Easter Island, one of the most remote inhabited islands on Earth, is also known as Rapa Nui or Isla de Pascua. It is a Polynesian island in the wide wilderness of the southeastern Pacific Ocean, most famous for its giant stone statues (Moai), which were created by the Rapanui people. At first it was thought that the statues were merely heads, but after excavation it was proved that almost all the heads have bodies. Surprisingly, very few statues were actually erected, most were left in quarries, or abandoned during transport. Nearly half of the statue is still lying in the main Moai quarry, known as Rano Raraku, but hundreds were already transported from there and set on stone platforms called Ahu, around the island’s perimeter. Archeologists believe that the gigantic statues were carved by the Rapa Nui people between the years 1250 and 1500 CE (Common Era or AD).
Archeologists are yet to know as to why those huge monolithic statues were built, what they signified, whether they were part of the ancestral worship of the island’s settlers, how they were transported and erected, or why they were abandoned unfinished. Some hieroglyphic writings were found on some of the statues, but nobody could translate them till today. The people of Easter Island and the Moai statues still remain as an enigma for historians and archaeologists, who have little information about them.
Early Europeans explorers described Easter Island as a wasteland. With no trees and no shrubs, the isolated Pacific island was nothing more than a chunk of grassland. But surprisingly, the seemingly dead landscape had almost 1000 huge statues weighing up to 86 tons. One of the biggest Easter Island mysteries is how the Stone Age tribes could succeed in transporting the gigantic Moai statues kilometers across hilly terrain. The most widely accepted theory is that, the statues were placed on top of the logs and were forced to roll to their destinations. As statues got bigger, huge amounts of lumber were needed, this eventually resulted in deforestation of all the thick and straight trees of once a tropical paradise hosting lush forests. In other words, it was the monuments that drove Easter Island to its ultimate ruin. Caught in a moai-building frenzy, Easter Islanders ravaged and plundered the island’s forests without thinking about the future. Ousted from natural home and the environment, the birds went extinct. And without lumber for making canoes, the Islanders could no longer hunt for the big fishes. Inevitably, the once-thriving residents of Easter Island were probably forced to resort to cannibalism.