Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Tour of Pele III: The Temple to Pele




The Temple to Pele. Note Image of Pele and the Bloodstains on the Altar!



Written 2 January, 2007

A Tour of Pele

III: The Temple to Pele


The origins of the Temple to Pele are obscure. We don’t know a lot about its history, only that the granite from which it is made isn’t found in these islands. The islands are made from dried basaltic lava and pumice and coral. The nearest source of granite is the mainland, which means it was ferried thousands of miles in outrigger canoes or bamboo rafts.

The temple dates from approximately 1000 A.D. The people who made it have long been gone, and they left no written record, just the temple and the great stone heads you’ll find scattered around the land. We’re fairly certain the altar you see before you was used for human sacrifices to the volcano goddess, for a team of forensic anthropologists from SLU collected and analyzed a dark red material from the cracks and found human DNA from more than one hundred individuals.

In other Pacific cultures, only certified virgins were eligible for sacrifice. We don’t know if that was the case in Pele, but it seems likely.

The altar platform is supported by two massive pillars which have tiki faces carved into them. We’re afraid they’ll melt from the heat. If that were to happen, the entire structure would tumble into the caldera.

It’s a tossup whether Pele has a crater or a caldera. You can call it a large crater or a small caldera.

As you can see, the temple is in a state of disrepair. Throughout the tour, you’ll see pieces which have broken away and fallen either inside the caldera or down the mountainside.

Restoration is underway. As you might expect, it will be expensive. We do accept donations. There’s a donation box in the Welcome Center, but you can donate by tipping me. I turn over 100% of my tips to the restoration project.

You can see an image of Pele in the vertical temple wall. This picture of Pele is the selected texture for video on the island. Any time you see Pele, you can hit movie control. This particular image is exempt, however.

Now let’s talk look at a lava flow and an underwater swimming and SCUBA park.

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