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New archaeological research project in Pohnpei

KASELEHLIE Press has reported that in February, “a team of Japanese archaeologists has started a four-year archaeological research project in Pohnpei in collaboration with the Pohnpei State Historic Preservation Office.”

The research project is entitled “Archaeological Study of human migrations and inter-islands networks in Oceania,” and is funded by the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research Program of the Japan government.

Click to enlarge
Documenting excavated artifacts. Local kids participate in the excavation.
Picking up artifacts, bones and shells from sieved soil. Dr. Takuya Nagaoka points at the screen during  a Power Point presentation  for Ohmine Elementary School students.  Photos courtesy of Dr. Takuya Nagaoka

“The focus of the research is to shed light on the early Micronesian culture during the colonization period when the ancestors of the Pohnpeian people first arrived on the island from Melanesia around 2000 years ago.”

According to the report, the team selected Lenger as the first fieldwork site because in 2007 Dr. Takuya Nagaoka of NGO Pasifika Renaissance excavated a small test pit there and recovered numerous ancient artifacts.

“Most interestingly an obsidian (volcanic glass) artifact was found in the pit that according to geochemical analysis, was brought from Papua New Guinea. The artifacts suggest one of the oldest village sites in Pohnpei is in Lenger. The site is additionally suitable for archaeological excavation due to its location on land. It is difficult to carry out excavations at other early sites on Pohnpei due to their locations in coastal mangrove forests and shallow reef flats. Due to this difficulty, only small areas were excavated during the past investigations on this time period.”

It was also reported that the team is “planning to excavate larger areas during their four-year research to approach different research questions related to subsistence strategies, spatial use within village, interactions with other islands and social organizations.”

After completing the excavations in Lenger, the team organized a one-day exhibition on March 1 at the Pohnpei State Historic Preservation Office in Kolonia.

The results of the archaeological research, so far, were shown to the public.

The team will “conduct various analyses on the excavated artifacts and is planning to continue the fieldwork in Pohnpei during this summer. It hopes to learn the history of the island with the people through the project during the next four years.”

Dr. Takuya Nagaoka was quoted as saying, “It is our wish that students’ learning experiences with us will make them more interested in their own history, give them dreams, and raise future archaeologists.”