A twosome of Texan tourists stumbled across a surprising find while strolling the beautiful Hawaiian shoreline on a recent vacation. Lonnie Watson and Mark Louviere were walking along the beach when, according to Watson, the sun shone light on a mysterious object in the surf:
For some reason there was a beam of light…just a beam…it landed right on one of them and for some reason I just turned my head. I said, look, it was just a stroke of luck.
Luck indeed. The objects in the sand turned out to be a series of ancient petroglyphs carved into the sandstone that makes up much of the shoreline.
According to a press release issued by Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, the petroglyphs were discovered on a stretch of beach known as the Waianae Coast. 17 separate petroglyphs have been found so far, on a stretch of beach roughly 60 feet (18 meters) long.
Army archaeologist and Waianae native Alton Exzabe told the Department of Land and Natural Resources that the location of these petroglyphs makes this find unique:
What’s interesting is the Army in Hawaii manages several thousand archaeological sites, but this is the first one with petroglyphs directly on the shoreline. […] Some people have said they’ve seen them before, but this is quite a significant find.
The ancient carvings depict what appear to be humanoid figures in various poses, although further analysis is needed to determine what they might represent. According to Hawaiian native Glen Kila, the petroglyphs were a way for ancient Hawaiian peoples to preserve their history:
They record our genealogy and religion. It’s very important to know about the lineal descendants of the area and their understanding of these petroglyphs. The interpretation of these petroglyphs can only be interpreted by the lineal descendants who are familiar with its history and culture.
The petroglyphs are no longer exposed, as sand has once again washed over and hidden them. Both the Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division and the U.S. Army are working to protect and preserve the petroglyphs so that they might be studied in the future. Tourists are advised not to stand on the stones to prevent any accidental damage.
Are these stones a remnant of an ancient Hawaiian culture, or could they be evidence of a deeper mystery? Unfortunately, further analysis is needed before any conclusions can be drawn. In the meantime, watch where you wakeboard.