Hundreds of years ago, a small group of Polynesians rowed their wooden outrigger canoes across vast stretches of open sea, navigating by the evening stars and the day’s ocean swells.
When and why these people left their native land remains a mystery. But what is clear is that they made a small, uninhabited island with rolling hills and a lush carpet of palm trees their new home, eventually naming their 63 square miles of paradise Rapa Nui—now popularly known as Easter Island.
Easter Island’s monumental stone heads are well-known, but there’s more to the story: all along, the sculptures have secretly had torsos, buried beneath the earth.
Easter Island is a Chilean territory, and a remote volcanic island in Polynesia. It covers about 64 square miles in the Pacific Ocean.
It’s famous archaeological sites include about 900 monumental statues, called moai that were created by early Rapa Nui inhabitants during the 10th to 16th centuries. Most people have only seen photos of the heads and no one ever knew that the statues had full bodies
The statues weigh about 13 tons and stand about 13 feet. It is unknown why they were made, or how they were placed on the island.
Scientists did some digging to see what was underneath these oversized heads. It has always been a mystery what was underneath these statues.
Archaeologists have documented 887 of the massive statues, known as moai, but they believe there may be up to as many as 1,000 of them located on the island 2,000 miles west of Chile.
What they discovered is that the heads are attached to bodies that are several feet under the ground’s surface.Most of the bodies of these statues were standing up with the tallest statue reaching 33 feet and weighing 82 tons. One statue was lying down, and measured 71.93 feet in length.
What was even more interesting is that the bodies of the statues had writing on it. The type of writing is known as petroglyphs.
Some more research was done about the petroglyphs, and a few of the statues had the same writing on it. Researchers referred to it as the ‘ring and girdle’ design, which researchers believe represented the sun and rainbow. Another interesting find was the remains of tuna vertebrae near the bottom of an excavation.
Researchers believe that the original carvers were rewarded with tuna and lobster for their work.