Recovering the Roots of Ancient Kosrae

1800s Drawing of Life on Kosrae

Kosrae Island has been populated for several thousand years and as a result the island is a treasure trove of ancient artifacts which allow experts to draw conclusions about the original settlers on Kosrae and throughout the Pacific.

The most famous site is Lelu, a small island that is almost completely man made, during a time when a lever and a strong back were the only "heavy equipment" available. Lelu was a series of walled compounds with paved streets inhabited by the royal family and other high chiefs. The walls and compounds in the center of the island are still partially intact and are considered one of the archaeological wonders of the Pacific.

Starting in the early 1900s there has been a number of excavations at Lelu, including German, Japanese and American teams.

In addition to Lelu there are many other sites throughout the island.

Entrance to the Menka Ruin

One inland site is Menka, situated in a river valley. Oral history says that Menka was a religious settlement and that people from all over the island would travel there for periodic ceremonies relating to the Goddess Sinlaku.

There has not been any archaeological work done to date at the Menka site. As you can see from this photo and the photos on this page it will be a major project when it finally happens.

In 2001 Dr Felicia Beardsley, working with Kosrae State Historic Preservation staff, excavated a portion of Safonfok, on the Walung coast. More detail and photos of artifacts from this excavation can be found here

Remains of Ancient Structure on Kosrae

In January 2003, Dr. Beardsley returned - this time to continue staff training with an exploratory excavation in Tofol. Photos of that site can be found here . Originally thought to be a small compound - it was found that area contained several compounds linked by carefully set stone paths. Additional retaining walls and two large parallel walls running up the hillside have been uncovered.

During this same visit, Dr. Beardsley discovered artifacts on the Kosrae Village property. These include coral fishhooks and a saka pounding stone.

In this photo taken by Dr. Beardsley: Artifacts on the reef flat in front of Kosrae Village may be part of an ancient fish trap or retaining wall.

During this past summer (July and August, 2004) Dr. Beardsley returned to lead a mapping project in the Tofol basin. In addition to the valuable finds there (possibly the very significant Finol Tokosra site) she did some "spare time" investigations in the Utwe mangrove forests, where some previously unknown ancient canoe landings were discovered, as well as further exploration at the Menka site.

Dr. Beardsley's paper on the Tofol project can be found here.
Photos from this summer's expeditions can be found here.

There are many photos on the archeology page, so it may load slowly.

Etchings Made By the First European Scientists to Visit Kosrae

1800s Drawing of Life on Kosrae

1800s Drawing of Life on Kosrae

1800s Drawing of Life on Kosrae

These images of antique prints are courtesy of KAUAI FINE ARTS, P.O.Box 1079, Lawai, Hawaii 96765

Fax: 808.332.9808