Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 4th 2014 Contents URVASHI TIWARI-ROOPNARINE
Opponents of the Solomon
Hochoy Highway extension to
Point Fortin argue that Debe to Mon
Desir leg poses a danger to the Ban-
wari Trace archaeological site.
The site is a one-and-a-half lot
of land bordered by a fence and has
recently been acquired by the state.
Even though signs were never erect-
ed, residents and experts have been
calling for proper preservation to
prevent possible damage to the site.
The caretaker, Hamlet Harriper-
sad, says he was just 19 when
archaeologists stumbled across skele-
tal remains on a mound in a canefield
after digging just about 20cm on his
grandfather s land.
"They come with something like
what they does use to check (under-
ground) pipe and they get a signal,"
Carbon dating tests confirm that
the remains found by archaeologists
Peter Harris and Archibald Chow
Han Sing are of the oldest West Indi-
an man or woman, dating back to
The site is some 200 metres from
where the highway network will run.
"When you come to cut cane and
load cart, you jumping around, play-
ing around but I never thought you
would find something like that here,"
Hamlet said he worked side-by-
side with the archaeologists and
even witnessed the excavation
which unearthed tools and other
artefacts just north of where the
remains were found.
He said due care was taken during
the digs as they feared the bones
would wither to dust by simply
"Before they take out anything
they spray the bones with something
to make it hard so they could take
"They didn t dig with shovel, they
use something like a trowel what
they does do mortaring with and for
every centimetre they dig they mark
it with these nails," he recalled, as
he pointed to the open ditch.
The site and other artefacts shed
light on a period when Trinidad was
connected to the South American
The University of the West Indies
writes: "As the oldest archaic site in
the West Indies, Banwari Trace clear-
ly indicates that southwest Trinidad
was one of the first migratory stops
for northward-bound archaic settlers
who eventually colonised several
islands in the Caribbean archipela-
go."At 64 years old, Hamlet lives to
tell the stories told to him by the
now deceased archaeologists.
"Some of them (pre Colombian
settlers) used to stay here and others
in San Fernando Hill so to get signal
they used to burn tobacco," he said,
as he pointed to the historical land-
mark in the distance.
The shells of fresh water oyster
swere seen scattered during a trek
through the site. Tests showed the
shells were as old as the remains
and were believed to comprise the
main diet of the settlers.
Hamlet, a retired heavy machinery
operator, was once part of the High-
way Re-route Movement and said
he was angered by the government s
insistence on maintaining the select-
ed highway route.
He recalled that a government
minister was once among those who
protested the highway passing
through the site.
"(Dr Roodal) Moonilal march in
Debe with us. They don t want it to
pass through the village. The people
from here, we live off the land... we
mind animals, we plant a baigan,
plant a tomato, plant a pepper, we
don t ask anybody for handouts," he
"The Prime Minister campaign
against this, the smelter and no
property tax. I personally campaign
for she and in the long run she still
talking she have to pass it here...
Why?" Hamlet asked.
While the site is 200 hundred
metres from the highway, the envi-
ronmental impact assesment only
considered a 100-metre proxim-
"According to the archaeologist,
I am not an archaeologist, but they
said the highway will affect the site
with noise pollution and pollution,"
Minister in the Ministry of Works
and Infrastructure Stacy Roopnarine
is on record as saying no historical
sites will be affected by the highway
project and described such claims
---Part four tomorrow
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, November 4, 2014
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Pray whether you
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Thank you. S.M.
POINT HIGHWAY CONTROVERSY --- PART 3
Fears of danger
to Banwari Trace
...Roopnarine: It's misinformation
Caretaker Hamlet Harripersad, right, shows US environmental scientist
Dennis Ramdahin one of the dig areas at the Banwari Trace archaeological
site in San Francique, Penal, during his visit last month. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE
Banwari Trace was featured in world monument watch 2004, an
internationally acclaimed magazine that showcases the world's 100 most
Based on the crouched position (a typical Amerindian burial position),
recent analyses conclude the Banwari man could in fact be a woman.
On the Web site amazing-trinidad-vacations.com, archaeologist Dr Basil
Reid writes: "The discovery of Banwari man/woman has added an
important human dimension to continuing research at Banwari Trace.
Physical anthropologists suggest that the remains may be those of either
a man or woman 20 to 30 years. It is hoped that in the near future,
additional research on these remains will be carried out."
One lecturer at the University of the West Indies said because of a lack of
funding brought a premature end to the excavation, there was no certainty
on whether more remains could be found close by.
ABOUT THE SITE
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