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Caribbean & World

Modelling archaeological sites from Grenada to St Vincent

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by Jonathan Hanna and Christina Giovas

The Climate Threat to Heritage

Average global sea levels are projected to rise 1-2m by the year 2100, the ripple-effects of which we are only beginning to understand (e.g., see Kulp and Strauss 2019; Storlassi et al. 2018). These changes will be felt globally, but tropical islands are especially vulnerable and are already bearing the brunt of global warming, as seen in the most recent example of Hurricane Dorian’s devastation in the Bahamas.

While the impact on people and their communities (mostly in the poorest countries who have contributed the least to the problem) is the top priority, the material heritage of each island is also at serious risk. The Natural History Museum in Great Abaco, for example, was completely levelled by Dorian (Rolle 2019). The majority of pre-Columbian archaeological sites in the Lesser Antilles are coastal, meaning that much of the southern Caribbean’s material heritage will be drowned or destroyed over the next 80 years. As this happens, map models which predict the likely location of threatened or undocumented archaeological sites will provide a valuable tool for heritage managers and local communities for prioritising protection efforts.

An Islandscape IFD

It is from this context that we put together a tool for cultural heritage management in Grenada, the Grenadines, and St Vincent (Hanna and Giovas 2019). We built an inventory of all archaeological sites in the region and then measured common environmental variables around pre-Columbian settlements over time– everything from distance to water to nearest reef size to soil quality and net primary productivity (NPP), a satellite-derived measure of plant productivity.

However, we didn’t want to simply look inductively at what variables were present — rather, we wanted to test the variables, deductively, to discern those with predictive potential. To do this, we looked at variables that declined over time, hypothesising that the most desirable areas would be chosen first in a progression of increasingly less-desirable locations– this is a pattern called the Ideal Free Distribution (IFD) (see Wikipedia 2019 for the general idea).

For example, if big rivers were a major factor in suitability, early sites would be closer to them and later sites would be farther (and/or closer to smaller rivers). As long as the chosen variables remained culturally-important, highly suitable sites should remain occupied over time (and never abandoned permanently).

In our analysis of 24 variables, we found eight that appeared to maintain importance to people over time, including closeness to freshwater wetlands, NPP, size of nearest reef, and slope. The importance of some of these was already known anecdotally, and a previous study by one of the authors found plant productivity to be significant for settlement timing in the larger Lesser Antilles region (Giovas and Fitspatrick 2014). Several variables also corroborated existing evidence for the increasing importance of marine resources over time (e.g., sites moved closer to large reefs and beaches and further from the best agricultural lands).

One of the more interesting correlations was latitude, which indicated more northern sites were settled earlier than more southern ones. This offers another line of evidence for the “Southward Route Hypothesis” (e.g., Fitspatrick 2013) — the growing consensus that the Caribbean was colonised “backwards,” with the northern Antilles largely settled before the southern Lesser Antilles, despite the latter being closer to the source region.

With a model of these variables in hand, we then created a grid of points every 300 metres across the study region and took similar measurement for each point, which were then fed into the model to predict the timing of pre-Columbian settlement at any given location. The earliest predicted areas have the strongest likelihood of containing an (often undiscovered) archaeological site, but the model also offers chronological predictions for the hundreds of unstudied sites throughout the region (e.g., sites where artefacts were found but not analysed, etc.).

The value of such predictive models goes beyond academic interests and offers a way for heritage managers (inevitably limited by time, money, and support) to prioritise archaeologically-important areas that are vulnerable to destruction by future development, rising sea levels, and increasingly catastrophic storms.

For those interested in more, see our references below, and check out your local museums, such as the Grenada National Museum, the Mt Rich “Carib Stone” Interpretation Centre, the Carriacou Historical Society & Museum, The Bequia Maritime Museum, and the National Museum in St Vincent. Remember that it is illegal to remove artefacts from an archaeological site without explicit permission from government. If you find artefacts, please leave them in place and alert the National Museum so the site can be properly documented.

