Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Everybody Loves Some Body

Thought for the day:  Quit when you're a head.


"I AIN'T GOT NO BODY..."  [Wikipedia}

On Easter Sunday of 1722, Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen became the first European to (ahem) discover the island of Rapa Nui. Like most other explorers of his day, he felt it was his civic duty to rename the place forthwith, so the island thereafter became known as Easter Island. To the rest of the world, anyway. As anyone who regularly works the New York Times crossword puzzle could tell you, its inhabitants still stubbornly cling to the name Rapa Nui.

Early explorers waxed poetic about the lush Polynesian paradise they (ahem) found on the island, but they were probably the most astounded by the Moai, HUGE monolithic human figures that dotted the island's hillsides...

... and still do.

When considering Easter Island, those Moai heads are usually the first image that comes to mind. But guess what? They do have some bodies... I mean, they've got SOME BODIES! Those heads are like the tips of the icebergs. The rest of the bodies are underground.
[Wikipedia]

Here are some of the other statues from the island. (Just hold your horses; we'll dig up those buried bodies in a minute.)

Scientists have determined that the statues, carved from giant slabs of rock from the island's Rano Raraku quarry, were created from 1250 to 1500, and those statues, weighing upwards of 80-some tons, were then moved to their designated places of honor.

These Agu Tongariki statues were restored in the '90s. [Wikipedia]


A cyclone in the 1960s  knocked over the statues at left, but they were  restored by a Japanese team several decades later. I think it's fairly safe to say they did use modern equipment to do so.

These statues throughout the island are chiefly aringo ora, or living faces of deified ancestors. Just as the lush forests that once covered the island have disappeared, so too have the skills to carve these statues, and the knowledge as to how they were moved.

However, numerous scientific experiments have led to a consensus of opinion that these mammoth carvings walked. Or to be more definitive, they were rocked from side to side like you might move a heavy piece of furniture, and that movement, implemented with a combination of ropes, pulleys, and rollers, did the trick.( I guess you could say the ancient Rapa Nui people were real rock 'n' rollers, huh?)

[Wikipedia]

Today, a sign defines the Rapa Nui statues as being in a UNESCO protected area. That doesn't mean tourists can't go see them or take pictures of them. However, climbing on them, touching them, and breaking off pieces as souvenirs is severely frowned upon.(And heavily fined.)

Now, back to those buried bodies.

Easter Island Statue Program, whose home base is Santa Monica, California, is a private research and archive organization founded by Jo Anne Van Tilburg. Its goals: excavation, conservation, preservation, and education. (Plus a few other things, but I like the sound of all those -tions together.) The work done by EISP represents the first legally permitted excavation since Thor Hyerdahl's work with the Norwegian Archeological Expedition in the mid-'50s. So it's kind of a big deal.

And those statue heads... with bodies... are kinda big, too. Ready to see some of the EISP pictures? (Their reports and pics are in the public record.)




So, why were those ancestral statues buried up to their necks? Nothing nefarious or mysterious there. Scientists believe the burial was caused by centuries of wind, storms, and erosion. The newly uncovered bodies, protected by their years underground, are in excellent shape, (so to speak) and bear some interesting writings on them, yet to be deciphered. Neat, huh?


Oh, and lest you think you have to go to faraway Easter Island to see moai artifacts in person, you don't! The one at left is housed in a British museum. Others reside at the Smithsonian Institute and American University museum in Washington, D.C., at the Louvre in Paris, and in other museums in Chile, Brussels, and New Zealand.

Have you ever seen them in a museum?



Of course, as wonderful as it is to see things like this in a museum, seeing them in their original locales at places like Easter Island would be over-the-top exciting.

Have you ever been there?

If you ever do have the opportunity to visit this Polynesian island to see the moai in person, remember one thing: they are protected. So use your head; there will be none of this...

[seniorark]
                              Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

84 comments:

  1. Totally fascinating. I'd not previously seen the details of the 'clothing' or 'loin cloth'. I want one!

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    1. Well, then, by all means, you should HAVE a loincloth! (But you'd better wait until the weather warms up a bit more.)

