Archaeology Intern Log : Brittany Mistretta & Anna Chitwood : March to May 2022
A pre-Taíno village dating to pre-800 A.D. has recently been uncovered at the Cinnamon Bay Resort and Campground. The archaeology site was excavated in 2020 and 2021 before the construction of the Resort’s cottages. Starting in March 2022, Brittany, Devon, and I, with the help of volunteers, began sifting through piles of dirt that were excavated from the archaeology site. The excavated dirt is full of artifacts that came from trenches upwards of five feet deep. Prehistoric pottery sherds, shellfish, and marine animal bones comprise most of the cultural material we have found. However, we recently uncovered two ritual artifacts carved from diorite stone and conch shell (photo below).
The carved artifacts are named trigonoliticos or three pointers and are included amongst religious artifacts called zemis important to the people who lived at the village. Researchers suggest that trigonoliticos resemble fertility gods or idols and were used in agricultural rituals to ensure a healthy planting season. Similar three-pointed artifacts have been found at sites in neighboring islands such as Tortola and Puerto Rico. After further research, we discovered that similar three-pointed artifacts have been found on other Caribbean islands as far away as Trinidad and Tobago.
Archaeology excavations conducted in the 1990’s on Cinnamon Bay beach uncovered a Taíno ritual site that also included artifacts and food remains from other places, including guinea pig and gold-copper alloy pendants from South America. Finding the trigonoliticos at the pre-Taíno Cinnamon Bay Cottages site tells us that these groups also had a complex social network that spanned across many islands of the Caribbean, allowing people to share ideas and trade goods long distances.
Interested in helping us sift for artifacts? We are accepting walk-up volunteers! Visit us at our archaeology lab at Cinnamon Bay Monday through Friday and come prepared to get dirty.
More information on the Archaeology Program here.