Pulemelei Mound

World Monuments Watch
Palauli, Letolo Plantation, Samoa

2006 World Monuments Watch

Although its original purpose and the identity of its creators remain mysteries, the pyramid-like Pulemelei Mound is the largest ancient structure in Polynesia. Built on a stone base measuring 65 by 60 meters that appears to have been oriented to the cardinal directions, the earthen superstructure of the mound now rises 12 meters high over the island of Savai’i, which is considered by some to be the cradle of Polynesian civilization. Settlements dating to ca. a.d. 1000–1600 are associated with the site, but the actual date of its construction is unknown. Despite the fact that Pulemelei Mound is an important monument to the people of Savai’i and attracts visitors to Samoa, the site is being swallowed by the jungle and is difficult to see when surrounding vegetation has not been recently cleared. Its earthen superstructure is especially susceptible to erosion and weathering, and its stone components are also unstable and subject to rock falls.

Since the Watch

The village of Vailoa, in Samoa's Palauli district, entered into a land dispute with Samoa's O.F. Nelson Company, and in 2008 a court decision ruled that the 1,150 acres of land, which include Pulemelei Mound, did not belong to the village. The decision remains in dispute.

Last updated:
December 2010

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