petroglyph (pe‧trəˌglif)

I hope you all enjoyed my previous post on pahoehoe! During our visit to the Big Island of Hawai’i, we hiked over fields of pahoehoe to see the ancient Pu’u Loa petroglyphs in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

The word petroglyph contains the Greek roots petro– , meaning rock, and glyph, meaning carving or engraving. Petroglyph literally means “rock carving.”

The Pu’u Loa petroglyphs were carved many centuries ago by native Hawaiians. Since the ancient Hawaiians didn’t have a written language, they created petroglyphs to express what was important to each of them. I was in awe of the sheer number of petroglyphs; this site contains approximately 15,000 images that have been engraved in pahoehoe. Some of the images we saw included human forms, insects, and geometric shapes. We spent a lot of time poring over the images and contemplating the meaning behind the petroglyphs.

pahoehoe (pəˈhōē hōē)

This summer, my family and I visited Hawai’i for two weeks. It was my first time going to Hawai’i and I loved it! We spent time on both Maui and the Big Island. Both islands were very pretty yet very different. Maui is older than the Big Island, has beautiful beaches and is very lush. The majority of the Big Island had seas of lava rock as far as the eye could see.

The Big Island is the biggest and youngest of the Hawaiian archipelago. The lava flowing from the two most active volcanoes in the world, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, is responsible for the still growing island. We spent a week on the Big Island and while we were there, we visited the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. One of the coolest sites was the lava lake at the Kīlauea Summit. We went at night and the steam rising from the vent glowed a brilliant red.

As we drove through the park, we saw fields of pahoehoe. Pahoehoe is lava that has a smooth, shiny or often swirled surface. Pahoehoe comes from the Hawaiian word hoe, which means to paddle. Since the surface of pahoehoe resembles the ripples made in the water by a paddle, the name is very fitting. Hawaiian words are fun to say because they often repeat a sound within a word, like humuhumunukunukuapua’a (fish) or muumuu (dress).