Friday, March 13, 2009

Volunteers help clear Sieban and L'Esperance Ruins

St. John's Lone Baobab Tree, Sieban Plantation Ruins.

Hey everyone! Katie again, just wanting to get everyone up to date with what has been happening in the archaeological world here on St. John. Sadly, Jen recently returned stateside to continue working for the University of Iowa and Lauran has left as well to finish her Master’s thesis. Everyone here at the Biosphere misses them both already! However, our new archaeology intern, Andrew, is here! He’s another Midwesterner, like me, and is thrilled to be working with the National Park Service doing archaeology on St. John.

Since the last blog entry in mid-January, work has been moving along at an inland historic plantation site known as Sieben. With the help of National Park volunteers clearing brush from the surviving structures, we’ve been able to complete our surface collection and map all artifacts using our GPS unit that gives us up to 10 centimeter accuracy if the vegetation is reduced. We must recover this surface material now that visitors have been directed through the ruins by a new trail. It is important that we get the artifacts where they were left historically. This information can tell us so much about the site like how old certain sections and buildings are, different activity areas and about the people who lived and died here. So please if you see an artifact leave it and let us know. We have recovered a wide variety of interesting historic ceramics that were produced throughout Europe, also bottles, and even a large iron cooking pot that could be from the early 1700s. Some of the household ceramics that we’ve collected are datable to the early 18th century up until the mid-20th century.

Lauran, Jen, Katie and Ken, after a surface collection at Sieban.

Land list records indicate that Johann Hienrick Sieben owned the land and built his plantation in 1718, making Sieben plantation one of the earliest on St. John. So far, artifacts collected from the surface number over one thousand and we’re not done yet. Lauran’s knowledge about historic ceramics is impressively extensive and over the past few weeks, she’s been teaching me all she knows about analyzing the historic ceramics that have come from Sieben. On a side note, one of the fantastic natural features present at the site is the African Baobab tree. Growing along the edge of the ridge overlooking Reef Bay, it is only one of its kind still present on the island.

A big thank you needs to be given to all the folks who have volunteered their time helping us clear and cut brush from the ruins over the past few weeks. We really couldn’t have done all that’s been accomplished with out you.

Jeff Chabot and his crew of hard working volunteers, on the Grand Staircase at Seiban.

Speaking of volunteers, Lauran, Jen, and I had a potential archaeologist helping us wash the artifacts from Sieben at the Cinnamon Bay lab. Thanks for your help Tralyn!

Clearing began last week at L'Esperance, another plantation located in the same valley, from the same time, but just north of Sieben. We’ll keep everyone up to date with what is happening and what we find out about this plantation in the coming weeks.

L'Esperance Ruins


Luis Portugal said...

It has a nice blog.
Sorry not write more, but my English is bad writing.
A hug from my country, Portugal

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