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Monday! I don't know how I missed this story originally...

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Moa
The well-known picture of the Moai
The enormous stone heads on Easter Island have been absolutely iconic. But now it turns out that they were literally only part of the mystery!
Moai
During the excavation
The enduring image in the public's mind of the mysterious heads on Easter Island is simply that - heads.

So it comes as quite a shock to see the heads from another angle - and discover that they have full bodies, extending down many, many feet into the ground of the island.

The Easter Island Statue Project has been carefully excavating two of 1,000-plus statues on the islands - doing their best to uncover the secrets of the mysterious stones, and the people who built them.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/...

Moai
Another Moai
Hoax-slayer

The statues, called Moai, are centuries old. When the excavations began, petroglyphs carved onto the statues were revealed. Many were in the shape of canoes. And there were human remains, too.

petroglyphs on Moai
Close-up of petroglyphs
Between the two statues, the diggers also uncovered evidence of the technology that was used to move the large statues upright — one of the statues Van Tilburg worked on stood 21 feet (about two stories ) tall.

-snip-"We found a round, deep post hole into which the Rapa Nui had inserted a tree trunk," she said. Van Tilburg said ropes were attached to the tree trunk and to the partially carved statue. "We found a rope guide that was actually carved into the bedrock near the statue." The Rapa Nui then used the tree trunk to raise the statue upright. Before the statue was upright, they carved its front. Once it stood erect, they finished the back, Van Tilburg explained.

The excavation team also found about 800 grams of natural red pigment — nearly two pounds — in the burial hole, along with a human burial. Van Tilburg believes the pigment was used to paint the statues, just as the Rapa Nui used pigment to paint their bodies for certain ceremonies. The unusually large amount of pigment found indicates that it might have been used by a priest or chief, perhaps as part of mortuary practice, she said. Human bones were found throughout the dig, indicating that people buried their dead around the statues.

Link

Even more astonishing, it turns out that Thor Heyerdal wrote a book in which he wrote about his expedition to the island in the 1950's. The book was published in 1989. I have no idea why this information wasn't widely disseminated. Recent articles that I read while researching said that the bodies (which are actually torsos; none have legs as far as I know) say that the bodies were discovered in 2011. (But that is incorrect...)

Standing some 2,000 miles west of Chile, on the Easter Island, 887 mysterious giant statues have intrigued scientists and the public for years.

For a long time it was believed that the massive statutes consisted of just the heads.

However, in October 2011, when the Easter Island Statue Project began its Season V expedition, scientists could reveal remarkable photos showing that the bodies of the statues go far deeper underground than just about anyone had imagined.

Source
Moai
A picture from Thor Heyerdahl's book, "Easter Island: The Mystery Solved"
But wait, there's MORE! The more I read, the more I find:
"The reason people think they are [only] heads is there are about 150 statues buried up to the shoulders on the slope of a volcano, and these are the most famous, most beautiful and most photographed of all the Easter Island statues," Van Tilburg, who is also a fellow at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Life's Little Mysteries. "This suggested to people who had not seen photos of [other unearthed statues on the island] that they are heads only."

In fact, archaeologists have studied the statues on the island for about a century, and have been aware of the torsos beneath the statues' heads since the earliest excavations in 1914. [The Most Monumental Monument Mistakes]

The statues, whose traditional name is "moai," were carved from volcanic rock between A.D. 1100 and 1500 by ancient Polynesians. They range in size, with the tallest reaching 33 feet (10 meters).  Although their significance is still somewhat of a mystery, the moai are thought to have been representations of the indigenous peoples' ancestors. Tribespeople would probably have carved a new statue each time an important tribal figure passed away, Van Tilburg said.

LiveScience

National Geographic explains how the statues were moved from the quarry where they were carved to their final spots. However, the descendants of the original carvers have a different explanation:

Meanwhile, for many of Easter Island's 2,000 or so indigenous Rapanui, descended from the original Polynesian settlers, the answer is simple. "We know the truth," says Suri Tuki, 25, a tour guide. "The statues walked."
For more information: Easter Island Statue Project

In conclusion, I learned more than I thought that I would =) But not why the statues don't have legs. It seems that centuries of erosion are responsible for the torsos being underground. Hope that everyone has a good Monday!

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