Monday, April 18, 2011
Hello all! My name is Crystal and for the past 3 months I have been interning at the Archaeology Lab/Museum at Cinnamon Bay. Unlike most of the other individuals who come down to work at Cinnamon, however, I was not an Archaeology intern but a Museum Studies intern. This meant that my days were spent in the lab cataloging and analyzing artifacts, although I was allowed to help with the excavation occurring behind the lab a few times, which was very educational. It was interesting to see how methodical all of the archaeology interns had to be while digging and mapping the unit, as well as to see all the artifacts that I later washed and cataloged in situ or in context with each other. While I have a BA in Anthropology and have taken a few archaeology classes, I never attended a field school so it was fun to see this aspect of the work. As I mentioned earlier, the majority of my time was spent cataloging and doing preliminary analysis of artifacts within the lab’s collections, the majority of which were from an excavation at Cinnamon Bay that took place from 1998-2000, at a site that is believed to have been a Taino ceremonial center. While this was technically my main responsibility, I also spent a good deal of time talking to everyone that came into the lab, explaining what we were doing and answering questions about the history and prehistory of St. John. The most interesting project I was given, however, was when I was asked to design mobile displays for the St. John’s Arts Festival, which took place at the end of February. Not only did this allow me to tap into my artsy/designer side, it meant that I got to handle our more impressive artifacts that are often kept in storage, as they are usually too delicate to be put on display, such as the Taino offering of closed bivalves that was removed in one piece from the 1998-2000 excavation at Cinnamon Bay, and the multiple miniscule shell beads that would be in danger of being lost if left on the display cases currently in the lab. Being able to work with these artifacts, especially the ceramics, also meant that I learned quite a bit about the chronology of the cultures that inhabited the island. It is one thing to read about how the effigies that adorned the offering vessels changed over the centuries from being very anthropomorphic, or human-like, in appearance, to having bat noses and headdresses. It is quite another to see it all in a case in front of you, and to have the effigies matched up with other ceramics from the time period. It was very sad day when I had to put all of the artifacts back into storage and return to simply describing them to the museum’s visitors. It is also very depressing that I had to leave before the renovations on the lab finished, but all internships must eventually come to an end. With any luck I will return to St. John in the near future and be able to see these artifacts on permanent display, telling the long, long story of the history of St. John.