Most people are familiar with the moai statues on Easter Island, but perhaps not as familiar with the fact that the stones are in danger of complete deterioration if steps aren’t taken soon to preserve them. That’s why the Archaeological Institute of America has stepped in with a grant for the Easter Island Statue Product (EISP) to set up a preservation process for the monuments (pdf).
Archaeology reports that both environmental deterioration and uncontrolled tourism have contributed to the state of the figures, and “images of a single statue, taken from 1914 to 2004, show almost total loss of design detail,” while some statues “have passed the point of no return.”
The EISP is mapping and documenting the nearly 900 moai and will make its database available to the public. The organization will also begin carrying out a multi-phase rehabilitation plan on the island that will include incorporating a conservation initiative for the Easter Island community, which hasn’t been involved with the World Heritage Site in the past.