The Lyon Arboretum Archaeological Inventory Survey was initially started by the Society of Hawaiian Archaeology Student Committee (SHASC). This organization was founded by Mark Oxley in Fall 2006 at the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa, and is sponsored by the Society for Hawaiian Archaeology (SHA).
Some of the main goals of the SHASC are to: 1) teach students archaeological field techniques that they normally wouldn’t be able to learn outside of expensive summer field schools, 2) utilize the archaeological equipment that UH owns but rarely uses except during the summer, 3) to promote public archaeology and community involvement in archaeology, 4) to create positive relationships between archaeological and local communities, especially the local Hawaiian community, and 5) to create an environment where people with diverse interests and knowledge of archaeology can come together to share ideas and collaborate.
In Fall 2006, SHASC held various training sessions in addition to their regular meetings, including a total station lab, a zooarchaeology lab, and a discussion about Hawaiian issues in archaeology with Ty Tengan and Sean Naleimaile. We also wanted to hold a training session for students to learn to map archaeological features using a tape and compass. We decided to ask Lyon Arboretum if there were any archaeological features on their property that needed to be mapped, since the Arboretum is located nearby and is a UH research facility. We thought perhaps we could update old maps for them, and provide a service to the Arboretum and the preservation of the archaeological structures while training students.
Since we contacted Lyon Arboretum in Fall 2006, the project has grown far beyond our initial idea of a weekend training session. We found out that, in fact, the Arboretum not only had archaeological structures that had never been mapped, they also had never had a comprehensive archaeological inventory survey of their nearly 200-acre property. Hence, the Lyon Arboretum asked us not only to map a few archaeological features; they asked us if we would be willing to organize a complete archaeological survey.
As the project grew, we realized that this was an ideal opportunity to fulfill many of the goals of the SHASC. Manoa Valley has a long history and is much loved by its residents, providing a good environment for community involvement. In the long run, we will be able to produce a report on the archaeology of Lyon Arboretum that will be useful to archaeologists and informative for the larger community. Logistically, Lyon Arboretum is close by and convenient for a student-run project, and they are willing to let us work on Sundays when the facility is normally closed. Upon a brief field inspection, we found that there was no lack of interesting archaeology either, with major lo’i systems along ‘Aihualama stream. We quickly realized the potential for this as a public archaeology project, and teamed up with Dr. Jim Bayman to head the project and help get more students involved.