Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Allan Wolfrum Intern Blog
My name is Allan Wolfrum and I spent early January to March as an archaeology intern in 2016. I’ve learned an incredible amount of Virgin Islands history and about life during the historic and prehistoric periods. The majority of my work here was processing and cataloging artifacts collected during excavations and surveys at Cinnamon Bay and the Rustenburg Plantation areas. I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with stone tools, shell, and ceramic types spanning the entire occupation of the islands.
Folks hard at work in the Lab while visitors enjoy the archaeological exhibits. Additionally, working in the lab, I had the pleasure of interacting with visitors and answering any questions they might have regarding archaeology in the park. This public engagement at the Cinnamon Bay archaeology lab has been a phenomenal exposure to true public archaeology and the power that the lab holds as an educational and operational facility.
Furthering our mission to educate, I was lucky enough to join park archaeologist Ken Wild on one of his Friends of the Park boat tour fundraiser events. I assisted Ken in displaying objects and answering questions that tour members might have, and enjoyed the history lesson on the peopling of the Virgin Islands and St. John in particular. This was a great time, and illustrated the kinds of public archaeology that can be enjoyable, exciting, and engaging.
I also had the chance to participate in an underwater survey that recovered both historic and prehistoric artifacts. Using snorkels and an underwater camera, Ken and I swam transects to map, monitor, and collect materials from what was once a Taino site and an African village of those enslaved here, now underwater due to beach erosion. Getting a taste of maritime archaeology was fantastic, and exposed a whole new world of possibilities in the field.
My time on the islands was short, even camping went by quickly and I miss them already. I can’t stop thinking about how much I learned so quickly, the fantastic professionals I had a chance to work with, and stunning beauty of Cinnamon Bay. Hiking, snorkeling, and swimming preoccupied most of my time, but working was the most fun—exploring and discovering the material culture of St. John—on land and underwater.