Published on: 12/4/2009.
by HEATHER-LYNN EVANSON
WITH AT LEAST one Amerindian site in danger of falling to developers and another already under the back-hoe, a noted professor has issued an urgent call for archaeological preservation legislation.
Peter Drewett, professor emeritus of archaeology of the University of Sussex, made the call after a round-the-island tour last weekend of Amerindian sites from Silver Sands, Christ Church, to Greenland, St Andrew.
The tour, dubbed Prehistoric Barbados: A Field Trip, was coordinated by the Barbados Museum & Historical Society.
Most, if not all, of the sites visited boasted major private development or had been turned into parks by Government.
"Barbados is probably now the only country in the entire world," Drewett told the WEEKEND NATION, "that has no legislation specifically to protect its archaeology."
He revealed that draft legislation was in the works for the past 25 years but "each Government in the last 25 years has promised that they would enact this legislation and for a variety of different reasons it has never happened".
"The island has lost a lot [of its archaeological sites, treasures and artefacts] but in many ways the more that is gone, means there is less and less surviving, so it becomes more and more important to preserve what you have got," he stressed.
"So it is more and more important to get that legislation through and have effective legislation. It's well overdue," he said.
Drewett, who conducted the field trip, revealed to those gathered at Chancery Lane/Long Beach, Christ Church, that there had been "endless proposals" for the area, which included caves known to hold Amerindian artefacts and a swamp, to be developed.
"But if this is developed, in terms of the environment, natural history and archaeology, you may as well write off Barbados," he said, adding that Amerindians lived at the site from around 200 AD to their disappearance in about 1200 AD.
And in the event that permission is given for the site to be developed, Drewett said a major archaeological excavation would have to be undertaken because "the whole of the Amerindian history of Barbados is right here and it is the only one left of this quality".
"If that (development) happens, this must be seriously looked at archaeologically. I mean we could have a development here but a sensitive one," he said.
Drewett also commented about the development under way at Port Ferdinand, St Peter, close to Six Men's.
Labelling the initial groundwork "that huge hole we passed", he told those on the field trip: "The whole of that was just machined out right down to bedrock without anyone doing any observation or archaeological work. It shouldn't have happened."
The professor hastened to add that Barbados was no different from any other island when it came to development.
"It's just a pity we haven't sorted out the legislation and because there is no legislation, the Museum (Barbados & Historical Society) cannot make Town and Country Planning ask the developers to submit to archaeological surveys."
* heatherlynevanson @nationnews.com
Monday, December 7, 2009
Protect historic sites!
Posted by Club Bimshire at 4:47 AM