On Thursday, 4th May 2017, the Centre for Samoan Studies Research Team, held a seminar on discussing adaptive community engagement strategies in archaeology and national cultural heritage management efforts in modern-day Samoa.
In April 2017, a research team for the Centre for Samoan Studies conducted an archaeological survey in the inland areas of the villages of Vaito’omuli and Fa’aala, Palauli district, Savai’i island, Samoa. The last time an archaeological survey was conducted in Palauli was in the late 1970’s by archaeologist Gregory Jackmond, who mapped an expansive ancient settlement of over 200 hectares inland of Vailoa village, on the Nelson family-owned Letolo Plantation, at the eastern end of Palauli. Jackmond’s groundbreaking original survey became the foundation for CSS 2017 survey, part of a two-year project funded by the US Department of State’s Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. The purpose of the survey was to locate and record any remains of ancient Samoan settlements made up of archaeological features such as tūlaga fale/platforms, fetū ma’a/star mounds, umutī/earthen ovens, pā/walls and ‘auala savali/walkways. The team, comprising of 5 lecturers and 14 students, canvassed 2 large swaths of brush measuring 300m x 300m inland of each village using Samsung S6 smart phones to take GPS waypoints, record data, photograph features and track their progress. After working for only 2 days in the inland areas of each village, the team had taken 673 GPS way-points, amassed over 750 photographs, and recorded 233 archaeological features, confirming that the inland areas above the current day villages of Vaito’omuli and Fa’aala, now used primary for plantations and cattle farming, were once areas of dense prehistoric settlement. These results challenge several long-held assumptions about early Samoan populations records and settlements patterns.