Rota Latte Stone Quarry
Rota Latte Stone Quarry, also known as the As Nieves quarry, is located near the Chamorro village of Sinapalo, on the island of Rota in the Marianas Archipelago. The prehistoric megaliths found there are believed to have been used as foundation pillars for houses, with some of them weighing up to 35 tons. Their exact age, origin, methods of quarrying and means of transportation have not been determined.
Rota Latte Stone Quarry
Northern Mariana Islands
|NRHP reference No.||74002225|
|Added to NRHP||December 23, 1974|
A latte stone pillar (also called a taga stone) is a two-piece structure consisting of a base (haligi) and hemispherical cap (tasa), with the flat side turned upwards. It is believed that the prehistoric latte stone pillars were used as housing foundations for the indigenous culture of the Marianas. The homes sat on top of two parallel rows of the pillars, and the Chamorro, or their ancestors, buried their dead between the rows. The stones pre-date any retained oral history of the Chamorro, who cite the original source of the stones as the "taotaomona" (before time people). The exact age of the stones has not been determined, but some are believed to date back to at least 845 AD. Carbon dating places the indigenous population as far back as 3,000 BC.
Some of the abandoned megaliths would stand approximately 25 feet (7.6 m) high if the haligi had been topped with tasa and erected upright. The tasa at the quarry measure approximately 7 feet (2.1 m) across and 5 feet (1.5 m) high. The stones are unfinished, and there is no record or indication of why the site was suddenly abandoned.
When upright, the megaliths from Rota Latte Stone Quarry would be per 0.5 m taller than the tallest existing latte stones at the House of Taga in Tinian Island. This might be indicative of competition between different groups, striving to build the most impressive sets of latte stones.
Legend credits the origin of the quarry to a mythological chief named Taga, who quarried the stones at Rota before abandoning the site and later erecting the House of Taga on Tinian. A different legend tells of ghosts carrying the stones.
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