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 Hakananai’a 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. It’s 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 Hakananai’a: 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 Hakananai’a 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 Island’s statues walked
How Deforestation Caused Easter Island’s Society to Collapse
Easter Island archaeology project digs up island’s bodies
Mystery of the Easter Island Statues
Easter Island’s population doubles for solar eclipse


Latest News from our Front Page

Pressure from the United Patriots Front Stops Mosque Plan
2016-04-28 20:10
Pressure from the United Patriots Front appears to have killed off a mosque development in Narre Warren North. The City of Casey council now looks likely to withhold planning approval for the development in a special meeting set for Tuesday night. A council report, to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, recommends that the approval be blocked. The mosque opponents’ cause has been helped by councillor ...
Police face questions over the influence of the Freemasons
2016-04-28 20:48
South Yorkshire Police today face questions over whether powerful 'secret society' the Freemasons held sway over the force at the time of Hillsborough. Families of victims say that officers who were Masons were promoted into powerful positions despite being ill-equipped, including match commander David Duckenfield. Duckenfield told the fresh inquests he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became head of his ...
England Bans its Own Flag to Avoid Offending Muslims
2016-04-27 2:23
St. George's Cross "racist" towards immigrants Government officials said their city was ‘too multicultural’ to celebrate St George’s Day, England’s version of the 4th of July. The council said that displaying the English flag may have been seen as “racist” towards immigrants.
Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’
2016-04-27 2:09
Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown. The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent. He was part of a new order which emerged in ...
"Local Residents" Are Filmed Stealing Dozens of Bottles of Water at London Marathon Stop
2016-04-25 23:10
Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are. ... London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race. Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event. Marathon ...
More News »