Moai, the mysterious stone heads of Easter Island, are sentinels to the most remote inhabited place on earth…
Ever since Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl’s 1955-56 expedition to Easter Island captured the imagination of Boomers, visiting Easter Island has become a standard on most Boomer’s bucket lists. This may explain the soaring rates in tourism over the last 20 years which have risen from ~14,000 to ~80,000 visitors per year.
Easter Islands iconic Moai stone statues are it’s key tourist attraction.
There are over 900 Moais on Easter Island that range in size from the smallest “Poike” 1.13 meters (3.76 feet) to the largest “El Gigante” 21.60 metes (71.93 feet) weighing ~160-182 metric tons.
The Moai were carved by the Rapa Nui, the indigenous Polynesian people of Easter Island, around 1250-1500 A.D. after which Moai carving went out of religious fashion and was replaced by the Birdman cult. Starting with European contact 1722-1825 Moai were toppled from their Ahu (shrine), their red scoria hats removed, and their coral eyes which were said to give them life plucked out. While there are many hypotheses about why the Moai cult was abandoned and the stone sentinels toppled off their alters (including warfare, environmental disaster [earthquake, tsunami, rats], extraterrestrials, European contact) … it remains a mystery.