Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Season's Greetings from Two New Interns

Hello! I’d like to reintroduce myself. I’m Mick Wigal and you might remember me from way back at the beginning of this blog. I helped start this blog when I was an intern several years ago. Since then I went off and received my Masters Degree in Anthropology from The University of South Carolina and now I’m back to intern for awhile before my next adventure, the Peace Corps. And with me came a new intern.

Hi, everyone! I’d like to introduce myself. I’m the new intern, Lauran Riser and I am so excited to be doing archaeology down here in St. John! I received my undergraduate degree in Anthropology in 2004 from the College of Charleston and am currently finishing my M.A. in Anthropology at The University of South Carolina. Like Mick, I’ll be interning here for a couple of months before I go off to West Africa for the Peace Corps!

In archaeology news, Mick and I have been working on a project at Big Maho Bay that commenced in June of this year. The land has recently been acquired by The Trust for Public Land for the park. Since the park is going to build a gravel parking lot to keep beach-goers from parking on the streets, archaeological testing is being carried out to locate and protect valuable cultural resources from impact at the parking lot. The remains of an historic brick oven, although damaged from a fallen palm tree, are visible on the property today.

This land was owned by Willem Vessup, a large landholder on St. John. Vessup had committed a murder. He attempted to use the 1733 slave revolt on St. John to be pardoned for this murder. He tried to lure the rebel slaves onto his boat in exchange for gunpowder. If successful, he would then capture the rebels and use them as a bargaining chip. Fortunately for the rebels, they did not enter the boat and were able to fight on.

To date, we have conducted six shovel test pits, in addition to the four previously done. Most of these shovel test pits are around the bake oven and in areas known to have been occupied even into the 1990s. Although we have found some examples of prehistoric pottery, which confirms a new prehistoric site for the park, most of the artifacts recovered are historic and date from the late 17th century to early 20th century. Two unique artifacts have been found so far. One is a Danish West Indies One Cent coin from 1913. It is heavily corroded but there is just enough writing to identify it. The other is a pipe bowl with a cross-hatched heart on one side and a human hand on the other.

We are hoping to complete four more shovel test pits before Christmas. We will be placing these pits on the edge of the swampy area to test for a likely Taino Indian occupation. Be sure to keep visiting our blog to stay abreast of the next exciting discovery around the corner. We almost forgot to say hello and welcome Jennifer and Kathyrn who will arrive after the holidays from the midwest and Ken tells us there will be at least three new Danish interns that will be arriving in May 2009, Agnes, Marie and Galit! Hey ya’ll!


Ginny said...

Hey, Lauran!

Very interesting! I know you're loving it. Good luck with the digging.

Love from home, Ginny P.

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