The Giant, Multi-Ton Idols on Island
Mysterious Easter Island
The Giant, Multi-Ton Idols on Island
“The giant, multi-ton idols are defeated. Broken, overturned face down or no heads at all, they are scattered throughout the island, as dumb evidence of a catastrophe that once happened here, ”. Almost 900 idols were found on a piece of island with an area of only 163.4 km². Who created them, how and why? For several centuries these questions have worried scientists all over the world. And only in recent decades, Easter Island began to give answers.
Polynesian marker: Discovered by Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeven on Easter Day, April 5, 1722, the island is three and a half thousand kilometers away from the shores of South America. The distance to the nearest inhabited islands of Polynesia is almost two thousand. When he discovered a inhabited island, Roggeven was perplexed: where could people from on this piece of land in the middle of the ocean come from, where he and his crew traveled for 19 days on ships from the coast of Chile. The answer was found at the end of the 20th century by geneticists from the University of Cambridge. They studied the remains of people who lived on the island from 1100 to 1868. People from different regions of the world have a specific genetic trait, or marker, as scientists call it. Biologist Erika Hagelberg found a Polynesian marker in the islanders’ DNA.
The Polynesians settled on the island, called Rapa Nui, about 700–900 AD. e. How many of them were unknown, but by the beginning of the XIV century, the population had reached 15,000. This is the conclusion made by archaeologists who discovered the remains of the foundations of several hundred dwellings. The surface of the island was divided into about 12 territories, which belonged to different clans. According to legend, there was a class division on Rapa Nui. The leaders of the clans came from the “long-eared” (they specifically pulled the earlobes) and constituted the ruling elite of the island.
The remaining residents belonged to the “short-eared.” According to legend, it was the ancestors of the “long-eared” who first came to the island. They, who were called upon to protect Rapa Nui, were immortalized in stone by the inhabitants of the island. Ancient sculptors carved sculptures from the rocks of primitive rubilami from obsidian. Then they were moved to the shores of the island, where they were installed on stone platforms – ahu, facing the territories of their clans. The primitive inhabitants of Easter believed that in the eyes of the idols lies a magical power that protects their land. The heads of some of the colossi were decorated with cylinders made of red tuff. For what it was done, is unknown. Moai reached 10 meters in height, their weight ranged from 50 to 270 tons. It took months to make one statue.
To solve this riddle, the researchers tried to move the idols both upright and horizontal. But how exactly the Polynesians acted is impossible to find out. One fact leaves no doubt: in any method, the ancients needed ropes and levers that could be made only of wood.
Scientists have established: as soon as the Polynesians settled the island, they immediately began to cut down trees. Wood was required for the manufacture of canoes and was the fuel for the fires on which they cooked food and burned the bodies of the dead. But the bulk of the trees went to the manufacture of levers to move the statues. The French archaeologist Kathrin Orliac, after conducting a radiocarbon analysis of tree remains, determined that the islanders stopped using wood as a fuel in the middle of the 17th century, finally switching to grass and other small plants. So, for seven centuries, the Polynesians completely uprooted the forest.
There was no forest – the raw materials for making canoes were gone, it became impossible to hunt dolphins. The birds stopped flying to Rapa Nui, and the islanders ate those who lived there for a long time. Without the roots of the trees, the topsoil was washed away — it became difficult to grow vegetables. Stocks of food were running out, but instead of coming to our senses in time and stop destroying your home, people continued to build moai, using the remains of ropes and wooden levers. In the quarry of Rano-Raraku lies the largest statue of the island. Its length is more than 20 meters, weight about 180 tons.
Scientists suggest that this statue was the last work of the islanders. She is like a cry of despair addressed to ancestors. But, apparently, people no longer could or did not want to extract it from the rock.
Island has the shape of a triangle, in the corners of which are located the extinct volcanoes of RanoKao, Pua Kathiki and Terevak. The latter is the youngest. According to scientists, he erupted 110,000–150,000 years ago, long before people appeared here. Rain lakes in the craters – the only source of fresh water on the island, where there is not a single river. Today, the most popular among tourists is the lake of the volcano Rano-Khao (in the photo). Excursions lead here at sunset: the rays of the setting sun are reflected in the water, revealing a fantastic picture
After the invasion of the Peruvian slave traders in the 1860s and the subsequent epidemic of smallpox in Rapa Nui, only a few hundred descendants of the first settlers remained. About 4,000 people live on Easter Island today: mainly from Chile and other Pacific Islands. “Not far from the quarry of Rano-Raraku, I met a man in native clothes. Seeing that I was shooting the images on the camera, he grabbed the knife and threateningly pointed me and meai. I hurried off. In the city of Hanga Roa, they explained to me that this man was a descendant of the ancient settlers. He rarely appears in public, and prefers to live as his ancestors lived. Perhaps he is the only one who still honors the history of the island.
For the rest of the inhabitants, giant idols today are just tourist sites. In the last century, the Europeans returned some moai to pedestals. Travelers come to stare at them as the only evidence of the existence of an ancient civilization that once signed a death sentence for itself ”.