Monday, May 24, 2010

Marlise’s Blog May
It’s hard for me to believe that I have already been working here for 5 months. I started as an archaeology intern here in mid-January after leaving the snow back home in Colorado. After a couple of months of living in the tents at Cinnamon, I finally got used to the cold showers and cooking on a gas burner. I would fall asleep to the sound of waves at night and wake up to lizards scurrying up the walls in the morning.
Moving here and working with Caribbean archaeology was very different than the south western archaeology I was familiar with. I had been working for an archaeology firm in western Colorado doing artifact drawings, graphic design and a variety of lab work. My first weeks down here were spent reading and learning about the history of the Virgin Islands.

Marlise in the excavation unit at Cinnamon

I have been impressed learning about the richness of the Taino culture. The artwork they created was rich in symbolic and religious meaning. The artifacts collected during archaeological excavations here on St. John include stone carvings and shell beads, ceramics adorned with human-like sculptures , as well as historic European artifacts People have been living on St. John for over 3000 years, with a history spanning from prehistoric peoples, European conquest and slave trade to cruise ships and tourism.¬¬
One of the things the interns have been doing here is giving archaeology talks at Maho resort. I watched the presentation a couple of times as the previous interns gave the talk and then gave the talk myself. People seem to really enjoy learning about the place they are visiting and the audience had lots of interesting questions. The most common question seems to be, however, “Why do they drive on the left-side of the road here?” No one really knows for sure, but the close proximity of the British Virgin Islands seems to be the origin. Talking with visitors about the work we are doing here is a big part of our job. Visitors come into the lab on the beach and look around or talk to us while we’re excavating and we’re able to answer people’s questions about the history of the island.
These last few months have been full of many different projects. We have mapped and took GPS points of plantation ruins on the steep hillsides of the island, continued working on the excavation behind the archaeology lab, and gone over to Hassel island for projects and talks. In April a new excavation at Cinnamon started and a crew was hired for the project. Matt, the other intern and I, were on the crew so we moved into housing with the crew chief. We also undertook the Danish International internship program during the month. We had three Danish students, Signe and Stig were our history students here to discover ruins they found in the archives. Casper was here to pursue his research on the prehistoric lithic (stone tools) of the island and how they compare to those in the collections in Denmark. I got to go out with the history students into the bush to help them locate three new plantations that are some of the first to be settled and abandoned on the island. As of this post I am working on developing the first interpretive signs for Hassel Island about the historic Creque Marine Railway.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, my name is Kristen and I really have no idea how to contact you guys other than to comment on your blog. I've been down to St John twice and the last time that I went I learned that there are post-grad students that get to travel and do archaeology. I just finished my first year in college and I'm majoring in Anthropology, but I really want to do Archaeology. My e-mail is and if any of you could tell me exactly how you got involved with this program, I would love to know and would greatly appreciate it :) Thank youuu! :)