Anthropology, Department of


Date of this Version



Belcher, William R. 2020. The Passive Side of Conflict Archaeology: The 2016 to 2019 Excavations of a POW Mess Hall in the Honouliuli Internment and POW Camp, Island of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. Hawaiian Archaeology 15:15-23.


©Society for Hawaiian Archaeology


The archaeological investigation of Prisoner of War (POW) camps offers a glimpse into the passive side of conflict archaeology; that is, those parts of conflict related to imprisonment of enemy combatants and not active areas like forts and battlefields. This paper presents the research and field operations conducted at the Honouliuli National Historic Site during the 2016 to 2019 field seasons as part of the University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu (UH West Oʻahu) archaeological field schools, particularly focused on the discovery and partial excavation of a mess hall concrete foundation or platform associated with a POW population during World War II. Based on comparison with other mess hall platforms within the Honouliuli Internment and POW Camp, the sizes differed, probably based on the population density in the administrative compounds, but the plans as well as the location of garbage incinerators appears to be a standardized plan. However, it appears that the massive influx of prisoners from the Pacific Theater may have taxed the capacity of prisoner areas such that specific mainland Department of War standards were not followed. However, the story of the POWs in this area needs additional work in various archives to understand the activities as well as relationships represented by these various prisoner areas.