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Current position of the SSV Robert C. Seamans. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans

October 12, 2017

Time to Cross It Off

Kate Hodge, A Watch, University of Chicago


The Trilithon Itself

Ship's Log

Current Position
Tongatapu, Tonga (main island and capital city)

Ship’s Heading & Speed
Heading: dock-bound (and determined)

Clear and chilly (to me-everyone else insists it’s boiling hot)

Souls on Board

SEA Stories Podcast

When you're a kid, you dream of seeing certain things-a shooting star, a really cool car, maybe even some sort of paradise like Hawaii that you always saw in beautiful magazine ads. When I was a kid, I dreamed of touching the Great Pyramid of Egypt, of walking along the Great Wall of China, and I badly wanted to find Cleopatra's Tomb or discover a lost city made of gold in the Amazon. To clarify, I never thought I would be lucky enough to do any of those things, but an archaeologist has gotta dream right?

Though not a childhood dream because I, embarrassingly, did not know of its existence until a few months ago, today was the day we got to visit the Ha'amonga a' Maui and the Tu'i Tonga Royal Tombs. For those of you who do not know ( and don't worry, most don't), the Ha'amonga a' Maui is a trilithon built hundreds of years ago of limestone coral that stands tall and proud today. Just to clarify, it is not just a trilithon, it has a lintel with mortises, which means that it is much more technically difficult to create than anything you ever saw at Stonehenge. Oh, also, it weighs more than 50 tons.

It is easy to look at these stones and think, eh, whatever, it's just a few rocks that aren't even 20 ft tall-who cares? Well, I do. Let's ignore the fact that it took incredible amounts of technical and mechanical knowledge to just move 20 ton blocks around, let along carve them from the bed rock, instead see what it was built for. It is not just stone, it is the living embodiment of the now-extinct Tu'i Tonga (ancient line of Tongan Kings) power. It symbolizes brotherhood overcoming petty ambition. It shows the passion, love, and respect of people who would pour sweat and blood into its construction. That's amazing. It's just amazing. Amazing with all the letters capitalized and flashing bright colors. And I got to see it today. Anyone, not just an archaeologist, would be able to look at the Ha'amonga a' Maui and see its beauty; anyone would be able to feel the power it exudes, and anyone would be able to close their eyes and feel its presence and practically  see the history played out like a movie on their closed eyelids.

A month ago, I added a new place to my perhaps silly childhood list. Hanging out with names like the Coricancha of Cuzco and the tomb of the first Chinese Emperor, was the Ha'amonga a' Maui. My jaw dropped like an idiot in class when I saw a photo and I definitely did not close it in time before Jeff noticed. Today, for the first time, I got to cross a name off that list. been a good day.

- Hodge

Previous entry: Rigor and Reward    Next entry: Planting some roots in Tonga


Leave a public comment for students and crew to read when they reach their next port and have access to the internet!

#1. Posted by Sally Hodges on October 13, 2017

We are totally fascinated by your voyage - reading your posts and seeing your photos are the highlight of our every day!  What a great opportunity for you all - and for us, your readers.  We almost feel as if we are sailing along with you! Keep writing. Love to you all, and, of course, special love to Mary Elizabeth from her very proud grandparents!




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