September 8, 2009

On The Road To Solving An Easter Island Mystery

British archaeologists announced on Monday that they think they have deciphered the mystery of the red hats on the huge stone statues on Easter Island.

The researchers feel that the answer to the mystery is connected to their find of a road on the island in the Pacific.

The hats were constructed in a quarry concealed in the crater of an old volcano, and then transported on tree logs to the statues, wrote the team from the University of Manchester and University College London.

The archaeologists reviewed how Polynesians transported the hats, weighing tons and constructed from red scoria, between 500 and 750 years ago.

They were put on the statues, or moai, which stood on platforms that covered the island's coast.

However, the riddle of how they were placed on the statues is still a mystery.

Dr. Colin Richards from the University of Manchester wrote that: "We now know that the hats were rolled along the road made from a cement of compressed red scoria dust with a raised pavement along one side."

"It is likely that they were moved by hand, but tree logs could also have been used."

Dr. Sue Hamilton, of University College, London, added: "The hat quarry is inside the crater of an ancient volcano and on its outer lip. A third of the crater has been quarried away by hat production."

"So far we have located more than 70 hats at the ceremonial platforms and in transit. Many more may have been broken up and incorporated into the platforms."

Richards told AFP that there was an indication that the hidden quarry, called Puna Pau, had built the statues before constructing the hats.

"Initially the Polynesians built the moai out of various types of local stone, including the Puna Pau scoria, but between 12,000 to 13,000 AD, Puna Pau switched from producing statues to hats.

"The change correlated with an increase in the overall size of the statues across the island."


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