Friday, March 24, 2006

Reburial Project Excavation and More...

Update March 20-24, 2006
We began this week with a shovel test at Cinnamon Bay. We are excavating this small test to assess the area chosen with the island clergy for the reburial of the human remains that have been eroding from the beachfront here for 30 years. Directly behind the warehouse, at 22 centimeters below the surface (cmbs) we discovered a distinct historic mortar floor. This building was somewhat of a surprise, as the historic maps don’t depict a building here. We are going to have to look close at the estate inventories once the artifacts give us a time frame on construction. Right now annular whiteware sherds indicate it was occupied to the mid-1800s but a bottleneck found embedded in the mortar floor suggests the floor could have been constructed in the late 18th century. We have extended the shovel test horizontally to find the dimensions of the floor so we can avoid impacting this historic structure when we reinter the Cinnamon Bay human remains. On the very surface before we even started digging we recovered a historic pick and hoe, along with historic pottery, glass, metal and prehistoric sherds. We will continue this exploratory work until we find a suitable location to excavate a 2x2 meter grave, which we figure will be large enough for two ossuaries. Why two? One ossuary for the human remains that have been found up until now, the other ossuary is for those remains that will be found in the future from this eroded beachfront. We will be continuing this work next week, but we also have on the agenda trip to Hassel Island with the Friends of the Park supporters. We will try to bring back pictures of the diving bells.

Ongoing is our monitoring and recovery of diagnostic or museum quality artifacts before they are lost to the erosion occurring at Cinnamon Bay. This week, a decorated fragment of Delftware was recovered which dates generally from 1600-1802. It is patterned with iridescent blue flowers. We intend to do further analysis to narrow the date range on this rare find.

This week UNESCO invited Ken as an expert on Petroglyphs to a meeting in Guadalupe of Rock Art experts in the Caribbean for the feasibility of a transnational nomination of rock art to the list of world heritage sites. You can find the petroglyph paper written for the public and further information about Cinnamon Bay at the Friends of the Virgin Islands website:

Friday, March 17, 2006

Thank You!

The Maine students finished up their work this week at Leinster Bay and we spent today getting all the gear out of the field and back to the lab and office: ladders, machetes, a tent, freshwater, map table, tools and more. It was a beautiful day and as we traveled by boat to make the work easier, we got a chance to take pictures from the water and to see some sites. Thanks to all the Maine students for their super work on the 3-D modeling!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Virtual Preservation of Historic Ruins

Thanks to a grant from the Virgin Islands Humanities Council, the Friends, and the professors and students from the University of Maine, we are spending the next few weeks mapping plantation ruins into 3-Dimensional space on the computer. We archeology interns have spent our last week helping to get the Maine students situated and ready to work as they left the cold and snow and arrived down here in the fun and sun. We spent a few days getting their tents ready at Cinnamon and a field tent at Leinster Bay to protect the equipment. The students are now hard at virtual preservation.
The Maine students are using an additional program that is proving to make modeling much easier and more efficient to use with the other programs. The new program allows them to photograph the ruins from a variety of angles and, using dots they have placed around the ruins, “sew” these photographs together. We are already seeing exciting results after only three days of work. The students already have one wall complete and are working on modeling a well and another wall. We presented the work to members of the press and supporters this morning at the ruins and have another presentation on Monday.