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Yapese Disk Money Regional Sites

Date of Submission: 29/12/2004
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
State, Province or Region:
Yap State, Federated States of Micronesia
Ref.: 1994
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Description

The Yapese Disk Money Regional Sites involved two countries, Republic of Palau and Federated States od Micronesia. In Palau two sites namely Uet el Daob ma Uet el Beluu and Chelechol ra Orrak in a Rock Island in Airai State was where the oval/round disk money were quarried by the Yapese before they were transported back to Yap. In Yap State two sites namely Mangyol Stone Money Bank and O'Keefe Island have been nominated. Yapese people travelled across the 400 km of open water to Palau limestone Rock Islands where they quarried their megalithic disk money. The Yapese earned the right to quarry their disks money by bartering or exchanging exotic materials and forming alliances with villages in Palau with rights to particular Rock Islands. Uet el Daob ma Uet el Beluu and Chelechol ra Orrak are two of the best examples of this type of site in existence. These are located on a Rock Island located south of the largest landmass in Palau. Combining both sites they cover a total area of 22,828 m². Uet el Daob ma Uet el Beluu is located in the interior of the Rock Island between two marine lakes. Chelechol ra Orrak contains series of caves behind a beach along the west coast of the Rock Island. Both sites contain best examples of activities associated with quarrying of largest money in world including rock shelters, caves, complete and unfinish disk money, human remains, burials, rock alignments, retaining walls, shell middens, docks, flake debitage and artifacts. An archaeological excavations in one of the caves at Chelechol ra Orrak in the summer of 2000, unearthed human burials dating to more than 3000 years ago. These are the earliest human burials found in the Pacific Islands outside of the Melanesia. Uet el Daob ma Uet el Beluu is located in a gorge in the interior of the Rock Island between two marine lakes surrounded by extremely steep, rough, and jagged cliff sides covered with dense forest. Between the two sites a human endurance, genius and perseverance of the people of the Pacific in prehistory time is demonstrated. The Mangyol Stone Money Bank or Dancing Ground also known as Baleyrach is unique in design and shape as it is the only stone money bank or dancing ground in the entire Yap State which is crossed-shaped. This site is located in Makiy village, Gagil municipality. Actually, this historic area consists of two stone money banks or dancing grounds of which they crossed each other in the middle. One of the stone money bank or dancing ground extends from the south to the north and traditionally referred to as Bleyrach while the one extending from the east to the West is referred to as Mangyol. The Bleyrach stone money bank is one of the seven original banks designated by spirits in the pre-historic era. Historically, both stone money banks or dancing grounds are commonly referred to as Mangyol as this was the last one constructed prior to the Spanish occupation. The Bleyrach stone money bank is approximately 51 meters in length and 3 meters width with the stone platforms on each side measuring at about l ft. in elevation or above the ground level from the bank or ground. Similarly, the Mangyol stone money bank or dancing ground has a length of approximately 90 meters with a width of about 6 meters and the elevation of the stone platforms on each side is about 1 ft. The Bleyrach bank or ground has 50 pieces of stone money of various sizes, shapes and designs while the Mangyol bank or ground has 21 pieces of similar nature. Historically, all of the pieces of stone money in both banks or grounds were quarried in Palau and transported by sea to Yap. The other mentioned contributing resources such as the stone platforms and other traditional features in the general area are dated back prior to the arrival of foreigners to Yap. All the rocks used for the stone platforms including those for the stone platforms for the traditional community houses are basalt and the banks or grounds are covered by small pebble-like materials. On the stone platforms are other features such as raised sections of the platforms reserved only for the storage and distribution of fish or betelnuts. There are stone backrests on all of the platforms, some of which are reserved for the four paramount chiefs of Makiy village. These backrests were solely erected and designated for them and no one else was permitted to use them, even other chiefs from other villages of Yap who might also have been equal in ranks to them. Additionally, other pieces of stone money are visibly erected over the stone platform. Taraang Island, also known, as "O'Keefe's Island" is a unique historic-era archaeological site located on the small, heavily vegetated island of Taraang (Zone 54 N 1054240 E 185280) in Yap State of the Federated States of Micronesia, in the western Pacific. It consists of ruins and deposits associated with David Dean O'Keefe (1827-1903), an Irish-American who occupied Taraang with his family and ethnically diverse work force from 1872 until his disappearance in 1901. O'Keefe also made Taraang the center of his highly successful business operations, which included trading in copra (dried coconut meat), heche de rner (sea cucumber) and commercial transactions with Yapese, Palauans, Melanesians, Asians, Europeans and Americans. However, O'Keefe is best known for his commerce with the local Yapese. In exchange for Yapese labor to collect and process copra and beche de mer he provided transportation of Yapese to Palau on his ships so that they could quarry and manufacture stone money to then be transported back to Yap. Taraang is a small island approximately 6.75 acres in size and less than 15 meters in elevation. It is located in Tomil Harbor approximately 1.5 kilometers northeast of Colonia, the capital of Yap. Typical vegetation covering the island includes mangrove forest, mango, hibiscus, pandanus, mahogany and various shrubs and grasses. The island is completely covered with vegetation and is not currently occupied. It is presently used for outdoor recreation, particularly picnics and barbeques. Historically, Taraang consisted of O'Keefe's two story brick house, outbuildings, and structures, a coral rubble dock with iron bollards, at least one warehouse for c o p and coal, Micronesian style housing for O'Keefe's Micronesian workers, fresh water cisterns, a small boat landing and two graves. Additional buildings and structures appear to have been built on Taraang by the Japanese during their occupation of Yap (l 914-1945), including seven Japanese-era ore carts once used in moving nickel ore when Tarmg was used as a transfer point in moving ore from the main island of Yap to ships bound for Japan. Taraang sustained damage when the Allied Forces later bombed the Island during World War II. An archaeological survey was conducted in February 2004 as part of a National Park Service funded project to update its United States National Register listing status. During the survey, 50 archaeological features were identified. Large amounts of surface scatter remains of Japanese artifacts and Asian trade goods are undoubtedly evidence of the multi-ethnic trade of O'Keefe and the later Japanese occupation of the Island. Natural transformation of the site is slowly taking place with the growth of trees, shrubs and vines in and around the site's ruins and features. Taraang has not been developed or culturally transformed since the end of World War II except for the occasional collection and reuse of bricks by local people and its present use as a picnic destination. Despite the history of transformations to Taraang Island, there remain the vestiges of O'Keefe's tenure on the island that could benefit from World Heritage Site Nomination.