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  2. I was fascinated by those carvings and that island from the time I was a little kid.

    Rather than being moved by ropes, pulleys, and rollers, I'd guess they may have been moved in the same way the huge blocks weighing several tons were moved in Egypt to create the pyramids: levitation.

    But then what do I know? I wasn't alive then. (Or was I?)

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Levitation, huh? I must have missed that particular episode of National Geographic. But I believe I'll stick with the rocking 'n' rolling scenario for now. Then again... who knows?

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  3. Absolutely fascinating! I had no idea that they were more than heads. They look amazing in the photos but I can imagine that seeing them in real life would just take your breath away. Maybe one day...

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    1. I'm glad you find it fascinating, too. Looks like we have another destination to add to our bucket lists.

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  4. Just as the lush forests that once covered the island have disappeared...

    The author Jared Diamond wrote a great book called "Collapse" with a segment explaining how the inhabitants destroyed that island's environment through the usual means. Throw in tribal warfare, religious idiots, and you have our present day global condition just on a smaller scale.




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    1. That sounds like a book I'll have to read. I do know the islanders cut down all of the trees... either for burning, or making boats, whatever. And once the trees are gone, the whole environment starts to collapse. Like Haiti. Such a shame.

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  5. I love those Easter Island statues! every time I see them, I wish I could go there and see them for real. I've known they have bodies for some time, I remember when they were on TV and in the papers. Funny thing is, when they're not in any media for some time, I completely forget about them.

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    1. I love 'em, too. I'd read about the expedition to uncover the bodies last year, but I just now got around to making the time to research it a little more. (Um, guess I kinda forgot about them, too?)

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  6. I didn't realize those stone heads had bodies underground. Huh, learn something new everyday.

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  7. Susan, that was such an interesting post. I am not so sure that I like that these artifacts can be seen in museums throughout the world though. They belong to the people of Rapa Nui and that is where they should stay.

    Imagine moving Stonehenge.

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    1. I know what you mean about removing the artifacts, but I have mixed feelings about it. The "moia" aren't just on Easter Island; they're on other Polynesian islands, as well. Hundreds of them. And from what I understand, a very small percentage of those statues were freely donated by the inhabitants of those islands for the purpose of having them displayed in a handful of museums. Since I'm such a museum slut, I love having the option of seeing these statues in person, even if it IS in a museum. Sure, it'd be better to see them in their original locations, but museums do an excellent job of preserving artifacts, and exposing society to them, and providing education.

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  8. Susan, Thanks for this interesting and informative post. Just recently, I listened to a radio program on these. It was actually about an author who had just written a book and it may be the one Beach Bum (above) talks about. He said they were walked (as you describe) from the quarry. Often they would get very close to their destination and topple over and break. Too heavy to repair or lift so there are also broken heads scattered on the island.How discouraging that would be. The author said he, with 6 friends, walked something of similar size and weight and it could be done. This is so fascinating.

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    1. If you're interested, there are some videos on Youtube showing scientific experiments in walking the statues. Pretty neat stuff.

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  9. That was really interesting...I had no idea the statues were anything more than heads....fascinating. They are much handsomer with their bellies exposed.

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    1. I'm glad you found it to be interesting, too. Yeah; you're right. The heads are fascinating, but it's nice to know they have full-bodied bellies, too.

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  10. I've been fascinated with the Easter Island statues since I learned about them as a kid. When I found out there were bodies attached, I was thrilled. I can't wait until the writing is deciphered!

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    1. I'm looking forward to when that writing is deciphered, too.

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  11. This is absolutely fascinating!! This may be even more fascinating than Stonehenge. I must add this to my "places to see in my lifetime" list.

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  12. Interesting indeed
    Proving the aliens didn't do it at your feed
    Maybe that is why they were buried up to their head
    Instead of the weather causing them dread
    The builders didn't want them to get the probe
    As they heard about those things across the globe
    Be nice to learn what they say
    Maybe lead to some cosmic doorway
    Or just says feck off and leave us alone
    In a rather mean tone haha

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    1. Knowing these statues honor ancestors dead,
      I wondered why they buried 'em up to their head.
      Now we know it's by nature, not spite,
      I'm glad, 'cause that just wouldn't be right.

