Through the CNMI Historic Preservation Office, Dr. Mike Carson’s archaeological research of the Unai Bapot area on Saipan is available online for the community to learn about the site’s initial habitation.
According to HPO officer Mertie Kani, during the training of historical review and preservation staff, Carson’s research of the site revealed substantive evidence of remote Pacific habitation.
She shares that the 3,500 year-old latte site located in Lau Lau gave insight to the lives of the ancient Chamorros of the area.
Kani adds that Carson’s research, which began in 2005, found that artifacts and sediment layers at the Unai Bapot were much older than those of the House of Taga on Tinian, suggesting that ancient Chamorros inhabited the islands for much longer than previously documented.
She says that Carson, who presented his research in early December 2016, has clarified the oldest known presence of a residential habitation before 1500 B.C.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said these new findings encourage continued research of the Marianas and its history.
“We’ve seen how powerful scientific findings are in understanding our history and our culture. From identifying sites of our ancestors to other research focused on marine biodiversity, we can see how significant these are to our islands’ story. I encourage more in the community to learn more about our sites and to preserve and pass down this knowledge,” Torres said.
Resident executive for Indigenous Affairs Roman Tudela expressed interest in further preserving and promoting the latte site.
“We have three indigenous latte sites on the island of Saipan, of which Unai Bapot reveals strong evidence of early settlement, which we hope to soon promote as part of our indigenous culture and heritage,” Tudela said.
Additionally, the latte site’s findings have created opportunities for the staff of CNMI HPO to gain and improve technical skills firsthand in terms of excavation, managing materials, and processing the findings for analysis.
Members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service participated in a portion of the excavation with a goal of building future partnerships between USFWS and CNMI HPO.
The CNMI HPO staff included Mertie Kani, Lufo Babauta, Jose Jesus Fitial, John Diego Palacios, James Pruitt, Jennifer Sablan, Juan Salas, and Abraham Tenorio. The USFWS staff included Jeried Calaor, Brian Leon Guerrero, Kyle Ngiriatregd, and Emily Sablan, with authorized travel from their regular assignments at the Ritidian Unit of Guam National Wildlife Refug. Further opportunities were provided for Saipan residents Lufo Babauta Jr., John Castro, Angel Palacios, Cassius Fitial, and Erik Kani to gain certified working experience.
For more information on Unai Bapot, log on to http://www.archaeopress.com/ArchaeopressShop/Public/displayProductDetail.asp?id=%7b6ED84499-1DC4-4F16-B2F2-C1A0A0EE0E71%7d.