Sites & cities that bear the name of Ahu Akivi

Ahu Akivi

Today in : Chile
First trace of activity : ca. 16th century C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 17th century C.E

Description : Ahu Akivi is a particular sacred place in Rapa Nui (or Easter Island) in the Valparaíso Region of Chile, looking out towards the Pacific Ocean. The site has seven moai, all of equal shape and size, and is also known as a celestial observatory that was set up around the 16th century. The site is located inland, rather than along the coast. Moai statues were considered by the early people of Rapa Nui as their ancestors or Tupuna that were believed to be the reincarnation of important kings or leaders of their clans. The Moais were erected to protect and bring prosperity to their clan and village. A particular feature of the seven identical moai statues is that they exactly face sunset during the Spring Equinox and have their backs to the sunrise during the Autumn Equinox. Such an astronomically precise feature is seen only at this location on the island. Ahu Akivi is part of the Ahu Akivi-Vai Teka complex which was built up by the Rapa Nui people in two phases. In the first phase, during the 16th century a central rectangular platform was created on a leveled surface. It had wings projecting to the north and the south directions. An approach ramp was also part of this platform which led to the ceremonial plaza stretching 25 metres (82 ft) towards the west of the central platform. A cremation ground existed behind the central platform. The second phase of construction was elaborately planned and implemented in the early years of the 17th century when the platform was modified, a ramp was created, seven statues of equal size were erected. Another crematorium was also built. A cave in which people used to reside was also used as tomb during historic times. The other Ahu in the complex is the Ahu Vai Teka, which is a much smaller platform of 16 metres (52 ft) length made up of rough lava stone blocks. There is no statue now, though one is believed to have existed initially. Both the ahus were believed to have been aligned astronomically with respect to the Sun. Both are located in the territory of the Miru, the highest ranking clan and the western confederacy, and both were contemporary. It is also conjectured that the seven statues were placed at Ahu Akivi at least 150 years before the first Europeans found the island when the clan was functional at that time. It is also evident that their culture existed for 250–300 years with economic prosperity with political stability. In 1955, Thor Heyerdahl recruited American archaeologist William Mulloy and his Chilean associate, Gonzalo Figueroa García-Huidobro, who restored the statues to their original position; they had found them in knocked down condition in 1960. Mulloy's work on the Akivi-Vaiteka Complex was supported by the Fulbright Foundation and by grants from the University of Wyoming, the University of Chile and the International Fund for Monuments. Ahu Akivi also gives its name to one of the seven regions of Rapa Nui National Park.

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