Chapter 6 Mystery
(web Links)

Easter Island's Ecological Disaster

Easter Island World Heritage Site

The Secrets of Easter Island (NOVA)

Visiting Easter Island (CNN)

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Moving the Moai

Easter Island is a tiny speck of land in the vast Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile with a harsh tropical climate. The original islanders, who called themselves Rapa Nui, came from Polynesia. They carved hundreds of huge stone statues called moai (moh eye). Starting around 1200 a.d., the Rapa Nui somehow moved these mysterious statues, each of which weighed between 10 and 14 tons, from quarries to locations around the island. Nearly all theories about this process suggest that strong, large logs were necessary to move the moai. Yet by the time Europeans landed on the island in 1722, there was no sign of any trees large enough to provide such logs. What had happened? In this chapter, look for clues about how the interactions of the Rapa Nui with Easter Island’Äôs environment impacted the island’Äôs ecosystems. Then, solve the mystery.