Why are the statues placed where they are ? Image Credit: CC BY 2.5 Honey Hooper
Scientists have come up with a possible new explanation for the positions of the island's stone statues.
A small land mass of only 60 square miles, Easter Island has remained something of an enigma for years. Its army of strange stone heads and the unexplained disappearance of its inhabitants are mysteries that continue to draw both intrigue and puzzlement.
Now though, researchers from Binghamton University in New York believe that they may have found an answer to one of the island's most enduring mysteries - that of the positions of the statues.
While previous theories have suggested that the position and orientation of the island's iconic stone heads may have held spiritual significance, the new study puts forward the notion that the statue's builders may have instead been using them to mark out sources of drinking water.
Due to the lack of streams and rivers on the island, the inhabitants must have relied primarily on groundwater discharge along the island's coastal areas.
"Fortunately, water beneath the ground flows downhill and ultimately exits the ground directly at the point at which the porous subterranean rock meets the ocean," said Professor Carl Lipo.
"When tides are low, this results in the flow of freshwater directly into the sea. Humans can thus take advantage of these sources of freshwater by capturing the water at these points."
The statues, he argues, were set up to pinpoint the sites at which this water was available.
"Now that we know more about the location of freshwater... the location of these monuments and other features makes tremendous sense," he said.
"They are positioned where freshwater is immediately available."
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