Easter Island’s famous statues are ‘tightly linked’ to sources of drinkable freshwater, scientists claim.
They were erected to indicate the best sources of water on the otherwise parched island to enable inhabitants to quickly find places where they could drink.
It explains the purpose of the mysterious statues, a riddle that has baffled the world for centuries, say scientists.
Experts also suggest this means the ancient civilisation was a peaceful and caring society and not a warmongering barbaric society, as has previously been suggested.
Study co author Dr Terry Hunt, of the University of Arizona, said: ‘The monuments and statues are located in places with access to a resource critical to islanders on a daily basis – fresh water.
‘In this way, the monuments and statues of the islanders’ deified ancestors reflect generations of sharing, perhaps on a daily basis – centered on water, but also food, family and social ties, as well as cultural lore that reinforced knowledge of the island’s precarious sustainability.’
‘And the sharing points to a critical part of explaining the island’s paradox.
‘Despite limited resources, the islanders succeeded by sharing in activities, knowledge, and resources for over 500 years until European contact disrupted life with foreign diseases, slave trading, and other misfortunes of colonial interests.’