Professor rocks out with the Easter Islands
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 22:10
Cal State Long Beach professor Carl Lipo and his colleague have earned national recognition for doing what few others could accomplish — teaching Easter Island’s maoi statues how to walk.
Lipo, an anthropology professor, and his colleague Terry Hunt spent 10 years researching the culture of Easter Island. To honor their achievements, PBS SoCal and the CSULB College of Liberal Arts will host a discussion of their work, presenting portions of a soon-to-be-aired PBS NOVA/National Geographic documentary that details their findings.
The event will also include a question-and-answer session with Lipo, Hunt, NOVA Executive Producer John Bredar and NOVA Senior Science Editor Evan Hadingham. CLA Dean David Wallace will moderate the discussion.
Lipo said he thinks students will find the event interesting.
“The idea of walking a statue seems really implausible, and we seriously doubted we could do it before we tried,” Lipo said via email, “but what is amazing is that once we got a couple of details down, the statue really ‘walks’ almost on its own.”
Lipo and Hunt’s research revealed a new theory on how the multi-ton maoi statues were moved across the island by the Rapa Nui, people indigenous to the island. They published their findings in a book, which inspired the television documentary that PBS SoCal TV will air at 9 p.m. on Nov. 7. Their work was also featured in July’s issue of National Geographic.
In the documentary, Lipo and Hunt demonstrate that as few as 18 people can move one of the statues as they move a multi-ton statue 100 yards in 40 minutes.
“Due to the ingenious design of the pre-history carvers the statue can literally dance down the road — it’s an amazing scene,” Lipo said.
Lipo said he feels honored by the national recognition his work has received. He said he believes it will make people realize the true value of archaeology and that it will ultimately benefit the world by solving mysteries and help people to understand themselves better.
“We work with just fragments of the past as a means for explaining why the world is the way it is,” Lipo said. “The answers we work on are of interest to the rest of the world.”
PBS SoCal and the CLA will host its discussion of Lipo and Hunt’s work at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Art Theatre on Fourth Street. Tickets for the event cost $10 and are available at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/282141.