Category Archives: Travel Classes

2024 ARCHAEOLOGY OF Oahu and two of the cook islands: TRAVEL ARCHAEOLOGY SERIES

Visitors can stroll the grounds of the museum, which have plants clearly identified, and also visit their science building.

The exhibits included some newly shared information about trans-oceanic people. The interpretive map of Banaba (below) shows how people may have known about other islands that were far away.  A resource like this island would have been an incredible place for distant human populations to come into contact with each other. 

In historic times, people traveled to Banaba to obtain the bird guano for fertilizer. In prehistoric times, seafaring people would have followed specific bird species, knowing that they were going to land after a certain distance. 
The serrated surface of the island of Banaba-the result of 80 years of mining. Photo credit: Janice Cantieri

The museum’s exhibit illustrating the frame construction of thatched dwellings was informative.  These structures had to be anchored when constructed on lava, such as on the Big Island.

The display of fishhooks was especially important, as Pacific island sites are often dated and culturally associated by the fishhooks and other tools recovered from archaeological sites.

After hiking a few historic areas on Oahu, it was time to wave goodbye to Oahu turtles and go on to Rarotonga.

Aloha from a turtle in Oahu.
A lovely sunset on Rarotonga. A wonderful welcome by people on the Cook Islands started this part of the journey off just perfectly.

On Rarotonga, we chartered a tour with Raro Safari Tours. Our contact there, Tea, made sure that everything would be perfect.  A personalized tour of archaeological and cultural sites was even better than expected, with a cultural spokesman, an actual chief, an island holy person, and a sociolinguist and ethnologist, all of whom shared much information about sites.

A personalized tour was so important, in finding sites but also learning about them from island notables.
We were free to explore the beauty of the island, and enjoy some interpretive areas developed just for people to wander and enjoy.
The people shown above (and those behind the scenes) include Makiuti Tongiia, Samuel Crocombe, and Sam.  Also, Tutu (from Highland paradise) invited everyone to her cultural show.  Chief Danny presided over our journey, making the tour perfect.

We then traveled to Aitutaki, for snorkeling and information from islanders about important areas and activities there.


Exploring the many periods of Hawaii’s past is a big part of these classes.  While pre-historic events often dominate these discussions, historic times are also investigated.  The area’s prehistory and history are richly detailed through archaeological features, and many are accessible, giving us a wonderful opportunity to observe physical evidence of earlier periods.  Shared with the group are examples of the diversity of the individual islands and their leaders.  The interwoven and often war fraught histories, between rulers of islands and sections of islands, are shared.  Military, agricultural, and societal aspects are discussed.  It is impossible to do this without including the involvement of Hawaii with old and new world groups.  The connection is strong between Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest, but also between the Islands and both England and Russia. All of these parts of Hawaii’s past are recognized during these travel archaeology adventures.

Ancient and more recent paths overlap, and are still used. They have linked inland sites to the sea for centuries.
Stacked and restacked walls are used as boundaries, isolating one area from another. Different uses often occur in the separated areas. Large effigy stones reside near the shore, while an older cemetery is protected by a rock wall enclosure.
A return to Ulupo Heiau (ceremonial platform) shows a structure that has now had the recent rubble removed, so the original foundation rock is exposed. Also at this site are patches of different types of taro, so visitors can see the differences in growing environments.
South Point has great prehistoric significance, as well as being important in historic times. Native Hawaiians are again building platforms and fishing here.
Exploring inland Kohala was both fun and very educational. The Kohala ditch system was begun in 1905, with crews working 24 hour days for 18th months. Crews hand drilled through solid rock and carved trails more than 1,000 feet up the cliff faces. Images provided by Historic Hawaii Foundation, via web posts
A fire hardened spear tip was observed at South Point.  Its weight and sharpened edge are impressive, despite years of weathering.
Visiting two different islands allowed us to compare, contrast, and associate people and actions from times past.


