Featured Projects in Applied Archaeology


Archaeological Investigations at a Traditional Hawaiian Site Complex: Systematic Documentation and Community Involvement at Maunawila Heiau

Rosanna Runyon Thurman, B.A.
ANTH 670 Applied Archaeology Practicum

The purpose of this project is to document a traditional Hawaiian place of worship, Maunawila Heiau, located within a 9-acre land parcel in Hau‘ula Ahupua‘a, Ko‘olauloa District, O‘ahu. Data in which to evaluate the site’s extent, condition, function, time period, and method of construction will be used to assess nomination eligibility to the State and National Register of Historic Places.

The project is supported through the landowner, the heirs of Daniel Pāmawaho and Louise Aoe McGregor, the Hau‘ula Community Association, Ko‘olauloa Hawaiian Civic Club, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, the State Historic Preservation Division, and local community members. Information gathered from this project will aid in site interpretation and provide support for conservation of the site. 

My involvement with the project began during the Spring 2012 semester. The site was completely obscured by thick vegetation and very little was known about the history of the land parcel or Maunawila Heiau. I sought assistance from interested UH students in the Applied Archaeology program and local CRM archaeologists who volunteered to help me survey the 9-acre parcel, identifying and documenting several significant features. Much of Maunawila Heiau was cleared of vegetation through active community participation. As the site was uncovered, features were mapped using tape and compass. A Trimbel GPS devise and necessary field supplies were obtained through coordination with Cultural Surveys Hawaiʹi (local CRM firm). Topographic mapping using a Total Station was conducted through a UH-Mānoa GEOG 472 Field Mapping class.

Fieldwork at Maunawila Heiau during the Fall 2012 semester includes subsurface testing, laboratory analysis, and coordination with school and community groups. Excavations are being conducted by myself and Quy Tran (UH Applied Archaeology student/Vietnamese archaeologist), according to a research plan drafted in consultation with community members and designed to answer questions required to assess nomination eligibility. In addition, I provide tours of the land parcel to students, community members, and professional archaeologists. I help lead community days every second Saturday of each month, to provide maintenance and stewardship of the site. Through partnership with Brigham Young University-Hawaii (BYUH) we have had more than 80 students tour and clear vegetation from the site this semester. Through coordination with local and archaeological communities, Maunawila Heiau is a true community-based project that I am very grateful to be part of.

Previous Work Experience:  Center for Human Origins and Cultural Diversity (CHOCD) Student Teacher at Un. Missouri-St. Louis (2000-2004); St. Louis Art Museum Education and Outreach Intern (2004); Field Archaeologist for Illinois Archaeological Research Project (ITARP) (2005); Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDot) Archaeological Intern (2006); 5+ years at Cultural Surveys Hawaiʹi (CSH) as Field and Lab Supervisor (2007-present), UH-Maui Assistant Fieldschool Supervisor (2010-2011).