A University of Oregon anthropology student — with an unlikely assist from his physics professor — might have helped solve one of the many mysteries of the iconic statues on Easter Island.

Some of the island’s stone statues have large cylinders weighing nearly 13 tons atop their heads. The question of how statue makers hundreds of years ago affixed the “hats” perplexed UO undergraduate student Sean Hixon, so much so that he made the puzzle the focus of his 2015 honors thesis.

His theory: Easter islanders built ramps, wrapped the hats in rope and pulled them up to the top of the statues, some as tall as 30 feet.

“Before our study, no one had really looked at the hats themselves and at the archeological record for details that might show that one method of transport was more plausible than another,” he said.

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