Stone Island Assembly Will Deal with Flooding
This story is from UCLA Right now, a discontinued print and web publication.
There’s extra to the world-famous heads of Easter Island than meets the attention.
Ask archaeologist Jo Anne Van Tilburg, a research associate on the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and director of its Rock Artwork Archive, who has been lecturing and writing about Easter Island’s iconic monolithic statues for years.
As the director of the Easter Island Statue Undertaking — the longest-continuous collaborative artifact stock ever performed on the Polynesian island that belongs to Chile — Van Tilburg has opened a window on one of the best achievements of Pacific prehistory on one of the crucial remote inhabited islands in the world.
She and her workforce of resident Rapa Nui have spent 9 years locating and meticulously documenting the practically 1,000 statues on the island, figuring out their symbolic that means and operate, and conserving them using state-of-the-artwork methods.
After spending 4 months during the last two years excavating two of the statues and posting the results of their digs on the project’s website, Van Tilburg was surprised to find that a large section of the general public hadn’t realized that what they knew only as the Easter Island “heads” really had bodies.
The two “heads” in the quarry the place Van Tilburg’s workforce dug are standing figures with torsos, truncated at the waist, which have become partially buried by eroded dirt and detritus over centuries.
When Van Tilburg posted images of the excavated statues on the project’s webpage about 4 months in the past, the blogosphere lit up with shock, generating a mass flurry of emails. Three million hits later, the Easter Island Statues Venture (EISP) webpage crashed.
“I used to be utterly blindsided,” stated Van Tilburg, who’s again in Los Angeles, however will return to Easter Island in October to proceed excavating. “However now I quite perceive it, because many of the pictures which might be widely available on the web, and certainly in books, deal only with the very photogenic statues which might be situated on the slopes of the quarry through which they were carved.”
Buried to mid-torso, she said, the statues (which the Rapa Nui call moai, pronounced MO-eye) “do appear to be heads only. And, indeed, through the years, the statues had been often referred to as the Easter Island heads. But now people are aware they have our bodies. I think that’s fabulous. I love it when good science will be turned into public info so shortly.”
While many of the statues have been moved by their creators to ceremonial sites, about half of the statues remain in and around the quarry, the Rano Raraku volcano crater. Makes an attempt have been made to excavate greater than 90 of the 149 statues which might be upright and buried to their torsos there. But the EISP’s two excavations are the first in that location to be methodically performed and documented according to archaeological standards, Van Tilburg stated. The excavations, which started in 2009, are funded by the Cotsen Institute, the Archaeological Institute of America and EISP.
From her studies of these two statues, the archaeologist is convinced that the statues had been partially buried naturally by eroded dirt, not by the Rapa Nui. She found approximately the identical quantity of dirt that partially buried the statues also stuffed the quarries located near the place they stood.
The excavations additionally revealed other facts about these megaton behemoths.
Whereas petroglyphs have been seen before on parts of the statues that were above ground, Van Tilburg’s excavations extended down to the base of the statues and revealed etched petroglyphs on the backs of the figures. She was especially intrigued by the repetition of crescent shapes that signify Polynesian canoes, she said.
“What we discovered beneath the bottom of one of the statues was a signature stone, a basalt rock with an incised drawing of a crescent, or canoe motif” she said. Van Tilburg believes this was the mark of its carver or the household group to which the carver belonged.
“Over time, it appears, more of these canoes had been etched onto the statue in a constant repetition of id reasserting who they were. As the neighborhood misplaced a sense of identification over time, perhaps they wanted to mark these statues as their own,” she stated.
“Easter Island: The Mystery Solved”
Explorer Thor Heyerdahl excavated this Easter Island statue in 1954-55. The UCLA project is the primary, legally permitted archaeological project within the quarry since Heyerdahl’s dig. Photograph is from Heyerdahl’s book, “Easter Island: The Mystery Solved.”
Between the 2 statues, the diggers also uncovered evidence of the know-how that was used to maneuver the massive statues stone island sweatshirt upright — stone island sweatshirt one of many statues Van Tilburg labored on stood 21 feet (about two tales ) tall.
“We found a spherical, deep put up gap into which the Rapa Nui had inserted a tree trunk,” she mentioned. Van Tilburg stated ropes had been attached to the tree trunk and to the partially carved statue. “We found a rope information that was really carved into the bedrock close to the statue.” The Rapa Nui then used the tree trunk to raise the statue upright. Before the statue was upright, they carved its entrance. As soon as it stood erect, they completed the back, Van Tilburg explained.
The excavation group also discovered about 800 grams of pure purple pigment — almost two pounds — within the burial hole, along with a human burial. Van Tilburg believes the pigment was used to paint the statues, just because the Rapa Nui used pigment to paint their bodies for sure ceremonies. The unusually large amount of pigment discovered signifies that it might have been utilized by a priest or chief, perhaps as a part of mortuary follow, she said. Human bones had been found throughout the dig, indicating that individuals buried their lifeless around the statues.
To protect the statues from water damage, Van Tilburg’s team, which included Monica Bahamondez, director of Chile’s Nationwide Heart of Conservation and Restoration, utilized a chemical answer to the floor and then refilled the outlet they’d dug. Cotsen Research Associate Christian Fischer, working with the UCLA/Getty Master’s Program on the Conservation of Ethnographic and Archaeological Supplies, aided on this effort.
“Conservation is a extremely necessary part of what we’re doing,” the archaeologist mentioned. She said she hoped that Rapa Nui young folks could be trained and employed to treat the remaining statues standing within the quarry. The Rapa Nui Nationwide Park, the agency in charge of this World Heritage site, and Van Tilburg and her workforce are planning collectively to make that a reality.
“The entire employees that I work with on Easter Island are from Rapa Nui. I’m very proud of that,” mentioned Van Tilberg.
To study extra concerning the Easter Island Statue Undertaking and see more images, including those of the Rapa Nui excavation team, go right here. A 2009 story in Backdirt, a magazine from the UCLA Cotsen Archaeological Institute, focuses on the venture to avoid wasting the moai.