The Pukao of Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile)

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Easter Island, Rapa Nui, Moai, Pukao


Structure from motion (SfM) mapping is a photogrammetric technique that offers a cost-effective means of creating three-dimensional visual representations from overlapping digital photographs. The technique has seen increasing uses for documenting the archaeological record. We demonstrate the utility of SfM through a study of the form of red scoria bodies known as pukao from Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile). We study 50 pukao that once adorned the massive statues (moai) of Rapa Nui, and compare them to 13 additional pukao located in Puna Pau: the island’s red scoria pukao quarry. Through SfM, we demonstrate that the majority of these bodies have petroglyphs and other surface features that are relevant to archaeological explanation and are currently at risk of continued degradation.


This repository includes the raw data from the 50 pukao modeled on Rapa Nui. For each pukao body, we include data for the overall shape in Alias/Wavefront Material format (.mtl), Wavefront OBJ format (.obj), a PDF files (.pdf) and the original Agisoft project file (.psz). We also include the Wavefront files (.mtl/.obj) that show the petroglyphs on the bodies.

The pukao are stored as a series of .zip files for each ahu location. The locaitons of the ahu are provided in the source publication. The pukao are individually numbered.

Please note that these files are quite large (up to 1.2GB) and that downloading will take some time, particularly over slow connections.

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