The Stone Heads
of Easter Island




island gigantic Polynesia
mile culture begin/began/begun
coast explore build/built/built
settle discover astonished
thrive various find/found/found
stone giant (2) mysterious
huge extinct leave behind
coast estimate stand/stood/stood (2)
chief ancestor archaeology
spirit surround mean/meant/meant
rely durable write/wrote/written
clue astonish understand/understood/understood
hand contain make/made/made
piece average generation
peace volcano large/larger/largest
extra ground transport
carve tip over leave/left/left (2)
weigh point (2) stand/stood/stood
refer restore bury/buried
decide appear believe (2)
statue move (2) represent
crater material significance
ash erosion vulnerable
partial stage (2) trunk (2)
cover suit (2) abandoned
chunk abound hard/harder/hardest
ton massive large/larger/largest
roll shoulder record (3)
notice run out chop down
quarry protect go/went/gone
site heritage hand down
enjoy preserve considered






Easter Island, also called Rapa Nui, is a Polynesian Island in the Pacific Ocean, more than two-thousand (2,000) miles or thirty-five-hundred (3,500) kilometers off the coast of Chile.

It is believed that Polynesian peoples settled on the island more than a thousand years ago, and began building a thriving culture.

When the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggenveen discovered the island on Easter Sunday in 1722, he was astonished to find that the islands were covered with hundreds of mysterious, giant stone heads.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

These huge statues are called moai, and there are nearly nine-hundred (900) of them on the island. They are believed to be between five-hundred (500) and seven-hundred (700) years old, and many of them stand around the coast of the island with their backs to the sea.

Most archaeologists believe that they were meant to represent the spirits of chiefs or ancestors.

But there are no written records to help understand their significance or how they were made, and so archaeologists must rely on clues that were left behind, and on the stories handed down from generation to generation by the people on the island.

Each statue is made out of a single, huge piece of stone, although some of the statues have an extra piece of stone on the top of their heads, carved into a topknot.

On average, they are thirteen (13) feet or four meters high, and weigh between twelve and thirteen tons each. The largest moai ever erected, called Paro, is over thirty-two (32) feet or nine-point-eight (9.8) meters tall and weights eighty two (82) tons.

Although the statues are often referred to as “heads”, most of them have bodies. Some were buried in the ground up to their shoulders, and many more were tipped over.

At one point, there were no unburied statues left standing at all. But now dozens of statues have been re-erected, and some have been restored to look as they did hundreds of years ago.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

The island is made of three extinct volcanoes, and a variety of volcanic material abound, which were suited to carving the gigantic statues. The main quarry is a volcanic crater called Rano Raraku. Archaeologists estimate that ninety-five percent (95%) of the statues came from here.

The vast majority of the moai were cared from a material called tuff, a type of rock made from volcanic ash. This type of rock is soft and easy to carve, but it is less durable than other kinds of stone, making the moai vulnerable to erosion by wind and water.

Hundreds of partially-finished statues surround the Rano Raraku quarry in various stages of completion. Some appear to have been abandoned when carvers reached chunks of harder rock that they could not carve through, while others were unfinished when the people of Easter Island decided to stop all statue-building.

One statue at the quarry would have been the largest ever made if it had been finished, if it had been finished, and would have been seventy-one (71) feet or more than twenty-one (21) meters high and weigh more than two-hundred-seventy (270) tons.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Archaeologists believe that the people of Easter Island transported the massive moai by rolling them on tree trunks.

Now you may have noticed that there are not many trees on Easter Island. That is because the people who lived there chopped down so many trees that one day, they ran out, and there were no more trees at all.

Once the trees were gone, they could not move any more statues.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Today, much of Easter Island is protected in Rapa Nui National Park, which is a World Heritage Site.

This means that the park, which contains many of the moai as well as the Rano Raraku quarry and other sites, are considered so interesting and important that they should be protected and preserved for people of the whole world to learn about and enjoy.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *



Moai (Stone Heads). Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, in the Mediterranean Sea, near Sicily and Sardinia. True or false?

Pyramids of Giza. Did Egyptians first settle on Easter Island? Were the Spaniards the first Europeans to reach Easter Island?

Pyramid of the Sun. There are nineteen (19) moai or giant stone heads on Rapa Nui. Is this right or wrong? Were they constructed 4,500 years ago?

Tikal. Are the statues made of bronze? Are the statues tiny, small, medium-sized, large, huge or gigantic?

Stone Spheres of Costa Rica. How were the islands formed? Did the stones come from a marble quarry?

Stonehenge. What do archaeologists say about the environment or ecology of Easter Island?

Baalbek. The moais represent philosophers, scientists and generals. Is this correct or incorrect? What do the stone heads symbolize?
Nazca Lines. Have you heard of Easter Island? Have you seen Eastern Island on TV?

Sacsayhuaman. Have you seen megaliths, such as the pyramids of Egypt, Mexico or Central America?

Machu Picchu. How did ancient people make these megaliths?

Carnac. My friends and I would like to visit Egypt, Mexico, Peru. Yes or no?

Pohnpei, Nan Madol. What might happen in the future? Will people ever discover how and why megaliths were made?

Arkaim. What could or should people, governments and businesses do?

Comments are closed.