The new moai is smaller than most of the other monuments on Easter Island, figures that represent ancestors of the community
In the bed of a dry lagoon in the crater of a volcano on Easter Island, a new moai was found, the name given to the emblematic sculptures of this territory belonging to Chile, according to the indigenous community that manages the site.
“This is the first time that a moai has been discovered inside a lagoon in a crater of Rano Raraku,” the Ma’u Henua indigenous community said in a statement on Tuesday.
“This moai is in the center of a lagoon that began to dry up in 2018,” Ninoska Avareipua Huki Cuadros, director of the Ma’u Henua indigenous community that manages the Rapa Nui National Park, where the volcano is located, told AFP.
“The interesting thing is that, at least in the last 200 or 300 years, the lagoon was three meters deep, which means that no human could have left the moai there at that time,” Huki said.
It was a team of scientific volunteers from three Chilean universities who found the statue while collaborating on a restoration project for the crater lagoon of the Rano Raraku volcano.
The new moai is smaller than most of the other sacred monuments on Easter Island.
Between the 13th and 16th centuries, the Rapanui carved almost 1,000 moai in tuff, a type of volcanic rock. These colossal figures represent ancestors or important community leaders, and many of them are arranged in a ring around the island, facing inland.
“The moai are important because they represent the history of the Rapanui people,” Terry Hunt, a professor of archeology at the University of Arizona, explains to ABC.
“They were the deified ancestors of the islanders. They are iconic around the world, and they really represent the fantastic archaeological heritage of this island.”
The weight of these figures is several tons, which has generated debate about how the inhabitants of the island moved these gigantic statues.
In this regard, some historians believe that the ancestors used ropes and wood and pulled the statues along the ground.
On Easter Island, more than 800 moai are known, which measure from a few meters or more than 10. The largest moai weighs more than 75 tons.