400 Years Old Petroglyph Discovered Along Hawaiian Coast

In July 2016, two tourists from Texas, Lonnie Watson and Mark Louviere, were enjoying a sunset stroll along the beach when a trick of light caught Lonnie Watson’s eye: “For some reason, there was a beam of light … just a beam. It landed right on one of them and for some reason, I just turned my head. I said, ‘Look!’ It was just a stroke of luck.” Turns out they had found a previously unrecorded petroglyph site. Shifting sands on Hawaii's Waianae coast on the island of Oahu have revealed petroglyphs that some experts believe date back more than 400 years, according to a statement by Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources. 

Army archaeologist Alton Exzabe said in an interview with The Honolulu Star that this was a significant find since it was the first time petroglyphs had been found on the shoreline. The petroglyphs, images carved into rock, are considered a rarity. Also rare is finding petroglyphs directly on the shoreline. Some locals said that they've seen these carvings before, Exzabe said, but no one has recorded them scientifically. They've already been covered up again by the sands. The largest was an image of a man measuring almost five feet tall, with other images recorded at around four feet in height. Also interesting is the fact that the petroglyphs show the detail of hands and fingers. This is somewhat unusual.

Image Credit: https://www.livescience.com/55708-petroglyphs-revealed-hawaii-oahu-coastline.html

So far, 17 carvings have been found in the sandstone shoreline, including one measuring almost 5 feet (1.5 meters) long. Most are of human figures, and some include carvings of the figures' fingers, said Alton Exzabe, which manages many of the archeological sites in Hawaii. Fingers and hands are somewhat unusual on Hawaiian petroglyphs, Exzabe said in a statement.

The scientists emphasize that people should not search for these images. The act of brushing sand off of them, either with your hands or with a brush, can damage the carvings, which are not as robust as they may seem.

According to Glen Kila, a lineal descendant of aboriginal families who live in the Waianae coast said that the petroglyphs record their genealogy and religion.

He also told the newspaper that it was vital that the direct lineal descendants of the coastal-dwelling Aboriginal people interpret the petroglyphs, as they are aware of the history and culture of the region.

There are many sites throughout the Hawaiian Islands that contain petroglyphs that have been carved into the lava rock. The original meaning of these enigmatic carvings has been lost, but they are thought to have been records of important events in the lives of the Aboriginal people. The carvings can take many forms, including humans, turtles, and canoes.

The Hawaiian islands are home to a number of petroglyph sites, including the famous Pu'u Loa petroglyphs at Volcanoes National Park. According to Live Science, aboriginal people used to make petroglyphs to record travelers' passage, and buried newborn babies' umbilical cord for long life.


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