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Friday, August 19, 2011

St. George's Archaeology Camp


I left the States in February 2010, thinking I was done with archaeology. It was my focus in college and a source of income for two years after, but a well-paid job with benefits and a future seemed like a faraway dream. Joining the Peace Corps, I thought, bottled that dream for a much later time. Thus, at my worksites in Grenada, I initially downplayed this background, highlighting instead my volunteering efforts and IT skills. Turns out, I almost missed a huge opportunity.

The idea of an archaeology summer camp had been swimming around my head for some time, but I didn't think it was really possible, logistically. Thus, I surprised myself when I ran into a friend from the Ministry's Heritage Office, Michael Jessamy, and blurted out the idea. He was immediately interested, and it was his enthusiasm- and approval- that encouraged me to start planning a small program.

Three months later, the St. George's Archaeology Camp was a huge success. For four weeks, twelve kids from around St. Georges came every morning to Queenspark to learn about archaeology, scientific method, and the history of Grenada. With the support of some friends back home, we bought a ton of equipment (trowels, tarpolines, screens, etc.), and ran a smooth operation that even attracted some media attention.

We had a scavenger hunt at the National Museum, toured archaeological sites around Grenada, and excavated three areas of Queenspark, including a real Arawak site along the St. Johns River. Surprisingly, all these excavations turned up prehistoric artifacts- even the initial "fake" ones I prepared! (So it seems that the entire area was heavily populated by Arawaks from about 0-600AD, based on preliminary analysis.)

Unfortunately, we had some major flooding during the fourth week- just before Carnival. Muddy water covered the whole area, including the school and our beautiful excavations. With little time left, we had to focus on cleaning up rather than completing the site. Thus, we're planning to finish the last excavations at the St. Johns River site sometime in October.

-JH