Scientists may have solved mystery of Easter Island’s famous statues

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

EASTER ISLAND, Chile – Scientists may have solved one of the riddles about the famous giant statues of Easter Island—why long-ago inhabitants placed them where they did.

A new study in PLOS One makes the case that the statues went up to designate sources of fresh water, one of the island’s most precious commodities. US researchers focused on the eastern part of the Chilean island, where 93 of the platforms on which the statues stand were built, reports CNN. They soon zeroed in on a correlation: The statues went up around sites the researchers call “coastal seeps”—where fresh water seeped to the surface at certain times, depending on the tide. They now plan to examine the rest of the island to see if the pattern holds, per a post at Eureka Alert.

“Every time we saw massive amounts of fresh water, we saw giant statues,” Carl Lipo of Binghamton University in New York tells the Guardian. “It was ridiculously predictable.”

Typically, this meant the statues were near the coast. But others turned up around caves, and, sure enough, those caves also were sources of fresh water. Why the need to put up statues? Researchers can only guess, but they think erecting statues (perhaps to guard the water) served as an important community function.

The size of particular statues might have depended on the quality of the water supply, allowing rival communities to essentially show off to each other.

For the record, a UCLA professor thinks this water-statue correlation is “highly unlikely.”

(Analysis of tools used to build the statues suggests the standard story of the island’s demise is off base.)

More From Newser


Take a “pie in the face” and help local non-profit Camp for All

Thumbnail for the video titled "Take a “pie in the face” and help local non-profit Camp for All"

Dose of Texas - Cotton Swab Shortage

Thumbnail for the video titled "Dose of Texas - Cotton Swab Shortage"

Fitness Friday - Lindsey Day

Thumbnail for the video titled "Fitness Friday - Lindsey Day"

Seven Oaks SWAT Scene

Thumbnail for the video titled "Seven Oaks SWAT Scene"

Fatal Home Invasion - Official Sound

Thumbnail for the video titled "Fatal Home Invasion - Official Sound"

Officer Involved Shooting in Houston

Thumbnail for the video titled "Officer Involved Shooting in Houston"
More Video





Latest Weather Forecast

More Weather

Don't Miss


More Morning Dose