Archaeological site significance : the connection between archaeology and oral history in Palau

University essay from Högskolan på Gotland/Institutionen för kultur, energi och miljö

Abstract:

Oral history is an important component of Palauan heritage and living culture. Interaction of oral history and archaeology is regarded as a policy when conducting research in Palau, both within the Bureau of Arts and Culture, responsible for protection and preservation of cultural remains in Palau, and among researchers not representing BAC. Legally, a material remain is proven significance if it is connected with intangible resources, such as "lyrics, folklore and traditions associated with Palauan culture".

This paper examines and discusses the connection of oral history and archaeology, which will be presented through three case studies: the earthworks on Babeldaob, the traditional stonework village of Edangel in Ngardmau state, and the process of nominating a cultural remain for inclusion in the National Register for Historic Places. The nomination is a good reflection of the interaction between archaeology and oral history, where association with intangible resources is virtually necessary. The two specified types of archaeological remains are compared to one another regarding presence in oral traditions and significance for Palauans. Based on the information obtained from personal experience, interviews and literature, it can be concluded that an archaeological or historical site is valued more by its connection to oral history than to its archaeological qualities, which in turn effects how protection and preservation is administrated, financed, and carried out.

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