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Photo of Moai Ready to be Raised
by Liesl Clark
May 1, 1998

For a moment, it felt as though the 20,000-pound moai could have been pulled over a great distance. With the force of a team of 50 Rapa Nui people holding onto two ropes, pulling power was the easiest part of today's puzzle. They gripped the ropes and pulled as one team, and once the moai started to move it slid almost effortlessly along lateral logs up a stone ramp to the base of the pedestal where the moai will be raised.

Photo of A crane was used this morning to move the moai up a slope, and the cement statue was positioned face down and base first for the raising sequence. Diesel smoke and engine noise filled the air as the various crane maneuvers occupied the team's attention until mid day. The transit rig, or sledge, which is an A-frame of logs fit together and lashed by expert canoeists Darus Ane and Ted Ralston, seems to be the most stable part of the whole transport operation. Eucalyptus logs lubricated with banana stumps proved to be a slick surface for the moai and transit rig as they were pulled over watered-down logs.

Photo of The moai sits on a base, or pedestal, 4.3 feet (1.3 meters) above ground level. Here the transit rig extends beyond the base of the moai, and the team will have to cut the wood that lies beyond the base so it can be lifted with the transit rig attached. How will they cut this wood? Will they use a chain saw or an ancient obsidian axe? Will this jeopardize the stability of the transit rig that has provided support for the 9.5-ton concrete moai? And, more importantly, is there any archaeological evidence to prove that this is how the early Easter Islanders would have done it?

The raising of the moai will begin tomorrow under the direction of Chilean archaeologist Claudio Cristino.

Lessons Learned (May 11)
A New Way to Move a Moai (May 9)
Moai is Upright (May 6)
Moai Nearly Raised (May 5)
A Tourist Attraction (May 3)
The Secret of the Sledge (May 2)
Moai Ready to be Raised (May 1)
The Moai is Moved (April 30)
15-Ton Moai Removed from Mold (April 27)
Moai Platform Complete (April 26)
Moai Mold is Filled (April 24)
Moai Mold Ready for Concrete (April 23)
Statue Mold En Route (April 22)
The Team Arrives (April 20)
Arrival on Rapa Nui (April 17)

Photos: Liesl Clark

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