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Documentation of the Sacred Precinct of Mata Ngarau (‘Orongo, Easter Island) in the Late 19th—Early 20th Century

Georgia Lee, Paul Horley

JPS, Vol 121, No 4 pg (393-406)


A study of various early photographs of the petroglyphs at ‘Orongo taken by several 19th century visitors to Easter Island enabled us to identify some missing carved stones from the ceremonial site, Mata Ngarau. After comparing photographs from the different expeditions, we discovered that a large carved boulder was missing—apparently lost to the sea somewhere between 1904 and 1914. In addition, further study also showed that considerable parts of rocks forming the courtyard at Mata Ngarau did not survive up to the time of the Norwegian Archaeological Expedition in 1955. However, using the existing photographs of the now missing boulders, we were able to study a drawing of the petroglyphs that once covered them.

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