In Senator Angel Santos Latte Park (above left photo), eight of these stones are displayed. These latte stones were transferred to hagåtña or Agana from Me'pu, their original location in Guam's Fena Lake interior (also known as Naval Magazine). Stone pillars range from 6 to 20 columns (a 20 column latte was found east of Naval Magazine Southern Guam). Customarily, latte sites situated on shorelines have bones of the ancients, and possessions as jewelry or canoes buried below the parallel arrangements of stones. Examination of midden or human settlement debris deposits at Latte sites in the interior of Guam (away from shoreline) do not have human bones buried underneath them. Melanie Ryan, Univ of La Trobe, Melbourne, Australia wrote that burial patterning beneath latte sites suggests that kinship or family membership, not age nor social status is the only criterion for internment. "Analysis of burials reveals a population that suffered great mortality in the childhood years, but reasonably good health for adults. Wooden structures would have been built on latte columns, and cookhouses or other working areas would have been beneath or near them on the ground (Laurence Carucci and Lin Poyer, The West Central Pacific pg.189)" A LATTE site is also where a human interloper might encounter the ancestral spirits of the Mannamoros (those who are Chamorros) called TAOTAOMONAS or people before time. Rudolph Villaverde reminds us that the Chamorro Narrative holds that the human vessel lives on as an aniti (spirit). The Chamorro creates dialog with the ancestral remains (but not for worship) sustained in the belief that the blood of those who have gone before are passed into the veins of their legacy (descendents). Interred Ancestral bones becomes the foundation of the house ... a euphenism inferring that knowledge of oral history, legends, songs, chants, lamentations and navigational heritage built from the past becomes the literal latte pillars guiding and protecting the house or the next generation. It is ingrained in legend that Guam is part of a human body [many villages are named after body parts] and that human remains interred back into the soil is a collective re-integration back into that body. The stone monoliths [right photo] were found in their untouched condition at Urunao beach at northern Guam.
Adjacent to the site, above right photo, are deep pits or wells dug below the water table to supply the ancient villages with fresh water. Latte stones are avoided and are untouched. Although Chamorros have occupied the Marianas archipelago for possibly 4000 years, latte stones might have originated at the earliest around A.D. 845. However, the most entrenched belief is that the main latte construction era occurred around 1100A.D. Graves 1986:141. Roughly 1000 years ago, evidence of cultural adaptations, settlement patterning, architecture, warfare and food cultivation changed radically. "In Rota, Starting about 1000AD, an earlier style of plain pottery, consisting of mostly shallow bowls and pans, gives way to tall globular vessels with a roughened finish, suitable for carrying and storing water or boiling food. (Carucci and Lin Poyer, The West Central Pacific pg.189)." The latte period is also characterized by the appearance of the slingstones and spearpoints manufactured from human bones as weapons of battle - William Hernandez archaeologist curator. The ancient historian Fray Gaspar in the Voyage by Legaspi writes "the natives had great sheds, likewise built on top of large stone pillars. One of these sheds, near the watering place, contained four of their largest canoes - pg.113 Louis Claude de Freycinet". The book, An account of the Corvette L' Uranie's by Freycinet pg 114 continues, "As for the pillars distinguised by their far greater amplitude and height, local (Guam) tradition has it that they once served to support the roofs of enormous sheds, built to give shade to canoes that had been dragged onshore."
Ancient stories as the legend of camel rock and interpretation of the starcave calendar of Ritidian caves alludes to an additional later settlement of Guam by a genetically related group of star navigators which may have accelerated the wholesale building of the Latte sites approximately AD 1000. It is possible that some customs as "BETELNUT CHEWING" predate the emergence of the stones.
Archaeological milestones of Ancient Guam based on carbon dating revolves around these eras: Transitional Pre-Latte (AD 1 to AD 1000), the larger Latte Period (AD 1000 to AD 1521), and Early Historic Period (AD 1521 to 1700).
Spanish missionaries recounted that Ancient Chamorro nobility were called the 'Matua' abbreviated for "Ma Tuna" (to honor) who lived on the shorelines and the alleged lower caste were called Mana'chang who lived in the island interior. There is a derth [lack] of written Spanish accounts about the navigators which have their own unique seafaring cultural and spiritual practices who were also "Matua". A Middle class called achaot was referred to by Bonani (1719) and Freycinet (1819). A more interesting group of people were the makana [shamans] who were medicine or spirit peoples who retained skulls of dead relatives for healing, rain divination, and consultation on building houses and canoes. Chants, offerings, taboos on food and taboos on sexual activity were ways people could interact with spirits. "(in navigational tradition) Sorcery and fear of magical retribution controlled some sorts of social interactions (Kiste 1994a:;16; Alkire 1977:16-17,51-51)." Spanish journals recount a Manachang chief of Sinajana named Hineti who protected the Hagåtña Spanish garrison from annihilation on July 1684 from a prolonged assault from the Matuas. Missionary accounts describe the Mana'chang as being smaller, and weaker [probably due to nutrition] than the other Chamorus. "Guam was settled by waves of ancient seafaring peoples (Butler 1994)."
The photo to the left is an example of a fresh water reservior used by the ancients is 'lost pond' at Tanguisson Beach Northern Guam. It is a favorite fishing hole for many Guamanian youngsters. Near it are many latte sites.