Saturday, August 24, 2013

What does my daughter think?

My daughter, Sage, is almost 7. She enjoyed the recent article on Rapa Nui in the National Geographic Kids magazine (August 2013). The article was mainly about moai, and featured a link to video showing different ways some archaeologists think moai may have been moved.

But Sage seemed a bit disappointed. Earlier I'd shown her another set of videos (watch at least the first 2). Those videos present an clever alternative proposal by a Japanese engineer. Perhaps at least the smaller ones moved the way he shows! And some must have fallen over too?! One thing Sage and I agreed on is that the moai walking down the ramp might have been a great form of entertainment. Getting ready for and watching, and then talking about that sort of show might have kept us entertained for many years, if we'd lived on Rapa Nui.

Archaeologists may be the best people to test theories of moai movement, but I'd like to see more bright kids and engineers proposing ways for the archaeologists to test!

As I keep saying, many mysteries remain about moai, but these may not be central to understanding if people ran out of food. On the other hand, many estimates of population have been derived from how many people must have been needed to carve and move moai. But there's a problem – we don't know how moai were moved!

If I were writing something for today's kids, I might or might not start with feeding the moai movers. But I'd point out that the people must have had some great gardens and some great feasts around their umu (earth ovens). Food is something everyone can participate in!

Living here in Windy Wellington, Sage is very interested in the idea that the people of Rapa Nui may have warmed and protected their gardens with stones!

Taro (a Polynesian root crop) growing in the school garden on Rapa Nui.

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