Monday, January 26, 2015

Latte Stones, part II, on Tinian (by AM)

We walked to the Taga House from our hotel (in the rain!), and saw the gigantic latte stones there. In the Marianas, Tinian is famous for this site because it is one of the only places where ruins of latte stones are easily found, and they are the largest.  The latte stones there are the actual ones left over from the Taga House that chief Taga is believed to have constructed.

I am surprised that they have not all crumbled away! Only one latte stone is still standing.  The others toppled over because of earthquakes, wear and tear, or perhaps battles.

The latte stones are made from coral rock, taken from the quarry at Taga Beach, where the ancient Chamorros dug into it. No one really knows what they dug into the coral with, or how they carved the stones.  The latte stones at the Taga house are between 15 and 17 feet high.

top view of capstone

On the sign at the entrance of the Taga House site, they posted the legend of the Man of Taga and how he became the chief of the ancient Chamorro village.  He was believed to have been a giant, and tremendously strong.


  • The latte capstones were constructed in such a way where they curved; one of the theories of why this is so, is because it prevented rats from climbing into the buildings.
  • There is a quarry at Taga Beach, as I have already mentioned, across the street from the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino.  Some people believe that the ancient Chamorros floated the cut-out latte stones on rafts over to the Kammer Beach area, 1 mile away and carved them there. Other people believe that they carried the stones on their shoulders and necks back to their houses.

There are a lot of unanswered questions about the latte stones and the buildings they made with them.  We don't even know for sure what the houses looked like, although some folks have made some guesses.  What we do know is that they are unique to the Mariana Islands and were an impressive accomplishment in their day.

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