Far out in the south-eastern part of the Pacific Ocean lies one of the world's most remote islands. Located over 2,000 miles away from Chile and South America, the nearest continent, and over 1,300 miles away from its nearest inhabited neighbor, Pitcairn Island, Easter Island is a solitary mass of land alone at the southeastern-most point of the Polynesian Triangle. And yet this small patch of land, a mere dot within the vast Pacific Ocean, is one of the most famous islands in the world.
Today, Easter Island is almost synonymous for the unique artifacts that grace its coastline and interior, particularly the nearly 900 monumental statues that are unlike anything found elsewhere across the globe. Known as "Moai" by the island inhabitants, these statues have amazed everyone who has seen them in person or in photos, and they have befuddled researchers attempting to answer important questions about them. The Moai also vary considerably, with the tallest having a height of over 70 feet and the shortest being less than 4 feet. With the average statue having a height of about 13 feet and a weight of several tons, it's unclear how or why the inhabitants constructed them, and given the manner in which they were positioned across certain parts of Easter Island, it's also unclear how the inhabitants transported the giant monoliths. On top of that, some researchers have speculated that only a third of the Moai made it to their intended destination on the island.
Of course, before these statues could be created, the people who made them needed to find their way to Easter Island's desolate location, which was quite literally in the middle of the nowhere. Then they also needed to learn how to settle there and survive. The story of Easter Island's statues is extraordinary, but the story of how people came to be there in the first place is just as incredible.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors