Arts & Entertainment

Chilean scientists find new “moai” statue on Easter Island

Santiago, Mar 1 (EFE).- Chilean scientists have discovered a new “moai” statue on Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, in a nearly dry lakebed within the crater of a volcano and estimate that it was buried in the mud there centuries ago when the lake still had water.

The find was made at the bottom of the Rano Raraku volcano’s crater, in the eastern part of Rapa Nui and near one of the Chilean island’s most heavily visited tourist sites.

As the vice president of the island’s indigenous Ma’u Henua people, Salvador Genua, told EFE, the moai – huge monolithic human figures carved from stone – was discovered by several student volunteers from the University of Chile and the University of Rancagua as they were doing geological research in the crater.

The students reported the find to Ma’u Henua authorities, who administer the Rapa Nui National Park.

“This new moai, according to the recollections of the wise men of our people … serves to mark the territory of the island, which was divided in two,” Genua said.

The indigenous leader said that several elderly people on the island in 1952 had seen the moai that was recently unearthed, while it was still partially buried in the lake mud, although the reports of those earlier sightings had been strictly part of the “oral tradition,”

The swampy ground in which the moai is now located – the lake having mostly dried up in recent years – was in an area that experienced a fire a few months ago that affected several nearby moais located on the interior slopes of the Raro Raraku crater.

The new moai, although it has suffered some erosion due to water, has recognizable features and depicts an entire human body.

Easter Island is known worldwide for its enormous carven stone figures representing human heads and complete bodies scattered at various points around the island, and it is still a mystery how they were transported from their original quarries to their current locations, given that each statue weighs several tons.

The moai figures are the biggest tourist attraction on Rapa Nui, one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands located in the Pacific Ocean some 3,512 kilometers (2,182 miles) west of the Chilean coast. Each year thousands of people travel to the island to view the gigantic statues.

The discovery of the statue opens up new lines of research into the island’s history and the people who lived there.

“This find, for us, is a milestone that must be studied more and put together with everything about the history of the Rapa Nui people,” Genua said.

“Making the necessary studies means a lot of resources, many hours of work and research, but those efforts are important because they are the only way to get to know the moais’ past,” he added.

The indigenous leader asked Chile and the international community for support in conducting research on the new statue, saying that the island with its moai figures has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995.

“It’s important not only for Chile, as the nation ruling the island, but also for the entire world because we’re the 10th wonder of the world,” he said.

Genua also emphasized that the island’s residents must be open to the explanations of foreign scientists because “there are specialists in the world who know a lot about Easter Island” and can help to faithfully reconstruct its past.

Experts disagree about when Polynesian seafarers first reached – and settled on – the island but they are thought to have arrived between 800 and 1200 A.D. and created a thriving and industrious culture although in the process they deforested the island.

Europeans first encountered Rapa Nui in 1722 and Chile annexed it in 1888. In 2017, 7,750 people were registered on the island, of whom just over 3,500 considered themselves to be descendants of the indigenous Polynesian people.

EFE ima/mfm/bp

Related Articles

Back to top button