Rota Latte Stone Quarry

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Rota Latte Stone Quarry
Rota Island latte quarry site. Also called As Nieves Latte Stone Quarry
Rota Latte Stone Quarry is located in Northern Mariana Islands
Rota Latte Stone Quarry
Location Rota Island,
Northern Mariana Islands
Coordinates 14°10′13″N 145°15′24″E / 14.17028°N 145.25667°E / 14.17028; 145.25667Coordinates: 14°10′13″N 145°15′24″E / 14.17028°N 145.25667°E / 14.17028; 145.25667
NRHP Reference # 74002225[1]
Added to NRHP December 23, 1974

Rota Latte Stone Quarry is known as the As Nieves quarry and is located near the Chamorro village of Sinapalo, on the island of Rota, United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, in the Marianas Archipelago. As Nieves was the origin the stone quarries in the Marianas. The prehistoric megaliths are believed to have been used as foundation pillars for houses, but their exact age and origins have not been determined. Some pillars weighed up to 35 tons with the methods of quarry and transportation not known.

Latte stones[edit]

A latte stone (also called taga stone) pillar[2] is a two-piece structure consisting of a base (haligi) and hemispherical cap (tasa), with the flat side turned upwards. It has been believed that the prehistoric latte stone pillars were used as housing foundations for the indigenous culture of the Marianas. The homes sat atop two parallel rows of the pillars, and the Chamorro, or their ancestors, buried their dead between the rows.[3] The stones pre-date any retained oral history of the Chamorro, who cite the original source of the stones as the "taotaomona" (before time people). The exact age of the stones has not been determined, but some are believed to date back to at least 845 AD. Carbon dating places the indigenous population as far back as 3,000 BC.[4]

The quarry[edit]

The Rota quarry is known as the As Nieves quarry. The origin of the megalith quarries in the archipelago, it is the abandoned site of the largest unearthed latte stones in the Marianas.[4][5] Nine haligi and seven tasa are found at the As Nieves quarry.[6][7]

Some of the abandoned megaliths found at the quarry would stand approximately 25 feet (7.6 m) high if the haligi had been topped with tasa and erected upright.[8] The tasa at this quarry measure approximately 7 feet (2.1 m) across and 5 feet (1.5 m) high. The work was halted without finishing the stones, and there is no record of why the site was suddenly abandoned.[9]

The latte quarry on Rota has several partially cut stones

Theories[edit]

The quarry method is not known, nor the method of transporting the latte to their destination and uprighting the stones. Theories and legends exist about the stones, but nothing is scientifically proven.

When erected, the megaliths from Rota Latte Stone Quarry would be per 0.5 m taller than the tallest existing latte stones at House of Taga in Tinian Island. This is indirect proof of the competition between different groups, striving to build the most impressive set of latte stones.[10]

Legend credits the origin of the quarry to a mythological chief named Taga, who quarried the stones at Rota before abandoning the site and later erecting the House of Taga on Tinian.[11] A different legend tells of ghosts carrying the stones.[6]

Theories about the quarried stone involve levers, bipods, and brute human strength, carrying or dragging stones that are known to have weighed up to 35 tons.[3][3][12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "NPS Focus". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved April 15, 2011. 
  2. ^ Wuerch, William L; Ballendorf, Dirk Anthony (1994). Historical Dictionary of Guam and Micronesia. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-8108-2858-2. 
  3. ^ a b c Cunningham, Lawrence J (1997). Ancient Chamorro Society. Bess Pr Inc. pp. 47–56. ISBN 978-1-880188-05-7. 
  4. ^ a b Childress, David Hatcher (1998). Ancient Micronesia & the Lost City of Nan Madol: Including Palau, Yap, Kosrae, Chuuk & the Marianas. Adventures Unlimited Press. pp. 120–126. ISBN 978-0-932813-49-7. 
  5. ^ Flood, Bo (2001). Marianas Island Legends Myth and Magic. Bess Press. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-57306-102-5. 
  6. ^ a b Rainbird, Paul (2004). The Archaeology of Micronesia. Cambridge University Press. pp. 117, 118. ISBN 978-0-521-65630-6. 
  7. ^ Stanley, David (1982). South Pacific Handbook: With Galapagos Support. TBS The Book Service Ltd. p. 498. ISBN 978-0-9603322-3-6. 
  8. ^ Rogers, Robert F (1995). Destiny's Landfall: A History of Guam. University of Hawaii Press. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-8248-1678-0. 
  9. ^ Flood, Bo and William; Strong, Beret E (2002). Micronesian Legends. Bess Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-57306-129-2. 
  10. ^ "Rota Latte Stones Quarry (As Nieves Quarry)". Wondermondo. 
  11. ^ Acosta, Therese F; Flood, Bo and William; Strong, Beret E (2002). "The Story of Taga". Micronesian Legends. Bess Press. pp. 12–17. ISBN 978-1-57306-129-2. 
  12. ^ Hanauer, Eric (2001). Diving Micronesia. Aqua Quest Publications, Inc. p. 39. ISBN 978-1-881652-19-9.