Alumnus makes Surprising Finds on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

He’s digging up the past–somewhere between 200 BC and 400 AD–in an unexpected archaeological excavation in downtown Charlotte Amalie on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.

David Hayes, who got his MS in Industrial Archaeology from Michigan Tech in 2000, is principal investigator for a year-old dig that began when he noticed pottery popping out of a highway improvement site. The highway work was stopped, and the pieces have since been dated to early ceramic makers and farmers of the Saladoid era, 2000 to 1,400 years ago.

“This is a major discovery,” Hayes said. “Very rich.” In addition to the shards, he’s found animal bones, shell beads, shell bows “and a lot more, like faces in clay.”

These types of finds are rare in the Caribbean, he said.

Hayes and his helpers, some 25 strong, are working against the clock because on Feb. 7, water lines are scheduled to go into the ground and destroy the site.

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Published in Tech Today by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor