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After 10 years of excavations on Easter Island, the team of archeologists lead by Giuseppe Orefici, accompanied by international experts in anthropology, botany, geology, and of course, archaeology, think they are finally able to reveal the mysteries of Easter Island. Ceremonial architecture, petroglyphs, rock art, colossal sculptures, wooden statuettes, tablets inscribed with hieroglyphs: such are the wonders of this island filled with mystery. Many of the artefacts have never before been photographed, and are providing crucial clues to unveiling the mysteries of the island and its history.

The true story of Easter Island. Photos and text ŠStephane Compoint/DealTeam/LightMediation Contact - Thierry Tinacci LightMediation Photo Agency +33 (0)6 61 80 57 21 thierry@lightmediation.com

1489-14: In 1960 a tidal wave came in the land in the south of the island and devastated everything. Thanks to an international archaeologic mission supported by the Unesco to which Giuseppe Orefici took part, the Ahu Tongariki site is now totally restored. This place is the most impressive one in the island because of its size and the number of Moais. The ancient village was located where horses took possession of the territory. On the background, the Moto Maro Tiri. This architectural grouping dates from the 13th- 14th century A.D. 15. In 1960 a tidal wave came in the land in the south of the island and devastated everything. Thanks to an international archaeologic mission supported by the Unesco to which Giuseppe Orefici took part, the Ahu Tongariki site is now totally restored. This place is the most impressive one in the island because of its size and the number of Moais. The archaeologist is at the feet of a Moai wearing a Pukao, the biggest of the island still erected on an Ahu.

1489-01: Hillsides of the Rano Raraku volcano : this is where happened for more than a millenium the genesis and the cutting of the Moais, the giant statues of Easter Island. At this stone giants' feet, Giuseppe

1489-02: The hillsides of the Rano Raraku volcano: this is where happened for more than a millennium the genesis and the cutting of the Moais, the giant statues of Easter Island. At these stone giants' feet,

1489-03: On the Anakena site, the Ahu Nau Nau Moais are located on the northern shore of the island, not far away from the bay which is wearing the same name. They can be recognized thanks to their

1489-04: A view of Rapa Nui (local name of the island) from Motu Iti, a small island located in the south-west. The shore, a 200 metres-high cliff is constituted with the edge of the Kano Kau volcano's

1489-11: On the side of the Rano Raraku's crater, the archaeologists of the Giuseppe Orefici's team discovered the function of those shafts dug in the tuff : it would appear to be ropes' reels that permitted to control the Moais going down the slope of the volcano before the transport to their final destination : the Ahu. To reduce efforts, the Rapa Nui sculpted capstans by way of pulley (above the archaeologist on the right). On the inner sides, we can see little black spots, which are the Moais. On the background the Pacific ocean.

1489-05: This little statue, the Tukuturi Moai, is the oldest of the island. It dates from the period of the first newcomers on the island, in the 5th century A.D. It was discovered about ten years ago by Thor

1489-06: These fishing hooks, made of bones, date from the 5th century A.D, that is to say the period of the first newcomers on the island. They were found during recent archeological excavations. They are the

1489-07: These fishing hooks, made of bones, date from the 5th century A.D, that is to say the period of the first newcomers on the island. They were found during recent archeological excavations. They are the

1489-08: On the Rano Raraku volcano's sides, Giuseppe Orefici, archeologist-in-chief of the scientific mission and his team are watching a series of lying Moais. These statues came out from this earth for

1489-23: Since the beginning of time, the weakness of food resources obliged the Easter Island inhabitants to have a lot of imagination: to protect land under cultivation and plantation from bad weather and thefts, the

1489-18: The archaeologist Sergio Rapu, member of the council of the Easter Island's monuments and architect of the Ahu Anakena's restoration at the feet of one of the Moais with a Pukao.

1489-09: Three hundred tonne, twenty-one metres long: on the side of the Rano Raraku volcano, the Moai Te Kokanga is the tallest statue that the Rapa Nui civilization ever sculpted. The face measures 8,50

1489-10: Three hundred tonne, twenty-one metres long: on the side of the Rano Raraku volcano, the Moai Te Kokanga is the tallest statue that the Rapa Nui civilization ever sculpted. The face measures 8,50

1489-11: On the side of the Rano Raraku's crater, the archaeologists of the Giuseppe Orefici's team discovered the function of those shafts dug in the tuff : it would appear to be ropes' reels that permitted to

1489-12: Landscape of Rano Raraku

1489-12: Landscape of Rano Raraku

1489-13: Giuseppe Orefici's team makes again on horseback (the safest means of transport in this tortured landscape) the Moais' route on one of the numerous paths that came from the Rano Raraku

1489-14: In 1960 a tidal wave came in the land in the south of the island and devastated everything. Thanks to an international archaeologic mission supported by the Unesco to which Giuseppe Orefici took

1489-15: In 1960 a tidal wave came in the land in the south of the island and devastated everything. Thanks to an international archaeologic mission supported by the Unesco to which Giuseppe Orefici took

1489-16: The Ahu's direction, central places of the Rapa Nui's religion, provoked a lot of questioning, sometimes leading to fanciful theories. Some people thought it had something to do with astrology or even

1489-27: At the bottom of a cave, Giuseppe Orefici and the anthropologist Andrea Drusini are examinating a skeletton and try to determine the date and the reason of its death, under the eyes of Make Make, the Rapa Nui god of war.

1489-17: On the Anakena site, the Ahu Nau Nau Moais are located on the northern shore of the island. They can be recognized thanks to their Pukao, made of red volcanic tuff that represents hair into a bun.

1489-18: The archaeologist Sergio Rapu, member of the council of the Easter Island's monuments and architect of the Ahu Anakena's restoration at the feet of one of the Moais with a Pukao.

1489-19: The archaeologist Sergio Rapu, member of the council of the Easter Island's monuments and architect of the Ahu Anakena's restoration at the feet of one of the Moais with a Pukao.

1489-20: The Ahu Kote Riku site, located on the west side of the island, is a good example of how space was organized in a Rapa Nui village :

1489-16: The Ahu's direction, central places of the Rapa Nui's religion, provoked a lot of questioning, sometimes leading to fanciful theories. Some people thought it had something to do with astrology or even with astronomy: nowadays we know that it has nothing to do with that. The Moai on its Ahu is the incarnation of the ancient tribal chief. With its protective eyes it transmits its power received by the sky: the Mana to people living in the village in front of it. Only the village determines the Ahu's direction.

1489-21: The Kava Kava Moais were burried next to the doors of the Rapa Nui houses. They incarnated the soul of the former members of the family. Contrary to the chiefs' Moais made in the Rano volcano's

1489-22: The Kava Kava Moais were burried next to the doors of the Rapa Nui houses. They incarnated the soul of the former members of the family. Contrary to the chiefs' Moais made in the Rano volcano's

1489-23: Since the beginning of time, the weakness of food resources obliged the Easter Island inhabitants to have a lot of imagination: to protect land under cultivation and plantation from bad weather

1489-24: Since the beginning of time, the weakness of food resources obliged the Easter Island inhabitants to have a lot of imagination: to protect land under cultivation and plantation from bad weather

1489-31: Not far away for the Anakena bay, the pluridisciplinary archaeologic mission directed by Giuseppe Orefici is working on the Ahu U Runga dated from the 12th century. There are about 212 archaeologic sites on the territory.

1489-25: In the 16th century, there were violent fights between rival tribes with a lot of criminal fires which really destroyed the natural balance of the island. At the end of the Moais' religion there wasn't any tree

1489-26: During this troubled period, most of inhabitant took refuge in the many caves of the island, like there in the Ana O Keke cavity on the north-east coast. We can fin there paintings and engravings from

1489-27: At the bottom of a cave, Giuseppe Orefici and the anthropologist Andrea Drusini are examinating a skeletton and try to determine the date and the reason of its death, under the eyes of Make

1489-28: The bird, symbol of freedom: freedom is what survivors of the violent fights were missing the most on this island-prison. The new religion changed its symbol but also its place. The new religion settled

1489-36: Michel et Catherine Orliac sont chercheurs au Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris. Spécialistes du bois, ils ont entrepris une vaste campagne de récolte de vieux charbons de bois sur l'île de Pâques. A l'aide du microscope électronique, ils ont pu établir le nom des espèces d'arbres aujourd'hui disparues qui existaient à l'époque de la religion des Moais. Ils ont pu également observer une forte concentration d'incendies d'origine non naturelle dans la première moitié du 16ème siècle, date de la révolution qui aboutit à la disparition de la civilisation et de la religion des Moais

1489-29: The new island's village is settled in front of the litte islands of Motu Iti and Motu Nui (on the background). Every rocks are decorated with petroglyphs celebrating the "man-bird". From this place, men

1489-30: Clothing also reflected the worship of man-bird: ceremonial costumes were made of bird's feathers. But in this case too resources were limited: at the end of the 18th century, migratory birds

1489-31: Not far away for the Anakena bay, the pluridisciplinary archaeologic mission directed by Giuseppe Orefici is working on the Ahu U Runga dated from the 12th century. There are about 212

1489-32: The sifting of the land around the Ahu U Runga permits to get back fragments of tools made of obsidian : precise marker of datation.

1489-39: Only copy that we could see, the Rongo Rongo staff, made of Hau Hau wood and 2 metres long. It belongs to the Museum of Natural History of Santiago and it is totally covered with hieroglyphs.

1489-37: Each tree has its own structure. 1700 times magnified by the electronic microscope, the specialist easily recognized the wood fibre of the Toro Miro tree. This kind of tree was used to sculpt the Moai Kava

1489-33: About twenty metres below, two inhabitants of Easter Island discovered a Moai in the middle of high grass : Giuseppe Orefici went there and asked to get the land clean : i twas a middle size statue from

1489-34: Giuseppe Orefici with the Moai discovered on the Ahu U Runga.

1489-35: Giuseppe Oreficci

1489-36: Michel et Catherine Orliac are research workers at the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. They are specialized in wood and started to collect old charcoal on the Easter Island. Thanks to an

1489-41: These nine Moais Kava Kava belong to three museums in Santiago and Vina del Mar ( Chili).They are real masterpieces of Rapa Nui art and are put together for the first time. Made with Toro Miro wood, The Kava Kava Moais were burried next to the doors of the Rapa Nui houses. They incarnated the soul of the former members of the family. Contrary to the chiefs' Moais made in the Rano volcano's tuff, these were made of wood. Wood has always been a very precious material on the island. Today, the Toro Miro tree has totally disappeared from the surface of the planet.

1489-37: Each tree has its own structure. 1700 times magnified by the electronic microscope, the specialist easily recognized the wood fibre of the Toro Miro tree. This kind of tree was used to sculpt the

1489-38: Sculpted in Hau Hau wood, the Rongo Rongo tablets, with 12000 different signs engraved on it, are still today one of the most important mystery of modern deciphering. The reading was from down to up

1489-50: Map of Easter Island. Located 3800 kilometres away from Chili coasts and 4200 kilometres away from Tahiti, Easter Island is the most isolated inhabited land of the planet. Its surface is 180 square

1489-40: Steven Fischer from New Zealand published an article in the scientific magazine ÂŤ science Âť. He tried to decipher the 12000 different hieroglyphs found on the tablets and on the Hau Hau wood staff :

1489-44: These nine Moais Kava Kava belong to three museums in Santiago and Vina del Mar ( Chili).They are real masterpieces of Rapa Nui art and are put together for the first time. Made with Toro

1489-42: These nine Moais Kava Kava belong to three museums in Santiago and Vina del Mar ( Chili).They are real masterpieces of Rapa Nui art and are put together for the first time. Made with Toro

1489-43: These nine Moais Kava Kava belong to three museums in Santiago and Vina del Mar ( Chili).They are real masterpieces of Rapa Nui art and are put together for the first time. Made with Toro

1489-49: Two famous explorers who discovered the Easter Island in the 18th century : the English one Cook (on the left) in 1774 and the French one La PĂŠrouse (on the right) in 1786.

1489-28: The bird, symbol of freedom: freedom is what survivors of the violent fights were missing the most on this island-prison. The new religion changed its symbol but also its place. The new religion settled on the Orongo site, located on the south-west side of the Rano Kao's crater, the biggest of the island. The shape of the numerous little ponds at the bottom of the crater always change: people considered that they were harbouring dead people's souls.

1489-45: To swear allegiance to their hosts, Giuseppe Orefici and his team wore the traditional costume that every Easter Island's inhabitant wear for the annual Rapa Nui feast which occurs at the end of

1489-46: To swear allegiance to their hosts, Giuseppe Orefici and his team wore the traditional costume that every Easter Island's inhabitant wear for the annual Rapa Nui feast which occurs at the end of

1489-47: Some illustrations from the colonial period (end of 18th century) showing a Rapa Nui man and a Rapa Nui woman.

1489-48: Some illustrations from the colonial period (end of the 18th century) showing the arrival of European settlers on the Easter Island ( from Holland, Spain, England or France).

The true story of Easter Island. In 1989, as director of the Italian center of archeological research, Orefici was invited by the Chilean government to visit Easter Island. He was fascinated by the wealth of archeological treasures left by the inhabitants of the island: the imposing ceremonial architecture, the petroglyphs, the cave art, wooden statuettes of exquisite beauty and the famous colossal sculptures, the moai. More intriguing however, were tablets filled with symbols akin to hieroglyphs, the meaning of which remains unknown. A veteran at questions without answers however, Orefici decided to begin extensive research in the hopes of revealing the mysteries of Easter Island. 1990 was the first of a long series of digs, the last of which was completed in February 2001, which was the first time such a number of Ester Island specialists were ever united on a single research project. The experts included physical anthropologist AndrĂŠa Drusini, the only scientist to have studied all the bone fragments of the island, archeologists Georgia Lee, Claudio Christino and Patricia Vargas, experts in petroglyps and monumental sculpture, Andrej Jacek Jomaszewski, a stone industry specialist, Giuliano Romano, an astronomer who studied the relationship between the locations of ceremonial areas and the stars, botanists Luigi Piacenza, who holds an amazingly complete collection of native Easter plant species, a geologist specializing in volcanoes, two speleologists and several archeologists,

Giuseppe Orefici and the team were finally able to explore the missing pieces of the puzzle of Easter Island. Where did the population come from? How did they manage to arrive in one of the most remote arts of the transportation? Giuseppe Orefici is most interested in the Ahu Nau Nau region of the Island, the area formed when the island's two main volcanoes came together. The soil, made up of sands and sediments, os rich in archeological materials never before seen on any other part of the island and is in a remarkable state of conservation. The fact that the area was formed before human settlement of the island helps scientists determine the precise time of the island's occupation. The first bits of data are very promising and are providing crucial clues to understanding the Rapa Nui society. Special attention is being given to the study of human and animal bone fragments as they provide new information about the origin of the island's inhabitants. This last mission allows Giuseppe Orefici to finally draw conclusions from the tremendous work done on Easter Island.

Paradise Lost The Rapa Nui are generally thought to have arrived on Easter Island in the 7th century AD. However, it seems that they actually set food on the island at least 3 centuries earlier, according to recent finds. Upon their arrival on Easter Island, the Rapa Nui found a true paradise, but shortly thereafter they lost their Eden. The Rapa Nui society went through many phases of development in order to maintain the island's ecological equilibrium. The cramped environment and the ecosystem's fragility were a recipe

for catastrophe's from the get-go. The plants and animals brought to the island by the Rapa Nui ravaged the native species, including the Toromiro tree, an abundant species widely used for sculpture. Such would be the fate oh the Hau Hau tree, used for making tablets of the Rongo Rongo language and almost completely wiped out by the importation of livestock on the island. Furthermore, the absence of any waterway on the island led to the quick drying up of the land. The natural reservoirs atop the volcanic craters were not enough to sustain the irrigation of crops.

Gonzalez came to Easter Island 50 years later, followed by Cook in 1775 and Perousse, in 1789. Unfortunately the Europeans' arrivals did nothing but accentuate the degradation of the environment by importing new animal and vegetable species such as goats, sheep and pigs and cotton, maize, and fruit trees. Destabilization of the ecosystem as well as the deportation of the local population to plantations on the American continent undeniably led to the extinction of the Rapa Nui culture.

A mysterious people: the Rapa Nui However, before these tragic times, the inhabitants of the island lived off of coastal and open water fishing, agriculture, and raising of chickens and rats as their main sustenance. Turtle eggs were a seasonal delicacy reserved for the King Ariki. Soon, however, the depletion of the sea's resources led the population to overwork the land. The land became infertile and the forest were destroyed. These phenomena, however necessary for the island's economic development, led to an ecological disaster which in turn provoked a social and political crisis. Around 1500, the environment was destroyed, and the inhabitants were seeing their island home transformed into a prison from which it was impossible to escape. Tension broke out between various clans due to lack of sustenance. Women and the defeated parties became victims of cannibalism, which served both as a kind of sustenance and a demographic stabilizer. Terror, desolation and misery reigned upon the population while the environment steadily deteriorated. The arrivals of Dutchman Jacob Roggeven in 1772 was the first of many visits by Europeans. The Spaniards Felipe

The Rapa Nui lived for many centuries isolated from the rest of the world. Only in 1772 with the arrival of Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen on Easter day would the island join the rest of the world. Since then, the most extravagant theories about the island's original population have been founded. Scientific research began in the 19th century, leading to discoveries and absurd experiments. Among the important discoveries, strange tablets covered in "hieroglyphs" of which no one knows the meaning, but which do confirm the existence of a written language belonging specifically to the island. We know that the Maori Rongo Rongo, who held the key to the interpretation of these symbols. The knowledge of the Maori Rongo Rongo people, who were deported by slave traders in 1862, was never transmitted. Many scientists have attempted to decipher the writings with little success. Today, fewer than 10 of these tablets exist in the world. The monumental architecture of Easter Island, however, has withstood the passing of time. The altars built for the worship of ancestors are often

surrounded by a dozen gigantic sculptures, called the moai. The technological and artistic prowess required of the Rapa Nui to create such giants of stone seem inconceivable and are in large part unexplained. Furthermore, many have attempted over the centuries to discover from which continent the Rapa Nui came, by the teams of maritime research. Inn the mid 20th century Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdal set out to prove that ancient people could have come to Polynesia, and therefore to Easter Island, from the Southern American continent, and in 1947 set sail from the port of Callao in Peru on a replica of an aboriginal balsa raft named Kon Tiki. 101 days later he arrived at the of Raroia atoll, in the Tuamotu Archipelago. He repeated the experiment 9 years later. In 1958, Baron Erich de Bisschop sailed on a raft named Tahiti Nui II from Tahiti to Chile and back. Finally in 1999, Spanish explorer Kitin Munoz and craftsmen of Lake Titicaca built a reed boat with which he travelled from Arica in Chile to the Marquesas Islands. Though these experiments did confirm that Easter Island could be reached from both Polynesia and the American continent, they do not offer any theories on the origins of the people that settled on the deserted island. As discoveries continue, the mysteries unfold, as the many archeological remains continue to suggest the presence of a highly sophisticated and organized culture.

The strength of the ancestors The moai, long time symbols of the mystery of Easter Island, are not only

artistic expression of the Rapa Nui. These colossal ancestral statues were placed upon the ahu, ceremonial altars made of a giant basalt slabs, and turned to protect the home with their gaze. A topknot, or pukao, of red volcanic tuff sat atop their head. The sculptures were representations of the social and economic power of the clans and stribes, and could number between 1 and 15, measuring between 3 and 8 meters, and sometimes more. The style of these spectacular figures changed over time, and their size became more imposing. Depending on the clan they represented they could be adorned with large or small ears, and their body was sometimes sculpted, as is the case of one moai whose body is carved with a boat. The avanga, or burial chamber beneath the ahu, held the bone remains of the clan's ancestors. The digs led in 1990 by Giuseppe Orefici to one of the island's most important ceremonial spaces, Ahu Tongariki, produced some valuable physical anthropological data regarding the human remains left there. Not only did the team find ancestral remains, (the skulls are generally incised or incinerated), they also found traces of human and animal sacrifice (fish, rats, chickens) practiced during ceremonies. The beneficial presence of the ancestors was also materially represented by a number of beautifully executed objects. The long and lanky Kava Kava statuettes, recognized by their projecting ribs, the ceremonial paddles decorated with a stylised feminine face, and the pectoral ornaments used by aristocrats or the king were all included in the ceremonies. These cultural objects were made of toromiro, a small native tree which produces a dense, rot proof wood of a rich blood color. For years Andrej Jacek

Jomaszewski, a stone industry specialist, has been taking inventory of the obsidian tools of the island. For sculpture, the artist used basalt blades, knives, percoir, obsidian scissors and shark teeth. The object would then be polished using sand, coral and shark skin stretched on a stick. Later on, when tension led to violent between different clans, rock art (still unknown by many) appeared in many of the caves. Some of the petroglyphs (carved images in stone) depicted for the first time the face of the god Make Make, a relatively new deity who confirmed the disintegration of the society due to ecological catastrophes. These many cultural representations help scientists understand the foundations of Rapa Nui culture. At the beginning, Ariki Henua, the king of the earth, was the supreme ruler whose authority was undisputed. He was considered a divine and supernatural being. He was later challenged by a warrior clan represented by the god Make Make and symbolized by a Bird-Man, when the island resources were depleted and the inhabitants' lives were at risk. These political-religious pressures led to a change in the cultural representation of the island, which began to move away from the ancestral symbolism until the moai disappeared completely. It was, however, the depopulation of the island, due to the Europeans' deportation of the inhabitants as slaves to plantations in the Americas that dealt the final blow and annihilate what remained of Rapa Nui culture.

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Captions. 1. Hillsides of the Rano Raraku volcano : this is where happened for more than a millenium the genesis and the cutting of the Moais, the giant statues of Easter Island. At this stone giants' feet, Giuseppe Orefici, archaeologist-in-chief of the scientific mission. Although the Moais are still intact, only their faces turned to the south are still visible. 2. The hillsides of the Rano Raraku volcano: this is where happened for more than a millennium the genesis and the cutting of the Moais, the giant statues of Easter Island. At these stone giants' feet, Giuseppe Orefici, archaeologist-in-chief of the scientific mission. Although the Moais are still intact, only their faces turned to the south are still visible. 3. On the Anakena site, the Ahu Nau Nau Moais are located on the northern shore of the island, not far away from the bay which is wearing the same name. They can be recognized thanks to their Pukao, made of red volcanic tuff that represent hair into a bun.

The origin of the first newcomers (5th-8th century A.D) 4. A view of Rapa Nui (local name of the island) from Motu Iti, a small island located in the south-west. The shore, a 200 metres-high cliff is constituted with the edge of the Kano Kau volcano's crater, the biggest volcano in the island. On the foreground, Giuseppe Orefici and a part of his team. 5. This little statue, the Tukuturi Moai, is

the oldest of the island. It dates from the period of the first newcomers on the island, in the 5th century A.D. It was discovered about ten years ago by Thor Heyerdhal, organizer and author of "The expedition of Kon Tiki" in 1947. The aim of this expedition was to demonstrate the south-American origin of the Rapa Nui population: today, the whole international scientific community recognizes that M. Heyerdhal was wrong: the Easter Island population comes from French Polynesia and more precisely from the Marquesas Islands. Paradoxically, that is this statue (and a hook, see view n째44) that sounds the knell of the Norwegian adventurer's theory. This statue looks like the Tikis, stone statues discovered in the Marquesas Islands and dated the same period. 6. These fishing hooks, made of bones, date from the 5th century A.D, that is to say the period of the first newcomers on the island. They were found during recent archeological excavations. They are the irrefutable proof of the Marquesas origins of the Rapa Nui: indeed, scientists found exact copies dated from the same period, during recent excavations in the Marquesas Islands. Birth of a religion and of a civilization (9th century-11th century): 7. The sides of the Rano Raraku volcano still have at least 600 Moais, which stayed unfinished at every step of their making. These huge sculptures never reached their goal and their final destination. Real 'Moais factory", we consider that 1200 sculptures came out from the Rano Raraku volcano's sides. 8. On the Rano Raraku volcano's sides, Giuseppe Orefici, archeologist-in-chief of

