Monday, April 18, 2011


Hello my name is Rachel Applefield and I am a Cultural Anthropology major from the University of North Carolina Asheville and the newest intern. In the fall of 2011 I will be attending grad school to pursue Marine Archaeology with an emphasis on the historic period of the Caribbean and technologies associated with submergence archaeology. Given my interests, the opportunity to be able to come down to the Virgin Islands and intern with the National Park Service seemed fitting, not to mention exciting.

During my first week I, along with NPS archaeologists Ken Wild, Kourtney Donohue and magnetometer specialist Tim Smith from Denver, traversed seven of the bays around St. John pulling and learning about the ways of a magnetometer which reads magnetic fields. NPS wants to put in moorings that can accommodate larger vessels; the magnetometer will help us locate anomalies that could be shipwrecks before putting the moorings in place. Now that the readings have been taken and the data compiled, Ken and Kourtney can dive and discover the nature and composition of these anomalies.

On January 21st I was able to accompany Ken as he led a group of volunteers on a petroglyph hunt after a mysterious black and white photo of a previously unknown petroglyph in the Reef Bay area was brought to Ken’s attention. Armed with a copy of the photo the group searched around the petroglyph pool ; it was finally discovered by a couple of archaeology enthusiasts, Sue and Darrell Borger from Racine, WI. After studying the rock fissures in the photograph, Sue Borger was able to recognize and locate the rock face with the ancient glyph. The geometric glyph which has been found in other parts of the Lesser Antilles but not within the Virgin Islands is thought to predate the classic Taino period and could serve as evidence to an earlier pre-Taino culture’s existence on the island.
*The picture below is the original and had been chalked. In order to help preserve them, petroglyphs should never be chalked.

Joining me down here are recent grads Steve Jankiewicz from University of Illinois, Dave Simpson from Beloit College and Crystal Williams of Wake Forest. These interns are coming in with anthropology backgrounds and experience in CRM work and museum studies.
Dave and Steve are working on doing historic analysis of artifacts removed when an accessibility trail to the Cinnamon Bay factory and great house was put in. Crystal along with local intern Chela Thomas are busy in the archaeology lab doing museum curation and cataloging. As for me, I will be compiling a list of the plantation ruins on NPS land that are accessible to the public and putting together a brief history pamphlet that will be made available to visitors of the lab.
In addition to this Dave, Steve, Kourtney and I have been busy excavating the unit behind the lab for the burial of human remains from a historic period cemetery that had washed out because of beach erosion. We have also begun to look for and document new sub-sites at the L’Esperance plantation ruins.
Check back for more later!

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