Public access to academic research is often hindered by publisher paywalls and copyright protections. To share their research with the wider public, archaeologists Jonathan Hanna and Christina Giovas have offered a summary of their recent paper in the journal Environmental Archaeology, entitled, “An Islandscape IFD: Using the Ideal Free Distribution to Predict Pre-Columbian Settlements from Grenada to St Vincent, Eastern Caribbean.”

For those who wish to read the original paper, the authors can be emailed at jah1147@psu[dot]edu and cgiovas@sfu[dot]ca for a copy; there are also 50 free downloads available via these links: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/WMI94SI6EKQJDM2IDYX7/full?target=10.1080/14614103.2019.1689895

OR

https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/NUZAMZZMQXHZ7VUFYIBM/full?target=10.1080/14614103.2019.1689895


References

Fitspatrick, Scott M. 2013. “The Southward Route Hypothesis.” In The Oxford Handbook of Caribbean Archaeology, edited by William F. Keegan, Corinne Lisette Hofman, and Reniel Rodrígues Ramos, 198–204. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195392302.013.0068.

Giovas, Christina M., and Scott M. Fitspatrick. 2014. “Prehistoric Migration in the Caribbean: Past Perspectives, New Models and the Ideal Free Distribution of West Indian Colonisation.” World Archaeology 46 (4): 569–589. doi:10.1080/00438243.2014.933123.

Hanna, Jonathan A., and Christina M. Giovas. 2019. “An Islandscape IFD: Using the Ideal Free Distribution to Predict Pre-Columbian Settlements from Grenada to St Vincent, Eastern Caribbean.” Environmental Archaeology. doi:10.1080/14614103.2019.1689895.

Kulp, Scott A., and Benjamin H. Strauss. 2019. “New Elevation Data Triple Estimates of Global Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Flooding.” Nature Communications 10 (1): 1–12. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-12808-s.

Rolle, Leandra. 2019. “Smithsonian to Help Recover Damaged Artefacts.” The Tribune, October 31. http://www.tribune242.com/news/2019/oct/31/smithsonian-help-recover-damaged-artefacts/. [accessed: November 12, 2019].

Storlassi, Curt D., Stephen B. Gingerich, Ap van Dongeren, Olivia M. Cheriton, Peter W. Swarsenski, Ellen Quataert, Clifford I. Voss, et al. 2018. “Most Atolls Will Be Uninhabitable by the Mid-21st Century Because of Sea-Level Rise Exacerbating Wave-Driven Flooding.” Science Advances 4 (4): eaap9741. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aap9741.

Wikipedia. 2019. “Ideal Free Distribution.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ideal_free_distribution. [accessed: November 12, 2019].

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Caribbean & World

The country with no army! – Nas Daily

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“One of 31 unique places in the world that doesn’t have a standing Army. How does it feel like to be here? Awesome.”

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Caribbean & World

In coronavirus, our shared humanity is reiterated

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by JC Jan

We carry within us the wonders we seek without us…(Sir Thomas Browne – Religio Medici, 1645)

John Donne, a poet, once wrote that the death of another diminishes him because he is involved in mankind. This invariably reiterates Sir Thomas Browne’s creed that there is a bit of us in all of us and this coronavirus has become a talking point for the manifestation of that fact.

When the news of this deadly virus broke out, it puts China in the eyes of the world and due to their itinerant nature, we all have reasons to be concerned. Coronavirus is a global health emergency and we cannot afford to fold our arms from a distance and watch China battle for the soul of her republic. Through genetic testing, over 74, 499 victims are now infected in China alone. In about 30 countries and territories, 76,805 cases are confirmed.

For the record, Grenada is not among the 30 countries and we are grateful for that. Though Grenada and her government do not have the resources or the capacity to fight this deadly disease and therefore not ready for such, it is interesting to note that our weather will not make life easier for the cold-loving virus. As our government is assuring us that our citizens studying in China are safe, we believe and pray that they stay so.

