SABARC completes archaeological work

Saba Archaeological Center SABARC announces the completion of archaeo­logical mitigation work at Giles Quarters/Black Rocks as part of the proposed new harbour project, that pre­serving a part of Saba’s heri­tage.

The work was undertaken by principal investigator Dr. Ryan Espersen and Dr. Jay Haviser, both associated with SABARC and Saba, having done archaeological work across Saba for many years. Despite the restrictions and other difficulties due to COVID-19, the project, sup­ported by the public entity, Port Project, Saba Health Services and others, was un­dertaken to satisfy both the legal requirements of the BES Maritime Management Act and the Malta/Valetta Treaty.

The three-week intensive project included archaeo­logical surveys of both the land and seafloor that would be impacted by the con­struction, to understand the length of time the site was occupied by people, how they lived, and what activities took place.

The team gave two pre­sentations of their findings, one on October 21 to a large gathering at Long Haul Grill in Windwardside, which in­cluded a display of some of the recovered artefacts: many stone grinding tools, shell tools, red-painted ce­ramics, and even a large cob­ble of red-marbled flint from southwestern Puerto Rico. The preliminary interpreta­tions of the team are that the Black Rocks site, although not a village, was probably a satellite site of the nearby Amerindian village at the present-day village of St. John’s, and dates between 400-600AD. This seaside lo­cation is the closest means for people then living in St. John’s to access the sea.

The site would have been a place to land their canoes, produce sisal rope from local agave and penguin cacti, and use these ropes to mend their fishing nets. Several special­ised stone tools for produc­ing rope, along with stone fishing net weighs, were found at the site to support this theory.

The cannons found on the seabed.

Two large ship cannons were found during the sea-floor survey, crossed one on top of the other. They are both nearly 8.2 feet (250 centimetres) long, and as no evidence of a shipwreck was found in the area, it appears they were intentionally sunk, either to reduce weight on a beached ship, or perhaps to prevent them from falling into enemy hands.

The second presentation was made to members of the Saba Island Council, Island Secretary Tim Muller, and Governor Jonathan Johnson, who fielded questions on the importance of archaeologi­cal mitigation and preserving heritage in Saba.

The Daily Herald.

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