This travel archaeology class focused upon relationships between Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island.  Building upon the class information from 2017, participants explored the prehistoric and early historic connections between these separate islands.  As sites were viewed, discussions focused upon the archaeological evidence of change over time.  This included the period toward the end of people’s adherence to the Hawaiian religion, the time of change immediately after, the difficult relationships between King Kamehameha and other rulers, and especially Kauai’s King Kaumuali’i.  Discussions about political allegiances and trade with foreigners, at the interisland and international levels, figured prominently.  The importance of the northernmost and southernmost islands were highlighted, with in depth discussions of Captain Cook, Captain Vancouver, and the Russian connection to Hawaii upon the deaths of Cook and his next in command, Clerke.  

Pu’u o Mahuka is the largest heiau on Oahu, covering nearly two acres. Additional walls actually extend beyond this photo.  This site name translates to “hill of escape”.  However, the remains of several sailors from Captain Vancouver’s ship were sacrificed here.  Importantly, King Kamehameha was said to have attempted to communicate with Kauai from here, in an attempt to unify the Islands, after several failed physical attempts.

While on Oahu, the group also visited Hale o Lono, the surviving heiau dedicated to Lono, the God of agriculture.  It is an exceptional area, with a prehistoric and protohistoric village on the grounds that is now being restored.  The heiau of the God, Lono, is what the people of Kauai thought Cook’s vessel was when it first arrived at that northern island.

Participants then transferred to Hawaii Island, also known as the Big Island.  This is the area where, in 2017, this same group documented rock art at the shoreline. (Please refer back to that page to see some of the amazing examples of Big Island petroglyphs, game boards, and other features.)  That 2017 class also included travel to Kauai. Those trips provided a good background to the historical information shared in this 2018 class.

On the Big Island, participants visited a rock shelter.

Section of the King’s Trail that is part of a petroglyph field.  All felt honored to be walking where ancient Hawaiian feet tread hundreds of years ago.


An ancient village, with multiple components, was also inspected.  This was the site of Lapakahi.  Because some had visited the site previously, and had photos for reference, it was possible to compare previous reconstruction efforts to the very recent reorganization.  A tremendous amount more of this site has been exposed, and will become part of the interpretive trail (below).

The site of Lapakahi includes community areas, specific use areas, and a training area for Kahuna. The site extends substantially beyond what is pictured here.

Large basalt basins were used to capture sea water for the extraction of salt.

During reconstruction, some broken artifacts were placed in walls

Other sites were also visited, good food was consumed, and island agriculture is thriving–even in unexpected places.