(USFW) – On Nov. 12, Mike Carson, associate professor of archaeology at the University of Guam, visited the Guam National Wildlife Refuge at Ritidian Point.
While exploring the eastern part of the refuge with refuge maintenance worker Brian Leon Guerrero, they came across an ancient latte village complex site that has yet to be studied.
The site is part of what Hans Hornbostel described in the 1920s as a large expanse covered with "dense latte" around the northern end of Guam. The specific latte sets, however, were not formally mapped, recorded or excavated. Later islandwide surveys continued into the 1960s, acknowledging that the Ritidian area contained several latte sets but lacked proper documentation.
“This is exciting news to the refuge staff and all those concerned with Guam's cultural resources,” said Joseph Schwagerl, refuge manager. Carson led Schwagerl and staff to the site the following day where a small clearing and markings were set. This ancient village site includes eight to 10 latte sets.
The cultural midden deposits are visible at each latte set and in adjacent areas. At least one of the midden deposits, outside the footprint of any latte house, is curious because it apparently consists almost entirely of burned material without visible artifacts.
The site offers an excellent opportunity to observe and appreciate the layout of a latte village complex. The relationships among the different latte can be studied through detailed site recordings, measurements and discoveries of controlled excavations. Depending on the material findings, new questions may be addressed in regards to the ancient social life of the latte village.
Because of its location, northeast of the refuge’s administration building, this area is not frequented by staff or researchers.
“This comes as a complete surprise, because we thought we knew where every sacred and significant cultural site was on the refuge,” said Emily Sablan, park ranger.
This find is significant and plans are underway to submit a revised application, previously submitted to the State Historical Preservation Office, for this site to be included for listing in the National Register of Historical places. Visits to the site will be available at a later date and inquiries may be directed by calling 355-5096/5097 or submitting written inquires on the refuge website: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/guam/.