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Easter Island Statues ‘Walked’?

Fascinating article today from our good friend Alan Boyle at Cosmic Log on the legends regarding the “walking” statues of Easter Island, and how they may have had some basis in truth. Boyle discusses a recent National Geographic feature in which researchers attempted to move a 5-ton Moai replica vertically, rather than by sliding it horizontally along the ground:

The researchers found that the statue’s fat belly produced a forward-falling center of gravity that facilitated vertical transport. A crew of as few as 18 people could use ropes to rock the statue back and forth, and forward… The vertical-transport trick worked with four rope-pullers on each side, plus 10 people to pull on the statue from behind, as if they were holding back a dog that was straining forward on a walk.

“It’s really unnerving and beautiful, all at the same time,” Hunt said.

…The statue-walking experiment alone doesn’t prove that the entire scenario put forward by Hunt and Lipo is true, but it’s consistent with the claims in the islanders’ oral tradition that the statues “walked” down the road in ancient times. It also provides an alternate explanation for the ruined statues that littered the roads: When you lose control of the ropes, that’s what happens, and you don’t have any good way to move the broken pieces.

Read the full story at Cosmic Log.

  1. Walking is easier…
    …on a flat terrain.

    Anyway, if I remember what I’ve read about the Moais, the islanders have claimed the statues were moved with Mana, a powerful mental energy. In other words, psychokinesis.

    1. Very intriguing. Of course,
      Very intriguing. Of course, mental energy in the form of the rope trick could have been what they meant. I am all for the reality of psychokinesis, but you have to wonder sometimes if what primitive peoples meant by the term “magic” was just referring to very clever thinking for the times.

    2. from the Statues-Statute-Dept.
      I remember in one adventure I read that the statues were there as both alarm and guardians against a great evil living on the seafloor nearby…

        1. from the Bloop-and-Dyvers-Sounds-Dept.
          “Pardon me boy,
          Is this the Lair of Great Cthulhu?
          In the city of slime,
          Where it is night all the time.

          Bob Hope never went
          Along the road to Great Cthulhu,
          And Triple-A has no maps,
          And all the Tcho Tcho’s lay traps.

          You’ll see an ancient sunken city
          Where the angles are wrong.
          You’ll see the fourth dimension
          If you’re there very long.
          Come to the conventicle,
          Bring along your pentacle,
          Otherwise you’ll be dragged off by a tentacle.

          A mountain’s in the middle,
          With a house on the peak.
          A gnashin’ and a thrashin’
          And a clackin’ of a beak.
          Your soul you will be a lackin’
          When you see that mighty Kraken.
          Ooo-ooo, Great Cthulhu’s startin’ to speak.

          So come on aboard,
          Along the Road to Great Cthulhu,
          Wen-di-gos and Dholes
          Will make Big Macs of our souls.

          Under the sea,
          Down in the ancient city of R’lyeh,
          In the Lair of Great Cthulhu
          They’ll suck your soul away…
          (Great Cthulhu, Great Cthulhu
          — Suck your soul —
          Great Cthulhu, Great Cthulhu)
          …In the Lair of Great Cthulhu,
          They’ll suck your soul away!

          Here follows an extended saxaphone solo a-la Tex Beneke… ”

          — by Lawrence Press, Joan Carruth, David Geller

  2. lol
    Except for the small fact that the Easter Island statues weren’t stubbies… Recent excavations showed them to be 3-4 times as tall as this replica was. Try that with a few ropes up from the inside of a volcano quarry and back down the outside to the sea side on a 20 degree slope with a statue 3-4 times the height, then I might consider this exercise as a possibility…

    1. I am fine with going back to
      I am fine with going back to the incomprehensibility of it – the sheer amazingness of moving these monsters into place with hand labor. There is something truly grand and mysterious about the gargantuan megaliths of the previous world. Even should we finally learn that human ingenuity did the moving according to known physical laws the dedication to these feats of physical labor is almost inconceivable to we moderns. They were acts of vast imagination.

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