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An archeological site in SW-Suriname

The Werehpai archaeological research

is a Project of
the Stichting Surinaams Museum &
Conservation International Suriname

Werehpai in SW-Suriname at ca 10 km
east of the Trio village Kwamalasamutu

The site was found by a Trio

of the name Kamanja.
He reported it to the Granman
of Kwamalasamutu, Asongo.
The Granman spoke to Conservation International Suriname.
C.I.S. contacted the Stichting
Surinaams Museum and
Smithsonian Institution.

A team was formed of two archaeologists:

Dr. Aad H. Versteeg (Stichting Surinaams Museum)
Dr. Abelardo E. Sandoval (Smithsonian Institution)
and of a landscape and soil specialist:
Ir. D. Noordam (Stichting Surinaams Museum).
This team, with the help of many Trio and
other people, carries out the Project.
The field phase at Werehpai has now been finished.

In case you want more information on this Project:

mail us at :

The Rockformations
Granite rocks of enormous size
on top of each other formed
cavities in which the petroglyphs were made in preColumbian times.

Impressive rocks in the tropical forest

When the research team arrived

for the first time at the site,
the Trio already had divided the whole
complex into Houses and Rooms.
These designations have been kept
as references, also the name Werehpai,
(an ancestral female hero of the
Trio) for the site has been kept.

House 6

Granite boulders

Entry House 5

Werehpai 313 petroglyphs

The other 25 petroglyph-sites

in Suriname: 192 petroglyphs

Werehpai is really unique,

in Suriname, but also
in the whole of the Guianas

From simple

to snakelike

To wonderful
creatures, that
certainly do not
belong to the
world around us.

Often the
glyphs are on

The heads
are often

Often individuals are seen that belong together

Sometimes the whole wall is used

An impressive
person is the
last one to

Testpits yielded pottery and charcoal

Sifting the soil of the

testpits, here by

Except the stunning quality and quantity

of petroglyphs,
this site had another big surprise:
Three charcoal samples resulted in datings
between 5000 and 4200 years before present
Pottery in the layers of these samples
has the same age.
Werehpai has the oldest pottery
excavated so far in Suriname!

Reporting the results in Kwamalasamutu, Granman

Asongo is the second from left. Kamanja sits at right


The results
In 2004 192 petroglyphs of 25 locations were
registered in Suriname.
In July 2007 this number has increased to 505, in
26 locations.
Werehpai is the only location where petroglyphs
have been found in combination with pottery
and charcoal.

This research is possible

Thanks to the Trio of Kwamalasamutu,
especially Granman Asongo, Kamanja, Koita,
Menio and Seewi.
The Stichting Surinaams Museum
Conservation International Suriname
Smithsonian Institution
BHP Billiton Maatschappij Suriname

Dirk Noordam
Aad Versteeg
Chris Healy

The Future
The fieldwork has been finished and 7
charcoal samples have been dated.
The next phase consists of the study of
petroglyphs and pottery and other artifacts.
The results will be two books.

A scientific book in English that discusses

main issues and details of this site and
shows all 313 petroglyphs in photos and
A more general book in English, Dutch and
Trio that provides the main issues.
An exposition of the results in Paramaribo
and in Kwamalasamutu.

After the publication of these books

on Werehpai, a next step will be
the investigation of other sites in
South-West Suriname.