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New research suggests Easter Island was a supportive community

Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, located about 2,300 miles off the coast of Chile, has alway been an enigma for historians, archeologists, and tourists alike.

From the iconic giant stone heads to the first inhabitants on the island, researchers are still uncovering new information as they look deeper into the island’s geographical and archaeological past.

But a new study may have uncovered some secrets about the people of Rapa Nui’s ancient civilization.

Previous research suggested that Rapa Nui’s ancient people belonged to a warrior culture. But after analyzing giant stone hats found on the island, scientists now believe that Rapa Nui was an inclusive and supportive community.

A team of researchers studied the moai, the famed the giant stone statues of Rapa Nui, and analyzed the pukao which are giant stone hats that were placed on top of the statues. Pukao are large, cylindrical, stones made from red scoria (a type of volcanic rock) and weigh multiple tons.

The team analyzed the pukao and used photography to create detailed 3D models of the hats as they had eroded through the years.

The models revealed that the pukai had many more drawings carved into them than previously realized.

An analysis of the models and carvings revealed more cooperation between the Rapa Nui people rather than a society at odds.

“In our analysis of the archaeological records, we see evidence that demonstrates the prehistoric communities repeatedly worked together to build monuments,” said Carl Lipo, an anthropology professor and member of the research team.

This new analysis provides not only new evidence about the ancient people of Rapa Nui, but also how important further archaeological research is for learning about how people survived on Easter Island and what their society would have been like.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

Image Credit: Carl LIpo

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