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Secrets of Lost Empires II—Easter Island

Program Overview


Uncover the Latest Secrets from NOVA
Magnificent structures—symbols of faith, power, commerce, or comfort—are the intriguing legacies of the civilizations featured in this five-part miniseries, Secrets of Lost Empires. Without modern technology, these ancient builders achieved construction feats that still impress today.

NOVA travels to the sites of these once-mighty empires to answer the question, "How did they do that?" Expert teams of engineers, archeologists, and master builders attempt to recreate the structures, using the materials, tools, and techniques thought to have been available to their ancient counterparts. The researchers draw on tantalizing clues found in ruins, paintings, and documents to guide them. But in this real-world laboratory, things don't always go as planned. The teams demonstrate science inquiry in action, refining their hypotheses through trial and error. In the process, they gain a deeper understanding of the ancient builders and their worlds.


Easter Island
Visitors to the island of Rapa Nui, the modern name for Easter Island, have long been fascinated by the giant statues, called moai, that stand on platforms along its rugged coastline. How did ancient islanders carve and move these enormous volcanic stones? To test their hypotheses, NOVA's team casts a 10-ton (9 metric tonnes) concrete model of a moai. Visiting researchers and islanders join together to pull the moai hundreds of meters, then attempt to raise it onto a platform.

Teacher's Guide
Secrets of Lost Empires II—Easter Island
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