HERA Spotlight: Transforming Archaeology into a Vibrant Legacy

Posted: 11 January, 2017

In our HERA-CARIB project we examined the transformations of the indigenous-Caribbean communities of the Lesser Antilles from AD 1000 until AD 1800, and re-approached and determined the impact of the first European settlement in this part of the New World. The multi-disciplinary research focus combined archaeology (Hofman, Hoogland, Mans, de Ruiter), archaeometry (Degryse, Neyt, Scott) and network science (Brandes, Brughmans, van Garderen). Besides their specific empirical data sets and research angles, another crucial part of this HERA-CARIB project was to contribute to heritage awareness, engaging multiple stakeholders at local and global scales.

Before the start of the HERA-CARIB project archaeologists Hofman (CPI) and Hoogland (senior researcher) started an excavation at Argyle, Saint Vincent, in 2009-2010. The direct incentive to conduct large scale excavations was a request by the National Trust of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, through Kathy Martin, to rescue Amerindian sites in an area that was to be greatly impacted by the construction of a new international airport.

The archaeological site appeared to comprise a relatively short early colonial occupation dating to the 16th-early 17th century of which the footprints were well conserved and distinguishable. Members of both Kalinago and Garifuna indigenous communities visited the on-going excavations several times. Based on the archaeological remains combined with early French historical sources, it was possible to interpret and connect the traces to indigenous house types and even to an entire village layout.

As part of the HERA-CARIB project, we revisited the island of Saint Vincent to participate in the Garifuna conference in March 2015. There, we presented the results of the Argyle excavations and through mediation and help of the Garifuna conference organizers (Zoila Ellis, David Williams & Vanessa Demirciyan) we received the green light to create a permanent exhibition in the new public library in Kingstown, the capital of Saint Vincent.  The centre piece of this exhibition is a large-scale model of the Argyle village, produced by Eric Pelissier. Posters produced by Jimmy Mans (postdoc) adorn the walls of the library and explain the context of the excavations.


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