The Stone Secrets of Easter Island

19 Sep

If you’ve ever been anywhere near this strange island in the South Pacific, you’ll know that all over it stand hundreds of strange statues. As the Dutch admiral who discovered this island in 1722 wrote: “All over the island stand huge idols of stone, representing the figure of a man with big ears and bearing a head covered with a red crown”. These ‘idols’ remain secrets in stone because, to this day, no one knows why they are there or who built them.

There are 230 statues standing all over Easter Island and, apart from size – varying from five to twelve metres high – they are all identical. Legless, they rise from the earth at hip level with expressionless faces, receding foreheads, tight lips, prominent chins and a curious tilt at the end of the nose. Oddest of all are the ears – long and thin, they hang down to the jaw and, as the Dutchman described, on each statue was a hat-like crown of red stone.

The idols had also been carved in an unusual manner. Instead of first hacking out a block of stone and then shaping it, as was the usual practice for sculptors at the time, whoever was responsible for the Easter Island statues had chiselled them into the living rock. They were then separated from the rock when complete, dragged to their chosen positions and slipped into ready-prepared holes in the ground. This in itself was a Herculean task, for each statue weighed between 20 and 40 tonnes. The sheer effort involved in the construction of the 230 standing statues pales into comparison before that which must have been expended on a further 157 found in quarries in various stages of construction, all of them far larger but identical in appearance.

There are a number of unsolved questions concerning the Easter Island statues. Whom do they represent? Why are they there? Why are there so many? Who made them? Why was work on the 157 unfinished statues abandoned so suddenly that tools were left lying all over the quarries? It was expected that all of these questions would be answered when explorers discovered 67 stone tablets covered with writing in the possession of the natives of Easter Island. The only trouble was that neither the natives nor anyone else has ever been able to read them – a problem which was not helped by the fact that the tablets were later hidden by the natives and no proper copies were taken of the writing on them.

One theory as to the origin of the Easter Island statues is that they were built to honour the legendary King Hotu Matua. This theory does not really hold up to much scrutiny, however, due to the lack of evidence that Hotu Matua ever existed. Also, because it appears that the statues were all built more or less at the same time, it must have required a small army of sculptors and a very large army of labourers to do so – far more than a tiny island such as this could have supported in fact. There is speculation that Easter Island either adjoined or was part of a far larger landmass at some stage, which was later destroyed by an earthquake or volcano, but again there is little evidence to support this theory.

Despite all of the advances in science since Easter Island was first discovered, the solution to the mystery of the strange statues upon it remains as elusive as ever. In the modern age, the internet has taken over, coming up with all sorts of wild theories from UFO’s to magical petrification spells, to explain the presence of the Easter Island statues. If you’re intrigued by this story and would like to see what the statues actually look like then check out the link below:

4 Responses to “The Stone Secrets of Easter Island”

  1. Archard September 19, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    one of those places I always like to read about

  2. steviegrace September 20, 2011 at 3:54 am #

    Wow… After having watched Doctor Who, I feel like this is straight out of their episode plot. Such a great mystery, and an even better post on the topic!

  3. abigal racut May 7, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    hell that shit scary

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