U.S. Ambassador Funds Cultural Preservation Project In Samoa

Embassy of the United States of America
Apia, Samoa

May 25, 2016

The National University of Samoa’s Centre for Samoan Studies is pleased to announce the launch of the U.S. Embassy funded ‘Documentation of Archaeological & Built Heritage Places and Associated Oral Traditions Project’.

The aim of the project is to compile a database of Samoa’s known archaeological and built heritage places and their associated histories and oral traditions (as applicable) with the purpose of documenting, conserving and preserving Samoa’s cultural heritage. This will be the first project of this type to be conducted in Samoa.

Samoa has a rich and diverse archaeological and cultural history spanning some 3000 years. This history represents all major phases of human activity in the southern pacific region commencing with the arrival of the Lapita peoples, the region’s first human colonists. At present, there is no way of quantifying how many sites have actually been discovered in Samoa, what sorts of sites these discoveries represent, the age and chronology for these sites and most importantly their physical condition.

In addition, many of these archaeological sites will have an associated oral tradition that can facilitate in a better understanding of the past. Samoa currently possesses no central database of archaeological sites or historic places and this presents a significant disadvantage for the protection, conservation, and management of Samoa’s archaeological and historic heritage. It is the aim of this project to rectify this situation.

Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, the CSS project team will begin a two-year research project visiting archaeological and built heritage places around the country where they will collect GPS coordinates and any oral histories associated with the sites. All the data will be compiled into a, ArcGIS-based database which will be, at a later date, made available to the public. This project represents the establishing of a baseline for the GPS-mapping of previously recorded archaeological sites, including a condition and threat assessment which will supplement ongoing research, teaching and training at the University, as well as assist in formulating national cultural heritage policy and legislation.

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