Easter Island Heads Were Moved Into Position In A Fascinating Manner – MIT Just Proved How

The iconic Easter Island Moai statues were said to have “walked themselves” into their positions. Well, that’s clearly a legend that can’t possibly be true: or could it? Science have proven that with the idea of center of gravity vs. mass just about anything can be moved with very little force, or in the case of Easter Island “heads,” technology.

As part of a Megalith Robotics class MIT students constructed the McKnelly Megalith to demonstrate the science behind this architecture.

This short video will give you an insight into the physics of moving this 2,000 pound creation. Considerably smaller than the 82-ton “heads” of Easter Island, but still an impressive feat.

On the architecture website for MIT, they explain how this relates back to Easter Island:

“In a similar manner to how one might shimmy a refrigerator into place, the Moai were pulled back and forth by ropes, employing momentum to transport these unwieldy megaliths. This (re)discovery brings new meaning to the folklore that the statues ‘walked themselves.”

So, the MIT students created a megalith of their own to prove how the “heads” were most likely moved into position. As you can see here, one guy can spin the 2,000 pound structure by himself.

Next they used a system of ropes (and physics) to lift the structure up into the position they desired. This is the same system that was most likely used by Moai Statue workers–unless you believe they did walk themselves.

You can watch the group of students move the one-ton megalith into an upright position in this short video. It’s all about the center of gravity, and with this piece a single push of the finger would even create some movement.

On a touching after note, you should know that megaliths are often constructed in honor of deceased ancestors. Teaching assistant Carrie Lee McKnelly sadly lost her parents in a fire, so this class demonstration is both a tribute to her family that is no longer with us and an insightful look into the world of ancient architecture.

On a lighter ending note, it’s fun to think this scientific realization was possible thousands of years ago, yet some of our brightest minds are needed to do it today.