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Summer Research in Kaua'i

  • Molili'i Valley and Beach Flat
    Molili'i Valley and Beach Flat
    An aerial view showing the valley opening onto the coast and the isolated beach flat in front of the valley.
  • Molili'i Valley
    Molili'i Valley
    Another aerial view, showing the valley's narrow scope and dramatic topography.
  • Fieldwork at Molili'i
    Fieldwork at Molili'i
    Alan Carpenter (State Parks Archaeologist) and Victoria Wichman (NāPali Coast Ohana) mapping and excavating in Miloli’i Valley in 2009
  • Field School Neighbor
    Field School Neighbor
    Sea turtles and monk seals are the field school's only neighbors.
  • Field school camp, 2009
    Field school camp, 2009
    Field school campsite, 2009. What a setting!
  • Field school, 2009
    Field school, 2009
    Members of the 2009 Field School at Miloli'i. Dr. Kahn is front, right.

One of the Department's new faculty, Dr. Jenny Kahn, will be leading an archaeological research project this summer in the remote valley of Miloli'i, on the island of Kaua'i, in the Hawaiian Islands. Graduate students from William and Mary will participate in the fieldwork, in addition to Kahn's collaborators in Hawai'i, who include Hawai'i State Parks Archaeologist Alan Carpenter and members of the N'Pali Coast Ohana, a stewardship group comprised of cultural practitioners and members of the Kaua'i community. Miloli'i is a remote valley, with access by boat or helicopter. Our research team will bring in all of our needed food, camping supplies, and field equipment by boat. We will spend two weeks camping out in the valley. From past experience we can be sure to be sharing the Miloli'i coast line with sea turtles and monk seals.

The 2013 fieldwork will build upon Kahn's previous 2009 research, where ample evidence of native Hawaiian settlement in the valley was located, including surface remains of ancient house sites, ritual temples, and agricultural terraces. Our previous research has demonstrated that Hawaiians were living in Miloli'i Valley as early as 1250 AD. This summer, we will open up our research with a pule, or hymn, asking the ancestors to guide us in our work and in our vision to understand the history of the area. We will then clear the vegetation from a major agricultural complex and map the site, with the help of the Hawaiian Youth Conservation Corps, a group of teenaged volunteers. We will then complete test excavations at an agricultural complex and at residential deposits on the valley's beach flat. Our goal is to understand how Hawaiians came to thrive in this isolated hinterland. In the future, Dr. Kahn hopes to run a semi- annual archaeological field school in Hawai'i for William and Mary students.