Walking Your Moai

Photo Bjarte Sorensen, Creative Commons

Walking your moai is not a task to be undertaken lightly. Weighing in at a 10,000 pounds and up, you will need to have a team to help. The good news is that they won’t dash off chasing rabbits like your dog. In the first place there are no rabbits on Easter Island and the moai are just standing around staring into the distance and don’t seem very interested in the world around them.

Easter Island has been famous for it’s moai (huge stone statues) for a couple of centuries, but the how and why has been topics of controversy. The sculptors quarried and carved then from one location and roads were built to take them to their allotted places. Some fell by the wayside, but about 900 made it.

The ongoing controversy is how they got from A to B. A being the quarry and B being their home turf. A popular view was that they were rolled the road along in a recumbent posture on logs and propped upright when they arrived. The problem is that the heaviest are ~ 160,000 pounds and there aren’t that many trees around, though there may have been once. But the big problem is the weight and how to lift that.

The more recently espoused idea is that they walked from their quarry where they were carved upright. Perhaps shuffled is the best description, aided by groups of well wishers holding onto ropes to pull and cajole them along.

A 10,000 pound concrete replica was built by Lipo et al and walked along a track using three strategically placed teams on ropes (1, 2). They made a good walking rate of 0.06 miles per hour. They conclude that that is the favorite methodology for their location and the design of the base lends itself to the shuffling motion.

However not everyone agrees that the demonstration proves the point, so the controversy rumbles on. But there is something attractive about imagining all those huge stone statues shuffling along from their quarry to to settle down to nice viewpoints along the road.

  1. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440312004311
  2. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/oct/25/easter-island-statues-walked-into-position

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