Friday, February 29, 2008

Pipebowl Documentation

Pipebowl found on Hassel Island, Leprosarium/Yellow Fever Hospital Site

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hassel Island, Revisited

Mike Toomey with the pipebowl he found.
Greetings from the archaeology lab! The past few weeks have found the archaeology team hard at work down at Cinnamon washing, analyzing, dating, preparing, and cataloguing the melange of artifacts recovered from Hassel Island during the surface collection for the island cleanup back in November and December. This has given us a chance to review the artifacts both piecemeal and together as a awhole, revealing several trends. In this process, we have come a long way towards a better understanding of historic glass as Kourtney is working on a glass type collection that will make it easier for all of us next time to quickly determine a bottle's age and where it was made. This work with the collection has proved challenging as there are many different types of ceramics that indicate a wide range of dates of occupation. However, this is not surprising to us as we know that the island underwent many changes in occupation since early occupation in the 1600 hundreds and since the British first built Shipley's Battery in the late 18th century. We are continuing to work on the collection and looking forward to learning more about Hassel Island before we begin to accession materials from the Leprosarium/Yellow Fever Hospital and Shipley Battery.
Jillian clearing the path through pinquin up to Shipley's Battery

Last week, we returned several times to Hassel to work with SeaTow and to mark a suitable trail to Shipley's Battery, at the summit of the island. Our SeaTow pal, Michael Toomey kept his keen eyes to the ground and made a wonderful discovery of an impressivly intact decorative pipe bowl with stem. In recovering this artifact we recovered its UTM coordinates to exactly 10 centimeters; about the size of the pipe and stem itself. We're very glad to add this great artifact to our collection and thank Mike for his find and SeaTow for their very hard work. On the next blog we will try to post a closeup of this bowl that dipicts a harbor scene from the 1830s. Remember all never take artifacts form a National Park--The history of these objects belongs to all of us.

Ken explaining ancestory to the Antilles School Group

Susanna and the Guy Benjamin School Group

Guy Benjamin Students washing artifacts

In between our work with Hassel Island material and a successful folklife festival, we were glad to host two different third grade school groups to the archaeology lab who have been learning about the Taino. The first group from Antilles school learned about ancestors and saw the rare Zemis in the collection. The second group from Guy Benjamin were very helpful in washing artifacts and preparing them for analysis. We are always happy to share local archaeology with St. John students and hope that those very enthusiastic students will come back to volunteer for the Park in a few years!

Kulu Mele drumming at Annaberg Folk Life Festival
Mr. Guy Benjamin, first St. Johnian to graduate from High School

Friday, February 08, 2008

New intern at Cinnamon Bay!

Greetings VI National Park Service Friends! As the newest NPS intern, Jillian, I’m very excited to finally be here in St. John. I look forward to spending the next two months gaining a wide range of knowledge about the rich Caribbean history and prehistory preserved by the park.

This internship is part of my final internship requirement as a Master’s student in Museum Studies at George Washington University, in Washington D.C. I am originally from Buffalo, N.Y. and went to SUNY Geneseo for Anthropology, with minors in Geology and Spanish. At GW, I focus my studies mostly on the management and administration of natural history museums, so working here at Cinnamon Bay in an internship that covers a breadth of subjects such as curation, collections management, volunteer coordination, education, etc., I am in a very appropriate environment to tie together everything I’ve been studying for the past two years and see all museums functions connect in a very real way.

I arrived late Saturday evening to a warm welcome from Ken, Susanna and Kourtney. On Monday, Kourtney and I began a week of working with a group of volunteers from Elder Hostel. This is a band of people with an adventurous and enthusiastic attitude about what a vacation should be; they volunteer for a week for various community projects in exotic settings around the globe. This time, their travels brought them to St. John to continue a mapping project that had begun last year and is led annually by local historic architect Anne Hersh The first day of the week was focused on clearing overgrowth from the Leinster Guardhouse ruins that were choking the pathways around and inside the ruins. On Tuesday, the group moved over to Rustenburg plantation to flag, photograph, measure and map the sugar mill ruins. Kourtney and I worked to record accurate bearings and distances between the points that the volunteers were flagging and photographing while others worked to draw profiles of wall remains.
At the end of the week, Anne left with a wealth of information with which she intends to create a map of the ruins for the National Park Service to be able to add to its records. The exploratory spirit of the Elder Hostel volunteers is what allows us to add such valuable information to our archives!

I look forward to keeping you updated on the work that we are doing here this spring as we continue to uncover and preserve the history and prehistory here on St. John and right at home in the lab in Cinnamon Bay.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Soon Come

We've been busy! We will be posting an update shortly. Thanks!