Banner image: Previous TCI archaeological dig site. Copyright: Turks & Caicos National Museum Foundation

An important 14th Century Lucayan Arawak archaeological site is to be excavated this October near the west end of Long Bay, Providenciales, TCI.   On the site of the future "South Bank” residential marina development near the Caicos Marina and Shipyard, the dig area is to be explored and analysed in search of information on Lucayan relationships with local marine resources, kinship networks and trading partners among the indigenous people from Hispaniola and Cuba.

Cemis - ceramic and shell artifacts from a Lucayan site on Middle Caicos. Copyright: Turks & Caicos National Museum Foundation

The dig will be led by archaeologist Dr Shaun Sullivan, who began work in the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1976.  Much of the work he has done was on Middle Caicos, but Providenciales also has its own deep cultural history and archaeological sites.  At the South Bank site, Dr Sullivan has conducted test excavations and found that it was the location of a Lucayan village, occupied during the 14th Century AD (according to radiocarbon dating). He found it to be unusually rich in ceramics imported from contemporary Taino brethren from the Greater Antilles.  “The imported pre-Columbian ceramics at the site provide a guide that we shall use to help map maritime trade routes and to identify exchange partners among the Taino Indian groups on the large islands to the south,” said Dr Sullivan. 

Agile LeVin and Dr Shaun Sullivan on an earlier archaelogical survey on Middle Caicos. Copyright: Turks & Caicos National Museum Foundation

Windward Long Bay Ltd – developer of the South Bank development - is a major underwriter for this project and is facilitating this scientific research, as a contribution to island cultural preservation in anticipation of following development of the site.  “As such, we are proud to be able to support Dr Sullivan and his team in documenting TCI heritage whilst also introducing students and volunteers to the practical side of archeology. We hope that the dig provides exciting new insights into the islands’ ancestors.” said Ivor Stanbrook, Director of Windward Long Bay Ltd. 

Sail Beluga and the non-profits Turks and Caicos Reef Fund and the Anthropological Research Council are also sponsors of this project.   Materials recovered from the site will be curated by the Turks and Caicos National Museum Foundation, another partner on this project.  The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources, the Department of Education, the Department of Culture, and the Turks and Caicos National Trust are involved.  The Director of the National Museum, Dr Michael Pateman, said “This is an important step in allowing people from the Turks and Caicos Islands to explore and uncover the history of these islands.”  Students from local schools are expected to be participants in the excavation. 

The South Bank dig is in search of volunteer field crew members and financial contributors.   “The Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is proud to help support this important cultural and historical effort,” said Don Stark, Chairman of the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund.  Anyone interested in assisting with this important cultural preservation effort as field crew members please contact Dr Shaun Sullivan via email ([email protected]) or by phone (+1-703-966-3219).  Volunteers can also contact the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund via their [email protected] email address.

The anticipated project costs, including the excavations and follow on laboratory analyses, are US$24,000.   The project already has financial commitments of US$18,000 from the four major sponsors but the project still requires additional funding.  Contributions can be made via PayPal by clicking the PayPal button on the South Bank Dig webpage (www.tcreef.org/archeologicaldig.html) or by cheque or cash donation given to either John Hingley and Janine Popick (+1-649-246-3755).