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Ahu Tongariki

Ahu Tongariki is the largest Ahu (stone platform) on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) supporting fifteen Moai (monolithic human figures carved from rock) including an 86 tonne Moai: the heaviest ever erected on the island.

All the Moai here face sunset during Summer Solstice. The Poike volcano can be seen in the far background beyond the Moai. On the far left rises the Rano Raraku volcano whose stone quarry supplied Tuff (stone from compressed volcanic ash) for 834 of the 887 known Moai.

Several red Pukao topknots can be seen in the left foreground. The Pukao are believed to represent dressed hair or headdresses of red feathers worn by chiefs. The Pukao is carved from a very light red volcanic stone called Scoria. The Scoria stone was quarried from a single source at Puna Pau.

In the days before Ahu Tongariki was destroyed in civil war, Ahu Tongariki was the main center or capital of the Hotu Iti: the eastern confederation of the Rapa Nui. What remained of the Ahu was swept inland by a Tsunami in the 20th century. Ahu Tongariki was substantially restored in the 1990s by a team of archaeologists let by Claudio Cristino and Patricia Vargas.

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