Archeology & Heritage Program

Originally, the Virgin Islands National Park was established for its natural beauty and recreational resources. Since then, the Park Service has become aware of the rich cultural resources in the Park. The Virgin Islands National Park's management plans today reflect these significant cultural resources that collectively preserve a comprehensive picture of the Caribbean’s human heritage and development from prehistory to the present, on land and underwater.

Significant prehistoric sites are present on almost every beach and in every bay. These archeological sites date from as early as 840 BC to the arrival of Columbus. Only two prehistoric sites have been investigated in the Park: Cinnamon Bay and Trunk Bay. These sites have given us a greater understanding of the region’s prehistory and the religious and social development of the Taino culture. In addition, they have dramatically increased our understanding of the ancient rock art that is found throughout the Caribbean islands. We now know when Caribbean rock art was carved, why they were carved in these specific areas, (such as the petroglyphs found at Reef Bay), their purpose, religious meaning, and how they reflect cultural development.

The Friends supports and funds the Park's archeology projects, including the placement of interns to assist the Park Archeologist. The interns concentrate on archeological research, and assessment of archeological sites. This includes washing artifacts, creating technical drawings, attribute analysis, databases, vessel reconstruction, and field work to assess and monitor sites.

The archeological intern program employs students from a wide range of disciplines including archeology, ethnography, history, engineering, collections management, architecture and historic architecture, chemistry, photography, artifact conservation, computer sciences, maritime studies, and museum graphics. 
 
Throughout the school year, funding for field trips by local schools and the University of the Virgin Islands, as will as many schools from the States, is supported by the Friends.   Educators and their students visit the Park to learn about the prehistory and history of the island’s inhabitants, St. John's petroglyphs, and our multicultural heritage.  
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"These sites have given us a greater understanding of the region’s prehistory and the religious and social development of the Taino culture."
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