The first excavation and full restoration jobs of a ceremonial platform in Easter Island were performed in Ahu Akivi by the American archaeologist, William Mulloy, and the Chilean, Gonzalo Figueroa, between 1960 and 1961.
This platform, unlike the vast majority, is located inland 10 km from Hanga Roa. It has a total length of 90 meters, with a central platform of 38 meters, in which stand seven moais with an approximate height of 4 meters each and a fairly homogenous design, which suggests that were carved and erected at the same time.
There has been much speculation about the direction in which the sculptures face. Some say that they are looking towards the sea and not facing away from it as is the norm. However, remains exist of what was once a fairly large village behind the square, (unfortunately the remains are in very poor condition and covered by weeds) so the direction in which the moai face corresponds to the village, as was customary.
The fascinating thing about Ahu Akivi is that it’s aligned with the points where the sun rises in the spring and fall equinoxes (when day and night at the Ecuador last exactly the same amount of time, the 22th of September and the 20th of March each year). Since it has an inland location, next to agricultural villages, knowing the changing of the seasons was essential for them.
Bordering the platform on the left side there is a dirt mound raised by the Rapa Nui possibly to divert the creek that appears in this area during heavy rains. Viewed from behind, you can notice the improvements made to the moai during the restorations.
Back view of Ahu Akivi
Two cremation pits can also be seen. In one of them, large quantities of human ashes and mortuary offerings were found, such as small figurines, while nothing was found in the other one. This led William Mulloy to state that the latter one had never been used.
Since the seven moai statues were raised on this platform, the thesis emerged that they represent the seven explorers who came to the island to make way for the King Hotu Matu’a, as oral tradition states. However, these moai sculptures belong to a much later sculptural period, after the year 1440 AD. Hence, it’s unlikely that they were created in their honor.
Some studies suggest that this ahu was built between the years 1442 and 1600. This has led the American archaeologist, Jo Anne Van Tilburg, to postulate the theory that during this period 8 kings ruled the island and that it was the eighth one of them that ordered the Ahu Akivi to be created in honor of his predecessors, who would have been their direct ancestors.
The best lighting to see the archaeological site and get good pictures in comes in the afternoon.
Ahu Akivi with sunset light