2001 Excavation at Safonfok
In 1999 the Kosrae Historic Preservation Office, along with then consulting archaeologist Dr. Felicia Beardsley, undertook archaeological test excavations at the prehistoric site of Safonfok in Walung on the Southwestern coast of Kosrae. At the time, it was believed that Safonfok had been highly disturbed, that it's integrity and the context of its archaeological record had been compromised by many years of local building materials scavenging, compounded by damage from pigs and crabs. The test excavations show that nothing could be further from the truth!
In spite of the visible disturbance across the surface of the site, the disassembly of architectural features and bioturbation of near surface depths, the initial archaeological excavation demonstrated the site to be totally unique in the history of Kosrae and indeed the entire Pacific. The excavations opened a mere 5 ½ square meters (less than 1/10 of 1% of the site area), yet the wealth and integrity of the buried archaeological record revealed a technological industry never before seen anywhere in the Pacific: a local production system of coral fishhooks. A find of this nature is rare in the world of archaeology, and requires a more complete and thorough documentation, along with a more intensive search of the surrounding area to establish an overall context for the site and it's location in the landscape.
For two months in 2001, Dr. Beardsley returns to Kosrae to work once again with the Kosrae Historic Preservation Office. Together they will conduct intensive archaeological investigations at Safonfok. Larger excavations will be opened in the area of the initial fishhook find as well as an adjacent area where an unusual diamond shaped beveled bead was recovered along with unique coral tools. An archaeological survey will also be conducted in the terrain surrounding the Safonfok compound, to establish the general pattern of sites in the area as well as to search for the prospective canoe landing that should be associated with Safonfok.
This year's project will also serve as the training ground for a locally selected crew, as well as archaeological staff members from many of the Historic Preservation Offices across Micronesia.
This invaluable project is being funded this year through a generous grant from the U.S. National Park Service and the Kosrae Historic Preservation Office, with equipment donated by Surveyors Supply Company. Of course this project could not go forward without the generous permission of the landowner, Mr. Stoney Taulung, who also provided housing for the archaeology staff during their stay in Walung.
Artifact Photographs taken by Paul Kulessa
These artifacts are on display at the Kosrae Museum, under the care of the Kosrae State Department of Historic Preservation.