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St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research
SECAR-The St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research
St. Eustatius (or Statia) was the primary trans-shipment center between Europe, the West Indies and the Americas between 1760 and 1800. For much of the American Revolution, Holland and France supplied US forces with much needed arms and ammunition through this port. Finally, the existence of the United States was first recognized by a foreign power here in November 1776 when a salute was fired to the USS Andrew Doria.
Although the island is only 7 km by 5 km (5 miles by 2 miles), there are over 90 documented plantation sites, 600 warehouse ruins, six church sites, numerous urban domestic and commercial structures (houses, taverns, brothels, stores, printing presses etc), 20+ fortifications, and an estimated 200+ shipwrecks located on and around the island. As a result, the island is considered to have the densest concentration of colonial period artifacts and sites for any location of comparable size anywhere in the world. Also, pre-historic sites are some of the best preserved in the Caribbean. A wide range of archaeological projects have been undertaken since 1979 by the College of William and Mary (USA), Leiden University (The Netherlands), and the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UK). The St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research (SECAR) has been established on the island as a permanent research facility designed to permit a continuous excavation program during the entire year. Many US and UK universities allow academic credit to be earned through participation in SECAR projects.
We are currently working on the possible site of Free Black Village just on the outskirts of Oranjestad. Recent projects have included discovery of a colonial Jewish Ceremonial Bath or Mikveh at Synagogue Honen Dalim (one of the oldest in the New World) and a Pottery Production site on Oranje Bay, and the first paleopathological study of a leper asylum anywhere in the New World. Similar projects are ongoing. Underwater archaeological programs may be under way as well.