In the south-east Pacific Ocean, lies the mysterious Easter Island. With an area of just 117 sq km, it resembles a triangle with three mountain peaks at its corners.
It is documented that the island was discovered by Dutchman Jakob Roggeveen on Easter Eve, 1722. In his journal, he pointed to an island with sparse vegetation inhabited by aborigines and distinguished by enormous statues. At the time, the nearest inhabited land was 2000 km away and the navigator did not expect to see people.
According to some reports, however, the European discoverer was Juan Fernandez; records of coordinates and sketches of the area were found in his diary, dated 1578.
The first explorations of the island and the giants described by the navigators did not take place until the beginning of the twentieth century. The expedition analysed the flora and fauna of the island, the composition of the soil and the shoreline and part of the coastal waters. The island rose above the ocean due to congealed magma and volcanic rocks, three long-extinct volcanoes.
The main mystery of Easter is the giant heads burrowed into the ground along the coast and almost all of the island. But are they heads?
Researchers and archaeologists have been excavating the mysterious heads for 12 years and it soon became clear that most of them have not only shoulders but also a body. But how did they end up underground?
It may be that natural climatic processes and climatic influences have driven the stone idols deep into the ground. Scientists have had to work hard and statues of different heights, including some of more than 20 meters, have been born. The weight of the unique finds varied and could exceed 12 tons. Most of the idols are made of tahilite tuff (pumice), which is very tiny and has a weight of 1.5 g/cm³.
It is established, that making of the majority of giants took place in quarries erected in the extinct volcanic craters, approximately in 1200-1500. It is very likely that the block was first soaked and shaped for a year, with between 6 and 10 islanders-sculptors working on a single sculpture. Many of the giants, the natives attached headdresses - "pucao" made of red basalt pumice, 1.5 to 3 meters in height and at least 2 meters in width. But whether the sculptures were carved by the islanders is uncertain.
On the back of the idols, scientists have found inscriptions and drawings, which have not yet been deciphered. Presumably the idols were carved in honor of the leaders or significant persons in the tribe, and on the back side the history or events related to the life of the tribe and the individual was written. Some researchers argue that the tribe depicted the Giant Gods, which are mentioned in the legends, and the petroglyphs on the back of the giants are nothing but a story of the rise and fall of their civilization.
It is remarkable that the statues were erected in quarries but how did they move to different parts of the island? This question has never been answered. The possibility that the tribe used tree trunks and ropes to move around is very controversial, because the tufa is very small and the island is not rich in trees.
In addition to the surviving statues, the island is dotted with the remains of stone giants, which for unknown reasons were destroyed by the Aborigines. Some of the 'Moai giants' remain in the quarries undivided from the main block.
There are a total of 887 giants on the island, thanks to archaeologist Anne Tilburg, the number of Moai giants has become known to the world. She and her team have spent a lifetime exploring the island and its main mystery, but have never solved all the mysteries.