Tourist couple discovers petroglyphs on Waianae's coast

Written by: 
Danna Osuma

Hawaiian beaches contain important historical petroglyphs and paintings that experts say date back more than 400 years, according to CNN. These rare petroglyphs were found by tourists from Texas, a discovery BYU-Hawaii students said helps them gain a greater appreciation for Hawaiian history and art.

Petroglyphs are images carved into rock and are considered a rarity, Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources told CNN. In July, the couple discovered the engravings while walking along the beach to watch the sunset. Up to 10 carvings by the island’s inhabitants were discovered along 60 feet of beach, according to CNN.

BYU-Hawaii students who have gone exploring around the island have seen similar petroglyphs and said they find it exciting. Madelyn Giron, a sophomore studying communications from the Dominican Republic, said, “We were down in Honolulu by a waterfall, close to a cemetery, and it felt like we were not even in civilization anymore because we found some glyphs.”

She added that there were ancient ruins and paintings in the area. “It was pretty awesome to see a little piece of history in its place of origin,” she said. Giron detailed the serenity of the location despite the close proximity of the highway and cemetery.

Jordan Donaldson, a sophomore studying international cultural studies from Arizona, said these findings would give visitors to Hawaii a richer experience. “This is important because history was sort of thrown out the window when colonialism came about. A lot of the Hawaiian identity was lost, so it’s important that these findings are preserved,” said Donaldson.

US Army scientist Alton Exzabe, one of the first experts to examine the carvings, said, "What's exciting for me is I grew up coming to this beach and now as an archaeologist working for the Army, helping to manage this site, we discovered these petroglyphs that have never been recorded. Some people have said they've seen them before, but this is quite a significant find.”

Taimi Guiterrez, an international cultural studies sophomore from the Philippines, said she was surprised when she heard the news. “It is cool to think that when we go to the beach or hikes, we can discover something from history,” said Guiterrez. She said in her humanities class, they learn about the beauty of art and history. She said seeing it in real life was a surreal experience.

Typically, petroglyphs are about a foot tall, but the ones on Waianae’s coast measure four to five feet tall, a "pretty impressive" size, Exzabe said. Some of the most distinctive parts of the petroglyphs are the human features, he said. "The ones with the fingers, for me, are pretty unique… Fingers and hands are pretty distinct, as well as the size of them," he said.

CNN interviewed Glen Kila, a lineal descendant of native families who settled in the area, who said the discovery is historically significant. "They record our genealogy and religion. It's very important to know about the lineal descendants of the area and their understanding of these petroglyphs. The interpretation of these petroglyphs can only be interpreted by the lineal descendants who are familiar with its history and culture," he said.

Experts are urging tourists and locals to not touch the carvings because scraping sand off the petroglyphs can damage the artifacts, according to CNN.

Date Published: 
Saturday, August 27, 2016
Last Edited: 
Saturday, August 27, 2016