St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research

 

 

 

 

 

 

The St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research (SECAR) was initally concieved in 1997. Archaeologists from the College of William and Mary, Virginia, USA had been conducting archaeological fieldwork on the island for almost twenty years. This research was led by Dr. Norman Barka. In 1982 Dr. Edwin Defleson and Dr. Norman Barka described St. Eustatius as the "Pompeii of the New World" (Dethlefsen, E., et al. 1982 Archaeology Magazine, pp. 8-15. vol. 35) because they believed that the island has the densest concentration of Colonial period artefacts in the Americas. This is due to the small size of the island relative to the density of trade and human habitation in the 18th century. The island also suffered a long depression from the 1850's until the 1980's, time stood still and very few old buildings were replaced by newer structures. However, by the late 1990's the economy on Statia was growing, mainly due to jobs at the oil terminal, and new homes and businesses were being built. Therefore in 1997 Dr. Norman Barka, a graduate student at William and Mary, Grant Gilmore, and members of the Historical Foundation, President Gay Soetekouw and Siem Dijkshoorn decided that it was important for St. Eustatius to have an archaeologist permanently based on the island with an archaeological research center as the base.

In September 2004 Grant Gilmore, who had since completed his PhD on "The Archaeology of New World Slave Societies: A Comparative Analysis with particular reference to St. Eustatius, Netherlands Antilles", was appointed by the Island Government as Island Archaeologist and Director of the St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research, which is under the St. Eustatius Historical Foundation. The objectives of SECAR are to promote cultural tourism (archaeology students and volunteers from all walks of life are taught about archaeological excavation on sites where SECAR is currently conducting research), education (the Island Archaeologist and SECAR interns go into the local schools to teach about archaeology and local history, SECAR runs a weekly Young Archaeologists Club and produces a monthly newletter for the local community), and preservation (the SEHF and SECAR are presently pressurizing the Government to pass a Monuments Ordinance that will protect all historical and archaeological sites from unchecked development). For more information about SECAR please visit www.secar.org

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