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|New(er) Eleutheran Adventurer remains found in Preachers Cave (Bluff, Eleuthera)|
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|Posted by:||Mar 13th 2007, 12:50:13 am|
|Fig Tree News Team||Nassau Guardian
By KRYSTEL ROLLE, Guardian Staff Reporter
Bones believed to be those of the first settlers in Eleuthera were excavated over the past few weeks, it was revealed yesterday.
A group of archaeologists in Preacher's Cave unearthed the remains of 11 people - five Lucayans and six Eleutheran Adventurers, including a baby - since their research began in January this year. The team headed by Chief Archaeologist Bob Carr, traveled to the cave expecting only to find artifacts from the Lucayans, Eleutheran Adventurers and African slaves, instead they found much more.
Mr Carr expressed his shock when the team stumbled upon the first body in the cave. "We were very surprised when we came across the bodies," he said. A surprise, he said, that was very welcomed. The team was "fortunate" to find the graves because when the Eleutheran Adventurers came after the Lucayans, they did their best to remove all of the graves to create a better living space for themselves, Carr explained.
Their most recent discovery was the remains of a headless man lying on top of a woman, in her mid-30's to early 40's, in a shallow grave, just a little over two feet deep.
The site recently became a tourist attraction and a popular field trip destination for school children. One tourist from Massachusetts who'd visited, described the scene as "fascinating".
"I really enjoyed learning about the cave and it's history. It's really fascinating actually. Thank you Jane (Historian and interim tour guide) for your information. I hope this site is recognized for it's value to the history of the area," the visitor noted in the guest book.
The cave, which was once a Puritan church then eventually became a grave site, is rich in history and must be recorded, Historian Jane Day said yesterday during a tour.
When their research is completed, the team will re-write the history books filling in the missing links, she explained.
Plans have been made and have begun to be put in place to transform the cave into a national museum. The bones dug up will be restored, recorded, and returned to the earth "because that was the intent of the people who put these remains here," Mr Carr said.
The cave is a site where many "firsts" occurred. The Lucayans were the first people in The Bahamas, coming there as early as AD 900. The excavation marked the first time Lucayan remains have been found by trained archaeologists in the place where they were buried; the pulpit, carved out of limestone, where minister Patrick Copeland preached was the first one in The Bahamas; and the remains discovered lying face down are the only one found in that position in the Caribbean, according to the archaeologists.
"So this is pretty significant," Bahamian archaeologist Michael Pateman said. "In The Bahamas," he explained (remains) are usually found by tourists or locals. The headless man was face down, with only his left pelvis, the sacrum, right pelvis bone and right femur uncovered up to that point. Right on top those bones was the foot from another individual.
Pateman suspects that the man's head may have been shipped off to Cuba, where Christopher Columbus reportedly saw removed heads in the chief's house.
"We don't know why he was buried face down so there are a lot of mysteries, and a lot of questions that still need to be answered. So as much as we're answering some questions other questions are appearing," Carr stated.
"This is the first time they have been documented with scientific accuracy by archaeologists. So we are hoping we will find out not only about their mortuary customs, but also about the chronology and exactly how they used the cave," Carr continued.
The final analysis is expected to take one year to complete for the skeletal remains and the thousands of artifacts that have been found.
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