is for Easter Island.
This is the first one I've researched where the first links that come up are tourism sites for those Easter Island bound. The Carnac Stones can be visited, but from behind a fence, and it is not a huge tourist destination except locally.
Easter Island is part of the Polynesian island chain. It was named by its discoverer, Admiral Roggeveen, who discovered it on Easter, but it is locally known as Rapa Nui. It is populated, but the population has gone up and down in the past due to overpopulation resulting in deforestation, colonialism introducing disease, new colonial population, civil war, cannibalism, etc.
The draw to this volcanic island (though the three volcanoes that make it up are extinct) are the "heads," properly known as moai or mo'ai. Though the heads are the largest and most graphic part, they do actually have small bodies beneath them. They are all different sizes, but the average is about 13 feet tall and 14 tons in weight.
|By Rivi (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons|
There are 887 mo'ai on Easter Island or in museums. Quite a few were found still in the Rano Raraku quarry inside one of the extinct volcanoes, along with the stone tools used to create them. The ones still in the quarry were incomplete. Indications are that this is where the Mo'ai were formed.
They also built stone platforms called ahu, which appear to have been for the mo'ai to stand on. One has 15 mo'ai on it. Some are empty or have only one.
Most of the mo'ai not in the quarry are on the coast, facing inland, rather than out to sea. One set of mo'ai are located farther inland, and they face outward toward the sea. Would more have been placed inland had they completed whatever their mission was?
|By Paul Kempeneers (Personal collection of Paul |
Kempeneers) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)],
via Wikimedia Commons
Of course, aliens always come into play, as well. Were these tributes to aliens? Protection from them?
Was it to appease their gods? It was a volcanic island, and the statues are made of volcanic rock taken from directly in one of the volcanic craters. Were they trying to keep the gods from destroying the population and their island?
Were they meant to frighten away invaders? This might explain why they were moved so far to the coastlines. However, why were they facing inland then?
At one point, the people of Rapa Nui began tearing the statues down. This time period is known as huri mo'ai, or statue toppling. Why they tore them down is as unknown as why and how they put them up in the first place.
If you've ever wanted to visit Easter Island, you should do it soon. Sadly, the volcanic rock is being weathered significantly, removing the features from these statues and turning them into plain old rocks.
What theory do you think is correct? Were they glorified busts of their ancestors, tributes tot he gods, or guards?
May you find your Muse.
Letter E courtesy of Ted Gehring, clker.com