the scientific mission and his team are watching a series of lying Moais. These statues came out from this earth for more than a millennium. Their style and dimensions really changed with time. The examination of the size of their hands, their bust and their face permits to date precisely when these statues were sculpted 9. Three hundred tonne, twenty-one metres long: on the side of the Rano Raraku volcano, the Moai Te Kokanga is the tallest statue that the Rapa Nui civilization ever sculpted. The face measures 8,50 metres ( one white and red line= one metre). Giuseppe Orefici's team makes there some measures. 10. Three hundred tonne, twenty-one metres long: on the side of the Rano Raraku volcano, the Moai Te Kokanga is the tallest statue that the Rapa Nui civilization ever sculpted. The face measures 8,50 metres ( one white and red line= one metre). Giuseppe Orefici's team makes there some measures. 11. On the side of the Rano Raraku's crater, the archaeologists of the Giuseppe Orefici's team discovered the function of those shafts dug in the tuff : it would appear to be ropes' reels that permitted to control the Moais going down the slope of the volcano before the transport to their final destination : the Ahu. To reduce efforts, the Rapa Nui sculpted capstans by way of pulley (above the archaeologist on the right). On the inner sides, we can see little black spots, which are the Moais. On the background the Pacific ocean. 12. Landscape of Rano Raraku 13. Giuseppe Orefici's team makes again on horseback (the safest means of

transport in this tortured landscape) the Moais' route on one of the numerous paths that came from the Rano Raraku volcano to rejoin the Ahus, religious sites where the giant statues were erected. On the edges of the path, a lot of statues' fragments which did not resist the journey. Indeed, volcanic tuff is a lightest mineral than granite or limestone: it is easier to sculpt but also more fragile. The golden age of Rapa Nui's civilization and religion ( 12th century- 16th century) : 14. In 1960 a tidal wave came in the land in the south of the island and devastated everything. Thanks to an international archaeologic mission supported by the Unesco to which Giuseppe Orefici took part, the Ahu Tongariki site is now totally restored. This place is the most impressive one in the island because of its size and the number of Moais. The ancient village was located where horses took possession of the territory. On the background, the Moto Maro Tiri. This architectural grouping dates from the 13th14th century A.D. 15. In 1960 a tidal wave came in the land in the south of the island and devastated everything. Thanks to an international archaeologic mission supported by the Unesco to which Giuseppe Orefici took part, the Ahu Tongariki site is now totally restored. This place is the most impressive one in the island because of its size and the number of Moais. The archaeologist is at the feet of a Moai wearing a Pukao, the biggest of the island still erected on an Ahu. 16. The Ahu's direction, central places of the Rapa Nui's religion, provoked a lot of questioning, sometimes leading to fanciful theories. Some people thought it had

something to do with astrology or even with astronomy: nowadays we know that it has nothing to do with that. The Moai on its Ahu is the incarnation of the ancient tribal chief. With its protective eyes it transmits its power received by the sky: the Mana to people living in the village in front of it. Only the village determines the Ahu's direction. 17. On the Anakena site, the Ahu Nau Nau Moais are located on the northern shore of the island. They can be recognized thanks to their Pukao, made of red volcanic tuff that represents hair into a bun. The tuff comes from the Puna Pau crater. Their size sophistication and the sort of petrogliphs discovered down the Ahu permit to date this architectural gouping from the 15th and 16th century A.D. 18. The archaeologist Sergio Rapu, member of the council of the Easter Island's monuments and architect of the Ahu Anakena's restoration at the feet of one of the Moais with a Pukao. 19. The archaeologist Sergio Rapu discovered the first Moai'eye on the Anakena site. Made of coral (for the white) and obsidian (for the eye), today we know that most of the Moais had eyes through which the Mana, a power from the sky, could be transmitted to earth and livings. The Rapa Nui village : 20. The Ahu Kote Riku site, located on the west side of the island, is a good example of how space was organized in a Rapa Nui village :

