What are Maoi?
Moai were large statues which were large faces atop an upper torso. They are about 13 feet high and weigh about 14 tons. The 887 moai of Easter Island dot the coastline. Supposedly, the moai were probably used as ceremonial statues. Archaeologists believe that they represented the spirits of ancestors, and chiefs. They were built on a colossal scale yet no one knows why the Easter Islanders chose to build them. They eventually let to the downfall of the civilization depleting their ecological sources.
How were Moai Built?
Moai were built from the volcanic rock of Rano Raraku. This volcanic rock wasn't too hard making in perfect for statue carving. The moai carvers would outline the moai in the rock wall and chip away until it was held only by a thin keel. The moai were then transported to different parts of the island.
How were Moai Transported?
This transportation of the moai is one of the greatest mysteries of Easter Island. These statues were immense and would've required a lot of manpower in order to be transported from Rano Raraku to their present day locations on the island. In some cases, the Easter Islanders had to transport these gigantic statues about 14 miles. Some people suggest that the moai were moved by being placed on logs and rolled down the ancient roads. Others believe that they were moved in an upright position and kept stable by crews manning the ropes. One of the most recent experiments was conducted by Jo Anne von Tilburg who showed that the moai could have been moved to Ahu Akivi in 5 days using 70 men by placing the moai on two large logs and rolling the whole unit on other logs placed perpendicular to it. To see a more detailed account of the experiment visit the Easter Island Statue Project.
Where are the Moai Today?
Today the moai are located along the coastline of Easter Island. They stand atop an ahu, a ceremonial platform built to support it. Many moai, however, never made it anywhere. They can be seen along the ancient roadways where they broke while being transported. Many moai were also left in the Rano Raraku quarry, not moved at all. These moai are one of the most impressive features of Easter Island. To see the many pictures of the moai, visit Explore the Island.