EASTER ISLAND – Anthropologists discovered the mystery of how the giant Rapa Nui statues got their hats. The enigma about the ancient civilization and their proficient architectural techniques is now unscrambled. How could Rapa Nui move such an enormous weight without modern machinery or technology? The question how Rapa Nui people could place the enormous hats on their statues is finally answered. Anthropologists of Binghamton University, NY, and the University of Pennsylvania believe to have found the solution. A collaborative work yielded an interesting and assertive explanation about the ancient civilization’s building methods. Using ropes and a platform, Easter Islanders (Rapa Nui) could roll up the massive cylinder-shaped hats also known as “pukao.”
The Rapa Nui’s monumental sculptures are called “Moai,” and the ingenuity of the early civilization reflects in their ability to build these magnificent statues. But even more impressive is their creativity to deal with the challenge of placing the stone-made hats on the high sculptures. According to Carl Lipo, a professor of Anthropology at Binghamton University, the Rapa Nui used a parbuckling technique. As the pukao were more like rolls, the people used that shape as an advantage to roll them up over a ramp. “In parbuckling, a line would have been wrapped around the pukao cylinder, and then people would have pulled the rope from the top of the platform,” said Lipo on his university’s website. He added, “this approach minimizes the effort needed to roll the statue up the ramp. Like the way the statues were transported, parbuckling was a simple and elegant solution that requires minimum resources and effort.” That shows the innovative way in which the Easter Islanders dealt with big problems, developing solutions with the limited available resources. Easter Island is a Chilean island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. The UN Educational, Science and Cultural Organization UNESCO considers it a World Heritage Site. The incredible sculptures and architecture developed by its natives still astonish people around the world. Approximately 900 statues, more than 300 ceremonial platforms and thousands of structures related to agriculture are found on that land. All of that gives testimony of the fascinating culture, held alive by its descendants. The land is nowadays a national park. For that reason, it is protected by the National Monuments Council, a Chilean government agency for the preservation of natural and cultural sites. In addition, it is protected by the National Forest Service of Chile, CONAF (Spanish acronym). As a legacy of Chilean culture, Easter Island and the incredible stone figures continue to be a proof of human ingenuity and represent an important tourist attraction.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today.