Guam has a Chamorro Village, as well as a park to feature some of the island’s Latte Stones. Both are accessible to visitors.This is an expansion of our previous travel archaeology classes, shifting our attention far eastward from the Hawaiian Islands.  The focus of this project was to visit archaeological sites on both Guam and the island of Pohnpei, in the Pacific. Vast differences exist between these two islands, both culturally and archaeologically.  Interestingly, each island supports large prehistoric stone features that are unique, and that are still being investigated today.

Guam has a Chamorro Village, as well as a park to feature some of the island’s Latte Stones. Both are accessible to visitors.


Japanese Caves from their occupation of Guam in World War II are also preserved.  These caves are documented as having stored ammunition.  Some caves, however, housed Japanese soldiers until 28 years after the end of World War II.

The remains of a Spanish Fort can be explored, with only occasional groups of school children sharing the site area.  The Fort is accessed from the road that circles around Guam.


A prehistoric use area has continued into modern times, with people still enjoying the sheltered water here.

This onboard flight map illustrates the distance from North America’s west coast to Hawaii, and from Hawaii to Guam.  Pohnpei, part of the Federated States of Micronesia, is partially obscured by the image of the airplane.

The ruins at Nan Madol make up a stunning archaeological complex.  The site is composed of up to 98 man-made islets, separated by canals, which were also developed by ancient people. The structures are made primarily of columnar basalt.

The walls of the structures are of varying heights, with this being one of the lower portions. The beauty and strength reflected at this site complex are stunning, and impressive. Access can be by boat at high tide, or by walking. To take the trail, first check with the Chief and pay the entrance fee. This will be the entrance from Temwen Island.
Impressive lengths of columnar basalt are stacked like a Lincoln log structure, forming enormous outer walls, as well as inner walled chambers. How the movement and onsite manipulation of these basalt columns was managed is still a question to be answered. Within the town of Kolonia, an early historic Spanish Wall is now part of a Park. Visitors are welcome to explore all around it. Kapingamarangi is actually an atoll, and a municipality, within the state of Pohnpei. While the atoll has a population of approximately 500 people, as many as 300 have moved to the city of Kolonia, on Pohnpei. There, they have created a woodworker’s village, although many hand crafted items of other materials are also produced.

Please contact I.A.S., through this website, for information on the next travel archaeology class.

Documenting Prehistoric Sites Along Hawaii’s Shoreline

Hawaii is known to have cultural sites from the shoreline to the mountain peaks.  These include ancient village remains, ceremonial structures, water catchment areas, petroglyphs, and fish traps. But many resources along the shoreline are not yet recorded, and this is especially true of petroglyphs and other rock features.

Many sites near the ocean provide some sort of catchment. Sometimes salt is desired, and sometimes fish or turtles are the focus. Water is often trapped in depressions for salt, or in stacked rock enclosures for marine animals.

These cultural features need to be located by GPS, and documented by photographs.  Because many of these cultural resources are fragile, they need to be identified without putting them at risk.  A professional archaeologist will lead this group effort, and also provide information about inland sites.  Oregon Archaeological Society members, with their training and sensitivity to archaeological sites, are the perfect project volunteers for this project.  The results of all shoreline documentation will be given to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and to the State Historic Preservation Office.

Shoreline resources include ceremonial sites, aquaculture ponds, and canoe access areas.

Participants will be introduced to a variety of archaeological sites, when not documenting shoreline observations.  We plan to visit a partially reconstructed village, aquaculture sites with three different types of aquatic environments, ceremonial sites, and at least one historic site.

Shoreline resources include ceremonial sites, aquaculture ponds, and canoe access areas.

This adventure in Hawaii will occur February 16-21, 2017, and is offered through the Institute for Archaeological Studies.  For travel details, please contact Deanna Levinson of World Travel, , or phone 971-404-0338.  The estimated cost for shared hotel, rental car, and airfare is $1,825.00.  Travel miles may be used to offset the cost of the flight.


