Community Longevity of Conservation from Battlefield Archaeology

The tiny island of Peleliu, within the Republic of Palau, Micronesia, was the scene of a brutal and prolonged battle between US and Japanese troops during the Second World War.

Tank at PeleliuOf the 11,000 Japanese garrison that held the island, only 19 survived the American invasion of September 1944.

Nearly 2,000 Americans were also killed with the US Marines recording the battle as ‘the worst fighting in the history of the Corps’ in its official records.

Today Peleliu is the best-preserved battlefield of the Pacific, overgrown by jungle to such an extent that the island remains full of vehicles, crashed planes and military gear, and many bodies still lie where they fell.

Dr Knecht and Prof Price of the University of Aberdeen are telling Peleliu’s story through its battlefield archaeology."

Dr Rick Knecht and Prof Neil Price of the University of Aberdeen are surveying the battlefields in a bid to tell Peleliu’s story through its battlefield archaeology.

Supported by this research, proposals are now in place to incorporate Peleliu into the U.S. Government’s National Park system, uniquely as a site on foreign soil. This aims to document and preserve the sites, provide education and outreach facilities to the general public, monitor and maintain the battlefield through sustainable eco-tourism (with vital income generation for a fragile local economy in this developing country), and to protect the site from looting. 

The research has played a large and crucial part in providing supporting evidence and documentation for this process.

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