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The remoteness of the 16-mile shoreline along Na Pali on the island of Kaua'i has preserved a large number of historic sites. This complex offers an ideal opportunity to address questions about settlement-subsistence patterns, agricultural development, trade networks, social organization, and religious traditions through archaeological research.
To-date, research has been limited to the 1920s survey by wendell Bennett, the excavation projects conducted by Kenneth Emory and others from the Bishop Museum in the 1950s and 1960s, and the ongoing research conducted since 1979 by the Division of State Parks. from this research, a cultural history for the Na pali coast has been proposed. An early settlement is indicated on the dunes along the windward coast of Ha'ena. This was followed by a movement into the valleys of Na pali and the development of extensive irrigated agricultural fieldsystems.
The leeward settlement at Polihale is currently being studied to understand its place within this cultural sequence. This paper will provide an overview of the archaeological work conducted, the research questions being addressed in current research, and a look at the future of archaeological research along the Na Pali coast.