Glyphs Upon A Stone Altar: The Petroglyphs Of Mu

Awareness of Nan Madol as a world class archaeological site has grown exponentially over the last decade, especially since achieving World Heritage Site status in 1996. Constructed upon an offshore reef of Pohnpei Island, Federated States of Micronesia, it is arguably the largest archaeological complex in the equatorial Pacific. Yet its comprehensive function remains basically an enigma to this day, opening the field up to controversial opining of alternative history pundits, complicated by the scarcity of archaeological reports on its physical attributes and components. However, a number of answers to Nan Madol’s mysteries may lie hidden in the jungle of a nearby megalithic site.

The islands in the Pacific Ocean divided into three major groups. Pohnpei is in Micronesia. (Public Domain)

The islands in the Pacific Ocean divided into three major groups. Pohnpei is in Micronesia. ( Public Domain )

A little over two miles (three kilometers) as the crow flies from Nan Madol, hundreds of virtually unknown petroglyphs and monoliths are to be found at the astounding megalithic site of Pohnpaid in the district of Madolenihmw. This site provides a wealth of unmined new evidence, notably unpublished glyphs, archaeologically distinct and culturally ‘out of place’ in terms of their astronomical and sophisticated esoteric motifs, that challenge conventional Pacific history with their archetypical motifs.

Map of Pohnpei Island, Pohnpei State, Micronesia. ( Aotearoa from Poland/CC BY-SA 2.5)

Map of Pohnpei Island, Pohnpei State, Micronesia. (  Aotearoa from Poland /CC BY-SA 2.5 )

Pohnpei Versus Pohnpaid

Pohnpei Island has always been considered sacred by Pohnpeian tradition. Its very name reveals why: pohn means stone; pei means altar. According to local folklore, ‘Upon a stone altar’ refers to how the island was made by occupants of the first canoe; they created the island by building an altar of basalt on a reef. The Pohnpaid petroglyph site could indeed be considered a megalithic altar, or at least one phase of them on the island.

Clarification is required in distinguishing Pohnpei and Pohnpaid as both spellings and pronunciations are similar. Pohnpei Island is a geographic name and is located within the Federated States of Micronesia; Pohnpaid is a megalithic archaeological site found on Pohnpei Island within the district of Madolenihmw, across the bay from Nan Madol. Many mistakenly confuse Pohnpei with Pompeii, the Italian ruins, probably because Pohnpei was once labelled “Ponape” by Westerners.

Pohnpaid rock outcrop (Image © 1992 Carole Nervig)

Pohnpaid rock outcrop (Image © 1992 Carole Nervig)

To further complicate matters, the petroglyph site has been referred to not only as Pohnpaid but as Pohnpaip, Takai en Intolen, Tilen, Indenlang, Takaien, Takai nin Talang, with some of these names meaning “stone of writing.” As typical with oral traditions on Pohnpei Island, variations abound both in naming and content.


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Carole Nervig has spent more than four decades researching Micronesian traditional culture and oral history as well as the sacred sites of Micronesia and Hawai’i. In the 1990s she discovered a previously unknown megalithic site, Pohnpaid, on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei. Creator of the Nan Madol Foundation, she now lives in Ecuador. She is the author of The Petroglyphs of Mu. Pohnpei, Nan Madol and the legacy of Lemuria.

Top Image : Phallic megalith covered with glyphs and author in the Pohnpaid meadow (Image © 1992 Carole Nervig)

By: Carole Nervig


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