Mystery of Guam Series at ns.gov.gu Click photos below to enlarge!

By Rudolph Villaverde. At the edge of Talofofo, a Southern village on Guam is an expansive system of caves imbedded within its limestone cliffs. These caves are known for their ancient Chamoru petroglyphs (ostensibly from the Latte Period[Rainbird, Paul. The Archaeology of Micronesia. 2004; p125]). Meandering along the uphill dirt trail toward these caves a visitor can easily locate these drawings. The first occurance of pictographs is found at the second cave to the left of the inclined trail. At the base of an intriguing natural rock arch formation called "window rock", is another small cave where there are complex symbols brushed with white quicklime (calcium hydroxide) known as åfok. The translation of these pictographs is closely associated with Traditional Ocean Navigation concepts. Each ancient male Chamorus spent an entire lifetime memorizing star courses, sea lanes, and individual island biologics. These voluminous information had been fine tuned for thousands of years of ocean voyaging. Specific stellar sightings have been recorded on cave rock faces and ceilings.       Lynda Aguon, a former Chief Guam Historic Preservation Officer stated that this cliff site is registered as National Historic Preservation Register Site Number 66-09-0069) and is known by its venacular name, "As-Quiroga Cave" . It delineates an area which covers both sides of highway 4.

"As Quiroga Cave" has been listed on the Guam and National Register of Historic Places since 1975 / 76 respectively. According to "Field Guide to Caves and Karst of Guam by Danko Taborosi 2004", window rock is a natural arch formed by the partial collapse of the cave ceiling and can be seen from Rt. 4 in Ipan Talofofo. The area exists as Government of Guam property with the Guam Historic Resources Div being responsible for ensuring that the cultural properties/resources are protected from vandalism and looting. Please refer to Guam Code Annotated Law 21 GCA Sec. 76211 -"Vandalism and unlawful taking of historic properties and sites."

During 1924-26, the ethnographer Hans Hornbostel was contracted by the Bishop museum in Honolulu to record cultural artifacts in the Marianas archipelago. During these visits he produced maps of latte sites and undertook extensive excavations of thousands of artifacts and human burials. He chiseled out a block of cave wall holding a human figure pictograph now on permanent display at the 2nd floor, Hawaiian Hall Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Although possessing no formal training in archaeology, Hornbostel provided a glimpse of the island's prehistoric resources. (reference Tiempon I Manmofo'na " 1998 Scott Russel"). His removal of artifacts from the Marianas has been widely condemned. However, Hornbostel's documentation of ethnographic myths, placenames, vocabulary and burials have become invaluable to reconstructing Chamoru history. By photographing the pictographs, he provided evidence that Guam's petroglyphs are not of recent origins... that is, could not have been drawn after the 1920's.

fragment gouged out from 2nd cave. Imprinted on stone is Museum catalog number 3465 Bishop Museum Hawaii cavewall of 2nd cave crevice to left of 1st cave Karren or dissolutional sculpturing hole in stone  2nd cave Karren or dissolutional sculpturing hole in stone 2nd cave
fragment gouged from 2nd cave imprinted with Bishop Museum catalog no.3465 Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum Hawaii cavewall of a cave crevice to left of another cave Karren or dissolutional sculpturing of hole in stone. Karren or threaded hole in stone with taotaomona face.
front of 2nd cave indentation behind 2nd cave opening 1st cave closeup Opening on 1st Cave path behind 2nd cave path to side of 2nd cave
front of 2nd cave indentation behind 2nd cave opening 1st cave closeup Opening on 1st Cave path behind 2nd cave path to side of 2nd cave
pillars of 2nd cave view behind 2nd cave
pillars of 2nd cave view behind 2nd cave
The Guam Historic Resources Division states, "The Talofofo cave area was surveyed and recorded in 1966 by Dr. Fred Reinman - ironically Dr. Reinman was the project director for the Guam Inventory Team of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum - the same Museum that sanctioned Hornbostel. The area was also mentioned in 1947 by Osborne".

History: Destruction of Talofofo during the Spanish Chamoru War. Spanish Perspective and account.

(The Life and Martyrdom of Diego Luis de San Vitores, S.J., Garcia 2004; pg 484) At the beginning of 1679 there were still local opposition villages in southeastern Guahan that continued to enjoyed their liberty because of their remoteness from the Spanish Presidio in Hagatna (Spanish Central Government). Other villages were protected against Spanish incursions by natural fortifications around them. When summoned before the Spanish Governor, the Chamorus refused as they did not wish to recognize him. The governor planned an expedition against the most arrogant among them, the sister villages of Picpuc and Talofofo, believing that when these villages were punished, the rest would submit voluntarily.

The natives, learning of his plans, armed themselves and prepared many ambushes along the trails, which were naturally the most difficult and dangerous ones on the island. Along these, they could effectively harass the soldiers, who would be unable to retaliate. Our men sought a native as guide who led them through another route for a great part of the way. But the most difficult part was a narrow mountain pass that was the only entrance to the village of Picpuc, and this the Chamorus had blocked by a trench and embankment, defended from the mountain sides by a shower of stones and lances.

The soldiers began to climb up the narrow pass and found themselves in a quandary: they could neither advance nor retreat. Their arquebuses had not sufficient range to harm the enemy, while their shields were fast being smashed by the hail of stones and lances. They could do nothing but call for assistance from those who followed them. Two of these fell badly wounded, as they hurried to the relief of their comrades.

The governor, seeing the extreme danger and realizing that his soldiers were afraid to advance, placed himself at the head of the party and began to climb the rough cliff-side with great determination and audacity that a few men followed him and gained the height. They took the fortress of the enemy, who fled in all haste, depriving the governor of the opportunity to avenge the wound of his men. Nevertheless, he pursued them and burned the villages of Picpuc and Talofofo with all the goods contained therin, including more than twenty proas, much rice, and other foodstuffs.

"An attack toward the south of the island during which Agafan, Pigpug and Talofofo were destroyed, decided the victory for the Spanish. Many natives were killed and a great number fled to Zarpana (Rota)" (Fritz, Georg. The Chamorro. Saipan, CNMI, Division of Historic Preservation. 2001. pg 5).