A 1.6-metre-high statue was found lying in a dried lagoon inside the volcano's crater, facing the sky. The researchers believe that there may be other statues nearby and this could be the key to further archaeological finds.
A group of volunteer scientists from three Chilean universities discovered the statue on February 21 during a project to restore the marshes inside the Rano Raracu volcanic crater after last year's fire in the area damaged several statues.
"What we saw today is very important because it's part of the history of the Rapa Nui people," said Salvador Atan Hito, a leader of the indigenous Mau Enua community exploring the site.
Some indigenous leaders said that the new moai was known from oral tradition and was last spotted about 70 years ago.
"What's interesting is that for at least the last 200 or 300 years, the lagoon has been 3 metres deep, which means that no human could have left a moai there during that time," said another Ma'u Henua indigenous leader, Ninosca Awareipua Huqui Cuadros.
Moai are monolithic carved stone figures with elongated faces and no legs. They are the main attraction of the remote Pacific island of Easter Island, which was annexed by Chile in 1888. The statues were carved by the Rapa Nui Polynesians between 1250 and 1500, and more than 900 of them have been identified to date.
Earlier in Turkey, archaeologists unearthed the second temple of the Urartian king Menua and the remains of a tomb.
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