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Chief Roi Mata’s Domain
Site number:
Type of site: Cultural
Date: 17th century AD
Date of Inscription: 2008
Location: Oceania, Vanuatu, islands of Efate, Lelepa and Artok
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Description: Chief Roi Mata’s Domain is Vanuatu’s first inscribed site. Three early 17th century sites lying on the islands of Efate, Lelepa and Artok compose the site; they are linked with the life and death of the last paramount chief, or Roi Mata of present-day Central Vanuatu. The land includes Roi Mata’s dwelling, the place of his death and Roi Mata’s mass burial site. The site is directly related with the chief’s surrounding oral traditions and the ethical values he advocated. Manifesting the union of oral tradition and archaeology, the site testifies to Roi Mata’s diligence in social reforms and conflict resolution, which are still relevant to the people of the region today. --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available.
  Roy Mata was a powerful 13th century Melanesian chief from what is now Vanuatu. His elaborate grave, containing the bodies of over 25 members of his retinue, was discovered by French archaeologist Jose Garranger in 1967 and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008. Garranger was able to locate the grave on Retoka island by analyzing local folklore. According to legend, when Roy Mata conquered the land, his first goal was to unite the tribes. His reign is reputed to have been a peaceful one. Roy Mata was poisoned to death by his brother, but his body was not buried on his homeland because the locals feared his spirit. To this date, the name Roy Mata is never used. In 2008, three sites associated with Roy Mata, on the islands of Efate, Lelepa and Artok, were made UNESCO World Heritage Sites. --Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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