Rocking or Rolling: How Were
the Statues Moved?
[They] seemed to be triumphing over us, asking: 'Guess how
this engineering work was done! Guess how we moved these
gigantic figures down the steep walls of the volcano and
carried them over the hills to any place on the island we
OVER THE years some ingenious or far-fetched explanations have been put forward as to how the finished statues were moved from the quarry. In 1722 Roggeveen, clearly not a geologist, was misled by the tuff's colour and its composite nature (the numerous lapilli embedded in it) and claimed that the statues were in fact moulded in situ from some plastic mixture of clay and stones; some of Cook's officers in 1774 came to the same conclusion. In 1949 a psychologist, Werner Wolff, even imagined that the figures were roughed out, then blown from erupting volcanoes to the platforms, and finished where they fell!1 Others have suggested electromagnetic or anti-gravitational forces and, as we have already seen, visiting extraterrestrials. The islanders themselves cling to a legend that the statues walked to the platforms thanks to their spiritual power, or at the command of priests or chiefs. It was said that the statues walked a short distance each day towards their platforms, and also that they walked around in the dark and uttered oracles!
It may be true that faith can move mountains, but archaeologists have sought more mundane explanations. The first point to be made is that the
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Publication information: Book title: The Enigmas of Easter Island: Island on the Edge. Contributors: John Flenley - Author, Paul Bahn - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 121.
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