Posted by: monsonmadness | November 18, 2011

Star mounds

The other day we went to visit a star mound. According to the American Samoa office of tourism, it is one of the 20 things to do on the island, so we decided to check it out. We had tried to find it once before but were unsuccessful due to the absence of street names. We had also stopped and asked several locals if they knew where it was, and none of them had any idea.

I think we were expecting something a little bigger, but the kids had fun anyway. Here is what we learned: Samoans are Polynesians who settled here over 3000 years ago. There are very few things that date this far back, but star mounds (tia seu lupe) are one of them. They are prominent archaeological features with star-shaped projections. They have raised platforms 2-15 ft high, and are made out of stones with one or more rays extending out from it. They were used for the ancient sport of pigeon catching by chiefs. Pigeon-catching huts were built on top of the platform, and village chiefs competed to catch the most birds, using a tame lupe (pigeon) as a decoy, and a long-handled net to sweep up the flocks of pigeons that were attracted. Apparently, whole villages would spend weeks camping out in the forest around the tia, and pigeoncatching season was a time of feasting and partying. For centuries, pigeon-snaring was the most cherished sport in Samoa.

Here are the kids sitting on a wall. The side of the star mound is behind them. I’d guess it’s about 7 or 8 feet tall.

Benjamin was convinced that this fire pit was used anciently and was probably used to cook the pigeons. Long ray of the star mound is behind him.

You are not allowed to touch or get too close to the star mound, so we had to walk around to get a good look from the viewing platform. When you’re looking down on it, you can see the rays better.

Daniel found this feather on the ground and was ecstatic. He was sure that this was a pigeon feather that one of the chiefs had caught 3000 years ago!

Great little history lesson for our family!

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