Ancient Nothings

An ancient megalith here on Hawaiʻi? That would be cool, check this out!

A YouTube video of a supposed ancient megalith in North Kohala
The video I find linked on a local Facebook group shows a rayed structure on the ground a few miles north of Kawaihae, with lines radiating from a central point for a mile or more, an enormous compass that points at destinations near and far from the islands.

It is a striking feature, but it is quite the jump to claim that this is a geoglyph created by an ancient civilization.

The video explains that the feature is 120,000 years old based on the geologic datings of the lava flows on the western slope of the Kohala. Part of this dating is based on a map of the island inscribed around the compass.

I know this area fairly well, even know some of the local ranchers, I find the evidence provided by the video a bit lacking. There are more than a few real archaeological remains in the area, remains of the rich Hawaiian culture that existed in the area before western contact.

As soon as I looked at the Google satellite imagery I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking at. A few moments of research confirmed my suspicions… The pattern on the ground is a paddock system used to control cattle movements in a section of range land. I am a bit disappointed, but not really surprised.

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Ka Lae – South Point

A windswept place of rock and water. A place where the few trees seem bent and twisted. A place with an ancient feel, where time has a different quality. The landscape is bleak, nothing at all like the tourist postcards of Hawaiʻi, open grassland with scattered copses of trees here and there. Look twice and the remains of history litter the landscape. A rubble of stacked stone betrays ancient Hawaiian settlements. Concrete foundations show the more recent remains of wars past or failed farms.

South Point Cliffs
The cliffs of South Point drop into a deep blue Pacific Ocean

Such is Ka Lae, the southernmost tip of land in the islands. A place where the land and sea meet the past. There is nothing beyond this point but thousands of miles of empty ocean.

This may be the place men first discovered these islands, by Polynesians sailing from the south on those daring voyages of discovery. Many of the most ancient archeological sites are here, on the southern tip of the island. This may be the coastline first sighted by Europeans, Spanish galleons certainly passed south of the islands for centuries prior to Cook’s later discovery of the islands in 1778.

Fishermen have come here as long as men have dwelt in Hawaiʻi. The steep cliffs drop into deep water. A place where the great pelagic fish come close enough to shore to catch without venturing to sea. Ahi, ono, mahi-mahi and other prize catches can be had from a pole at the top of the cliff. On any given day a dozen local fishermen can be found atop the cliff, each with a favorite spot.

The modern technique is to secure a plastic bottle or inflated bag to the line, allowing the wind to pull the line out from the cliff. In years past the fishermen would fish from a boat secured to the cliff by a line. Along the cliff are the remains of winches and ladders used to access the boats.

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