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Why Some Easter Island Statues Are Where They Are

为什么它们会在那里

The statues on Easter Island are among the most mysterious objects made by humans. We still don’t know how they were moved, why they were placed at particular sites around the island and why they were made in the first place. Now researchers think they have at least some answers, because a new analysis finds that the statues are situated near sources of freshwater. The study appears in the journal PLOS ONE.

复活节岛上的雕像是人类制造的最神秘的物品。我们仍然不知道这些雕像是如何被移动的,为什么会被放置在岛上的特定地点,以及最初为什么会被制造出来。现在研究人员认为他们至少找到了一些答案,因为一项新的分析发现,这些雕像位于淡水资源附近。这项研究发表在《公共科学图书馆综合》杂志上。

It’s believed that the residents of Rapa Nui—the Indigenous name for Easter Island—began constructing these carvings in the 13th century. The statues, called moai, which sit upon stone platforms called ahu, are the very definition of monumental. Most weigh between 20 and 30 tons. And of the 1.000 on the island, about 400 have been moved from the quarry where they originated and placed on ahu located elsewhere.

人们认为,拉帕努伊岛(复活节岛的土著名称)的居民在13世纪开始建造这些雕刻。这些雕像被称为“摩艾”,坐落在被称为“胡”的石头平台上,是纪念碑的真正定义。大多数重量在20到30吨之间。在岛上的1000只中,大约400只已经从它们最初的采石场转移到了其他地方。

 

“But those ahu locations aren’t necessarily everywhere. They’re in some places and not in others. And the question we started to ask ourselves was, ‘Why do we find these ahu and moai some places on the landscape but not others?’”

但这些“胡岛”并非无处不在。有些地方有,有些地方没有。我们开始问自己,‘为什么我们在一些地方发现了这些胡岛和摩艾岛,而在其他地方却没有?’”

Carl Lipo, an anthropologist at Binghamton University in central New York. He says that most of these sculptures are found along the coast, but some are inland. And they’re not necessarily at obvious places.

卡尔·利波是纽约中部宾汉姆顿大学的人类学家。他说,这些雕塑大部分是在沿海发现的,但也有一些是在内陆。不一定在明显的地方。

“For example, we don’t find ahu and statues located on the tops of hills—places that we might expect to find them if these things were symbolic or representing ancestors, where you wanted to show off to everybody in he world, or the island itself, the fruits of your creation of these statues.”

“例如,我们找不到位于顶部的雕塑,我们可能期望找到它们,如果这些事情是象征或代表的祖先,你想展示每个人在他的世界里,或岛本身,创造这些雕像的成果。”

So the statues are more than just towering talismans to be admired from afar. Indeed, Lipo and his colleagues noted that people spent most of their time living and working around these sites, which made the researchers think that the the statues might be located near a valuable resource.

因此,这些雕像不仅仅是供人们从远处欣赏的高耸护身符。事实上,利波和同事们注意到人们大部分时间都在这些遗址附近生活和工作,因此研究人员认为这些雕像可能地处有价值的资源附近。

“So the question was: What resource? Was it water, freshwater, marine resources or cultivation places? Which of those, or which combination of those, best explained the locations of ahu on the landscape?”

所以问题是:什么资源?是水、淡水、海洋资源还是养殖场所?哪一种,或哪一种组合,最好地解释了胡岛的地理位置?”

Their statistical analyses pointed toward potable water, which Lipo says made sense.

他们的统计分析指向了饮用水,利波说这是有道理的。

“Every single time we found a big source of freshwater, there would be a statue and an ahu. And we saw this over and over and over again. And places where we didn’t find freshwater, we didn’t find statues and ahu.”

现在,这并不意味着这些结构充当了标记——就像一个“到这里来取水”的标志——而是说社区本身与这些资源相联系。因此,他们对雕塑的投资就是围绕着这种资源进行的。

Now, that doesn’t mean that the structures served as markers—like a sign saying “Get Your Water Here”—but rather that the community themselves were connected to those resources. And thus, their investment in statues was done around that resource.

现在,这并不意味着这些结构充当了标记——就像一个“到这里来取水”的标志——而是说社区本身与这些资源相联系。因此,他们对雕塑的投资就是围绕着这种资源进行的。

“Because these are the locations that had the resources that they needed to survive.”

“因为这些地方有生存所需的资源。”

It seems that many of the massive sculptures are where they are for totally pragmatic reasons: “We’ll build here because here is where we want to be.”

似乎建造许多巨大的雕像都是出于实用目的:“我们建造在这里,是因为这是我们想要的地方。”

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Why Some Easter Island Statues Are Where They Are

The statues on Easter Island are among the most mysterious objects made by humans. We still don’t know how they were moved, why they were placed at particular sites around the island and why they were made in the first place. Now researchers think they have at least some answers, because a new analysis finds that the statues are situated near sources of freshwater. The study appears in the journal PLOS ONE.

It’s believed that the residents of Rapa Nui—the Indigenous name for Easter Island—began constructing these carvings in the 13th century. The statues, called moai, which sit upon stone platforms called ahu, are the very definition of monumental. Most weigh between 20 and 30 tons. And of the 1.000 on the island, about 400 have been moved from the quarry where they originated and placed on ahu located elsewhere.

“But those ahu locations aren’t necessarily everywhere. They’re in some places and not in others. And the question we started to ask ourselves was, ‘Why do we find these ahu and moai some places on the landscape but not others?’”

Carl Lipo, an anthropologist at Binghamton University in central New York. He says that most of these sculptures are found along the coast, but some are inland. And they’re not necessarily at obvious places.

“For example, we don’t find ahu and statues located on the tops of hills—places that we might expect to find them if these things were symbolic or representing ancestors, where you wanted to show off to everybody in he world, or the island itself, the fruits of your creation of these statues.”

So the statues are more than just towering talismans to be admired from afar. Indeed, Lipo and his colleagues noted that people spent most of their time living and working around these sites, which made the researchers think that the the statues might be located near a valuable resource.

“So the question was: What resource? Was it water, freshwater, marine resources or cultivation places? Which of those, or which combination of those, best explained the locations of ahu on the landscape?”

Their statistical analyses pointed toward potable water, which Lipo says made sense.

“Every single time we found a big source of freshwater, there would be a statue and an ahu. And we saw this over and over and over again. And places where we didn’t find freshwater, we didn’t find statues and ahu.”

Now, that doesn’t mean that the structures served as markers—like a sign saying “Get Your Water Here”—but rather that the community themselves were connected to those resources. And thus, their investment in statues was done around that resource.

“Because these are the locations that had the resources that they needed to survive.”

It seems that many of the massive sculptures are where they are for totally pragmatic reasons: “We’ll build here because here is where we want to be.”


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