A riddle has been bugging scientists for years and it has to do with the way in which the giant Easter Island statues got their hats. It’s not a secret how the native Rapa Nui people built the statues, but nobody is sure how they managed to get the massive toppers, called pukao, up there. Now, the authors of a new study which the Journal of Archaeological Science recently published think they got it all figured out.
These ancient people somehow managed to cut the stone for the statues from a quarry. They moved these huge blocks throughout the island and created 887 of these impressive statues. Each of them has a 13-ton hat made of a different kind of stone which came from a different quarry. Talk about being passionate. For this study, a team of anthropologists and physicists united their forces under a common goal. According to Sean W. Hixon, the lead author of the study, people have come up with theories over the years. However, they are the first ones to provide archaeological evidence for a possible scenario.
The mystery of the Easter Island statues’ hats
The team began by looking for common features in all of the hats, supposing that they were all made and placed in a similar manner. They found that all of the 50 pukao they found have an indentation where they should be placed on the head. Also, they all sit on similarly-shaped bases.
This led the experts to believe that these people rolled the huge hats from the quarries. But they didn’t place them when the statue was lying down. Instead, they probably built some kind of ramp made out of dirt and rocks. After tilting the ramp at about 17 degrees, a team would pull the hats up using the technique called parbuckling. This allows something to be pulled up without having it roll back down.
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