New Easter Island Discovery
The latest digs have shown clearly that the massive statues, in some cases, actually tower more than 30 ft tall, weighing in at 80 tons or more.
New Easter Island Discovery
Excavations on the remote Easter Island have revealed that lying beneath the surface of the many stone heads - for which the island is famous - are carved bodies for the 887silent sentinels, who watch over
the 63-square-mile Pacific island.
The Easter Island Statue Project, headed by Jo Anne Van Tilburg, commented that the most photographed statues stand in a quarry, buried to mid-torso level, making it understandable that public perception is of heads without bodies.
The currently held belief has it that these statues were created from around A.D.1100 into the 1800s, before Western visitors transformed the culture of the island. University of California fellow Van Tilburg has been a frequent visitor to Rapa Nui - as the natives call it - since 1992, when she fell in love with the statues.
She had first visited in1981, impressed by sheer numbers of statues and their seeming accessibility, though she burned to know what was below the surface - she initially documented all 887 inventoried island statues though she thinks the total number nearer 1,000. Her next project was to reveal what lay buried by centuries of exposure to the environment, a process taking 12 years to date.
The revelation of the huge, hidden body came via the very first time a statue one was excavated with complete and scientific documentation - as opposed to previous looters and treasure hunters - conducting thorough examinations, and collaboratively working with those doping the excavation, the 6th scheduled dig to run from October through November 2012.
Evidence of ceremonies, very large paint quantities - suggesting that natives painted the statues as well as their own bodies - have been unearthed so far, along with nearby evidence of human burials, The latest digs have shown clearly that the massive statues, in some cases, actually tower more than 30 ft tall, weighing in at 80 tons or more.
Over 500 stone tools were discovered, showing that statues had been carved with different tool types, such as big heavy picks for the coarser work, and finer basalt and obsidian tools to finish the more detailed sections. Still further tools were used to rub surfaces and burnish the statues, and evidence of post holes was found as well, large enough to fit tree trunks, rope guides carved into some statues - obviously for helping elevate them into standing positions, though the giant sculptures reason for being there at all, is still not totally clear, and may never be
It is felt that statues represented either family groups or relatives, not really guardians, because later sculptures were far more realistic and individualistic, denoting a society comfortable with more individual expression in the creation of such idols.