The Easter Island statues remain shrouded in mystery. Who created them and how were they erected on the island?
No-one really knows how these mysterious monolithic human figures were transported into place, but now there is a new controversial theory that suggests
that these statues once walked into place.
In the Journal of Archaeological Science, a group of researchers present
their latest theory describing how the massive statues, known as moai, can be moved from side to side by a small number of people.
According to Lipo, the position of the incomplete road moai shows that the ancient statues fell over from upright positions.
His idea contradicts the theory that the monolithic human figures were horizontally rolled on logs, as most archaeologists have suggested up to now.
"The majority of statues are found facedown when the road slopes downhill, and often on their backs when going uphill," Lip said.
To test their theory, the scientists created ac copy of one of the Easter Island statues.
Researchers have used a replica moai to show how the giant statues may have been "walked" to where they are displayed. Image: Courtesy of Carl Lipo
"We constructed a precise three-dimensional 4.35 metric ton replica of an actual statue and demonstrated how positioning the center of mass allowed it to fall
forward and rock from side to side causing it to 'walk,'" Carl Lipo, an archaeologist at California State University, Long Beach, and colleagues wrote in their
In our experiments, remarkably small teams were easily able to initiate
'walking ' the 4.35 metric ton road statue replica. Even with our limited practical experience moving the statue, a minimum of only 18 people could achieve
'walking', Lipo and his team explained.
Lipo also adds there was no problem to walk the statue uphill and downhill slopes.
"The 'walking' covered ground rapidly. In one continuous effort we were able to move the statue about 100 m in just 40 min," he said.
According to Lipo and his team the larger the statues "the less likely they could have been moved in any way other than' walking.'
The fact that statues get thinner with longer heads means that they become more fragile and prone to breakage at the neck, as evident by
frequent neck breaks among the fallen road
moai. Transporting large statues in a horizontal fashion would put stress on the weakest point of the statue.