Dry Lake Reveals Previously Unknown Statue On Easter Island

[Screenshot/YouTube/Good Morning America]

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Archaeologists working on the famed Easter Island have unearthed a previously unknown statue while excavating a dry lake bed.

The newly discovered statue is one of the Moai, the well-known megalithic statues believed to have been carved by Polynesian tribes between the 10th and 16th centuries.

“We think we know all the moai, but then a new one turns up, a new discovery,” archaeologist Dr. Terry Hunt told Good Morning America (GMA) Feb. 25. (RELATED: Suspected Arsonist Causes ‘Irreparable’ Damage To Easter Island’s Rapa Nui National Park)

Hunt teaches archaeology at the University of Arizona and has been studying the statues and the Rapa Nui for 20 years.

“The moai are important because they really represent the history of the Rapa Nui people. They were the islanders’ deified ancestors. They’re iconic worldwide, and they really represent the fantastic archaeological heritage of this island,” Hunt continued.

Though smaller than the other statues on the island, the newly unearthed find is significant because of where it was found, yielding the possibility for even more discoveries.

“Under the dry conditions that we have now, we may find more. They’ve been hidden by the tall reeds that grow in the lake bed and prospecting with something that can detect what’s under the ground surface may tell us that there are in fact more moai in the lakebed sediments,” Hunt told GMA. “When there’s one moai in the lake, there’s probably more.”

“For the Rapa Nui people, it’s [a] very, very important discovery. Because it’s here in the lake and nobody knows this exists — even the ancestors, our grandparents don’t know [about] that one,” Salvador Atan Hito, vice president of the Ma’u Henua Indigenous organization that oversees the site, stated, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

Researchers plan on carbon dating the statue to determine its age as well as excavate more of the lake bed in search of other ancient artifacts.