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Scientists Discover New Easter Island Moai Statue At Bottom Of Dry Lake Bed

Archaeologists are now hoping to find further sculptures after scientists uncovered a new Moai statue in the dried-up lake bed around the Rano Raraku volcano on Easter Island.

The most recent discovery was made in a dried up volcanic lake bed.
The most recent discovery was made in a dried up volcanic lake bed.

The Moai statues are among the most iconic and famous sculptures in the world, hundreds of these collosus stone carvings cover the landscape of Rapa Nui, more commonly known as Easter Island.

The Moai are part of a protected UNESCO World Heritage site, however, multiple environmental issues pose a risk to them.

The main environmental threats to the Moai statues are rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and fires caused by climate change. In October 2022, significant damage was caused to the Moai near the Rano Raraku volcano when a fire burned approximately 250 acres of land.

Recently, scientists were carrying out an investigation in the area that the fire started and made an astonishing find: a previously undiscovered Moai in a dried-up volcanic crater lake - the statue was lying on its side.

In a statement released by the Ma'u Henua Indigenous community, they said: "This Moai has a great potential for scientific and natural studies, it's a really unique discovery as it's the first time that a Moai has been discovered inside a laguna in a Rano Raraku crater."

The discovery was made by a team of scientific volunteers from three Chilean universities who were working on restoring marshland on the island. The lake bed where the statue was found had been dry since 2018.

A scientist crouches next to the newly-discovered moai in the dried-up lake bed.
A scientist crouches next to the newly-discovered moai in the dried-up lake bed.

Ninoska Avareipua Huki Cuadros, director of the Ma'u Henua Indigenous community, said: "The interesting thing is that, for at least the last 200 or 300 years, the laguna was three meters deep, meaning no human being could have left the Moai there in that time."

Easter Island is home to more than 1,000 Moai, each made from volcanic tuff. The Rapa Nui people hold these massive behemoths with great importance as a representation of their long history.

Dr Terry Hunt, a professor of archaeology at the University of Arizona, told Good Morning America: "They were the islanders' deified ancestors. They're iconic worldwide, and they really represent the fantastic archaeological heritage of this island.

"We think we know all the Moai, but then a new one turns up, a new discovery, and in this case, in the lake, at the statue quarry.

"There have been no Moai found in the dry bed or in what was previously a lake, so this is a first."

He added: "Under the dry conditions that we have now, we may find more. They've been hidden by the tall reeds that grow in the lake bed and prospecting with something that can detect what's under the ground surface may tell us that there are in fact more Moai in the lakebed sediments.

"When there's one Moai in the lake, there's probably more."

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