Ouballang ra Ngebedech (Ngebedech Terraces)
Rita Olsudong Archaeologist, Palau HPO P.O. Box 100 Koror Palau 96940
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The Ngebedech Terraces cover a total area of 161,380-m2. This area is grassy upland savannah surrounded by forests. Prehistoric terraced hills are a prominent feature of the cultural landscape of Palau. Some terrace complexes are sophisticated systems that may have been variously used for agriculture, settlement, defense, and ceremonial functions. Morgan (1988: 29) described the Ngebedech Terraces this way: The magnificent sculpted hills of Palau, such as those, southeast of Ngchemiangel Bay, sometimes stretch for miles across the skyline of Babeldaob. The lower terraces seem to have served agricultural purposes, while truncated earthen pyramids crowned many of the sculpted hilltops. The culminating features of the hilltops apparently were constructed by groups of village workers, perhaps to serve as community refuges in times of civil unrest or other purposes not presently known. Morgan (1988:10) described features found at the Ngebedech Terraces: On the second terrace down to the northwest are two footcatchers about 3 to 4 meters deep. The foot catchers roughly align with similar features in the third terrace down and seem to form earthen ramps through the steep terrace faces, perhaps for the purpose of facilitating access to the upper levels of the hill complex. The footcatchers may have been used to assist in the construction of the terraces and crown. Perhaps the footcatchers would have been reconfigured upon completion of the upper earthworks.