Waikoloa Petroglyph Field – Hawaii

Jocelyn Murray July 22, 2019 No Comments

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It is one thing to walk along a path where people from centuries ago once traveled. But it is quite another to actually see the markings those people left behind; appearing as fresh and immediate as the day they were carved. Seeing the Waikoloa Petroglyph Field on the Big Island of Hawaii gives visitors an up close and personal opportunity to explore the island’s fascinating history.

The Waikoloa Petroglyph Field is one of the best preserved sites of its kind in Hawaii. Found just north of the border between the ancient kingdoms of Kohala and Kona, this impressive lava field has one of the largest major concentrations of ancient rock carvings in all the Hawaiian Islands.

People wishing to cross the border between the ancient kingdoms of Kohala and Kona needed permission to do so. While waiting, they would sometimes make simple encampments to shelter themselves from the elements within the caves and rock walls scattered throughout the lava field. The surface carvings they left behind may have been made to commemorate an important ritual, such as one of religious significance, or a birth, or other noteworthy event.

The numerous carvings are believed to date back to between 1000 and 1800 A.D., and depict figures of humans, animals, and religious symbols. Most of the carvings were chiseled into the surface using sharp and blunt hammering stones, while others were rubbed, pounded, or incised there.

I had the opportunity to visit this rocky field alone, and had it all to myself on a hot summer day when most tourists were lounging by the sea, the poolside, or indulging in the many attractions this beautiful island has to offer. With every step I took, I thought about the ancient ones who were here before me. I felt a secret thrill at their nearness, as though I could reach out, slowly draw back the thin veil of time separating us, and touch them. I could almost hear their steps, sense their thoughts, and feel the beating of their hearts with every breath I took. The same trade winds caressing my skin filled their lungs with air. The same sun beating down on my head, heated their path. For an exhilarating moment I was lost in time—somewhere between the present and past—an eternal NOW, existing, feeling, yearning, connecting with those who were here before me.

Where do the roads lead? Where do they come from? It is a mystery. This rocky field is desolate and abandoned, more so because I am alone, and yet I turn to glance around me, almost glimpsing the ancient ones, feeling their timeless presence. I wonder what secrets and mysteries the rocks hold. What have they heard, what have they witnessed? I ponder each step I take and wonder about those who came before me: where were they going, and where did they come from?

I see birds and lizards on my path and think that they too are descendants of the ancient creatures that came before them. Past and Present appear to merge as the veil is not only drawn back, but ripped away in a passionate moment. The experience is rather exciting. It is the kind of emotion derived from traveling back in time through ruins and ancient things, to feel the eternal human condition that unifies us all. Yes, that hot summer day was an experience to remember. Perhaps someday, another lone visitor will sense the presence of my fiery soul among the many who traversed that vast, desolate field, and step away with a sense of wonder as well.

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Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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