In the video above, 18 people “walk” a 10-foot, 8,700-pound replica of an Easter Island statue along a Hawaiian road by tipping it back and forth (and yelling “heave ho,” of course). They are testing the theory, put forth by archeologists Carl Lipo and Terry Hunt, that this is how the Easter Islanders transported their statues from the quarry where they were carved, a water-filled crater of an extinct volcano, to their final positions. (Others think the islanders rolled the statues horizontally along on logs.) The reenactment, of sorts, is described in a recent paper.
Enormous stone statues, called moai, on Easter Island
What’s the News: Easter Island is often held up as an example of what can happen when human profligacy and population outpace ecology: Wanton deforestation led to soil erosion and famine, the story goes, and the islanders’ society declined into chaos and cannibalism. But through their research on Easter Island, paleoecologists Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo have unearthed evidence that contradicts this version of events. The Polynesian settlers of Easter Island prospered through careful use of the scant available resources, they argue in their new book The Statues That Walked; the island’s forests were done in not by greedy humans, but by hungry rats.