Finally the strangest Moai
ever found on Easter Island.  
The odd "kneeling" statue

found by archaeologist Thor
Heyerdahl's team in 1955 on
a part of the Rano Raraku
quarry near no other statues,  
it kneels, hauntingly.  It is a
very realistic piece compared
to the traditional Moai and it is
unclear whether this was a
very early piece or a later
development.  Its locations
away from the other carved
Moai is also unusual.
The voyagers started
constructing villages and
houses made in an unusual
elliptical shape. It has been
speculated that this style of
construction started when
the new arrivals turned their
boats upside down for quick
housing. There were literally
hundreds of remains of these
foundations on the island in
the 1800's, but most were
destroyed by the
missionaries to make fences.
Easter Island
It’s known as one of
the most isolated islands
in the world but 1200
years ago a canoe filled
with seafarers from a
distant culture landed
upon its shores. Over the
centuries that followed a
remarkable society
developed in isolation on
the island. For reasons
still unknown they began
carving giant statues out
of volcanic rock. These
monuments, known, as
"moai" are some of the
most incredible ancient
relics ever discovered.
The people of Easter Island called themselves the Rapa Nui.
Where did they come from and why did they disappear?
Archaeologist think the first and only people ever to live on Easter Island were from an individual
group of Polynesians that, once finding Easter Island, then had no contact with any other races.
Until of course, that fateful day in 1722 when, on Easter Sunday, Dutch commander Jacob
Roggeveen, became the first European to "discover" the island. What his crew witnessed and
recorded once on the island has fueled speculation about the origins of the Rapa Nui ever since.
Ahu Ko Te Riku
Restored Moai
Rano Raraku: Moai
quarry, on it's hills are
more than 390 statues.
The stone
made the most  
out of sections
of rock. The sizes
varied and it is
believed they
increased in size
over the years
due to
competition or to
honor their
The soft volcanic tuff was perfect material for statue carving. Using harder volcanic rock
implements they were able to first sketch out the moai's outline in the rock wall and then
systematically chip away at it until the moai was held in place by a thin "keel."

carved into

Detail of
Nose and
The Island is covered in
Lava rock making travel and
agriculture difficult
Check out the size of
this Pukao (top knot)
Who toppled the
statues and why?
Rapa  Nu i
Rapa  Nu i
Glistening lakes and marshes
dotted the floor of this crater.
Standing in front of the largest shrine of  the island - Ahu Tongariki - 15 Huge stone statues restored in 1993.     Notice the detail that still
remains today.  The arms held to their side with fingers meeting below the belly.  
Ahu Tongariki, on the south coast of Easter was the site of one of the largest of the ahu. The large flat plain below
Rano Raraku provided easy access to the quarry and as a result the largest of the moai where erected here. However,
in 1960, a massive tidal wave generated by an earthquake off the coast of Chile hit Ahu Tongariki and destroyed the
platform and swept the massive moai hundreds of yards inland.  This Ahu is the closest positioned Ahu to the Rano
Raraku volcano (the quarry).
In 1992 a team from Japan brought in cranes and other heavy equipment. Their mission: restore Ahu Tongariki.
Working under the direction of Chilean archaeologist, Claudio Cristino the task took five years. Now all 15 of the moai
stand proudly once more at what is arguably Easter Island's most impressive site.  
Rapa Nui

Ahu   :  Platform
Pukao    :  Moai topknot
Ana     :  Cave        
Hare Paenga
:Boat shaped house

Iorana       :     Hello              
Maururu   :  Thank you     
Pehe koe     :  How are you?
Rano Raraku Volcano where the Maoi were carved
Palm Trees are found
growing in parted lava tubes
through out the island.  They
sustain on the rain water
collectd in the pit
Ahu  Tongariki
Original Rapa Nui Name: Te Pito OTehenua  meaning "Naval of the World"
Hare paenga
A rugged trek around
the island concluded on
top of a volcano looking
over Rano Raraku
Click on images for larger view
It is unclear why the Easter Islanders turned to statue construction on such a massive scale. Their obsession with it
ultimately brought about their downfall as they depleted more and more of the forests for use in the process of
moving the giant moai. While the why is a mystery, where it happened and to a large degree how it happened is
fairly clear. Each moai was born from the massive caldera of Rano Raraku. (volcano below center)

The moai carvers were master craftsmen that had rose through the ranks of a "carver's guild." The production of
the statues was most likely through draft labor with many rituals and ceremonies performed throughout the
process. The stone carvers were ingenious in making the most out of sections of rock.  Moai can be seen carved in
all directions in the cliff face. If a defect would appear in the rock the statue would be abandoned and they moved
on to another area.

They took advantage of fissures in the volcanic walls and also variations in colors. In short they were true artists.
Finally when a statue was finished, it was broken off its keel and slid carefully down the slope using ropes tied to
giant palm trunks which were sunk in specially prepared holes in rim of the crater.

At the base of the crater they were raised up and final decorations were carved into its torso and back. Coral and
obsidian eyes were placed in as a final touch, although some suggest these were only placed in the statues on
special occasions. Preparation was then made for transport across the island to various ahu.