New and Surprising Discoveries about Mysterious Easter Island Statue: Origin of the Birdman Cult
2013-04-11 0:00

By Catherine Griffin | Science World Report


Archaeologists have made some new and surprising discoveries about the mysterious statue from the Easter Island. Using the latest in digital imaging technology, they were able to find a little bit more about the religion that precipitated the downfall of these giant statues.

The Easter Island statue Hoa Hakananaia is impressive to look at. Standing at about eight feet high, its solemn expression stares out onto visitors in the British Museum in London. While its front is smoothly carved, though, its back is another case entirely. Its grooved and pitted with multiple depictions of birdmen, figures which arose during a time when the people of Easter Island gave up worshipping statues and instead turned to the birdman cult.


Hoa Hakananaia: Rear of head showing central bird figure

Around 1600 AD, the Rapa Nui, the people inhabiting the Easter Islands, faced an ecological crisis. They stopped worshipping their iconic statues and instead turned to the new birdman religion. This cult included a ritual that was based around collecting the first egg of migrating terns from a nearby islet. The first swimmer who was able to gather the egg and bring it back safely would achieve sacred status for a year.

In fact, Hoa Hakananaia most likely represents a time when the Rapa Nui were slowly adopting the new religion. Its back is carved with images that reveal some insights into the cult. Yet before now, researchers have had trouble deciphering the depictions.

The researchers took hundreds of photos of the statue from different angles. They then created a fully textured computer model of the statue, capable of rotating 360 degrees. Then, they used a virtual light source which was moved across the surface of the digital image of the statue. This allowed the researchers to view unseen details.

So what exactly did the researchers find? They noted that two birdmen on the back of the statue were actually marked as male and female. This allowed them to unlock an entire narrative story relating to the birdman cult. The scene shows a male chick leaving the nest, watched by its half-bird, half-human parents. The female birdman is matched by the female komari on the right ear of the statue, while the male birdman is matched on the left with a paddle--a symbol of male authority.

[...]

Read the full article at: scienceworldreport.com




Related Articles
How Easter Islands statues walked
How Deforestation Caused Easter Islands Society to Collapse
Easter Island archaeology project digs up islands bodies
Mystery of the Easter Island Statues
Easter Islands population doubles for solar eclipse


Latest News from our Front Page

Minister of Migration attacked by asylum seeker with fire extinguisher
2015-03-27 2:12
Sweden’s Minister of Justice & Migration also known as Morgan “only 1%” Johansson, has been attacked with a fire extinguisher when he visited an asylum home for future Swedes. Regional newspaper, Kristiandstadsbladet reported that a man who had been living at the home for a couple of weeks grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed foam all over the minister who didn’t ...
Hollywood agents: Difficult for white actors to find work now that shows required ‘to go ethnic’
2015-03-27 1:51
According to an article by Nellie Andreeva published yesterday at Deadline Hollywood, the television landscape has shifted so much this season that white actors are finding it increasingly difficult to find roles. In addition to new hit shows with mostly minority casts — Black-ish, Empire, Fresh Off the Boat, and How to Get Away with Murder — shows that were originally ...
Congratulations Pussy Porters!
2015-03-26 18:52
Mural paid for by the government, decorates a Swedish school. On International Women’s day Julia Caesar published this chronicle in Swedish on Snaphanen which I’ve translated but prior to reading it I’d like to provide you with some background information on certain terms which are incomprehensible to non-Swedes. First and foremost “pussy porter” and “penis porter” are terms that third-wave feminists in ...
Germanwings co-pilot appears to have crashed plane deliberately – prosecutor
2015-03-26 18:08
The Germanwings co-pilot seemed to have crashed the plane deliberately, killing 150 people on board. The co-pilot wouldn’t let the captain inside the cabin, with the “intension to destroy” the jet, the French prosecutor said at a press conference. Follow RT’s live updates on investigation into Germanwings plane crash The Germanwings co-pilot was identified as Andreas Lubitz. The captain was between 30 ...
Sweden adds gender-neutral pronoun to dictionary
2015-03-25 19:38
The official dictionary of the Swedish language will introduce a gender-neutral pronoun in April, editors at the Swedish Academy have announced. “Hen” will be added to “han” (he) and “hon” (she) as one of 13,000 new words in the latest edition of the Swedish Academy’s SAOL. The pronoun is used to refer to a person without revealing their gender – either because ...
More News