Great Inagua Archaeology

In 2013 we took on an ambitious archaeological expedition, two islands in The Bahamas in four weeks. The students were ecstatic and I was chomping at the bit to get some thousand year old dirt under my fingernails. We began on the Island of Eleuthera, another story to be told later. After two weeks we arrived on the island of Great Inagua.

The Airport

We landed in a tiny propeller plain that blew out a tire upon landing at the above tiny airport. The customs line went smoothly and as always the Caribbean service was great, we got all our bags quickly and went off to our humble abode for the next two weeks.

When not excavating, there was not much to do on the little island of Great Inagua. So, one day we went roaring around in our 4×4 truck and went offroading. One of the students was worried as our glorious leader was driving recklessly and said, “I think you are going the wrong way and too fast”. He replied, “raise your hand if you have a PhD in Caribbean archaeology. Obviously no one did but just as those words came out of his mouth he slammed on the brakes and came centimeters away from nose diving into a salt lake. He tried to back up to no avail. The car was stuck.

Way to go!

Due to all the the salt in the air, not the reckless driving. The ball joint of the vehicle was cracked.

We set off on foot to take the long walk home. Luckily we were able to make the best of it, laugh it off, and take some great sunset pictures of the light house.

At the time,Enrica’s Inn was the fanciest place I had stayed at during excavation. Archaeologists typically cannot afford and do not stay at 5 star resorts for fieldwork. Enrica’s Inn was our spot, we shared many tall tales and ate lots of great home cooked meals on that back porch. The drive to the site took about 45 minutes.

Every morning was filled with a drive through strange looking terrain. Sometimes I felt like I was on the planet Tatooine from Star Wars. The site was found near the end of a road that was destroyed in 2008 by hurricane Ike, so the site was aptly named Ike’s cut. The cultural material recovered from this site was mesmerizing. The pottery appeared to all have been imported from near by islands, perhaps the Greater Antilles.

More than the rest we found fish remains. Due to the types of pottery and the amount of fish remains we interpreted the site as a precolonial fishing camp, where people came not necessarily to live full time but to exploit and use local resources temporarily before moving on or returning to where they came from. Overall, I would say the students learned a lot, enjoyed there time and created everlasting memories while reconstructing past Caribbean histories.

What a great crew. Thanks everyone for the memories!
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