Giant stone statues, up to three stories tall, don't carve and move themselves. How, then, did the original inhabitants of Easter Island, whose only tools were stone, bone and coral, manage to accomplish such a monumental task? This question has plagued the Western world since the Dutch sea captain Jacob Roggeveen landed on the island on Easter Day, April 5, 1772.
Linguists and archaeologists believe that Easter Island's first residents were Polynesians who arrived by canoe sometime between 400 and 800 A.D. Their numbers flourished between 1000 and 1680, peaking at a high of about 9,000 by 1550 [source: NOVA]. It was during this time of prosperity that these early residents undertook the massive monument-building project that would make the island famous.
The builder's ancestors refer to the massive statues on Easter Island as "moai" and the base on which they sit as "ahu." They average 13 feet (4 meters) in height and weigh in at a whopping 14 tons (12,700 kilograms), and were carved from rock quarried from a volcanic crater on the island's eastern end, known as Rano Raraku. All together, there are 887 moai on Easter Island. Of those, 397 remain in Rano Raraku, and 92 lie in transit outside the quarry. Only 288 were successfully transported to an ahu [source: NOVA]. Numerous methods have been suggested to explain how the early inhabitants moved these stone monuments -- sleds, rolling logs, and even extraterrestrials -- but the exact technique is still unknown.
- 10 Most Dangerous Places You Should Definitely Visit
- 10 Private Islands We Wish We Could Afford
- Top 10 Most Controversial Historic Sites
- Top 10 Island Getaways
- 5 Modern Abandoned Cities
- Curiosity Project: 10 Amazing Geological Features
- Arnold, Amanda. "La Isla de las Munecas: Land of Eerie Dolls." HowStuffWorks Blogs. Oct. 21, 2010. (March 1, 2011)https://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2010/10/21/la-isla-de-las-munecas-land-of-eerie-dolls/
- Arnold, Caroline. "Easter Island: Giant Stone Statues Tell of a Rich and Tragic Past. New York: Clarion Books, 2000.
- "Alcatraz Island." National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Jan. 9, 2011. (March 1, 2011)http://www.nps.gov/alca/index.htm
- Belluck, Pam. "Drifting into a Debate." San Francisco Chronicle. Nov. 6, 2005. (March 1, 2011)http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/11/06/MNGLTFJQQ71.DTL&feed=rss.news
- Bon, Riccardo. "Healthy Islands." Venice Magazine. September/October 2004. (March 1, 2011)http://www.venicemagazine.it/VM23.pdf
- Booth, Robert. " Pitfalls in Paradise: Why Palm Jumeirah is Struggling to Live Up to the Hype." The Guardian. April 26, 2008. (March 2, 2011)http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2008/apr/26/travelnews
- Burke-Gaffney, Brian. "Hashima: The Ghost Island." Cabinet Magazine. Summer 2002. (March 1, 2011)http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/7/hashima.php
- Clark, Josh. "5 Modern Abandoned Cities." HowStuffWorks. June 2, 2008. (March 1, 2011)https://adventure.howstuffworks.com/abandoned-city.htm
- "Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Socotra Archipelago, Republic of Yemen." Socotra Conservation and Development Programme. 2011. (March 1, 2011)http://www.socotraisland.org/
- Dabu, Christl. "The Most Haunted Places on Earth: Poveglia Island, Venice, Italy." MSN Travel. 2011. (March 1, 2011)http://travel.ca.msn.com/international/photogallery.aspx?cp-documentid=26085316&page=7
- Draper, Robert. "Madagascar's Pierced Heart." National Geographic. September 2010. (March 1, 2011)http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/09/madagascar/draper-text/1
- Edwards, Haley Sweetland. "Surreal beauty on Yemen's remote Socotra Island." The Seattle Times. April 24, 2010. (March 1, 2011)http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/travel/2011667410_tryemenisland25.html
- Foer, Joshua. "The Island People." Slate. Feb. 25, 2011. (March 1, 2011)http://www.slate.com/id/2286372/
- "Fort Boyard." Official Website for the Island of Oleron. 2011. (March 1, 2011)http://www.ile-oleron-marennes.com/ile-d-oleron-bassin-de-marennes/patrimoine/fort-boyard.html
- Gettleman, Jeffrey. "Only in Madagascar." The New York Times. Dec. 17, 2010. (March 1, 2011)http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/travel/19madagascar.html?pagewanted=1
- Istvan, Zoltan. "Rough Waters for Peru's Floating Islands." National Geographic News. July 3, 2003. (March 1, 2011)http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/07/0703_030703_laketiticaca.html
- Lida, David. First Stop in the New World: Mexico City, the Capital of the 21st Century. New York: Riverhead Books, 2008.
- "Madagascar Country Profile." BBC News. Jan. 22, 2011. (March 1, 2011)http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/country_profiles/1063208.stm
- "Meet the First Resident of Dubai's Palm-Shaped Man-Made Island." The Daily Mail. June 22, 2007. (March 1, 2011)http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-463694/Meet-resident-Dubais-palm-shaped-man-island.html
- "The Palm Trilogy Homepage." Nakheel. 2007. (March 1, 2011)http://www.thepalm.ae/
- "Poveglia Island's Haunted History." Travel Channel. 2011 (March 1, 2011)http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Ghost_Adventures/Special_Features/Poveglia_Islands_Haunted_History?tablabel=selected
- "Secrets of Easter Island." NOVA. November 2000. (March 1, 2011)http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/easter/explore/
- Valhouli, Christina. "The Spookiest Places." Forbes.com. 2006. (March 1, 2011)http://www.forbes.com/2004/10/28/cx_cv_1028feat.html
HowStuffWorks hikes El Caminito del Rey, a very dangerous hiking path in Spain that was closed to the public for 15 years after several deaths.