Easter Island: Full size of Moai Statues uncovered
- uploaded: Oct 23, 2011
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Excavation Season IV July-August 2011
Jo Anne Van Tilburg presents the Datashare project to the park directors
Statue RR-001-156, EISP 2011.
We have just returned from Excavation Season IV and statue (moai) RR-001-156 in Quarry Two, Rano Raraku, Rapa Nui (Easter Island)! The reports of previous field seasons are filed in the EISP Archives as Excavation Season I, Season II, and Season III or Conservation Season I and Conservation Season II.
Our three main goals for statue (moai) RR-001-157 were to audit our drawings of very complex stratigraphic profiles, augment our existing photo-documentation as follow-up to Conservation Season II, and then to backfill the statue. We accomplished all of these goals.
In May, 2011, our colleagues Chris Fischer and Monica Bahamondez treated both statues with water repellant. On drizzly days or days with intermittent rain we were amazed to see how well the repellant did its job! Droplets quickly beaded up and didnâ€™t penetrate the surfaces of either statue. We noted that the stone surfaces usually dried within a maximum of ten minutes. These are subjective observations, of course. We await the detailed analysis by Chris and Monica of the extensive on-site environmental and stone condition data being downloaded bi-weekly by Tahira Edmunds.
Our continued excavation of RR-001-156 revealed more about the artisans, image-carvers, and ritual concerns of those who frequented Rano Raraku interior quarry over a long period of time. We uncovered an egg-shaped mass of concentrated, intensely pure red pigment (kieâ€™a) tucked away under an overhang of bedrock (papa) carved with petroglyphs. Red pigment was an indispensable part of Rapa Nui ritual life, and remains today a valuable part of personal display during performance art. Along with the â€œsignature stoneâ€ we uncovered earlier during excavation of RR-001-157, this find gives us a tantalizing glimpse into the past.
Both statues, as you know from our previous letters, are intriguing because they are nearly unique on Easter Island. They and only one other statueâ€”of over 1,000 we have documentedâ€”have complex petroglyphs carved on their backs, faces, and arms. The carvings are often variants of a narrow range of elements and are arrayed in very interesting compositions. Most are well within the norm of Rapa Nui iconography, but some are very unusual. Many are crescent designs referred to as vaka (canoe), but they may be rei miro (gorget). CristiÃ¡n ArÃ©valo Pakarati, co-director of EISP, has spent hundreds of hours on site over the past months painstakingly measuring and drawing the elements. In January of 2012 the UCLA Rock Art Archive will host a Rapa Nui student who will use CristiÃ¡nâ€™s drawings and our EISP rock art database to initiate a comparative study.