Do the Easter Island statues have bodies?

An email doing the rounds at present expresses surprise that excavations have revealed that the stone statues on Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean are actually buried and that under the surface they have bodies.

This is not actually a surprise for archaeologists, who have been studying the statues on the island for about a century (that’s archaeologists in general – not particular people), and have been aware of the torsos since the earliest excavations in 1914.

The current digs referred to in the email are being conducted by the Easter Island Statue Project. In an article, Easter Island heads have great bodies! Jo Anne Van Tilburg, the director of the project, explains that about 150 of the statues on the island stand upright on the slopes of the quarry where they were carved. They are buried to varying degrees by material washed down from above. After the existence of the statues was reported to the outside world in 1868 “many sketches, essays, newspaper articles, and books were published describing the statues embedded in the slopes as ‘heads’.” More than 90 excavations since that time have uncovered bodies of statues.

The EISP website has excavation reports and lots of photos.