Explore the recently-discovered latte village in Ritidian - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Explore the recently-discovered latte village in Ritidian

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Located in a closed part of the Ritidian Wildlife Refuge, not many have access to the rediscovered 15 home latte village that dates back to the 1600s.  Today archaeologist Dr. Mike Carson gave KUAM News an exclusive tour of the site.

We began at the shore, climbing up the cliffline, where scattered latte stones and pottery were abundant. Further up was a burned patch of soil with rubble at its wake - something Dr. Carson says is a mystery to archaeologists. He explained, "There are some suspicions that perhaps this was related to historical events of Spanish-Chamorro wars, or hostilities between different villages, or even within the village, but it doesn't necessarily mean something violent."    

Other burn patches were found throughout the site. Pointing out a specific location, Dr. Carson said, "This is another example of the black burned areas with the cleared pile pushed off to the side, and in this case, the latte stone are definitely inside the cleared rubble debris pile which, you can see one right here, is very clear that this is a latte stone, and we know that it must have come from this place here."

Then we found a stone-filled platform, something Dr. Carson says is unique to Northern Guam. The platform is too rough to sleep or walk on, leaving archaeologists baffled yet again.

Then at the latte home furthest up the cliffline we saw what Dr. Carson calls the Matang Guma - a line of stones marking the entrance to a home. "This is the first time we saw this at the refuge, but it occurs at a number of other latte, as well," he shared.  It was here the stone work became noticeably more refined.

We asked if he thought it's most likely since this is the nicest latte stones, since they're obviously very carefully carved out, that this might be the home of the maga'lahi. Chamorro visual artist Raphael Unpingco said, "Definitely, definitely, maga'lahi, maga'haga, definitely the high cast matao, matua, a cast that everyone would have to keep their heads lower than."

After hiking back down the cliffline, we trekked across a beach to the second latte site. "This site's quite interesting," Carson made sure to highlight, "there's three latte sets, in alignment with one another, so they're all facing toward the ocean, and they're on the same alignments and have the same kinds of materials, and even the same archeological dating that goes with them so we know these are contemporaneous group of people who knew about each other."

This is one of the few sites in Guam where intact latte homes were located in a close enough proximity to walk from one to another, to get a sense of the different personalities living in the village, and what it may have been like living here hundreds of years ago.

Dr. Carson concluded, "As archaeologists we can come here and see the last time people were living here, everything's sort of frozen in time about the personalities and interrelationships of the people and families that lived in this village."

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