For my ongoing dissertation research, I am investigating an ancient agricultural field system located in the uplands (mauka) of Kawaihae 1 and 2, traditional land tenure units in South Kohala, Hawai'i. These agricultural fields (the South Kohala Field System) are located on the leeward (dry) side of Hawai'i Island.
Kohala was intensively managed and cultivated by Hawaiians using a number of agricultural strategies. On the windward (wet) side, Hawaiians used a mixture of pondfield irrigation and ridgeland cultivation, while the leeward side is characterized by massive networks of fixed-fields. In the South Kohala and Waimea Field Systems, in addition to these fixed-fields, Hawaiians also appeared to use water management strategies. In both field systems, archaeologists have documented flow irrigation ditches and other water management features likes check dams. Constructing such water management systems required a deep understanding of the landscape and its topography as well as complex engineering practices. If you want to learn more about the relationship between the field systems of Kohala and landscape variables, you can take a look at the Leeward Kohala web app. Archaeological data on how people managed marginal environments in the past can be useful today. In addition to the archaeological research on these agricultural fields, an important part of this project is sharing data with Hawaiian community members.
This research is part of the H2ARP (Hawaiian Historical and Archaeological Research Program) at the University of New Mexico. Visit the H2ARP webpage to learn more about other ongoing H2ARP research.