Thursday, November 26, 2015         

BACK IN THE DAY | NOV. 6, 1937

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New Discoveries Made on Mauna Kea

Big Island Volcano Site of World's Largest Stone Age Workshops


Every Sunday, "Back in the Day" looks at an article that ran on this date in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The items are verbatim, so don't blame us today for yesteryear's bad grammar.


The world's largest stone age workshops probably exist in Hawaii.

Announcement of this discovery was made today by Kenneth P. Emory, ethnologist of the Bishop museum, following recent studies by him at the summit region of Mauna Kea on the Big Island.

Located on the western slopes of the Pacific's highest mountain, some 14 to 15 workshops have been found along the 12,000-foot contour and over a distance of two miles.

Each workshop is represented by a huge mound of stone chips -- millions of flakings, the work of adzmakers over many generations.

In addition to the millions of chips, hundreds of adzes in the rough can be found. At one mound Mr. Emory found at least 500 roughly finished adzes. A typical mound of chips was 40 feet in diameter at the base, rising to a height of 8 or 10 feet.

... Although the existence of these mounds just below Lake Waiau has been known since earliest times and the site visited by hundreds of persons, Mr. Emory is the first archaeologist to have made a study of them.

"I believe these were the largest workshops in the world for the making of stone tools," said Mr. Emory today.

Coincident with Mr. Emory's study of the workshops, he found five shrines in the vicinity of the workshops. ... Each shrine found on Mauna Kea consists of five to 15 stone uprights in alignment. The uprights are slabs of dike basalt from two to four feet high. Some of the uprights stand on stone platforms.

Mr. Emory believes the shrines were those of the adzmakers. He found adz chips had been built into the platforms and others laid on them as if they had been offerings.

"The shrines are basically related to the earliest form of marae (simple form of temple) known to have been set up by the Polynesians," said Mr. Emory, "and doubtless are a survival into historic times of the early type of structure.

The religious structures of the Hawaiians with which we have been familiar hitherto have come to be very different from these simple maraes."

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