Rapa Nui Archaeological Database

Preserving the Past through Open Access Inventories, Data Sharing and Public Involvement

Rapa Nui (Easter Island) holds a truly remarkable place in human history.  It is isolated, marginal in resources, yet the island saw among the greatest cultural elaborations known anywhere in the ancient world. Since colonization around 1200 AD islanders carved more than 800 multi-ton statues or moai.  More than 300 of these moai were transported from the quarry at Rano Raraku and moved distances up to 18 km over a rugged landscape.   In addition to statues, the ancient islanders constructed more than 313 monumental stone platforms (ahu).

This database was produced in order to enable everyone to experience the famous prehistoric record of Easter Island (Rapa Nui).   The database is under construction and still being compiled but approximately 650 statues and 75 pukao have been mapped and photograph.  Note that the number of moai left to add to this collection are largely in the statue quarry (Rano Raraku, plus those in museums off the island) and there are ca. 20 pukao in the quarry that need to be added. This database makes use of the high resolution images available on Google Earth as a base map.  In addition, the paths of known moai roads are shown.  These features consist of prepared roadbeds with curbing stones and other features related to moving statues across the island. 

The information in this database (photos, locations, descriptions) were generated by Carl P. Lipo (California State University Long Beach), Terry L. Hunt (University of Hawai'i), Sergio Rapu (University of Hawai'i), Francisco Torres (P. Sebastian Englert Museum, Rapa Nui), and Matt Bell (University of Hawai’i) during the 2006 field season of the UH/CSULB Rapa Nui Archaeological Field School. All coordinates for moai and pukao were measured using a Trimble Pathfinder Pro XRS and post-processing. This provides spatial resolution of about +/- 25 cm. Note that the Digital Globe image which forms the base map is only considered accurate to within 20 meters or so.

The purpose of this database is to share the archaeological record of Easter Island with the community - global and local.  Please use with respect.

Moai Datasets (UH/CSULB)

For best results, please install the latest version of Google Earth  at:  http://earth.google.com.  This free program is available for Windows and Mac OS X. Note that older versions of Google Earth have trouble displaying multiple photos for the same statue.

Additional Data Sets:

All of these files should open in Google Earth (though you may have to save them to the desktop first).  Some browsers do not automatically open the .kmz file into Google Earth. Please use the Firefox browser if you are using a Mac (Safari has problems with .kmz files if the MIME types are not set correctly). If you get an odd page of text, right click on the link below and save it to your Desktop. Then open Google Earth and go to “File->Open” to choose the file you downloaded.

Photographic Data Sets

These datasets consists of photos that were taken as part of research conducted in the UH/CSULB Field Schools and Hunt and Lipo research.   The photos are hosted on Flickr - an online photo database.


We’d like to provide special thanks to Steve La and the Information Technology Services staff at CSULB for providing the infrastructure required to host this database and the image files. 

For questions or for more information, please contact:

Dr. Carl P. Lipo 

California State University Long Beach

Email: clipo@csulb.edu

WWW:  http://www.csulb.edu/~clipo/


Random Moai of the Day


(note that if the image is missing, this usually means there is a skipped number in the database. This is an issue we are working on) 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5  License  This license allows you to use the database in a non-commercial fashion as long as the source is acknowledged.

Rano Raraku from a blimp.

Satellite image composite of Easter Island (Courtesy of Digital Globe)

Location of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the Pacific.