Friday, May 14, 2010

Easter Island Reconsideration

The bottom line appears to be that the many statues are mostly were they are supposed to be.  That means that the people had little difficulty in moving these statues.

The well prepared road was built to facilitate the actual carrying of the statues to their destination.  It required a mass of men working together on a prepared surface and in unison.  No road meant no statues.

Without pulling out a tape measure and checking the details let us show how this might be done in a culture full of strong young men.

A strong man is able to develop around five hundred pounds of upward thrust in a squat over a distance of about a foot or so.

A foot or so of statue will typically weigh around one ton.  Therefore we need to organize four men to lift each foot of statue.

One needs to do this in stages in which the statue is lifted through one squat and then blocked and released in order to tighten the ropes to allow an additional squat lift.  In this way the statue can be hoisted close to shoulder height.

The tools consist of palm logs that then existed on the island and reed ropes.  The logs are set across the statues every foot and a half and bound tightly to the statues.  Twisting the ropes allows slack to be taken out.  Note that all slack must be taken out.

Three to four men position themselves on each end of the log(s) in the squat position.  The tallest will need to be on the outside.  On a signal, they all lift. This should lift the statue a good foot in preparation for movement.

At this point the load has been shifted to their shoulders and this should have been well adjusted and perhaps made somewhat self adjusting.  Eighty men could in this manner put feet underneath an twenty ton statue and so long as the surface was prepared could begin to march slowly forward.

It needs good training and plenty of practice to get right with smaller statues but it soon becomes possible to move large statues short distances to set down on blocks and rest.

The necessary prepared roadway happens to exist so it is pretty obvious how it was done.  Dragging would have wreaked the road.

Easter Island discovery sends archaeologists back to drawing board
May 12, 2010

Archaeologists have disproved the fifty-year-old theory underpinning our understanding of how the famous stone statues were moved around Easter Island.

Fieldwork led by researchers at University College London and The University of Manchester, has shown the remote Pacific island's ancient road system was primarily ceremonial and not solely built for transportation of the figures.

complex network of roads up to 800-years-old crisscross the Island between the hat and statue quarries and the coastal areas.

Laying alongside the roads are dozens of the statues- or moai.

The find will create controversy among the many archaeologists who have dedicated years to finding out exactly how the moai were moved, ever since Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl first published his theory in 1958.

Heyerdahl and subsequent researchers believed that statues he found lying on their backs and faces near the roads were abandoned during transportation by the ancient Polynesians.

But his theory has been completely rejected by the team led by Manchester's Dr Colin Richards and UCL's Dr Sue Hamilton.

Instead, their discovery of stone platforms associated with each fallen moai - using specialist 'geophysical survey' equipment - finally confirms a little known 1914 theory of British archaeologist Katherine Routledge that the routes were primarily ceremonial avenues.

The statues, say the Manchester and UCL team just back from the island, merely toppled from the platforms with the passage of time.

"The truth of the matter is, we will never know how the statues were moved," said Dr Richards.

"Ever since Heyerdahl, archeologists have come up with all manner of theories - based on an underlying assumption that the roads were used for transportation of the moai, from the quarry at the volcanic cone Rano Raraku.

"What we do now know is that the roads had a ceremonial function to underline their religious and cultural importance.

"They lead - from different parts of the island - to the Rano Raraku volcano where the Moai were quarried.

"Volcano cones were considered as points of entry to the underworld and mythical origin land Hawaiki.

"Hence, Rano Ranaku was not just a quarry but a sacred centre of the island."

The previous excavation found that the roads are concave in shape -making it difficult to move heavy objects along them

And as the roads approach Rano Raraku, the statues become more frequent - which the team say, indicated an increasing grades of holiness.

"All the evidence strongly shows that these roads were ceremonial - which backs the work of Katherine Routledge from almost 100 years ago, " said Dr Sue Hamilton.

"It all makes sense: the moai face the people walking towards the volcano.

"The statues are more frequent the closer they are to the volcano - which has to be way of signifying the increasing levels of importance."

She added: "What is shocking is that Heyerdahl actually found some evidence to suggest there were indeed platforms.

"But like many other archaeologists, he was so swayed by his cast iron belief that the roads were for transportation - he completely ignored them."

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