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Kahikinui’s lonely landscape reveals a network of temples at the heart of ancient farming settlements

  • COURTESY PATRICK KIRCH
                                The now-barren landscape of Kahikinui and Kaupo in southeast Maui was once home to a large population of Native Hawaiians. Surveys by noted archaeologist Patrick Kirch and his associates rediscovered the remains of 78 heiau, or temples, there.

    COURTESY PATRICK KIRCH

    The now-barren landscape of Kahikinui and Kaupo in southeast Maui was once home to a large population of Native Hawaiians. Surveys by noted archaeologist Patrick Kirch and his associates rediscovered the remains of 78 heiau, or temples, there.

  • COURTESY PATRICK KIRCH
                                Clive Ruggles maps a heiau in Alena, Kahikinui, with an electronic/optical theodolite total station instrument.

    COURTESY PATRICK KIRCH

    Clive Ruggles maps a heiau in Alena, Kahikinui, with an electronic/optical theodolite total station instrument.

  • COURTESY PATRICK KIRCH
                                The orientation of the heiau were significant, and locations were thought to be chosen for the view that could be seen from the site, according to archaeologist Patrick Kirch.

    COURTESY PATRICK KIRCH

    The orientation of the heiau were significant, and locations were thought to be chosen for the view that could be seen from the site, according to archaeologist Patrick Kirch.

  • COURTESY PATRICK KIRCH
                                A heiau enclosure in Kaupo was once a vibrant ancient Hawaiian settlement.

    COURTESY PATRICK KIRCH

    A heiau enclosure in Kaupo was once a vibrant ancient Hawaiian settlement.

  • COURTESY PATRICK KIRCH
                                The cover of Patrick Kirch and Clive Ruggles’ new book shows Loaloa, a luakini heiau for human sacrifice that is associated with Maui alii nui Kekaulike.

    COURTESY PATRICK KIRCH

    The cover of Patrick Kirch and Clive Ruggles’ new book shows Loaloa, a luakini heiau for human sacrifice that is associated with Maui alii nui Kekaulike.

It’s hard to imagine the barren landscape of Kahikinui and Kaupo in Southeast Maui being home to a large population, but that’s how it was for hundreds of years as Native Hawaiian farmers transformed a region into what has been described as the greatest continuous zone of dryland planting in the Hawaiian Islands. Read more

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