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New Easter Island statue found in dry volcanic crater lake Story-level




SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Researchers have found a new moai statue in a dry lake on the Chilean island of Rapa Nui, joining the roughly 1,000 other iconic monolithic sculptures on what is known internationally as Easter Island.

The statue is relatively small at 1.6 meters (5.2 ft), compared to some of the other general feature heads and torsos that reach a height of 22 meters (72 ft). It was found by researchers from the University of Chile and the O’Higgins University.

More statues may be found in the dry lake, which sits at the center of the Rano Raraku volcanic crater, said Salvador Atan Hito, vice president of the Ma ́u Henua indigenous community that manages Rapa Nui’s archaeological treasures.

The statue “is in good condition, it has wear from time, erosion, water, but its shapes and features are still very noticeable,” Atan told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday.

“This discovery is historic for this new generation,” he added.

About 400 of the island’s 1,000 moai are inside the volcanic crater or on its outer slopes, with the rest scattered over the rest of the island’s 160 square kilometers (60 square miles).

Some of the moai are known to be buried below the surface, although they have been left in place. However, the latter had not been previously catalogued, Atan said.

The figures represent the ancestors of the Rapa Nui community, and their function is to protect the community members, which is why they were placed facing inwards from the sea, Atan said.

Rapa Nui, located 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) from the mainland, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. In 2019, it was renamed “Rapa Nui-Isla de Pascua” from its previous name of Easter Island.

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