Easter Island Mystery Solved?

For centuries, scientists have tried to solve the mystery of how the colossal stone statues of Easter Island moved. Now there’s a new theory—and it rocks.

An illustration of ancient Easter Islanders ''walking'' a moai statue with ropes.

The multi-ton behemoths traveled up to 11 miles (18 kilometers) from the quarry where most of them were carved, without the benefit of wheels, cranes, or even large animals.

Scientists have tested many ideas in the past, figuring that the islanders must have used a combination of log rollers, ropes, and wooden sledges. Now a pair of archaeologists have come up with a new theory: Perhaps the statues, known as moai, were “engineered to move” upright in a rocking motion, using only manpower and rope.

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