- On the background the Ahus, ceremonial altars made of a basalt platform where Moais are erected. The interior of the Ahu contained the Avanga, a funeral room which kept bones of the clan's ancestor incarnated in a Moai. - at the top in the middle the pier for the village's fishing boats. - at the top, on the right, the ceremonial circle, a holy place where the main events of the village take place. - At the bottom, the traditional house of a Rapa Nui family. Covered with palm tree branches or reed in an arc of a circle, this house had a stone overhang and a little door. In front of this door: Giuseppe Orefici. Like everywhere in the island, horses are totally free. 21. The Kava Kava Moais were burried next to the doors of the Rapa Nui houses. They incarnated the soul of the former members of the family. Contrary to the chiefs' Moais made in the Rano volcano's tuff, these cultural objects were made in Toro Miro, a little endemic tree providing a very tough fine-grained and rot proof red wood. Wood has always been a very precious material on the island. Today, the Toro Miro tree has totally disappeared from the surface of the planet. 22. Around the houses' vestiges, we can find a lot of petroplyphs that is to say images engraved on stones. They often represent theMake Make god, god of war. We also discovered a lot of animals' representations, in particular big fishes, symbol of abundance and birds, symbol of freedom. On the left, Giuseppe Orefici. On the background the Tongariki Ahu the most imposing of the island. 23. Since the beginning of time, the weakness of food resources obliged the Easter Island inhabitants to have a lot of

imagination: to protect land under cultivation and plantation from bad weather and thefts, the Manavaï (burried gardens) were often burried in the many cavities of this volcanic island. On this picture, the botanist Luigi Piacenza is looking at a burried garden in the Te Pau cave. Luigi Piacenza is the author of a unique set of illustrations of endemic plants of the island. The fall of the Moai's religion (16th century) 24. In the 16-th century, the whole of the 1200 Moais erected on their Ahus was pulled down like here on the One Makihi Ahu on the south coast. On the background the Rano Raraku volcano, the place of the Moais' genesis. There are several reasons to this revolution: - the hostility of the climate for several decades. - few water and food resources. - the clergy was incapable to change its ways and had become to expensive for the island's resources. - an exacerbated rivalry between the twelve tribes of the island. 25. In the 16th century, there were violent fights between rival tribes with a lot of criminal fires which really destroyed the natural balance of the island. At the end of the Moais' religion there wasn't any tree left on the island. 26. During this troubled period, most of inhabitant took refuge in the many caves of the island, like there in the Ana O Keke cavity on the north-east coast. We can fin there paintings and engravings from this period but also indecipherable hieroglyphs. Some cavities were discovered by Giuseppe Orefici himself.

27. At the bottom of a cave, Giuseppe Orefici and the anthropologist Andrea Drusini are examinating a skeletton and try to determine the date and the reason of its death, under the eyes of Make Make, the Rapa Nui god of war. The religion of the man-bird (17th-18th century): 28. The bird, symbol of freedom: freedom is what survivors of the violent fights were missing the most on this island-prison. The new religion changed its symbol but also its place. The new religion settled on the Orongo site, located on the south-west side of the Rano Kao's crater, the biggest of the island. The shape of the numerous little ponds at the bottom of the crater always change: people considered that they were harbouring dead people's souls.

29. The new island's village is settled in front of the litte islands of Motu Iti and Motu Nui (on the background). Every rocks are decorated with petroglyphs celebrating the "man-bird". From this place, men used to organize the ceremony of the "egg race" at every spring: the clans' representatives had to fight to get the first egg layed by the terns on the Motu Nui. They had to go down the cliff (on photo n°3), swim to the Motu Nui, take the egg and swim back to the cliff and climb it to be the first on this Orongo place with this precious trophy. The winner, appointed by the priests, permitted his tribe to rule the island for one year. On this place, every rocks are decorated with petroglyphs celebrating Tangata Manu the « man-bird ». 30. Clothing also reflected the worship of man-bird: ceremonial costumes were made of bird's feathers. But in this case

too resources were limited: at the end of the 18th century, migratory birds disappeared from the little islands which triggered progressively to the questioning of the religion. Since the little islands of Motu Iti and Motu Nui were listed as nature reserve about ten years ago, birds and their offspring took possession of the islands again. Excavations and researches : 31. Not far away for the Anakena bay, the pluridisciplinary archaeologic mission directed by Giuseppe Orefici is working on the Ahu U Runga dated from the 12th century. There are about 212 archaeologic sites on the territory. 32. The sifting of the land around the Ahu U Runga permits to get back fragments of tools made of obsidian : precise marker of datation. 33. About twenty metres below, two inhabitants of Easter Island discovered a Moai in the middle of high grass : Giuseppe Orefici went there and asked to get the land clean : i twas a middle size statue from the middle age period (12th century) which was erected on the Ahu U Runga. 34. Giuseppe Orefici with the discovered on the Ahu U Runga.

