Rapa Nui: Moai

The Moai statues are a group of roughly 1,000 monolithic human figures built by the natives of Easter Island between 1400-1650 AD. Carved from the ash of the Rano Raraku, each statue weighs up to 86 tons and is as tall as 33 feet (10 m). The Rapa Nui used stone tools, which limited the number of suitable materials available for carving. The abundance of “tuff,” also known as “compressed volcanic ash,” made this particular location of the island ideal. The people found the volcanic ash to be durable, readily available and shaped with the carving apparatus. Typically, the statues built honored the passing of an individual who possessed high status, including chiefs and high priests. Every figure is easily distinguishable through the use of a combination of different facial characteristics to represent the appearance of the person being honored. One mystery remains: how did they manage to transport the massive figures for long distances across hilly terrain?