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  13. So into this stuff. When I was little, I wanted to be an archaeologist and a national geographic photographer. :-) Always can count on your for a giggle too, thanks for making me smile this morning! Have a great day!

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    1. It isn't too late to be a National Geographic photographer. You do some mighty amazing things with that camera of yours.

      You have a super day, too.

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  14. How cool is that? But I think they should stay where they were they were born, so to speak. And like Tracy, my other job would be an archaeologist.

    Your posts are always so interesting!

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    1. Pretty darned cool, I think!

      Neat. Another archeologist in our midst. Maybe you could help out at a dig as a volunteer? (And then blog about the experience!)

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  15. WOW...that is fascinating stuff! Thanks! :)

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you found it to be fascinating, too.

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  16. Sus, those images of the unearthed bodies, especially with the team surrounding them, are like having a psychic construction razed. Extraordinary post.

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    1. I'm glad ya liked it. I don't know if the post is extraordinary, but the subject matter sure is.

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  17. I didn't know any of that and have never been there or seen one of them in a museum. Look at the way you edification me.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. All together now, sing: We don't need no edification...

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  18. You always find the most interesting things! This was very fascinating. One thing that stood out was the sun and weather damage to some of the faces compared to the bodies.

    Thanks for the post, and nope, I've never seen them in a museum or in person.

    Kathy M.

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    1. Their bodies look so much better than their faces, it makes me wonder if my body looks like this simply because it's been exposed to the elements. Must be. (Couldn't be AGE!)

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  19. The arrogance of those European explorers always amused me.

    We still commemorate the day Columbus "discovered" America.

    He landed in the Bahamas.

    There were people living there.

    That's like me walking out of the surf up to Jim Carrey's Malibu home (which is for sale for a paltry $14M), planting a flag with my family crest in the sand and saying it's mine because I discovered it.

    Hmm...come to think of it...

    Larry

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    1. The arrogance of those explorers and "discoverers" always cracked me up, too. As if they didn't think anything could exist until they blessed it with their presence.

      Only $14M, huh? Hey, on the bright side, interest rates are still very low...

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  20. Loved this. The one in the museum really brings it's size home. As does the photo of the one in the ground with people on different levels ... and it still towers above those standing on the ground. Great post!

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    1. The statue in the6th photo
      Has my paunch

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    2. Thanks, Carol. I'm glad you liked it.

      John- Wow! I had no idea you were such a hard body.

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  21. I'm pretty sure I used to date the statue in the 6th photo.

    Fascinating post as always. As everyone else has already commented, I had no idea that those heads were attached to bodies underneath the ground.

    Excellent stuff Susan. :)

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    1. See? This is exactly the place you need to come whenever you need a (ready?) "heads up" on anything.

      Glad ya liked it.

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  22. So, they created these figures during a 350-year period. It would be interesting to find out why, and who got the project underway. Thanks for a new enigma, Susan!

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    1. Geo, I have no doubt that if anyone can get to the bottom of this enigma, YOU can. (One way or another...)

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  23. So interesting. Thanks for sharing. : ]

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  24. Never knew there were bodies to go with the heads, and that they'd been buried by sand over the centuries. Must have been very exciting the first time someone started digging around the base of one of those heads and discovered the statue kept going.

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    1. But did ya notice? I didn't see a bad-ass woman in the bunch...

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  25. Wow! I'd love to have some of those ancient statues for my front yard! I don't think they'd blow over, even in the Texas wind!

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    1. Talk about some interesting lawn art! As the hippies would say, "Heavy!"

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  26. This is so cool! I did know either that there were bodies underground.

    I've never seen one in a museum or been to Easter Island, but my 7th grade geography teacher took a trip there and showed us her slides from that trip. I loved that teacher!

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    1. You were lucky to have a teacher who showed you her Easter Island slides. It would've been pretty neat to hear about the place from someone who'd actually been there.

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  27. I've seen the heads in pictures, of course, but I never knew there was more to them underground! Wow!