Moai

35. Giuseppe Oreficci. 36. Michel et Catherine Orliac are research workers at the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. They are specialized in wood and started to collect

old charcoal on the Easter Island. Thanks to an electronic microscope they could establish the name of kind of trees that existed at the time of the Moais' religion but not anymore. They also could observe a high concentration of non-natural fires in the first part of the 16th century that is to say when the revolution led to the end of the Moais' civilization and religion.

found on the tablets and on the Hau Hau wood staff : today we know that this craft work belonged to a caste, the Rongo Rongo Maori. According to Steven Fischer the hieroglyphs represent religious songs very similar to those that the Maori from New Zealand still sing nowadays. The Maori from New Zealand are distant cousins with inhabitants of Easter Island.

37. Each tree has its own structure. 1700 times magnified by the electronic microscope, the specialist easily recognized the wood fibre of the Toro Miro tree. This kind of tree was used to sculpt the Moai Kava Kava but it has totally disappeared from the planet.

41. These nine Moais Kava Kava belong to three museums in Santiago and Vina del Mar ( Chili).They are real masterpieces of Rapa Nui art and are put together for the first time. Made with Toro Miro wood, The Kava Kava Moais were burried next to the doors of the Rapa Nui houses. They incarnated the soul of the former members of the family. Contrary to the chiefs' Moais made in the Rano volcano's tuff, these were made of wood. Wood has always been a very precious material on the island. Today, the Toro Miro tree has totally disappeared from the surface of the planet.

Rongo Rongo et Kava Kava : 38. Sculpted in Hau Hau wood, the Rongo Rongo tablets, with 12000 different signs engraved on it, are still today one of the most important mystery of modern deciphering. The reading was from down to up and from left to right with reversed signs one line by two, probably because two people could read in front of each others. Researchers from all the world but also collectors are fascinated by these tablets. There are only 26 tablets in the world and the value of each tablet is sometimes estimated for 1 million dollar. Today the Hau Hau tree has totally disappeared. 39. Only copy that we could see, the Rongo Rongo staff, made of Hau Hau wood and 2 metres long. It belongs to the Museum of Natural History of Santiago and it is totally covered with hieroglyphs.

42. These nine Moais Kava Kava belong to three museums in Santiago and Vina del Mar ( Chili).They are real masterpieces of Rapa Nui art and are put together for the first time. Made with Toro Miro wood, The Kava Kava Moais were burried next to the doors of the Rapa Nui houses. They incarnated the soul of the former members of the family. Contrary to the chiefs' Moais made in the Rano volcano's tuff, these were made of wood. Wood has always been a very precious material on the island. Today, the Toro Miro tree has totally disappeared from the surface of the planet.

40. Steven Fischer from New Zealand published an article in the scientific magazine ÂŤ science Âť. He tried to decipher the 12000 different hieroglyphs

43. These nine Moais Kava Kava belong to three museums in Santiago and Vina del Mar ( Chili).They are real masterpieces of Rapa Nui art and are put together for

the first time. Made with Toro Miro wood, The Kava Kava Moais were burried next to the doors of the Rapa Nui houses. They incarnated the soul of the former members of the family. Contrary to the chiefs' Moais made in the Rano volcano's tuff, these were made of wood. Wood has always been a very precious material on the island. Today, the Toro Miro tree has totally disappeared from the surface of the planet. 44. These nine Moais Kava Kava belong to three museums in Santiago and Vina del Mar ( Chili).They are real masterpieces of Rapa Nui art and are put together for the first time. Made with Toro Miro wood, The Kava Kava Moais were burried next to the doors of the Rapa Nui houses. They incarnated the soul of the former members of the family. Contrary to the chiefs' Moais made in the Rano volcano's tuff, these were made of wood. Wood has always been a very precious material on the island. Today, the Toro Miro tree has totally disappeared from the surface of the planet. 45. To swear allegiance to their hosts, Giuseppe Orefici and his team wore the traditional costume that every Easter Island's inhabitant wear for the annual Rapa Nui feast which occurs at the end of January and beginning of February every year. 46. Giuseppe Orefici wearing the traditional costume of a Rapa Nui chief. 47. Some illustrations from the colonial period (end of 18th century) showing a Rapa Nui man and a Rapa Nui woman. 48. Some illustrations from the colonial period (end of the 18th century) showing the arrival of European settlers on the

Easter Island ( from Holland, Spain, England or France). 49. Two famous explorers who discovered the Easter Island in the 18th century : the English one Cook (on the left) in 1774 and the French one La PĂŠrouse (on the right) in 1786. 50. Map of Easter Island. Located 3800 kilometres away from Chili coasts and 4200 kilometres away from Tahiti, Easter Island is the most isolated inhabited land of the planet. Its surface is 180 square kilometre. The island looks like a triangle with a long side of 22 kilometres and the two other sides of 17 kilometres. Twice largest than Paris intra muros, there are 3000 inhabitants living there today and only one city, Hanga Roa, located at the south-west. Almost the rest of the territory is listed as nature reserve.


The true story of Easter Island.