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Easter Island, Ahu Ko Te Riku | by Arian Zwegers
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Easter Island, Ahu Ko Te Riku

Easter Island, Hanga Roa, Ahu Ko Te Riku


Easter Island (Rapa Nui: Rapa Nui, Spanish: Isla de Pascua) is a Chilean island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle. Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park.


Polynesian people most likely settled on Easter Island in the early second millennium CE, and created a thriving and industrious culture as evidenced by the island's numerous enormous stone moai and other artifacts. However, human activity, the introduction of the Polynesian rat and overpopulation led to gradual deforestation and extinction of natural resources which severely weakened the Rapa Nui civilization. By the time of European arrival in 1722, the island's population had dropped to 2,000–3,000 from an estimated high of approximately 15,000 just a century earlier. European diseases and Peruvian slave raiding in the 1860s further reduced the Rapa Nui population, to a low of only 111 inhabitants in 1877.


Ahu Ko Te Riku is the northernmost site of the Tahai Ceremonial Complex. It is a single mesmerizing moai, which stands alone atop a large traditional ahu overlooking a broad grassy plaza. The head and body are carved from solidified volcanic ash at Rano Raraku, the pukao is carved from scornia, and the eyes are made of coral eyes.


Restored by archaeologist William Mulloy in 1974, Ko Te Riku is about 6 meters in height and in good structural condition. Unlike the other moai in the Tahai complex, Ko Te Riku wears a scoria pukao and restored coral eyes giving it a uniquely powerful appearance.


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Taken on December 2, 2011