The Pacific Film Series presents a preview of 'Mystery of Easter Island'

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Katherine Higgins, (808) 956-2658
Outreach Director, Center for Pacific Island Studies
Posted: Oct 11, 2012

Moving the moai at Kualoa Ranch.
Moving the moai at Kualoa Ranch.
For centuries, scientists have tried to solve the mystery of how the colossal stone statues of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) moved. Now there’s a new theory — and it rocks.
The multi-ton behemoths traveled up to 11 miles from the quarry where most of them were carved, without the benefit of wheels, cranes or even large animals. Scientists have tested many ideas in the past, figuring that the islanders must have used a combination of log rollers, ropes and wooden sledges.
Now a pair of archaeologists have come up with a new theory: Perhaps the statues, known as moai, were “engineered to move” upright in a rocking motion, using only manpower and rope.
Terry Hunt of UH Manoa and Carl Lipo of California State University Long Beach have worked closely with Rapanui archaeologist Sergio Rapu to develop their idea. They’ve observed that fat bellies allowed the statues to be tilted forward easily, and heavy, D-shaped bases could have allowed handlers to roll and rock the moai side to side.
To test the the hypothesis, several UH Manoa students participated in experiments conducted at Kualoa Ranch on Oahu in June and November 2011, moving a five-ton statue more than 100 yards in just forty minutes. Research by Hunt and Lipo was the cover story of National Geographic magazine’s July issue as well as the subject of a forthcoming NOVA-National Geographic television special, “Mystery of Easter Island,” which features the experiment of walking a statue.
UH Manoa is pleased to present an excerpt preview of “Mystery of Easter Islands” on Thursday, November 1, 2012, as part of the Pacific Film Series. The preview event and Q&A with Hunt, Lipo and the filmmakers will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Art Building auditorium and will be followed by a book signing.
Hunt and Lipo’s book, "The Statues That Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island," presents Rapa Nui’s past—not as a story of collapse but as a remarkable success. Books will be available for purchase for $23, a special price through UH Manoa Bookstore.
The full program “Mystery of Easter Island” will air on November 7 at 9:00 p.m. on PBS Hawai‘i.This event is cosponsored by the Center for Pacific Islands Studies, Pan Pacific Association, Department of Anthropology and Honors Program.
The Pacific Film Series continues semi-monthly on Thursdays at 5:00 p.m. in the Tokioka Room, Moore 319.  See for more information. The event is free and open to the public.
For additional information and disability access, please contact Katherine Higgins at 956-2658 or 

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