,” Lipo told LiveScience.

The movers walked the replica about 328 feet (100 m) in 40 minutes; from this demonstration and assuming the ancient builders would have been somewhat of experts at their jobs, Lipo suspects they would have moved the Rapa Nui statues about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) a day, meaning transport would have taken about two weeks.

In the new paper, the team hypothesizes the builders carved the statues’ bases so they would lean forward, as it would’ve been easier to rock a statue with a curved bottom back and forth. Then, the builders would have flattened the bases to stand the statues upright once they reached the ceremonial platforms.

No collapse

The findings suggest that relatively few people were needed to move the statues. As a result, the idea of a massive civilization collapsing because of their craze to build statues needs a rethink, Lipo said.

Instead, Lipo’s team believes the population was probably always small and stable.

The Polynesian settlers did cause deforestation, through slashing-and-burning of the forest to make way for sweet potatoes and through the rats inadvertently brought to the island that ate palm nuts before they could sprout into new trees. But that deforestation didn’t cause the civilization to die out: The palm trees were probably not economically useful to the islanders anyway, Lipo said.

Controversial conclusion

“It’s an entirely plausible hypothesis,” said John Terrell, an anthropologist at the Field Museum in Chicago, who was not involved in the study.

The combination of physics, archaeological evidence, satellite imagery of the roads, and human feasibility makes their story compelling, Terrell told LiveScience.

But not everyone is convinced.

The walking hypothesis relies on particular statue geometry; namely, that all the statues had wider bases than shoulders when they were moved, said Jo Anne Van Tilburg, the director of the Easter Island Statues Project, and a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study.

Her research of 887 statues on Rapa Nui has found much more variation in this ratio, even in statues found in transit to their ceremonial platforms.

In 1998, Van Tilburg and others from the Easter Island Statues Project used a similar replica to show that moving the statues horizontally along parallel logs could work as well.

“I don’t think you have to invent a very awkward, difficult transport method,” Van Tilburg told LiveScience.

What’s more, Rapa Nui’s prepared roads were rough and uneven, and the statues would have been moved over hilly terrain, said Christopher Stevenson, an archaeologist at Virginia Commonwealth University, who was not involved in Lipo’s study.

By contrast, “in the NOVA exercise it was like an airport runway,” Stevenson said.

And the replica the team moved is on the small side for statues — some of which are up to 40 feet (12 m) tall and weigh 75 tons. It’s not clear the method would work for something much larger, Stevenson said.

 

Source www.livescience.com

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63 Comments on "Easter Island’s ‘Walking’ Stone Heads Stir Debate (Video)"

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Guest

isnt the heads attached to a body?

Guest

yea, this is like 20 years old

Guest

Done with hard work not ancient technology

Guest

Well 3 points one on each side and one in the back to keep it from falling forword

Guest

They messed up because they a lot taller They just a bunch of idiots

Guest

ltnc, thx for posting

Guest

what about the carving tecniques ??

Guest

Anti gravity is probably more likely

Guest

So what if it falls over?

Guest

Some special ancient technology was used

Guest

Hehehehe!!! They are wrong.

Guest

How can they pull this one ?

Guest

cept their bigger than that one..

Guest

The heads have now been proven to have bodies so they are much larger than what is shown. Therefore the experiment is a fail.

Guest

Interesting statues and quite the enigma

Guest

It’s not the right size or weight.
They found they were buried up to the necks.
So triple the weight and skill

Guest

oops

Guest

THE volcanic stones were carved out and created by the Rapa Nui PEOPLES and were moved by a method called rocking and buried. .. between 1200 and 1500… accordingly to the SCIENTISTS and ANTHROPOLOGY…….

Guest

Too much.. geritol.. pal…! Nothing was levitated…..

Guest

Yes there were levitated.

Guest

This is BULL! They were Levitated and the lost art in now forgotten and the traditionalists refuse to tell the truth!

Guest

YIKES… TALLER IN PERSON…!

Guest
Guest

Nah.

Guest

PEOPLE FORGET … THAT US HUMANS UTILIZE INGENUITY AND WERE GIVEN INTELLIGENCE TO DO STUFF..
.

Guest

No that was different

Guest

And Stone-Henge in the UK was build in the same way.

Guest

I can lift that…..in my dreams.

Guest

no prob. I can lift my hand and maybe a coffee but 450 pounds or better, no can do 🙂

Guest

Ok I thought you were lifting it. Incredibly sorry sir.

Guest
This is from a USA government guideline. Note it is safer for one person to roll the drum. If two people are moving a drum, both people can push the drum, pull the drum, or one can push while the other pulls. When rolling the drum, it is safer for one person to roll it. To roll a drum, in this case to the left, follow these steps: Place your left hand high on the chime and your right hand low. Use both hands to roll the drum. As your right hand reaches the top, quickly switch the left hand… Read more »
Guest

They used tree trunks to roll them.When they run out of trees they where knackered.They where stranded on the island fighting each other and died.

Guest

It was gods hand

Guest

Probably not possible

Guest

Your mental illness is showing bro ski

Guest

Fakery.

Guest

there must be a warehouse somewhere near you. Go there and have one of the workers show you. They do it all of the time if they deal with 55 gallon drums. I’m not kidding.

Guest

Interesting idea. I’ve routinely manhandled 400 pound 55 gallon drums of chemicals by myself. Tip it on edge and walk it and/or roll it.
I think a lot of theorists just lack real world experience doing much of anything…

Guest

Your trolling me kiddo.

Guest

I’m not a punk. Carry on.

Guest

Good for you. Smug little punk. You should get a life. Trolling on Facebook isn’t a life. Go outside and do something.

Guest

Ibdont care about your family.

Guest

Kiddo yes I’m so proud you can read.

Guest

Kiddo? Lol
My daughter probably older than you 😂

Guest

He explained it. Move On kiddo.

Guest

Andrew J Cool must be a desk jockey..
I’ve done it myself. Art totally could. Probably has like he said.
Not everyone is a pussy pencil pusher. Some of us do or have done actual MANLY WORK for a living. I can move 5 pieces of 46′ #9 rebar at a time (about 280+ lbs each) it’s all in how you do it.

Guest

Then you lied.

Guest

Don’t feed his mental illness

Guest

Numbskull, no one is picking it up! You’re just tilting it. Literally, your girlfriend could do it.

Guest

Bull

Guest

Hrs lying folks. I’m gonna mute his comments

Guest

Your the liar not me. Most ppl only liftb30 pounds.

Guest

wimp, go to a warehouse and try it. your girlfriend could do it if you can’t.

Guest

Bull shit city

Guest

try it yourself…
I’m 62 and disabled and I could still do it. I’m not picking it up, I rock it and get it on edge and keep it tilted and roll it maintaining the tilt.
Even with just water we’re talking 440 pounds plus some.

Guest

40o pound ummm yeah.

Guest

INTERESTING… as always….?

Guest

They proved it could be possible

Guest

That was a was of time

Guest

That’s not how it was done.

Guest

your right,because this statues are smaler than real ones.you can only see a part of the statues,but there is much more of them berrid in the ground

Guest

your ideas meant well,but I don’t think that will cut it…it is to insane that all statues were done in that fashion…

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