Mythical Monday: The Mysterious Statues of Easter Island by Mae Clair

Moai_Rano_raraku

Photo courtesy of Aurbina, Wikipedia Commons

What do you think of when someone mentions Easter Island?

If you’re like me, you probably think of the large stone statues that have long been a subject of speculation and mystery.

Called moai, these monolithic representations were originally carved from solidified volcanic ash known as tuff. From the year 1000 through 1600, the Rapa Nui islanders engaged in carving and erecting 887 statues, the largest nearly 72 feet long. It wasn’t merely enough to craft the statues, however. A third were transported to various spots on the island and placed on ceremonial platforms known as ahu.

So how did a culture that ancient not only create such gargantuan statues, but move them as well?  Some theorists would have us believe extraterrestrials were involved. Others speculate Easter Island may be the Lost Continent of Mu, a landmass that was once part of earth’s oceans but mysteriously vanished at the dawn of history.

Mythology aside, Easter Island is a harsh lesson on the perils of obsession and deforestation. Once a verdant paradise, graced by giant palms, the island was destroyed by its inhabitant’s preoccupation with moving the statues around the island.

Countless palm trees were razed, their trunks employed to transport the massive figures. With the obliteration of the trees, resources grew scarce as topsoil was washed into the sea, leaving no way to raise food or even build boats. Overpopulated, their once fertile utopia in ruins, the islanders embraced civil war and cannibalism. In the process they toppled the moai themselves. Those that stand today are the result of modern archeological efforts.

It’s sad to think a culture could destroy itself through a fixation that resulted in utter mania. What would lead a whole race of people to become so preoccupied with a single undertaking, to the exclusion of all else? Perhaps, more than space aliens and lost continents, that is the greatest mystery of Easter Island.

I think it would be a fascinating place to visit…to stand in the shadows of those monolithic statues, surrounded by the ghosts of a lost culture. What about you? Are there any lost civilizations—Mayans, Incas, Celts, Phoenicians, Vikings—that intrigue you?

12 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: The Mysterious Statues of Easter Island by Mae Clair

  1. No there’s a question for you! There are SO many lost civilizations I would love to visit…now and in their heyday. All those you mentioned plus Atlantis, Troy, Cleopatra’s city of Alexandria… Speaking of Alexandria-what I wouldn’t give for a week in that library of hers. And what about Solomon’s mine? The list could go on… So… are you up to a little time travel Mae?

    • Wouldn’t it be great to time travel, Debbie? To be an observer to so many of those civilizations that have vanished.You definitely added some intriguing ones. And like you said, the list could go on and on. When you stop to think about it, the amount is staggering. And sooo intriguing!

      I can sense your passion for history in your comment. Love it! Thanks so much for dropping by!

  2. The Viking and Celts certainly intrigue me. There’s all sorts and probably many more I haven’t even heard of before.

    As far as monoliths go, my brother, who studies archaeology, said that there’s a theory about a culture that we know almost nothing about who are tied to the great monoliths scattered across parts of the world. I don’t recall what he said they’re called. It would be interesting for someone to find something concrete about them that burst the mystery open.

    • The Vikings and Celts intrigue me too, Laura, especially the Vikings. When I was younger I had no interest in Nordic folklore. Now I love it!

      I had no idea about a theory tied to the monoliths, but I’m intrigued. I would love to learn more about that. You need to check with your brother and do a post on your blog! 😀

  3. Those statues were the only thing I knew about Easter Island. Wow, it’s scary to think how those islanders destroyed their own environment. Makes you think if there was some magical curse involved and maybe the statues made everyone crazy. 🙂 – That’s the writer in me of course.

  4. The ancient Greeks for me! 🙂 I do find the statues at Easter Island interesting, and we’ve had neighbors who’ve had smaller (though still large) replicas in their front yards. The first time you drove by it was: “What -?”

    • Wow, I can just imagine what they must look like commanding a front lawn! I have a collection of wooden tiki heads on my (rear) covered porch and deck (I have an island theme going on back there) that I drag out as soon as the weather gets warm enough.

      The Ancient Greeks embrace another civilization that it’s easy to become wrapped up in. So many fascinating facts to all of them!

      Thanks for sharing, Lorraine!

    • Stonehenge is something I hope to do a Mythical Monday post on soon. There’s so many theories about it, I really need to weed through them all, but that monument intrigues me like no other. Probably the same for so many people. Great pick, Sue!

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