When archaeologists Carl Lipo and Terry Hunt began field work on Rapa Nui — called Easter Island by its first European visitors — they knew the prevailing theory about its history: that the labor-intensive construction and transportation of the island’s famous stone statues led to clear-cutting forests, and that the resulting environmental destruction caused the population to dwindle. Yet as they carried out their research, Lipo and Hunt continued to find clues that subverted this long-held theory, and their discoveries led to a completely new understanding of the island’s technology, culture, and history.
Drawing on well-explained scientific research and historical documents, The Statues that Walked is a fascinating look at the island of Rapa Nui and the ingenuity of the people who created the hundreds of statues that line its shores.
“Mention Easter Island to just about anyone and ‘mystery’ immediately comes to mind. The Mystery of Easter Island is the title of untold books and modern film documentaries. The mystery surrounds how so few people on a remote, treeless, and impoverished island could have made and transported hundreds of eerie, gargantuan statues — called moai — for which the island is so famous. The awe-inspiring, multi-ton stone statues, some standing nearly forty feet high and weighing more than seventy-five tons, were carved out of the island’s quarry of compacted volcanic ash and then somehow transported several miles over the island’s rugged terrain. Not all of them survived the journey. Many lie scattered across the island, some broken, never to take their intended places on platforms along the shoreline or elsewhere throughout the island. To see these statues, many of them situated on equally impressive platforms called ahu, is to sense a hidden drama of compelling human proportions calling out for explanation. Facing inward, rather than out to sea, they seem to be gazing back in a vain search for the noble society that created them.”
Terry Hunt has spent 35 years conducting archeological research in the Pacific Islands. He lives in Hawaii, where he works as a professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Carl Lipo teaches archaeology at California State University Long Beach; he also lives in Long Beach, California.
Length: 237 pages
Set in: Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile
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