The Mysterious Ancient Reef City of Pohnpei

stories and images by: Hiteharu Kikuchi

PROFILE

The Nan Madol Ruins

In the past before the “Saudelor era”, two brothers were came to our island and built a worship place that we are still respecting today. This place is beyond imagination — you can think about it but you can never touch.

I told you that whenever I’m afraid to write I still do it. It’s like going to places that I’ve never been before. You are not familiar with the kind of streets, establishments, and even the kind of people that you may be encountering as you go along the way. But once you get there, you enjoy everything about that place and you are getting used to its culture and beautiful place. As far as I know, our legends are more hardcore and mysterious than the ones from other countries.

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Heroes get remembered but legends never die—Babe Ruth
In Nan Madol there was a place called “Nan Dawas”, where the people worship their gods, in ancient time, they worship the gods of ocean and land. There was a belief that there was another kingdom under the ocean. Supposedly there was an escape tunnel beginning at the center of Nan Madol, boring down through the reef to exit into the ocean. Scuba divers continue to look for this “secret” route, but so far a complete tunnel has not been discovered.

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For me, the two brothers are my heroes. When one of the brothers died, the younger one buried him and turned the land upside down. He became the first Saudelor in Nan Madol. He was so cruel that he needed to have full control over everything in Pohnpei. There are many battles fought between all the Saudelors and people because of giving them hard task and enslaving their people. One of the Suadelor was killed by Lepen Paliker “the rooster”, he wanted to own that rooster so Lepen went to him and killed him. The generations of Saudelors were really what brought the conflict that makes chaos with people.

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We know that our ancestor are all uneducated but the way they built this place, its seems that they have their own knowledge. They built this place knowing that it could last long.

“We acknowledge that all of life is sacred and that each act is an act of choices and therefore sacred, then life is sacred dance lived consciously each moment. When we live at this level, we participate in the creation of better world.” —Scott Cloud Lee.

formation of the rocks

formation of the rocks

formation of the rocks

formation of the rocks

formation of the rocks

formation of the rocks

formation of the rocks

formation of the rocks

Resources inland

On Nan Madol, there is no fresh water or food; water must be collected and food grown inland. During Saudeleur rule, Pohnpeians brought food and water by boat. The Saudeleurs received food at a particular islet — first Peiniot, and later the closer Usennamw. Around 1628, when Isokelekel overthrew the Saudeleurs and began the Nahnmwarki Era, the Nahnmwarkis lived at Nan Madol, but had to gather their own water and grow their own food. This is thought to have caused them eventually to abandon Nan Madol and move back to their own districts, although there are other explanations for the deserting of the complex, such as a sharp population decline.

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The only ancient city ever built upon a coral reef, Nan Madol is a marvel of ancient engineering so complex, no one can figure out how it was conceived and built. we must keep it hygienic so the whole world can see how important and respectful the place was/is. I would like for readers to know that Nan Madol is located off the island of Pohnpei in the present-day Federated States of Micronesia in the western Pacific Ocean, and consists of nearly 100 small artificial islands bordered by tidal canals.

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