What images are conjured up when you hear the words Easter Island? We’re betting you instantly start to picture the iconic giant head statues in your mind.
Would it shock you to learn that this popularly held image is wrong and actually always has been?
They’re not, in fact statues of heads at all.
What they are is full statues, with bodies and heads.
It’s still quite a shock to see them from a different angle though isn’t it? With their bodies extending down many feet into the soil…
For the last couple of years the Easter Island Statue Project has been slowly and carefully excavating two of these giant statues, doing their best to uncover some of the secret building techniques employed by the Rapa Nui peoples (the original builders of the statues).
Project director Jo Anne Van Tilburg commented to say: “Our EISP excavations recently exposed the torsos of two 7m tall statues.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of visitors to the island have been astonished to see that, indeed, Easter Island statues have bodies!
More important, however, we discovered a great deal about the Rapa Nui techniques of ancient engineering.”
The Rapa Nui people (the original inhabitants of the island) are thought to have travelled there by canoe, a journey of nearly 1,500 miles over open ocean no matter where you start from!
At the height of their culture it’s estimated the population was over 15,000 strong but by the time the islands were discovered by European explorers in the 17th century the population had crashed.
Historians and archaeologists have theorised that the population decimated all the trees on the island to help with the construction of the now famous statues which had a knock on effect on the ecology of the island, leading to their decline.
Whatever the reason, Easter Island is now possibly one of the most remote islands on our planet but with over a thousand of these statues dotted around the island is well worth a visit to the curious traveller.