Road my body goes: Re-creating ancestors from stone at the great moai quarry of Rano Raraku, Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

This source preferred by Kate Welham

Authors: Richards, C., Croucher, K., Paoa, T., Parish, T. and Welham, K.

Editors: Outram, A.

Journal: World Archaeology

ISSN: 0043-8243

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Authors: Richards, C., Croucher, K., Paoa, T., Parish, T., Enrique Tucki, M. and Welham, K.

Journal: World Archaeology

Volume: 43

Issue: 2

Pages: 191-210

eISSN: 1470-1375

ISSN: 0043-8243

DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2011.579483

Recognizable throughout the world, the stone statues (moai) of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) represent the largest monolithic architecture produced in Polynesia. The exquisitely carved and finished head and torso of each statue testifies to a skill in stone carving and dressing unmatched throughout the Pacific. Yet, approximately one thousand 'classic' statues were produced at the quarries within a few hundred years. What was the ritual status of the quarry and the labour necessary to produce the numbers of statues that allowed Heyerdahl to declare that the 'whole mountain massif has been reshaped, the volcano has been greedily cut up' (1958: 83)? What was it like to go to work at Rano Raraku? By drawing on a range of evidence we argue that walking to and labouring at Rano Raraku represented a spatial and temporal journey to a place of highly dangerous forces, a cosmogonic centre where prehistoric Rapa Nui people came face to face with their ancestors and the Polynesian gods. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.

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