Tuesday, May 10, 2011

VIIS Cultural Resource Project Updates -- 5/10/2011. The following projects were made possible either in part or whole through funding provided by the Friends of the Park.

Heritage education station and archaeology laboratory -- The work to restore and prepare the Cinnamon Bay warehouse/great house for the new heritage education station and archaeology laboratory began April 26. The archaeology lab has moved out of the historic structure and into a freight container at Cinnamon Bay. The public may still find folks out there a few days a week working out of the container as the park continues to excavate and analyze and catalog artifacts.
Work to be completed before the exhibit cases are installed is extensive. The concrete floor will be taken out and all electrical wiring will be installed in a new lime floor for the museum cases and lab tables. The windows and doors will be replaced with 18th century period construction techniques using hardwood and hand forged hardware. The walls will be lime plastered where needed and lime washed. A new security system will be installed along with phone lines and internet for research. The contract also includes the construction of discovery drawers for education purposes and a 60 inch indoor / outdoor tv screen for educational presentations. Accessibility will be provided everyone as a concrete sidewalk and a ramp into the building will also be built.

Accessibility Trail -- Investigations and monitoring of the accessibility trail at the Cinnamon Bay factory area is complete. In the process the investigations documented several surface remains and features that have helped the park define the village for those that were enslaved at this plantation. Friend’s archaeology funds were used to remove the plywood over the doors and windows of one of the historic structures along the walk. Using the archaeological information derived from the work done for the trail and using the guidelines for historic restoration, the shutters, doors and hand forged hardware were restored as defined for 18th century construction.

Cinnamon Bay Reburial -- This year the completion of the excavation unit at Cinnamon Bay for the reburial of the human remains is a high priority. In the last 10 centimeters excavated, eye inlays for wooden zemi statues were recovered along with beads used to make a chiefdoms belt and a three pointed zemi stone. The park is also intent on analyzing and cataloging many of the prehistoric items from this site. So far this year we are averaging approximately a thousand objects a month.

Artifact Research -- Speaking of prehistoric stone artifacts last month her Majesty’s Master and Commander and one of our favourite Danish interns Casper Toftgaard joined us again with new discoveries from the Danish National Museum. Casper is researching stone axes in the Danish collections that were excavated from St. John and taken to Copenhagen. In so doing he has found a complete stone ball belt from here (the implications of which are very significant) and has also provided the park with excellent photographs of the ball court stones from St. Croix’s Salt River Bay site and many other artifacts from here and across the region.

We also hoisted another Caribbean lithic researcher, Professor Sebastiaan Knippenberg of Leiden University, Netherlands who is the leading expert studying island stone sources to determine where stone tools originate from within the Caribbean. Sebastiaan completed his field research here in November. His report will help us sort our stone tools and determine what island they came from.

From Left to Right -- Intern Savanna, Leiden University Researcher Sebastiaan, park archaeologist Kourtney, Danish History student coordinator in Denmark and former Danish intern Jonas, and Kourtney's sister Carol

Historic Structures Preservation Projects -- The project to stabilize historic ruins at Catherineberg and the factory area at Cinnamon Bay has begun. The work is being completed by a local mason contractor and monitored by cultural resource staff. The mortar used in these types of preservation / stabilization efforts is key to long term preservation efforts. Therefore, mortar sample analysis was completed for this project. Bedding mortar and wall capping will be completed with Type S lime mortar with white cement and sand. All visible work and work around soft historic brick will consist of Virginia Lime Works Natural Hydraulic Lime (NHL) 3.5 and sand in the ratio determined by the mortar analysis. Most of the work to be completed consists of pointing and wall capping. However, in consultation with the VI Historic Preservation Office it was decided that the factory at Catherineberg should be restored as the photographic record depicts. At Cinnamon Bay the graves and the one fallen stone entrance column will be restored. Work is currently underway at the Catherineberg factory.

Historic Sites Research through the International Internship Program -- Currently two Danish history students from the University of Copenhagen, Lasse Rodewald and Aske Stick are here to help the park locate historic 18th century sites along the coast of Reef Bay. The students have spent several months researching in the archives in Denmark. After their month stay here they will return to spend several more months researching and writing up what they have found in the field. So far they have located what they believe is Rift Parret’s house. Rift had a wife, five children and three enslaved workers when he died in 1739. We were hoping to involve the community in this project more but unfortunately the areas we have had to survey are very steep, covered in Christmas bush, wild pineapple and catch and keep. Therefore we have been somewhat reluctant to invite the public.

Left to Right - Danish intern Aske, Beloit College intern Dave, Danish intern Lasse and Museum studies intern Christel at the Rift Parret ruins.

Maritime Research Projects -- Two underwater survey projects continue as time and resources allow. One project aims to complete the park’s efforts to install moorings for large boats. To complete this installation requires 106 compliance that insures that no significant resources will be damaged as a result of this action. The first half of this project; a magnetometer survey of the proposed site areas has been completed. Currently, the anomalies are being mapped so that ground truthing can be undertaken.

The other project is being completed in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The goal of this project is to locate cultural resources and abandoned and illegal traps in the Coral Reef National Monument. The project started with the use of Navy self guiding side scan sonar torpedo shaped devices that located and scanned possible targets. Since the majority of the survey area was completed in over 100 to 130 feet of water it was determined to be too time consuming to dive on the large number of targets identified. As a result NOAA’s research vessel the Nancy Foster was brought down in March and we used an ROV to basically fly to and video record each target. Two possible wreck sites were identified for further ground truthing investigations, as were illegal fish traps in the park and the documentation of several lion fish at 110 feet.

Hassel Island -- Work continues on Hassel Island. This last month we completed surface data recovery for a portion of the new trail to the Officers Quarters. Our work will continue as we map out the route from the Officers Quarters to Cowell Battery and complete data recovery as required to complete 106 compliance.

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