Ranney Moss joined David Hatcher Childress on a six day expedition to Easter Island, in February 2013. Historically known as Rapa Nui the tour of the island included a visit to the statues at the crater of Orongo, an all day jeep tour to the megalithic walls of Vinapu, and exploration of the remote site at Anakena Beach.
Rapa Nui contains one of the most remarkable cultural phenomenon in the world. An artistic and architectural tradition of great power and imagination was developed by a society completely isolated from external cultural influences of any kind for over a millennium. ~UNESCO.org
These heads are mostly still half buried near the quarry where they were made. No one really knows how old the heads are.The native people (probably Polynesian) who were discovered on the island a couple of hundred years ago believed the statues, called moai, were bad spirits and tried to destroy many of them.
The substantial remains of this culture blend with their natural surroundings to create an unparalleled cultural landscape. ~UNESCO.org
“While Easter Island is thought to have been first discovered and inhabited by Polynesians (probably from the Marquesas Islands, north of Tahiti) around 300 AD, it is generally thought by mainstream archeologists that the time of the excavation and movement of the statues was 1100-1680 AD.” ~DHC
Between the 10th and 16th centuries the island community expanded steadily, settlements being set up along practically the entire coastline. ~UNESCO.org
Most of the unbroken statues are found on large stone bases in rows all around the island. The statues found in place (i.e., not knocked down or destroyed) all face inward into the island, rather than looking out to sea.
The high cultural level of this society is best known from its monumental stone figures (moai ) and ceremonial shrines (ahu ); it is also noteworthy for a form of pictographic writing (rongo rongo ), so far undeciphered. ~UNESCO.org
“Currently 887 statues of various sizes (some gigantically huge) have been inventoried on the island, and most are still around the quarry. Many of them are leaning or fallen over. Often they are buried under dozens of feet of “shifting soil.” But where all this shifting soil is coming from is a big question…” ~DHC
A number of moai are still in an uncompleted condition in the quarries, providing valuable information about the method of manufacture. Some have large cylindrical pieces of red stone known as pukao, extracted from the small volcano Punapao, as headdresses: these are believed to denote special ritual status. ~UNESCO.org
These statues at the lovely public Anakena Beach are carved wearing hats. A large number of the statues had this sort of hat or head dress, although many of the hats have fallen off.
The megalith wall of Vinapu. Who knew! Besides their famous statues Easter Island also has megalithic wall composed of large well shaped stones weighing many tons. No one seems to know what the walls are for. Ranney is pointing out the jigsaw fitting of stones which are very like the megalithic walls found in Peru at Cuzco, Ollantaytambo, and many other ancient sites.
“Vinapu consists of a partially destroyed wall with megalithic construction that is basically unique to the island but not unique in the world. The main wall consists of enormous slabs very skillfully laid. I stood in front of the wall and was genuinely amazed at the construction which was not just similar, but identical to that of Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo in the high Andes of Peru.” ~DHC
David Childress examines a set of carved round stones said to be “the navel of the world” by the islanders. Childress found that his compass was rendered useless by the magnetism in the large stone ball.
“This stone ball, apparently man-made, is known on the island as ‘Te Pito Kura,’ which means ‘Navel of the World,’ a phrase that has also been used to describe Easter Island itself.” ~DHC
Reflecting on the exploration of Easter Island at the conclusion of the exploration, David Hatcher Childress observed, “The island was a green and brown gem in an ocean of blue. It was truly an island of mystery and magic – one that seemed to go back to the very mists of time. Easter Island is one of the great archaeological treasures of the world…. ”
Photos and text by Ranney Moss.
Posted April 28, 2013
The Cataclysm of Easter Island by David Hatcher Childress, World Explorer Vol. 6 No. 6
The Enigma of the Stone Spheres by David Hatcher Childress, World Explorer Vol. 6 No. 6
Rapa Nui National Park, World Heritage List, UNESCO, whc.unesco.org/en/list/715