Ahu Akivi consists of seven equally sized moai or statues. It is believed that the moai represent scouts that King Hotu Matu’a dispatched to find a new home for his people. When the scouts located Rapa Nui, some returned to report to the king while seven remained on the island to prepare a welcome for their people.
Ahu Akivi is unusual because it faces the sea and has an astronomical orientation. The axis of the ahu is oriented from north to south with the faces of the moai looking exactly at the point where the sun sets during the equinox of the austral spring (September 21st) and their backs face the point where the sun rises during the autumn equinox (March 21st).
Lessons and Mysteries of Rapa Nui
When Europeans first visited Rapa Nui on Easter Sunday 1722, there were more than 1,000 moai and all were standing. The next contact was in 1770. By 1774 when Captain Cook established the next contact, the people had toppled many of the moai. It is hard to avoid concluding that contact with Europeans had a profound effect on Rapa Nui culture.
Tearing down the moai is clear evidence that the Rapa Nui people no longer supported the religious, cultural, or historical basis for erecting them. The underlying reasons for the effort to remove Confederate statues is nothing new. People take down statues and monuments that are no longer appropriate under changing circumstances.
The history of the moai is just one of Rapa Nui’s many intriguing mysteries. To spark further interest in this truly mysterious island, you can read my posts about a visit to Rapa Nui in 2019.
Thanks to Mind over Memory for hosting this challenge.
Since it was the Rapa Nui who decided to take down the statues, did others have the right to restore them? What effects do you think contact with an extraterrestrial civilization would have on society today?