Easter Island Statue Project Official Website

New Moai Statue Discovered

Jo Anne Van Tilburg, Ph.D.

Dear Friends of EISP,

It is often said that every dark cloud has a silver lining, and that is certainly true for Rapa Nui in 2023!

A New Find

As I reported in the recent issue of Backdirt, the annual report of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, a grass fire in the eastern portion of the island was whipped by the wind into a raging inferno that burned through Rano Raraku. The lake dried and, this past week, site monitors working with Ma’u Henua and CONAF, organizations that co-manage the Rapa Nui National Park, were stunned to find a small moai exposed among the reeds. A full and complete report was immediately filed by archaeologist Isaías Hey González.

Location of newly discovered moai.  © EISP

Location of newly discovered moai.

The Moai

The moai is 1.6 m total estimated height. It is lying supine with its base toward the south. Overall, the moai is sub-rectangular in shape. A hint of the carved hands on the lower front of the torso can be seen in photos, but many details remain to be established.

The EISP Database and Archives shares all data we have collected through mapping and excavations in Rano Raraku with Ma’u Henua, CONAF, and other local agencies. This moai is now registered as number RR-0001-285 for the EISP Interior Region of Rano Raraku Quarry Zone.

Moai RR-0001-285. Image courtesy of Lili González Nualart

Moai RR-0001-285. Image courtesy of Lili González Nualart

Moai RR-0001-285. Image courtesy of Lili González Nualart

Moai RR-0001-285. Image courtesy of Lili González Nualart

What’s Next?

Ma’u Henua and CONAF as well as other involved island agencies recognize the need to stabilize the moai and protect the fragile stone from damage. Dr. Sarah Sherwood who collaborated on our excavations in Rano Raraku (Sherwood et al 2019), hopes to learn more about the immediate surroundings of the once waterlogged soils environment in which the moai was found.


Other Publication News

A Short History of: Easter Island – produced by Noiser Podcasts


Van Tilburg, J., J Huebert, S. C. Sherwood, and C. R. Barrier
2022 Pre-European Contact Sweet Potato (Ipomea batatas) at Rapa Nui: Macrobotanical Evidence from Recent Excavations in Rano Raraku Quarry, Rapa Nui. In The Prehistory of Rapa Nui (Easter Island): Towards an Integrative Interdisciplinary Framework, edited by V. Rull, and C. M. Stevenson, pp. 85-108. Springer, Cham, Switzerland.

Jo Anne Van Tilburg, Ph.D. — Archaeologist; Director, UCLA Rock Art Archive, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology; Project Director, Easter Island Statue Project Conservation Initiative

Posted on February 27th, 2023 by Jo Anne Van Tilburg, Ph.D. | Category: Letters from the Director |