Skeleton of pregnant woman found near Saba power plant

The skeleton of a pregnant woman from approximately the mid-eighteenth century was discovered Tuesday, near the construction site for Saba’s new power plant above Fort Bay.

The find was investigated by Jay. B. Haviser of Saba Archaeological Centre SABARC and senior researcher at the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University, the Netherlands, Professor Menno L.P. Hoogland.

Jay. B. Haviser of SABARC (standing) explaining the uncovered gravesite of the 18th century woman and her unborn child on Saba with Professor Menno Hoogland of Leiden University.
Jay. B. Haviser of SABARC (standing) explaining the uncovered gravesite of the 18th century woman and her unborn child on Saba with Professor Menno Hoogland of Leiden University.

A Leiden University research team headed by Hoogland and Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology Corinne Hofman were exca vating the area around the new power plant, which was known to have the remnants of an old historic cistern. The research is in cooperation with SABARC archaeologists Haviser and Ryan Espersen, who worked at the site last year.

This week, the skeleton of a woman with a developed child in her uterus was discovered at the site in the upper layers of the soil, where the archaeologists were excavating in search of an ancient Amerindian layer of artefacts, noted last year, that dates back thousands of years.

The historic gravesite is located over Fort Bay.
The historic gravesite is located over Fort Bay.

The ceramic artefacts recovered from the grave indicate the burial was from the mid 1700’s. It was also noted there was no coffin box, but possibly a burial shroud or gown, which was known for burials of the time, may have been used.

Of course, only the bones remained, as any other materials had decomposed by the time this 300-year-old skeleton was discovered.

The remains will be removed for further technical analyses, and afterward will eventually be re-buried. It is planned that some artefacts will be displayed at the soon-to-be-opened Saba Heritage Centre.

Once again, this find shows that Saba has a vital and diverse history. Haviser and Hoogland are excited about further potential finds on the location as it is one of the oldest archaeological sites on Saba.

There is currently no determination on a cause of death for this woman, but the body was obviously buried with respect.

The skeletal remains of the pregnant woman with the bones of her unborn child still visible.
The skeletal remains of the pregnant woman with the bones of her unborn child still visible.

The Police and government physician were contacted as is required by law, to initially be on the scene until it was confirmed that this was an archaeologicalcontext skeleton.

The Daily Herald.

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