The very first ride that I hitched on Easter Island was a pickup-truck with a bunch of young, local guys riding in back in the open air. I threw my pack on and jumped on behind it.
"You're lucky," one of the guys told me.
"Because you're going to see something special today. We're going to move the moai." He said this proudly and looked back at the road we were leaving behind us.
"How?" I asked. He turned to me and flexed his right bicep - staring proudly at his powerful tool of labour. I was excited to see what was about to follow.
The moai they were going to move was not one of the real, stone sculptures which was carved in ancient times. It was a replica and I think they were recreating the moving process for the benefit of an American film crew which was filming them for a documentary.
There were twenty people working together - a combination of men and women, big and small. They had ropes tied around the next and body of the heavy, stone sculpture with three teams pulling for lift and/or stabilization - one team from either side and one from behind. There was also a log securely tied to the body of the moai and the two strongest men were providing a lift directly to this area. These were the guys who I rode with in the pickup.
The idea was to only move the moai which was standing. I watched them for 30 minutes and in that time they only managed to move it a few centimetres - bear in mind that these things weigh tons. Also please note that I said the moai "was" standing. Because it wasn't anymore following their collective efforts (below).
[Below] After dropping the statue on its face they tried to haul it back up in the most ridiculous manner. I don't think they had the same grasp of leverage and physics that their descendants had when they first carved and moved these statutes.
It is hypothesized that the indigenous people who created and moved the moai used tree-trunks to roll them to their present sites - this would also somewhat explain the deforestation of the island. And that they used rocks to place underneath the moai, slowly and gradually increasing the inclination until it fell into place under its own weight.
Other people assert that the moai were created and moved by aliens - of which there are many on Eastern Island (below).
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- Rapa Nui
- Visit Easter Island on a low budget!
- Rapa Nui = Isla de Pascua = Easter Island