A new moai statue has been found on Easter Island, the first new discovery there in a decade.

Easter Island, more properly called Rapa Nui, has over 1,000 of the monolithic stone statues. They represent the ancestors of the Ma ́u Henua indigenous community who once lived on the Chilean-owned island. Mostly standing either inside or just outside the volcanic crater at the center of the island, they face inward to watch over the one-time residents.

They were carved between 1250 and 1500 CE, at a quarry on the volcano’s slope, and transported all over the island. The largest is 33 feet tall and weighs over 80 tons. They were almost all toppled by the end of the 19th century when the island was annexed by Chile, but hundreds have been righted since then. Still others are known to be buried around the island, but are being left in place to preserve them.

At the center of the Rano Raraku volcanic crater is a dry lake, mostly a swamp now after it began to recede in 2018. Researchers from the University of Chile were doing studies there when they discovered the new moai statue.

Only 5 feet tall, it’s particularly small for a moai, but it is otherwise in keeping with the traditional style.

The new moai statue “is in good condition, it has wear from time, erosion, water, but its shapes and features are still very noticeable,” Salvador Atan Hito told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday. Atan is the vice president of the Ma ́u Henua community that manages the treasures and territory of Rapa Nui.

“This discovery is something historic for this new generation,” he added.

There may be more moai buried beneath the lake as well, which would be particularly exciting. Last year, several moai were damaged when a severe grass fire overtook the volcano during a heat wave, but the shallowing water protected this one.

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