TWHS: Ouballang ra Ngebedech, Palau

Another stop on our adventures driving Palau today; a little of a drive south of the Imeong Conservation Area, you come to the considerably more tourist-oriented province of Aimeliik, wherein can be found the

Ouballang ra Ngebedech (Ngebedech Terraces)

Ngebedech Terraces, Palau

 

The Ngebedech Terraces cover a total area of 161,380-m2. This area is grassy upland savannah surrounded by forests. Prehistoric terraced hills are a prominent feature of the cultural landscape of Palau.

Some terrace complexes are sophisticated systems that may have been variously used for agriculture, settlement, defense, and ceremonial functions. Morgan (1988: 29) described the Ngebedech Terraces this way: The magnificent sculpted hills of Palau, such as those, southeast of Ngchemiangel Bay, sometimes stretch for miles across the skyline of Babeldaob. The lower terraces seem to have served agricultural purposes, while truncated earthen pyramids crowned many of the sculpted hilltops. The culminating features of the hilltops apparently were constructed by groups of village workers, perhaps to serve as community refuges in times of civil unrest or other purposes not presently known.

Morgan (1988:10) described features found at the Ngebedech Terraces: On the second terrace down to the northwest are two footcatchers about 3 to 4 meters deep. The foot catchers roughly align with similar features in the third terrace down and seem to form earthen ramps through the steep terrace faces, perhaps for the purpose of facilitating access to the upper levels of the hill complex. The footcatchers may have been used to assist in the construction of the terraces and crown. Perhaps the footcatchers would have been reconfigured upon completion of the upper earthworks.

That traditional house there is not part of the terraces; that’s your sign that you’re on the right road and it’s time to pay a $10 entry fee to keep on driving. That is, in fact, just about all the tourist orientation there is; most people come here just to drive around and admire the scenery,

Ngebedech Terraces, Palau

which yes is very pretty … but not obviously more pretty than any other part of the island that doesn’t have a $10 entry fee, far as we can tell.

Speaking of as far as we can tell, when we did eventually find the terraces after some wandering and backtracking —

Ngebedech Terraces, Palau

— it took us several minutes to realize that the terraces were in fact simply the slopes up to the mound at the top of the ridge!

Ngebedech Terraces, Palau

Hmmm. Well, let’s look around from the top…

Ngebedech Terraces, Palau

… right then, the Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, these certainly are not.

The only actually identifiable artifacts in the area, it seems, are a few rusting cannon left over from the WWII Japanese invasion:

Ngebedech Terraces, Palau

And, well, that’s pretty much it.

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p dir=”ltr”>So, this is another tentative site that if you’re taking a day to explore the further reaches of Palau, might as well stop by; but unless you’re one of us hardest of the hardcore site counters … you’re probably going to be more satisfied with another day out on the water!

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Alex Curylo

Alex

I go places.

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