With the help of technology, scientists have solved most mysteries, but there are still a couple of historical sites that have left humanity puzzled. This particular mystery has baffled scientists for several years, and there didn’t seem to be a possible solution at all. But now, scientists have finally gotten their big break to help them solve the mystery of Easter Island.
Hetereki Huke’s journey through the Chilean island wasn’t just a simple holiday. Huke’s legs were in pain from trekking across Easter Island’s challenging landscape and he was now standing on the land that his ancestors set foot on centuries ago. He was surrounded by Monuments of the Rapa Nui. These gigantic monuments continued to fill him with wonder just like it did for anyone who was lucky enough to visit the aboriginal Polynesian inhabitants’ home. But could anyone solve the big mystery?
How did the ancient Rapa Nui carve statues that weighed 86 tons and 10 meters in height? It’s believed that the Rapa Nui created these monuments around 1400-1650 A.D. Even though they’re known for the Moai heads, the land was neglected, leading to soil, rubble, dirt, grass, and weeds. But there’s more to these heads lying beneath the very surface, waiting to be uncovered.
Many people have been misled to think that the carvings on the Statues of Rano Raraku volcano are mere heads. But actually, these heads have torsos, and some of them even have thighs. Some figures are complete and are kneeling on bent knees, while their hands protect their stomachs. Others sit back, seemingly enjoying their fame. Unfortunately, soil shifting has buried most of the statues, but the heads are pretty impressive on their own. But how did the aboriginal tribes manage to carve these landmarks on their own?
The island was discovered a millennium ago by Huke’s ancestors. The island is approximately 15 miles, and to this day, it’s one of the world’s most remote inhabited piece of land. Since metal hadn’t been discovered yet, the aborigines had to use basalt stone picks to carve the volcanic ash, which had solidified. But why were the Moais unique?
Archaeologists assume that the Moai statues were built to honor the chieftains and other VIPs from Rapa Nui society, who had passed away. The Moais all had different characteristics from a large nose to a small nose, big ears to tiny ears, and prominent chins. The only thing they had in common was the size of their heads. But each sculpture represented a particular person, and the Rapa Nui had a difficult responsibility.
Huke’s feet hurt from walking up and down the uneven terrain. He couldn’t help but wonder how his ancestors moved tons of rocks several kilometers through the island’s hills. Czech engineer Pavel Pavel and Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl used ropes attached to the heads, which helped them to tilt the statue and push it on its side. A second attempt was made in 2012 and it took 30 people to move a 5-ton replica of the statues. But lots of questions remained.
There have been plenty of wacky theories used to solve the mystery, and the most absurd one involved aliens. Erich von Daniken, the author of “Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past,” suggested that the Moai had been created by beings from another world, and that included the construction of the Nazca Line drawings and the pyramids. Most have debunked these theories, but others claim that aliens are the only explanation. But the sculptures were not created from alien material, but from stones from Earth. Still, something was amiss.
Some Moai contained boulders that looked like hats. But the rocks actually symbolize hair. Huke’s ancestors used to wound their hair into the shape of a ball starting from the crown of their heads. This is because Chieftains thought that hair channeled powers from the supernatural, hence why the tribe rarely got their hair cut. Although it’s easier to believe aliens did it, it’s far more plausible that the Moai and the hill of stone were made by people who pushed the boulders over their heads.
Huke has often wondered about his people’s history. The island had no livestock, little water, and no metal or any other useful resources. But somehow, they managed to move these stones several kilometers across the island. Now, these creations attract visitors from all over the planet and has been deemed a UNESCO heritage site. But still, everyone seems to have avoided the island’s sad truth.
Huke, who’s an architect, noticed human bones baking in the sun, which was not uncommon. For years, the waves have crashed open the platforms, which contained the remains of his ancestors. These tombs contained a series of artifacts like statues, spearheads, and bones. And in this instance, he was standing over the remains of his people. Also, the land was crumbling beneath him.
The skulls that archaeologists have uncovered on the island have given them an idea of what the Rapa Nui’s skeletal structures were like. The Aborigines may have had longer ears than most people, based on the long, narrow bone structure of the skulls. But Huke wasn’t happy with the discovery. “Those bones were related to my family,” he said. Now, the elements aren’t the only thing that threatens their resting place.
In 2008, a Finnish man removed the earlobe of one of the Moai statues. And back in 1867, the crew of the British HMS Topaze took a statue for themselves. That statue now sits in the British Museum in London and was designated as one of the first sculptures. Meanwhile, tourists don’t seem to care that this area is a UNESCO heritage site, and that’s not the only thing that worries Huke.
Locals, descendants, and scientists are concerned that nature could threaten the island since the sea levels may rise a minimum of five feet by 2100. The island’s economy relies on the archaeological sites, especially since new discoveries bring more tourists. 100,000 visitors arrive at the island every year, which gives the 6,000 residents the economic boost and cultural support it needs to survive. Tourism also brings in $70 million a year, and that number rises every year. But things could change quickly.
The island is missing something. It lacks trees. Tourists might enjoy the Moai and the wide plains of glass, but historians believe that the island underwent extreme deforestation at some point. Although this made it easier for the Rapa Nui to move around, the lack of roots prevents moisture from being soaked up. As a result, graves have become waterlogged, and they eventually bust open. Now it seems this mistake has given the locals something to worry about.
Ovahe Beach, which used to be pretty popular among locals and tourists, has taken the biggest hit, and time is running out. The waves have unearthed unmarked burial sites, which have left people like Huke in a state of shock. It’s unlikely that the climate will change in the island’s favor, so hopefully, archeologists can solve the final pieces of the mystery on Easter Island before it’s lost forever.