My name is Alessia Isolani and I am working as an Archeology intern funded by Student Conservation Association (SCA) and Friends of Virgin Islands National Park and will be here on St. John for the next year. I was born and raised on St. Thomas before my family relocated to California where I completed a B.S. in Anthropology and Geography and concentrated in Archeology. I am thrilled to be back home getting to gain more archeology experience in such a complex and incredible National Park. My time here on St. John has already been filled with wonderful working and learning experiences.
For the past two weeks, I joined Park Archeologist Ken Wild and a team of divers from the Southeast Archeological Center (SEAC) and the Submerged Resources Center (SRC) for a survey of magnetometer anomalies on the North Shore of the Park lands. I worked with the team both documenting dive times, dive records, and underwater conditions as well as in the water observing their dives and survey methods. The team of divers we worked with were very helpful in explaining aspects of the methodology and pre-dive planning. The survey we conducted during this time was a result of previous research that had been funded by Friends of Virgin Islands National Park. I was able to learn a lot about Maritime Archeology, as well as Virgin Islands and St. John history.
As my time working with the dive team came to an end, things never slowed down as another group of specialized professionals from the NPS Hurricane Irma and Maria team came to St. John as part of the process of rebuilding and preserving historical resources that had sustained damage from the recent hurricanes. The team included people focused on botany, wetland/mangrove preservation, beach stabilization, historic structure preservation, historic architecture, and inventory of cultural resources. It was a great experience to see how much work goes into making sure St. John’s natural and historical resources are preserved and protected from the often volatile and damaging weather conditions. I learned about government compliance reports, and was able to get a more complete view of everything that goes into the National Parks Service.
I’d like to thank Friends of Virgin Islands National Park for making this internship opportunity available and supporting archeology in the park, and Ken Wild for all of the work he does for the archeological record and cultural resources in the National Parks. I have had an incredible two weeks working for VI National Park, and am looking forward to the rest of my year.
Alessia Isolani (left) and SEAC Dive Team leader Eric Bezemek monitoring a dive. ©Photo by SEAC
SEAC, SRC, and VIIS divers ©Photo by Ken Wild