Samoan Ancient Site for Sale

There is some interesting news that has recently come out of Samoa that I’d like to share. The pyramid-like Pulemelei Mound in Samoa, identified as the largest ancient structure in Polynesia, is for sale.

This monument, commonly referred to as a pyramid, is somewhat mysterious as its history and use have not been fully established. It has, however, offered experts some unique insight into Samoan history, especially its ‘Dark Ages’.

The mound was made by placing local basalt stones on top of each other with no mortar to cement them and piled to a height of almost 39 feet (12 meters). The mound or pyramid has a flat top, or platform, and is in many ways reminiscent of the ‘pyramids’ built in Mesoamerica.

At least three major surveys of the Pulemelei mound have taken place wherein archaeologists have discovered that the site was originally a human settlement and dated it to the first century AD.

Oral history, which is very important in Samoan culture, indicates that the cairns found on the platform, or top of the pyramid, were built after the site had been abandoned. This was possibly in the seventeenth or eighteenth century.

The structure is located on a piece of land covering more than 1000 acres, the largest freehold property on Samoa, has now been put on the market either as a single block or as nine separate lots.

The Samoa Observer newspaper reported the Savaii property, owned by O.F. Nelson Properties Limited, had been listed on the open market since March with prospective buyers having until 1 June to make a bid.

“The property’s key features include rainforests, waterfalls, ocean views and ancient archaeological sites that would lend itself to a variety of endeavors such as hospitality, agribusiness, real estate development, research facilities,” marketing material for the sale read. “For many years, Letolo Plantation was one of the largest beef producers on the island supplying shops and markets across Samoa.”

“In the right hands, the potential new owners could greatly influence and shape the economic future of the region or create a private oasis for his or her personal enjoyment,” said the company’s statement. The land had been the subject of some legal wrangles in the district of Palauli, especially with surrounding villages, who claimed it to be traditional ancestry land.

eight_col_WSM-Pulemelei-from-North

Pulemelei Mound, Photo from http://www.rnz.co.nz

However, Samoa’s former Head of State, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi has spoken out against the proposed sale of more than 1000 acres of freehold land that hosts Polynesia’s largest ancient structure.

According to the Samoa Observer newspaper, Tuiatua was a shareholder of the company and objected to the proposed sale.

However because there were other shareholders the decision to sell was based on a majority vote. Tuiatua said if he had his way he would preserve the land for its archaeological value.

An online petition by representatives of Vailoa village of the Palauli district where land is located, had been launched to try and stop the sale. Spearheaded by MP for Palauli East, Tuifa’asisina Misa Lisati Aiolupotea, the petition was gathering momentum and had garnered 500 signatures after 24 hours. Tuifa’asisina said many Samoans residing overseas had signed the petition but did not say how many signatures they were targeting.

The village council of Vailoa had tried unsuccessfully over the yearsto claim the land in the Land and Titles Court and lost their final appeal in 2008. The petition still claimed the land was their “heritage and identity, the lands of our ancestors”. “These lands are our faasinomaga, they are part of who we are,” said the petition.

The call for expressions of interest in the 1150 acres of land expired on Monday and it was not known if any bids had been received.

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