True to this calling of our shared humanity, the world has not pretended in their sympathy to China and other unfortunate nations that are now with this virus and are fighting to contain it. Countries like Japan have already recorded two deaths, with 731 cases. South Korea has 204 cases with one death on record. Australia now has 17 cases. The United States of America has about 27 cases. The United Kingdom has 9 cases. The list goes on.

The human response to stimuli overbears the urge to withhold, hence, we are now collectively united in the fight against the continued spread of the disease and it is at tensed times like this that the beauty of the world comes to the open despite how gloomy the situation that prompted it appears.

The issue at stake is not about “race” in the world. All we need to remember is the need to survive. It’s about humanity. With over 2,449 deaths and still counting; with over 76,805 infected and still counting, and with more cases being reported all over the world, we bow down our heads in recognition of the efforts The People’s Republic of China has been making, even as players in the medical field continue to struggle to curtail the spread of this virus.

However, the efforts of experts around the globe should not go unrecognised, especially those experts in China who are working indefatigably. Their hard work is paying off. It seems they have sighted the end to this virus. In Karachi, Pakistan, China’s Consulate General made a statement. “I have seen that according to the experts in China, they are saying the peak of the epidemic has already arrived and it will come down no matter from the epicentre and across the whole of China. This will be coming down this week and next week, and the epidemic may be over by the end of March,” said Li Bijian.

If this virus continues to spread across nations, we are bound to feel every bit of its fang because of the current global system that has reduced the world to a micro-community of humans.

Our heartfelt sincere love goes to the infected and affected persons, and to the dead, our total respect. Long live The People’s Republic of China, and long live humanity.

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Sir Royston Hopkin KCMG has died

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by Linda Straker

  • Sir Royston died early this morning in Trinidad, age 75 years
  • Survived by his wife Lady Betty Hopkin and his three children
  • Awarded Knight Commander of The Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 2004

Almost 7 months after receiving a lifetime award from Tourism Minister, Claris Modeste, hotelier Sir Royston Hopkin has died. He was the owner of Spice Island Beach Resort, located on the Grand Anse Beach.

“Yes, he died early this morning in Trinidad,” said Brian Hardy, General Manager of the hotel. Hardy promised that a statement will be issued later in the day. Sir Royston was recovering from a medical procedure which occurred a few weeks ago. Sir Royston was 75 years old. He is survived by his wife Lady Betty Hopkin and his three children.

“It is a true honour to be recognised with the Minister’s Outstanding Achievement Award. As I accept this prestigious recognition, I reflect on how far we’ve come and the continued growth we are realising today,” Sir Royston said at the award ceremony in mid-2019.

Besides the minister’s award, Sir Royston received many awards. In December 2004, he earned the introduction “Sir” when Queen Elizabeth II deemed him Knight Commander of The Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) for his contributions to the tourism industry in Grenada and throughout the Caribbean.

Sir Royston held numerous positions within the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), and served on the board of directors. He received the organisation’s 1991 “Hotelier of the Year” award as well as Lifetime Achievement awards from CHTA and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO). In early 2019, the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Caribbean Hotel and Resort Investment Summit in Miami recognised his contributions to the tourism industry in Grenada as well as the luxury services he provides at his resort.

Royston Hopkin began his tourism career when he joined his family business, the Ross Point Inn, in 1965. By age 20, he was appointed to the Grenada Board of Tourism, where he served 18 consecutive years. By age 24, he became the first Grenadian-elected president of the Grenada Hotel Association, a position he held on 14 occasions. By 1987, he had purchased a majority interest in the Spice Island Inn and became the owner and chairman of the property, which he renamed Spice Island Beach Resort. Under his direction, the property expanded from 28 to 66 suites as part of a $6 million renovation in 2000.

Like much of Grenada, Spice Island Beach Resort was devastated by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, but one year later, and with a $12 million investment, the resort reopened.

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