Eleuthera, The Bahamas

William Sayle was discussing what religious freedom entails with his assistant Captain Butler. They disagreed so fervently that William Sayle parted ways with him in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The year was 1648 and Sayle took with him som 70 passengers from Bermuda looking for land they could practice their religious freedom on. However, a massive storm appeared and crashed their boat along the coast of a little known island originally named Yukanaka (an Indigenous Peoples’ name meaning our peoples’ rocky island to the North). One of Sayle’s passengers was John Cox, who is my direct ancestor from my mother’s side of the family. This group of ship wreck survivors renamed the island Eleuthera, which is derived from a Greek word meaning free.

The island of Eleuthera

363 years later in 2011, I get a request to help lead an archaeological excavation on the same island! It was my first time in such a position of authority. Many lessons were learned by both myself and the students. The people that lived on this island before European invasions lived as close to the water as possible because the ocean was basically their grocery store and office for work.

One of our excavation units

An interesting discovery during the excavation on the beach was a post hole. This is likely the remains of a structural post for one of their houses. We pondered over the shape of the house which you can see by the different colors of soil.

The remains of a post hole

Sometimes instructions are direct such as with lectures and class room settings. Other times conversations create reciprocal learning and it happens fluidly such as, when you sit on a pile of dirt with a student and discuss the days work of excavation. Thanks Jack!

We also have a lot of fun on fieldwork. Here are some of the students goofing around in the dormitories. It’s good to have a balance of education, hard work, relaxation, and fun.

Many of you are off creating grand lives of which I am jealous. I am proud of all of us and wanted to thank you for participating in one of my first field schools. I hope this summer long ago is still a fond memory.

The island school

During this trip we stayed at the island school (http://www.islandschool.org/). This research facility is a study abroad high school where sophomores and juniors from around the world spend a semester learning outside the walls of the classroom. Surprisingly Amanda Henry (click link to see her profile), who is one of my esteemed colleagues, her brother started this school. It is amazing to me that one of my ancestors helped provide the name of the island and populated it with children, I was fortunate enough to carry out archaeology here, and my colleagues brother created the infrastructure that made this work possible.

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1 thought on “Eleuthera, The Bahamas

  1. HEY!! GREAT ARTICLE… amazing story 🙂



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