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Stones and the stories they tell about ancient Micronesia

THE use of stones in ancient time tells the story of our Pacific Island ancestors.

The traditional pathway or cemetery, for example, was a raised mound of stones in front of the title holder’s house or ancient village. These can still be found in Yap, Palau, Kosrae, or Pohnpei. In some cases, the mound of stones at particular homes or places is considered holy because they are symbols of ancient ancestors.

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Ruins of the city of Nan Madol on Pohnpei Island.  Dea/V. Giannella/Getty Images photo

In Yap, there are huge thatched meeting and men’s houses and stone-paved yards. In Palau, ancient stone pathways can be seen in Ngardmau state.

According to the Pacific World website, Palau’s Arai state has four paved stone pathways. “These causeways are defining features of a Palauan village.”

In Ngerchelong state, researcher Scott Fitzpatrick of the University of Oregon found a stone sarcophagus made from basalt or andesite.

In Kosrae, there are the Menke and Lelu ruins.

The Menke ruins, the FSM website stated, “holds the temple of the Goddess of Breadfruit, Sinlaku, where she spent her last days before fleeing to Yap before the arrival of the Missionaries in 1852. The Menke Ruins are otherwise considered — according to famed, visiting archaeologist to the FSM, Dr. Felicia Beardsley — as the oldest such ruins in FSM, and perhaps even the entire Micronesian sub-region, pre-dating both the Lelu Ruins in Kosrae and Nan Madol in Pohnpei.”

As for the Lelu ruins, they are considered “one of the wonders of the Pacific and once an ancient ruling empire complex of the entire Micronesian region, a similar version of this ruin was replicated later in Pohnpei (Nan Madol) and other islands in the Pacific. Huge basaltic slabs arranged in order, making 20-ft walls that encompassed a capital city of Kosrae in the ancient times.”

Among other things, Pohnpei is known for the Nan Madol archaeological site which “consists of 92 separate islands covering 222 acres (90 hectares). Much of the ruins still remain in the form of enormous basalt ‘logs’ assembled into walls and buildings. Nan Madol, the capital during the Saudeleur Dynasty, was also the center for politics and religion. It is said to have been constructed between 500 and 1500 A.D.”

These and similar sites across Micronesia must be cherished and preserved.