Monday, April 27, 2015


            My name is Joseph Bomberger. I graduated in 2013 from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania with a Bachelors in Anthropology/Archaeology. The past four and a half months have led me to the realization that the NPS Archaeology Internship Program, funded by the Friends, is truly incredible. In the short time I have held this internship, I have participated in an array of activities that have been enriching personally, professionally, and intellectually. I am honored to have been given the chance to take part in this excellent program.

Cinnamon Bay Archaeology Lab and Education Center

            This winter we completed the final touches on the exhibits at Cinnamon Bay. The Heritage Education Center and Archaeology Laboratory has been a decade-long labor of love under the excellent vision of Ken Wild and the Friends. Dozens of interns have contributed to this monumental achievement and the level of excellence in their work shows in the displays. Starting with a simple computer model in 2005, it has stayed remarkably true to the original vision. The Education Center has grown into a rare treat for visitors to experience. It chronicles the entirety of human habitation in the U.S. Virgin Islands from the first native peoples 3,000 years ago to the purchase of the territory in 1917. Amazingly, the exhibits provide so much information and yet they are accessible to any generation. This makes the Education Center a valuable resource for schools in the Virgin Islands, allowing the children to experience the full history of their home.

            Celebrating the completion of this project, more than seventy-five individuals attended the grand opening ceremony on February twenty-fifth, including keynote speaker Dave Worthington, the Chief of Interpretation and Cultural Resources for the VI National Park; Senator Myron Jackson, U.S. Virgin Islands cultural affairs representative; Joe Kessler, president of the Friends; and Ken Wild, VI National Park archaeologist. Also on hand were Makeia, spokesperson of the Taíno people in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Sean Krigger, deputy chief of the State Historic Preservation Office.

            A good portion of our time this season has been spent cataloguing and analyzing artifacts from the Cinnamon Bay digs, which began in 1998 and continued through 2014. We have been attempting to piece together a plethora of prehistoric pottery sherds. The diversity of these sherds and the complexity of their decorations are astounding. We have reconstructed pots of every size and shape imaginable, some with beautiful geometric patterns and interesting adornments. Equally impressive are the historic artifacts, though our focus has primarily been prehistoric. The historic ceramics are so varied that identifying them becomes quite fun. The amount of sub-varieties and regional variants of ceramics is incredible. The glass bottles are also diverse. They come in a surprising number of sizes, shapes, and colors which always keeps analysis interesting.

              Ken, Adam and Mikey (in order furthest to closest) moving artifacts with 'lift-bags' at Creque Marine Railway

            While we do not have any ongoing archaeological digs on St. John, the Friends have funded several restoration projects on Hassel Island under Ken Wild’s supervision. Earlier in the season we supervised the restoration of a historic lime kiln. Architectural plans are being drawn up for the restoration of the machine shop, and there are plans to build a coffer dam, drain the slip-way at the Creque Marine Railway and restore the walls to historic condition. To preserve the artifacts in the slipway, we have conducted dives to move them to deeper water. I have also had the pleasure of accompanying the Ken on the archaeological boat tour, which was quite a success. The interns presented at the annual Folk-life Festival and had possibly over one hundred people visited our booth over the course of the two day event.

Interns Grant Gittus (front-right) and Nanna Wienecke (center) disembarking at Leinster Bay

            We were joined at the end of March we were joined by two Danish interns – Nanna Wienecke and Louise Rasmussen – who have been conducting research in the Danish archives on the history of the Leinster Bay area. They were able to apply their knowledge of the historical record to help us discover and interpret more of the archaeological record.

            We may not have any active digs, but the work of an archaeologist is never over. It is important to remember that as archaeologists we are focused on the preservation of cultural resources. When tides threaten sites sometimes bold action is required to ensure the sites survival. Recently the waves uncovered a site at Cinnamon Bay. We were lucky enough to find it in time to run salvage operations and recover an exquisitely crafted red pot, relatively intact. Without the funding and support from the Friends for the NPS Archaeology Program this would not have been possible and the site would have been lost to the ocean. Thank you to everyone who came to the grand opening or have donated time, talent, or resources to the wonderful projects currently or previously sponsored by the Friends. We hope those who were not able to attend will be able to visit when they get a chance.

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