Fact 1. What are the Moai?
The Moai statute date back nearly a thousand years and are the work of the early inhabitants of Easter Island. They are tall sculptures made out of volcanic rock, with disproportionately large heads. The average height of a Moai is about 13 ft (4m) and can weigh around 13.8 tones (12.5 tonnes) each, but some are up to 40 ft (12m) tall.
The faces on these Moai have distinct features, such as broad noses and strong chins jutting out from the rest of the body. The Moai have eye sockets carved, with archaeologists believing coral eyes were used.
Fact 2. What do the Moai represent?
Many archaeologists believe The Moai statute represented the ancestors of the people. This is emphasised by the fact the Moai are almost always facing inland or towards a community, rather than out to sea, suggesting they were looking after the people.
There are seven Moai which go against this and face out to sea, perhaps to guide visitors to the island.
Fact 3.Why were the Moai toppled?
Most information about the history of the Moai is down to witness accounts passed through the generations. When the Europeans began arriving in 1722, the Moai were still standing. Yet by the end of the 19th century, the Moai reportedly had all toppled and fallen over.
One of the other theories which still exists today, is about a woman on the island who had special powers, and toppled all the statues out of anger.
Fact 4.How were they moved across the island?
It’s incredible to see so many of these Moai in many places. They were all carved from the Rano Raraku quarry, so how on earth, given their size and weight, did they get moved around the island?
It’s a credit to the ingenuity of the Rapa Nui people. Of course, there are also multiple theories which exist about this too, including beliefs that elders commanded the statues to move.
Fact 5.Where on Easter Island can you find the Moai?
It’s unclear exactly how many Moai exist, but there are hundreds that can be seen right across Easter Island. You don’t have to look far. The rest are thought to be buried in the slopes under rubble or at the quarry at
Rano Raraku – in fact, there could be hundreds of Moai still yet to be unearthed.
Scuba divers can also see a submerged Moai off the island, but this did not fall in any conflict or earthquake. It’s understood it was placed there as part of research.