Easter Island monument mystery solved?

earthsky.org | 1/20/2019 | Eleanor Imster
joseph76joseph76 (Posted by) Level 3
Click For Photo: https://en.es-static.us/upl/2016/09/venus-moon-9-3-2016-Yuri-Beletsky-Nightscapes-Easter-Island-sq-300x300.jpg

Image via Yuri Beletsky Nightscapes.

New research suggests that the ancient people of Rapa Nui in eastern Polynesia – better known as Easter Island – built their famous ahu (shrine) monuments near coastal freshwater sources.

Island - Rapa - Nui - Architecture - Moai

The island of Rapa Nui is well-known for its elaborate ritual architecture, particularly its numerous moai – monolithic human figures – and ahu, the monumental platforms that supported them. Researchers have long wondered why ancient people built these monuments in their respective locations around the island, considering how much time and energy was required to construct them.

Locations of ahu with statues on Rapa Nui. Image via PLoS One.

Study - January - Journal - PLoS - One

For the new study, published January 10, 2019, in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS One, the researchers used spatial modeling to explore the potential relations between ahu construction locations and the islanders’ three most critical resources – rock mulch agricultural gardens, marine resources and freshwater sources. Their results suggest that ahu locations are explained by their proximity to the island’s limited freshwater sources.

University of Oregon anthropologist Robert DiNapoli is lead author of the study. He said in a statement:

Researchers - Associations - Ahu - Moai - Kinds

Many researchers, ourselves included, have long speculated associations between ahu, moai and different kinds of resources – water, agricultural land, areas with good marine resources, etc. However, these associations had never been quantitatively tested or shown to be statistically significant. Our study presents quantitative spatial modeling clearly showing that ahu are associated with freshwater sources in a way that they aren’t associated with other resources.

Easter Island moai facing inland. Image via Ian Sewell/Wikipedia.

Carl - Lipo - Binghamton - University - New

Carl Lipo of Binghamton University in New York is a study co-author. He said:

The issue of water availability, or the lack of it, has often...
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