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NOVA/PBS Online Adventures Travels to Easter Island to ExploreAncient and Vibrant Civilization that Created Legendary Moai Statues
On April 17, NOVA/PBS Online Adventures travels to Easter Island with a Web site dedicated to exploring one of civilization's greatest enigmas. Secrets of Easter Island will take the Internet audience on a series of adventures, along the way attempting to unlock some of the islands well-kept and most enigmatic secrets.
For nearly three centuries, explorers and archaeologists, from Captain Cook to Thor Heyerdahl, have been fascinated by the secrets of Easter Island. How did the original Easter Islanders arrive on the most remote inhabited island on earth? How did they move and erect the giant Moai statues? What happened to the ancient and vibrant civilization that created these legendary statues?
Archaeologist Jo Anne Van Tilburg has spent the last 15 years studying the mysterious statues of Easter Island. Working with robotics expert Zvi Shiller at UCLA, Van Tilburg has used computers to simulate her theories on how the statues were transported and erected and has found what may be the answer to the riddle that stumped Heyerdahl and others; how were the Easter Islanders able to move these giant figures—some weighing as much as 80 tons -- across miles of rough terrain? Van Tilburg believes the solution is to lie the statue on its back atop a simple wooden sledge, then drag it along on log rollers. But will it work in the field? Visitors to the Web site will be able to watch and see.
Beginning in mid-April, Van Tilburg, several other experts, and a team of about 75 local Easter Islanders will have three weeks to put her theory to the test. Using only the types of tools available to the original Easter Islanders, the crew will attempt to transport a 15-ton, 14-foot high replica of a statue to its "Ahu" platform, erect it, and place a 3-ton "top knot" on the head. Viewers can follow the action in real-time with daily updates of text and pictures from the field, send in their own suggestions on how to move and erect the statue, and explore suggestions from other contributors. Also available on this Web site will be permanent features on everything from ancient nautical practices, QuickTime VRs of the Island, and a Moai statue, theories on who the original Easter Islanders were, how they got there, and what happened to their civilization. NOVA Online (http://www.pbs.org/nova) provides a companion Web site for each week's NOVA broadcast, program schedules, teacher guides, audience feedback, and links to related sites. In addition, NOVA Online joins with PBS to bring you images and reports from live expeditions around the globe. NOVA Online appears on PBS ONLINE (http://www.pbs.org). PBS ONLINE, PBS's award-winning site on the World Wide Web, produces high-quality Web programming as it pioneers the digital convergence of television and the Internet. PBS ONLINE features more than 40,000 pages of content as well as companion Web sites for nearly 100 PBS programs and specials.
PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. A trusted community resource, PBS uses the power of non-commercial television, the Internet and other media to enrich the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services that inform, inspire and delight. Available to 99 percent of American homes with televisions and to an increasing number of digital multimedia households, PBS serves nearly 100 million people each week.
The above story is based on materials provided by Nova/WGBH. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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