Geoarchaeological and Archaeological Investigations of the Genesis and Function of Earthworks in Palau, Micronesia

Map with the location of Palau
Map with the location of Palau C. Hartl-Reiter, A. Kühlem


Palau is part of the Western Caroline Islands and lies about 800 km east of the Philippines and about 800 km north of West Papua. Culturally and geographically it belongs to Micronesia. According to current research, Palau was settled around 4300 – 3200 cal BP, probably in several waves of migration from the Philippines or Indonesia. For this, not only ocean-going boats, but also an in-depth knowledge of winds and currents were essential. Even today, the Micronesians are considered the master navigators of the Pacific who were and are capable of impressive nautical achievements. Linguistic and cultural similarities show that the settlement of Palau was part of the great Austronesian expansion, which probably started from Taiwan and extended over the vast area from Madagascar to Easter Island.



Outrigger canoes off Ifelik, Micronesia
Outrigger canoes off Ifelik, Micronesia A. Kühlem
Master navigator school on Satawal, Micronesia
Master navigator school on Satawal, Micronesia A. Kühlem
Realm of the Austronesian Expansion
Realm of the Austronesian ExpansionA. Kühlem


Challenges of an Island Ecosystem
The human factor
The monumental earthworks of Babeldaob
The first contact with the outside world
Brief history and state of research
Open questions
Geoarchaeological and archaeological research
Involvement of the local population
Project data