The Mystery of the Easter Island Statues May Finally be Solved
On the coast of the remote island, there is a high concentration of the 900 statues and researchers have always wondered why -until now.
Over centuries both fascinated and puzzled archaeologists were the famous statues that dotted the coast of remote Easter Island in the Southeast Pacific.
Now, a team of archeologists claims to have answered one of the biggest questions about the mysterious figures of the stone: why they were built in the first place.
The main water source for the inhabitants of the island could be the reason that the statues are concentrated on the island’s coasts. A team of researchers from Binghamton University found.
The team discovered that on Easter Island there is only a very small amount of fresh water, also called Rapa Nui, and it was said that people who lived there most likely depended on the main drinking water supply from groundwater in the coastal regions.
A great majority of the roughly 900 statues are situated along the island’s coastline, and their location has always been a source of confusion for researchers.
However, the discovery of the islanders’ main source of potable water has answered that question, the team said in a study published in the Hydrogeology Journal.
“Now that we know more about the location of freshwater, however, the location of these monuments and other features makes tremendous sense: they are positioned where freshwater is immediately available,” Carl Lipo, a member of the research team and a Binghamton University Professor of Anthropology, said in the statement.
The first step for the team in discovering the islanders’ main source of drinkable water was to rule out the other limited sources of fresh water.
The island only has two lakes, which are both difficult to access, no streams, and a single spring which is “often reduced to a wetland bog.”
The team did note the presence of taheta, or small carved-out cisterns, on the island, which were used to collect rainfall.
However, they only collected small amounts and the researchers believe that if they were being used as a main source of freshwater, they would have to be able to hold much larger amounts.
According to the statement, the island only receives around 49 inches of rainfall a year, and when you combine that with the high evaporation rate, the team concluded that for 317 days of the year, the cisterns wouldn’t be able to be used as a viable source.
After ruling out these sources of freshwater, the team saw no other logical answer as to what islanders drank than groundwater.
“The porous volcanic soils quickly absorb rain, resulting in a lack of streams and rivers,” Lipo said. “Fortunately, water beneath the ground flows downhill and ultimately exits the ground directly at the point at which the porous subterranean rock meets the ocean.
When tides are low, this results in the flow of freshwater directly into the sea. Humans can thus take advantage of these sources of freshwater by capturing the water at these points.”
Up next, a team of experts will continue the study of the island’s fresh water and examine how its location is connected to the methods and means of building the statues.
The team’s remarkable discovery has shed amazing new light on the statues’ history and life for the islanders, as well as bringing researchers one step closer to unlocking all of their hidden secrets.