Nuku Hiva: the mystical island

I didn't find anything about this with the search function. Thought someone here might know about this. I read this book by Herman Melville a long time ago. It was about him jumping ship in the South Seas, in an island called Nuku Hiva. Below is a quote from the book. I wondered if anyone knew anything about this stuff? I have looked on and off, but never really came across an explanation for this stuff.

Nuka Hiva Statues.jpg

"One day in returning from this spring by a circuitous path, I came upon a scene which reminded me of Stonehenge and the architectural labours of the Druids.

At the base of one of the mountains, and surrounded on all sides by dense groves, a series of vast terraces of stone rises, step by step, for a considerable distance up the hill side. These terraces cannot be less than one hundred yards in length and twenty in width. Their magnitude, however, is less striking than the immense size of the blocks composing them. Some of the stones, of an oblong shape, are from ten to fifteen feet in length, and five or six feet thick. Their sides are quite smooth, but though square, and of pretty regular formation, they bear no mark of the chisel. They are laid together without cement, and here and there show gaps between. The topmost terrace and the lower one are somewhat peculiar in their construction. They have both a quadrangular depression in the centre, leaving the rest of the terrace elevated several feet above it. In the intervals of the stones immense trees have taken root, and their broad boughs stretching far over, and interlacing together, support a canopy almost impenetrable to the sun. Overgrowing the greater part of them, and climbing from one to another, is a wilderness of vines, in whose sinewy embrace many of the stones lie half-hidden, while in some places a thick growth of bushes entirely covers them. There is a wild pathway which obliquely crosses two of these terraces; and so profound is the shade, so dense the vegetation, that a stranger to the place might pass along it without being aware of their existence.

These structures bear every indication of a very high antiquity and Kory-Kory, who was my authority in all matters of scientific research, gave me to understand that they were coeval with the creation of the world; that the great gods themselves were the builders; and that they would endure until time shall be no more.

Nuka Hiva Statues 2.jpg

Kory-Kory’s prompt explanation and his attributing the work to a divine origin, at once convinced me that neither he nor the rest of his country-men knew anything about them.

As I gazed upon this monument, doubtless the work of an extinct and forgotten race, thus buried in the green nook of an island at the ends of the earth, the existence of which was yesterday unknown, a stronger feeling of awe came over me than if I had stood musing at the mighty base of the Pyramid of Cheops. There are no inscriptions, no sculpture, no clue, by which to conjecture its history; nothing but the dumb stones. How many generations of the majestic trees which overshadow them have grown and flourished and decayed since first they were erected!

These remains naturally suggest many interesting reflections. They establish the great age of the island, an opinion which the builders of theories concerning, the creation of the various groups in the South Seas are not always inclined to admit. For my own part, I think it just as probable that human beings were living in the valleys of the Marquesas three thousand years ago as that they were inhabiting the land of Egypt. The origin of the island of Nukuheva cannot be imputed to the coral insect; for indefatigable as that wonderful creature is, it would be hardly muscular enough to pile rocks one upon the other more than three thousand feet above the level of the sea. That the land may have been thrown up by a submarine volcano is as possible as anything else. No one can make an affidavit to the contrary, and therefore I still say nothing against the supposition: indeed, were geologists to assert that the whole continent of America had in like manner been formed by the simultaneous explosion of a train of Etnas laid under the water all the way from the North Pole to the parallel of Cape Horn, I am the last man in the world to contradict them.

I have already mentioned that the dwellings of the islanders were almost invariably built upon massive stone foundations, which they call pi-pis. The dimensions of these, however, as well as of the stones composing them, are comparatively small: but there are other and larger erections of a similar description comprising the ‘morais’, or burying grounds, and festival-places, in nearly all the valleys of the island. Some of these piles are so extensive, and so great a degree of labour and skill must have been requisite in constructing them, that I can scarcely believe they were built by the ancestors of the present inhabitants. If indeed they were, the race has sadly deteriorated in their knowledge of the mechanic arts. To say nothing of their habitual indolence, by what contrivance within the reach of so simple a people could such enormous masses have been moved or fixed in their places? and how could they with their rude implements have chiselled and hammered them into shape?

All of these larger pi-pis-like that of the Hoolah Hoolah ground in the Typee valley - bore incontestible marks of great age; and I am disposed to believe that their erection may be ascribed to the same race of men who were the builders of the still more ancient remains I have just described.
According to Kory-Kory’s account, the pi-pi upon which stands the Hoolah Hoolah ground was built a great many moons ago, under the direction of Monoo, a great chief and warrior, and, as it would appear, master-mason among the Typees. It was erected for the express purpose to which it is at present devoted, in the incredibly short period of one sun; and was dedicated to the immortal wooden idols by a grand festival, which lasted ten days and nights.


Among the smaller pi-pis, upon which stand the dwelling-houses of the natives, I never observed any which intimated a recent erection. There are in every part of the valley a great many of these massive stone foundations which have no houses upon them. This is vastly convenient, for whenever an enterprising islander chooses to emigrate a few hundred yards from the place where he was born, all he has to do in order to establish himself in some new locality, is to select one of the many unappropriated pi-pis, and without further ceremony pitch his bamboo tent upon it."
Typee, by Herman Melville
Nuku Hiva - the mystical island. Apparently, it's a tourist attraction nowadays. Plenty of info is available on the large statues, but not much about terraces or walls. I did find this, however:

Figure 2: Megalithic architecture at Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva. This wall does not appear to be made from the smooth, squared-off blocks of Melville's description, though. I wonder if all traces of those walls have been covered over in vegetation since he visited the place.
Oh, look, it's this guy again:

Funny how these turn up all over the world. In order, the above are Moai (Easter Island), Maori (New Zealand), Tiahuanaco (Andes), and eastern European (Slavic). I'm sure I've seen "Sumerian" and other "ancient" variations on the same theme.

Did the Gods have belly trouble or something.... XD

Edit: also, is it weird that I had a dream ages back about "Nuku Hiva" and some coastal ruins (buildings out in the sea), and a "shaman" type guy telling me about local customs and something to do with dolls, the dead, and a museum... Weird to find this thread now ;)
I think almost all populated parts of the world will find ruins under the water - especially cloistered islands, which seem more and more like the peaks of once tall mountains under the "flood" scenario. Certainly the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the south Indian coast and the North Sea hold ruins of questionable age (i.e. they challenge the received timeline, one way or another). It wouldn't surprise me at all to find ruins off the coast of Nuku Hiva. Hell, there's even ruins in Lake Titicaca...
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