petroglyph hawaii
Archaeologists in Hawaii have unearthed what have been described as a rare series of petroglyphs created by aboriginal inhabitants of the Waianae coast. The rock art is believed to be over 400 years old.

The petroglyphs, which are images carved into rock, were found along the coast after shifting sands revealed at least 10 figures etched into the sandstone underneath stretching over 60 feet of beach.

The discovery was an accident, being spotted by Lonnie Watson and Mark Louvier, a Texas couple who were just walking the beach to watch the sunset last month.

While the panels of rock have probably exposed themselves before, nobody brought them to the attention of authorities. Both the US Army's archaeology team, who manage thousands of Hawaii's archaeological sites, and the State Historic Preservation Division are now working to document the newly discovered petroglyphs and protect and preserve the area.

Describing the find as "significant," US Army scientist Alton Exzabe said the carvings are quite distinctive, particularly the human features.

"The ones with the fingers, for me, are pretty unique. ... Fingers and hands are pretty distinct, as well as the size of them," he said in a statement.

It's not only the features that stand out. Petroglyphs are usually about a foot tall, but these measure up to 5 feet in parts, which Exzabe said was "pretty impressive."

Glen Kila, a lineal descendent of the aboriginal families who first settled in the area, also noted how the petroglyphs are an important part of their heritage.

"They record our genealogy and religion. It's very important to know about the lineal descendants of the area and their understanding of these petroglyphs," Kila said. "The interpretation of these petroglyphs can only be interpreted by the lineal descendants who are familiar with its history and culture."

Authorities have warned the public that while it is OK for people to look at the ancient art, it's important it isn't touched. Even the experts have to be extra careful as the scraping away of sand can cause damage.