Nan Madol Ruins
Ruined City that Lies off the Eastern Shore of the Island of Pohnpei

Nan Madol Ruins (Destination Truth - Haunted Island Ruins)
Ruined City that Lies off the Eastern Shore of the Island of Pohnpei

The Case

On the Micronesian island of Pohnpei, there are 1,000 year-old ruins that locals claim are haunted. This area, called Nan Madol, was actually brought to the attention of Destination Truth by an avid viewer who was visiting an area near Nan Madol when the tour guide suddenly refused to go any closer.

A little research by the team revealed that there are centuries-old stories about floating lights and moving shadows at the site.

The Adventure

After traveling 6,100 miles from Los Angeles to Guam, Josh and his team hop another short flight to arrive in Pohnpei, the extremely laid back capital of Micronesia.

Soon the team is en route, thanks to their most memorable car rental yet. Across town, Josh interviews Fathr Hezel, a Jesuit Priest who is also an expert on the Nan Madol ruins, Edgar Santos, the local head of tourism, and two fishermen who had harrowing experiences.

Next, Josh convinces the tribal chief to be allowed into the ruins. After a long journey, the team finally arrives at Nan Madol and sets up base camp to see what the night will bring.

The team finds a glowing light, an ominous shadow, and, worse, Josh is suddenly overcome with a strange sickness.

The Findings

Back in Los Angeles, the team analyzes the findings. Josh feels good about the recording of a mysterious voice but wishes they had a bit more of the floating light to analyze.

Since their experience mirrors that of other reports, Team Truth concludes that there must be some supernatural power at work in the ruins of Nan Madol.

Nan Madol is a ruined city that lies off the eastern shore of the island of Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia, and was the capital of the Saudeleur dynasty until about AD 1500.

The city consists of a series of small artificial islands linked by a network of canals and is often called the "Venice of the Pacific". The name Nan Madol means "spaces between" and is a reference to the canals that criss-cross the ruins.


Nan Madol was the ceremonial and political seat of the Saudeleur dynasty, which united Pohnpei's estimated 25,000 people.

Set apart on the main island of Pohnpei, it was a scene of human activity as early as the first or second century AD.

By the 8th or 9th century islet construction had started, but the distinctive megalithic architecture was probably not begun until perhaps the 12th or early 13th century.

Little can be verified about the megalithic construction. Pohnpeian tradition claims that the builders of the Lelu complex on Kosrae (likewise composed of huge stone buildings) migrated to Pohnpei, where they used their skills and experience to build the even more impressive Nan Madol complex.

However, this is unlikely because radiocarbon dates have placed the construction of Nan Madol prior to that of Lelu. Like Lelu, one major purpose of constructing a separate city was to insulate the nobility from the common people.

A local story holds that when Nan Madol was being built a powerful magician living in the well inhabited region on the northwest of the island was solicited, and that his help was a major factor in completing the buildings. In particular, he was responsible for supplying the huge stone "logs" used in much of Nan Madol by "flying" them from their source to the construction site.

The elite centre was a special place of residence for the nobility and of mortuary activities presided over by priests. Its population almost certainly did not exceed 1,000, and may have been less than half that. Although many of the residents were chiefs, the majority were commoners.

Sketches of Nan Madol 1984

More video from the dusty old videotapes shot on a trip through the Pacific islands in 1984. Video equipment was crude and cumbersome back then so please make allowances for the quality.

These are a few selected scenes from two days in Nan Madol. By a fortunate chance we happened to be touring at the same time a prominent archaeologist, Dr. Stephen Athens, was conducting his research.

He was generous enough to give this boatload of tourists a guided tour and lecture.

Nan Madol served, in part, as a means by which the ruling Saudeleur chiefs both organized and controlled potential rivals by requiring them to live in the city rather than in their home districts, where their activities were difficult to monitor.

Madol Powe, the mortuary sector, contains 58 islets in the northeastern area of Nan Madol.

Most islets were once occupied by the dwellings of priests. Some islets served special purpose, like food preparation on Usennamw, canoe construction on Dapahu, and coconut oil preparation on Peinering.

High walls surrounding tombs are located on Peinkitel, Karian, and Lemenkou, but the crowning achievement is the royal mortuary islet of Nandauwas, where walls of 18 to 25 feet (7.6 m) high surround a central tomb enclosure within the main courtyard.

Supposedly there was an escape tunnel beginning at the center of Nan Madol and boring down through the reef to exit into the ocean. Scuba divers continue to look for this "secret" route, but so far a complete tunnel has yet to be discovered.

On Nan Madol there is no fresh water and no food. One must go inland to gather water and grow food. For the Saudeleurs this was no problem; since they were the supreme rulers the people brought them what they needed.

When the Saudeleurs were overthrown and the period of the Nahnmwarkis began, the Nahnmwarkis lived at Nan Madol, but they had to gather their water and grow their food themselves, causing them to eventually abandon Nan Madol and move back to their own districts — although other explanations exist for the deserting of the complex, such as a sharp population decline.