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Poi Pounders of Kaua'i

Poi pounders, or pohaku ku‘i poi, are used for pounding cooked taro root (kalo) into poi, a staple of the traditional Hawaiian diet. For my M.A. thesis I examined museum collections of Kaua'i Island poi pounders. I developed a paradigmatic classification for these artifacts which can be applied to all Hawaiian poi pounders. Seriation of Kaua'i poi pounders revealed that the stirrup pounders were oldest, ring pounders were intermediate in age, and the knobbed pounders were most recent. Knobbed pounders were more common on the leeward side of Kaua'i, while the ring and stirrup forms were more common in the windward region. Analysis of material type suggests a shift toward denser materials through time.


This work was funded by the Ford Foundation.


Read more about this research in my Publications page.

Moloka'i Archaeological Training Program

The Moloka'i Archaeological Training Program was designed to prepare Moloka'i residents for employment as archaeological field technicians. The program was carried out over three semesters and I was the instructor for the final two semesters. Introductory courses consisted of classroom lectures, laboratory instruction,  and fieldwork in Kamalo, and students received college credit through Maui Community College. The second course provided advanced training in archaeological field methods in the remote valley of Wailau.

This program was funded by the Moloka'i Rural Development Project.

Some of the poi pounders that were used in my research.

Mapping a stone wall in Upper Kamalo.

Read more about the program: 

University of Hawai'i News Article: Molokai Residents Complete UH Archaeological Training


University of Hawai'i Malamalama Article: Moloka'i Program Trains Archaeology Aides


Moloka'i Island Times Newspaper Article: Moloka'i Residents Complete UH Archaeological Training


Moloka'i Advertiser News Article: Molokai Residents Complete UH Archaeological Training Program

You can also read about this work on my Publications page.

Knobbed, ring, and stirrup pounders.

 Nu'alolo Kai Artifact Analysis

The Nu‘alolo Kai site is an ancient habitation area which was continuously occupied from the 12th century AD into the historic period. It is located on the Na Pali coast on the northwestern shore of Kaua‘i. The site was excavated by a team of Bishop Museum archaeologists in the 1950s and 60s, and produced cultural deposits more than 2 meters in depth, with an incredible variety of organic and inorganic objects preserved. The location of the site played a major role in preserving archaeological materials. The habitation areas are adjacent to the cliff face, at a position where the ocean spray mists the site. This salty mist served as a preservation agent, thus materials that deteriorate under normal conditions have been preserved there. More than 20,000 objects were recovered from the Bishop Museum excavations, but a final report on the findings is yet to be published. For the past decade archaeologists at the University of Hawai‘i have been involved in a study of the artifacts from this site. My part in this work includes contributing to the development of an inventory and catalog of the artifacts, and completing detailed analyses of the coral, sea urchin, and basalt abrading tools, poi pounders, and fishhooks from the site.

This research was funded by the Hawai'i Council for the Humanities.

Find out more about this work on my Publications page.

Wailau Archaeological Research Project

Wailau is a remote valley on the wet windward coast of Moloka'i. The valley is only accessible by a long and dangerous hiking trail, by helicopter, or by boat during the calm summer months. For my dissertation research I spent three months in Wailau collecting data on the development of traditional Hawaiian irrgated agriculture.

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Read more about this work on my Publications page.

See fieldwork photos in my Photo Gallery.

Examples of modified hematite from Nu'alolo Kai.

Mapping agricultural terraces in inland Wailau.

Some of the Nu'alolo Kai fishhooks (above) and adzes (below).

Excavating a terrace near the coast of Wailau.