FEB.19-23, 2016

One of the most popular IAS travel adventures takes people to archaeological sites in the Hawaii Islands. In 2016, we will again escort a very small group to Oahu and then the Big Island (Hawaii Island), to share with them many of the archaeological resources of Hawaii. Each morning we will visit sites, then have the afternoons free to relax or go exploring apart from the group. We will meet again in the evenings to discuss the day’s events, and plan for the next morning’s outings, while enjoying a nice meal. We are limiting the trip to a maximum of 8 participants. There is so much to see and to do that part of our goal is to customize this journey so that the interests of everyone involved are addressed.

The trip is priced to include roundtrip airfare, including interisland travel, transfers, rental cars (one for every two people), hotel room (two people per room), all entrance fees, daily tours and discussions lead by archaeologists, and travel insurance. Although airline prices continually change, our expected package price is $1,795.00 per person. This amount can be reduced by using your airline miles instead of a purchased ticket! Enrollment begins in early September, but the contact form on this website can be used to sign-up before that time.

This adventure could have multiple titles. These include the Archaeological Sites Many People Miss, Touring Archaeological Sites While on Vacation, an Introduction to the Prehistory and Early History of Hawaii, and How Hawaiian Archaeology Fits into the World of Archaeology.


MAY 8-11 2015

In planning for our visit in 2016, the people who help guide our Travel Archaeology program met on the Big Island in early May. The goal was to identify new sites, add to the types of sites we include in the trip, and to look at what access options might be available for people with physical challenges. Happily, all this was accomplished, guaranteeing an exciting journey into Hawaiian archaeology in 2016! In all, we located newly exposed features, observed expanded site boundaries, and learned about some upcoming interpretive programs that should hold everyone’s interest. Please see our posting for the Hawaii class of 2016. We will limit the class size to 8 people, so the things you are interested in will not be missed!

Archaeology on Two Hawaiian Islands

Every year, IAS takes people on travel adventures to visit archaeological sites that are far away. One program takes people to Hawaii, and in 2015, we again partnered with Portland Community College to offer an adventure through their Community Education program. Below are images of some of the sites we visited, on the islands of Oahu and Hawai’i Island. Another opportunity will be next February, with sign-ups beginning in early September. Use the contact form on this website to enroll early.

On Oahu, journeying north, we visited a heiau dedicated to the God of Agriculture, but also used by King Kamehameha. 
The park interpreters then took us to other areas, one of a village and the other a specialized botanical garden. They graciously allowed us access to these special areas, identifying significant resources for us.
Reminders of the ancient past were everywhere, in both established parks and near roadways.
Moving to the Big Island, we then enjoyed a self guided tour of several very special areas, including the City of Refuge. We also visited battlefields and old village sites.
The National Park Service at Pu’ukohola, a National Historic Site, gave a personalized talk about the site, including the archaeology.  Many of their interpretive displays were “hands-on”, including woven sandals and board games.
On both islands, unrestored as well preserved sites were accessible to our group. Can’t wait for next year!

PCC Hawaii 2014

In 2014, IAS journeyed to the Big Island of Hawaii.  With our site choices custom-selected for our class participants, everyone was guaranteed a great time!  We visited rock art sites, fish trap areas, restored and unrestored aquaculture sites, ancient villages, and even learned frond weaving from a Native Hawaiian woman.  We even managed to get in some fabulous meals and great snorkeling.  A few pictures below tell the story.

PCC Archaeology of an Hawaiian Island 2013

This year’s PCC travel class changed from two islands to one.  The focus was upon aquaculture, and the multiple ways in which Hawaiians sustained themselves  and their leaders in ancient times.  The first adventure was to find the  four aquaculture “ponds” that were documented historically, and then to interpret their use.  This was followed by visits to other  archaeological areas, including abandoned villages and petroglyph sites that  aren’t discussed in the usual literature.  Afternoons were free time, which included everything from paddle boarding to relaxing under a palm tree.