Event: Ritualized Stone and Public Art on Easter Island Highlights and Insights of Recent Excavations in Statue Quarry

Date & Time

April 9, 2021 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
Save to your calendar

Contact Information

Michelle Jacobson



Event Type

50th Anniversary Lecture Series,

Event Type

Cotsen Public Lecture

Event Details

Jo Anne Van Tilburg
Director, Easter Island Statue Project
Rock Art Archive, UCLA Cotsen Institute

Register here

An international, multidisciplinary team directed by Jo Anne Van Tilburg conducted a major archeological survey of monolithic sculpture on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Beginning in 2002, the team mapped the inner basin of Rano Raraku, the island's famed statue quarry. This was followed in 2010 by excavations of four statues in the inner basin. This presentation summarizes highlights of the excavations and their resulting insights into the past. It examines the role of sanctity as expressed in ritualized stone and describes the interactive forces key to the actualization of community expressed as megalithic public art.

Dr. Jo Anne Van Tilburg is an archaeologist and the Director of the Easter Island Statue Project, an archaeological inventory and database project that has produced a stylistic analysis of nearly 900 monolithic statues (moai).  Her research interest addresses the integration of symbolism and structure and the complex ways in which humans employ cultural resources, social practices, and ancient aesthetics to relate to and alter, shape, and impact the natural landscape. Social processes and the interactive roles of art, history, and ecology are explored in on-going field and museum studies.  Her most recent field project is the digital mapping of the interior of Rano Raraku Statue Quarry, Easter Island. Van Tilburg is an appointed member of the National Landmarks Committee, US National Park Service Advisory Board; a Research Associate of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, where she directs the UCLA Rock Art Archive; recipient of the 2001 California Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.