Most people are familiar with the iconic Easter Island heads. What may come as a surprise is that these figures actually possess concealed subterranean bodies. Archaeologists have unearthed the bodies associated with these heads, making intriguing discoveries that advance our understanding of the Easter Island civilization and their process of crafting these monoliths.
Referred to as Moai by the Rapa Nui people who crafted them, the Easter Island heads are located in the tropical South Pacific, directly west of Chile. These Moai monoliths, hewn from the island’s native stone, were created between 1,100 and 1,500 CE. As a side note, CE stands for “Common Era” and is sometimes used in lieu of AD in historical and archaeological contexts.
Just like many other things on Earth, the passage of time left its mark on the statues, burying them beneath sediment and rocks, and thereby concealing and preserving the torsos of the Easter Island heads. However, a group of archaeologists at UCLA initiated the Easter Island Statue Project to delve deeper into the study and conservation of these artifacts. Through their efforts, the team excavated several of the heads, unveiling the underlying torsos and bodies.
In total, the team meticulously documented and scrutinized nearly 1,000 statues on this petite Pacific Island. Over the course of nine years, they endeavored to ascertain, to the best of their ability, the significance, purpose, and history of each individual statue.
Following the necessary approvals, the archaeologists excavated two of the Easter Island heads to expose their torsos and truncated waists. These heads had been enveloped by successive deposits from natural processes on the island, ultimately burying the lower halves of the statues. These events unfolded gradually over the centuries as the island naturally underwent weathering and erosion.
The amusing depiction of two renowned Easter Island statues, seated with their bodies and arms folded beneath the ground, is not as distant from reality as one might assume.