    (If Ancient Aliens covered this, I must have missed the episode!)

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    1. Oh, cool! I'm really tickled you didn't already know about this. I know it's the kinda thing that would capture your imagination. (Feel another book coming on?)

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  28. I wonder why the trees haven't grown back in the last 500 years?

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    1. The most prevalent theory is that once the trees were all cut down, the soil eroded, the overall vegetation changed, and birds left the area. Then rats dealt the death blow by eating the seeds.

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  29. Wow! Very cool.

    www.GirlwithaNewLife2.com

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  30. Hey Susan,

    Sorry for the delay in my arrival to leave one of my 'highly treasured' comments. Indeed, I always find your posts, informative, intriguing with a dash of humour, sorry, humor :)

    I would love to have one of those statues in my garden. Make the 'wee folks' real jealous. Guess I wouldn't be allowed to do that and the shipping costs. Yikes. And speaking of Polynesia, I don't want to "Bora Bora" and thus I'm outta' here...

    Gary :)

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    1. Hey, Gary, you can add an extra U to any word you'd like; it doesn't bouther me at all.

      Oh dear, if you put one of those big hard bodies in your yard, I'm afraid you'd give the wee folks an inferiority complex. Not to mention what it'd do to poor Penny.

      Don't worry; you could never bora bora me. You always make me smile.

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  31. I agree that it's amazing that their bodies have been buried for all these years!
    Love the airport photo!

    Julie

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    1. It's wonderful that no matter how old we get, life still has a wealth of surprises for us, as long as we remain open to being amazed. Keeps us on our toes. Plus, it makes it much easier to ignore the "surprises" happening to our own bodies.

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  32. The Rapa Nui statues are fascinating.

    The story of the Rapa Nui people is equally fascinating and tragic.

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    1. I'm glad you find them fascinating, too. Perhaps some day you'll venture to that museum in New Zealand and photograph them, eh?

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  33. Well, damn Skippy. I had no idea there was one here in DC and to think I lived in NW for, oh, 4 years while in college there. Bad, bad, bad.

    Well, at least I now I have yet another idea for Date night - and I will print out this fascinating blog post and stick it in the envelope. It will really excite Pooldad. [easily excitable, y'know?]

    Hugs and love - and damn, it's 12:THIRTY EIGHT. I missed it by four. Ah well. The thought was there. heehee

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    1. Oh, cool. I hope you and Pooldad do go see the statue at Smithsonian. (Don't forget your camera!)

      Hugs and love to you, too. 12:34 is a state of mind, kiddo, and you've got it, no matter what the clock says.

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  34. And it still leaves me wondering why...

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    1. Ah, but as long as we have cause to wonder, we have cause to seek answers. (And I know that floats your boat big-time.)

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  35. I've always wanted to visit Easter Island. And no, I didn't realize the Smithsonian had one on display. Hm, now I have to plan a visit there!

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    1. If ya go to Smithsonian, don't forget your camera!

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  36. I had no idea about any of this! my goodness..what interesting history. fascinating really! thanks for sharing this!

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    1. My pleasure! I'm glad you enjoyed reading about it.

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  37. My goodness this is fascinating I loved this post. I have always had a thing for these awesome statues but I have never seen the bodies so clear. Thank you. B

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    1. Great! I'm glad the subject hit the... button... for you.

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  38. I had no idea their bodies were underground. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I'm glad you were as surprised and fascinated by this story as I was. Thanks for stopping by.

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  39. Excellent post, Susan! I learned so much--had no idea that there were bodies underground. AND had no idea that we have a couple of them in museums in the USA. Adding to my bucket list! Thanks :-)

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's always fun to come up with a new "excuse" to visit a museum.

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  40. WOW I never knew they had bodies! It is one fantastic miracle how they were created. I watched a documentary once, where they tried to rebuild monuments from ancient times without modern tools. they all failed miserably. I really love that in our "advanced" times we have lost a knowledge that is just as sacred and valuable.

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    1. Cool. I'm really glad I'm not the only one who was so excited by this story. And by the whole mystery of it all. And you're right; we "moderns" still have a lot to learn.

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