Easter Island Sculpture Mystery Solution Found

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McKnelly Megalith Created by MIT Students Moves with Just a Finger

Erected to Honor of McKnelly’s Recently Deceased Parents, and to Prove a Point–Watch the Video and Watch it Walk!

Carrie Lee McKnelly lost both her parents to a fire about a year ago.

In the fall, her design students gathered with a tribute that astonished and amazed. It was their idea of a tribute to their TA and her parents. But it is also a science experiment aimed to help solve one of the great sculpture mysteries: how did the Moai of Easter Island make it to where they now sit?

We wrote about the Easter Island sculpture mystery before–and how there is more than meets the eye in these incredible Maoi.

Each of the Moai weigh up to 82 TONS. They were created approximately 1100 AD, so no modern equipment. And they were carved far away from the place where they rest.

People have long wondered how the natives of Papa Nui managed to move the massive stone carvings across the island from the volcanic quarry in which they were carved without modern machinery. When asked by the Dutch explorers, who discovered the island, how the statues were moved, the Rapa Nui natives always said the same thing: They don’t move the stones. The Moai walk themselves.

These students demonstrate that indeed the stones did “walk”, with the help of ropes and people–but surprisingly little brute strength required.

Originally the students created “miniliths” that were a mere 24 inches high. By applying principles learned in a class called Megalithic Robotics (taught by Brandon Clifford) they were to determine how the real megaliths were moved.

Several techniques were put forth and worked. That was their goal. Then McKnelly’s parents perished in a fire and the students decided creating a megalith of their own would be a great way to honor their memory.

Although weighing in at only 2000 pounds it is no where near the weigh of a Maoi, it still serves to demonstrate the moving process as we can see in the video.


Read the entire article by John Brownlee on FastcoDesign

Video: McKnelly Megalith from matter design on Vimeo.

Thanks for sharing our love of sculpture!
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