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Easter Island - Quarrymen

There are 887 moai on Easter Island. Ninety-five percent of them were carved from stone from the volcano Rano Raraku and later transported to their appointed place. No one knows exactly how they were moved. When the ancestor cult died sometime between 1722 and 1868, the stone quarry at Rano Raraku was abandoned, and the moai in the process of being carved were left precisely where they were. For the 21st century visitor it's a remarkable sight. Giant stone heads litter the hillside. They are the original monsters of rock.

Many are partially buried from the shoulders up, their bodies now hidden by quarry spoil:

In the top right of this photo, you can see a massive moai, 71 feet tall, - yes, that's right 21ms - still attached to the crater wall.

How on earth they planned to free this monster from the rock and transport him to where they were going to put him is yet another mystery. Perhaps he was never intended to be moved?

A little path (from which you stray at your peril!) guides you through the giants as your mind is blown away…

Walking up the volcano and into the crater brings more surprises. The crater is filled with fresh water, banked by totara reeds. But look up onto the high slopes inside the crater and there are even more stone heads, peeping out from the earth where they were abandoned.

It's thought that different parts of the quarry were used by different clans. When the quarrying and carving stopped, another obsessive passion took over the minds of the Easter Islanders. The birdman. And he is the subject of my next blog.

Photos: Moth Clark

Jane Posted by Jane
2nd December 2011ce
Edited 2nd December 2011ce

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