January, Caribbean, Underwater Archaeology


Field school opportunity with the St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research:

Underwater archaeological research on St. Eustatius, a tiny Dutch island in the northeastern Caribbean, is shedding new light on the island’s maritime history. St. Eustatius was the busiest trade port in the late eighteenth-century Caribbean and played an instrumental role in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) by supplying the North American rebels with vast quantities of arms and ammunition in their fight for freedom.
Last year, hurricanes Irma and Maria stirred up the sea floor in the island’s historic anchorage area, thereby exposing several colonial-period shipwreck sites. A team of students and volunteers led by maritime archaeologist Ruud Stelten from the St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research has been working hard on documenting and studying one of these shipwrecks.

The site consists of a large pile of ballast stones and yellow bricks, countless pieces of metal fastenings, numerous barrel hoops, an anchor, a cannon, and a myriad of eighteenth-century glass, ceramic, and small metal objects. Thus far, 3D models have been created of certain parts of the site using photogrammetry, detailed site plans have been drawn up, and several artifacts have been recovered and conserved. Based on the date ranges of artifacts recovered, it is believed the wreck site dates to 1747, when a hurricane sank 68 ships in St. Eustatius’ harbor.

The research will continue with an exciting 2-week field school in January.

For more information or to sign up, email ruudstelten@gmail.com

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