TWHS: Yapease Quarry Sites, Palau

Alright, for our last visit in Palau we have a more interesting outing than the last couple; we’re off hitching a ride with a group of Japanese kayakers down to Chelechol ra Orrak on one of the minor Rock Islands to visit the

Yapease Quarry Sites

 

The Yapese Disk Money Regional Sites involved two countries, Republic of Palau and Federated States od Micronesia. In Palau two sites namely Uet el Daob ma Uet el Beluu and Chelechol ra Orrak in a Rock Island in Airai State was where the oval/round disk money were quarried by the Yapese before they were transported back to Yap. In Yap State two sites namely Mangyol Stone Money Bank and O’Keefe Island have been nominated.

Yapese people traveled across the 400 km of open water to Palau limestone Rock Islands where they quarried their megalithic disk money. The Yapese earned the right to quarry their disks money by bartering or exchanging exotic materials and forming alliances with villages in Palau with rights to particular Rock Islands.

Uet el Daob ma Uet el Beluu and Chelechol ra Orrak are two of the best examples of this type of site in existence. These are located on a Rock Island located south of the largest landmass in Palau. Combining both sites they cover a total area of 22,828 m². Uet el Daob ma Uet el Beluu is located in the interior of the Rock Island between two marine lakes. Chelechol ra Orrak contains series of caves behind a beach along the west coast of the Rock Island.

Both sites contain best examples of activities associated with quarrying of largest money in world including rock shelters, caves, complete and unfinish disk money, human remains, burials, rock alignments, retaining walls, shell middens, docks, flake debitage and artifacts. An archaeological excavations in one of the caves at Chelechol ra Orrak in the summer of 2000, unearthed human burials dating to more than 3000 years ago. These are the earliest human burials found in the Pacific Islands outside of the Melanesia. Uet el Daob ma Uet el Beluu is located in a gorge in the interior of the Rock Island between two marine lakes surrounded by extremely steep, rough, and jagged cliff sides covered with dense forest. Between the two sites a human endurance, genius and perseverance of the people of the Pacific in prehistory time is demonstrated.

The giant stone money of Yap is a pretty well known iconic feature of the South Seas and all, but did you know that they were quarried in Palau? No, we did not know that either until now.

Why on earth they picked this particular island out of thousands, well that still escapes us, but it’s a very hidden place indeed, the only thing different from the other thousands of Rock Islands visible from the ocean is this little dock

Yapese Quarry Sites, Palau

from which you clamber up the near-vertical jungle cliffs,

Yapese Quarry Sites, Palau

and in a little walk reach the quarrying sites, the centerpiece of which is this disk that they apparently carved out and then just figured it wasn’t worth the bother to move:

Yapese Quarry Sites, Palau

After you’ve had your fill of the money rock, there’s caves to clamber through

Yapese Quarry Sites, Palau

Which lend themselves nicely to artistic keyhole shots,

Yapese Quarry Sites, Palau

and have a pretty decent collection of flows, columns, and all those things you expect to find in caves:

Yapese Quarry Sites, Palau

And after that sweaty hike through the jungles and caves, the topper to this visit is to just head back to where you left the regular tourists

Yapese Quarry Sites, Palau

and join them on their kayaking, which is the most fun thing to do in Palau that’s not scuba diving!

Yapese Quarry Sites, Palau

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So we definitely recommend you consider strongly this one for a day out in Palau, doing just what we did; contact Nature Grace Palau and ask them about the “Metuker ra Bisech Tour!”

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Alex Curylo

Alex

I go places.

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