Bishop Museum Putting Hawaii Archaeological Site Information Online

Thanks to Hawaii News Now for the heads up about a new offering from the Bishop Museum: the museum has launched the Hawaiian Archaeological Survey (HAS) online database. This site contains information on sites in Hawaii excavated by Bishop Museum archaeologists – over 12,800 sites at this point. It’ll be updated on an ongoing basis — plans for the second version include over 500 archaeological research manuscripts in PDF as well as thousands of artifact images.

The current version of HAS is available at http://has.bishopmuseum.org. Take a quick look at the definitions page before you get too far into it, as it explains not only how the sites are denoted but also some Hawaiian words that are used in the description of the sites. (Words, for example, like kuaiwi or pōhaku a Kāne.)

When you want to start searching you’ll be asked to provide your name and e-mail address, and solve a math problem. You’re not creating an account, but you’re considered “registered” until you close your browser. Once you’ve done that you get a search box and a map of the Hawaiian Islands. You can do a keyword search or chose an island.
I looked at Oahu.

The search results show a table with Island, County, Traditional District, District, and Ahupua’a (a land division under control of a chief.) If you click on a County, Traditional District, or District name, you’ll get a table like this again restricted to the area you chose. But if you choose an ahupua’a you’ll get a list of sites. The ahupua’a of Waikane, for example, had five sites, one marked as destroyed. Again they’re presented in a table with location information, site name (not all places have site names), Bishop Museum Site Number, and State Site Number. Click on a name or site number and you’ll get details on the site. Sometimes there’s just a notation, sometimes a larger description (“Kukuianiani Heiau; at the foot of Puu Pueo, Waikane. A two-terrace structure with large stone at base of lower terrace….”)

There’s also bibliographic information available as well as — sometimes — records from a manuscripts database.

The site had a limited amount of information but I decided to do a test with a Google search. Searching for “Kukuianiani Heiau” found less than a dozen results but included what appears to be a picture of the site from the book Pana Oʻahu and a paper titled From Fertile Lands to No-Man’s Land: The Transformation of Waikäne Valley.

I look forward to seeing images and other materials added to this database.

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