Leading archaeologist pleas for developers to assess their sites

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Antigua & Barbuda’s leading archaeologist is pleading with developers to assess the historical and archaeological value of their properties before they begin construction.
The call came a day after the Development Control Authority (DCA) reported it sent inspectors to Yida International Investment Antigua Limited’s construction site at Guiana Island after the developer bulldozed a historic Arawak site.
He said that the site in question was known to be a “late period Arawak site that dates from around 900 AD to 1200 AD” and added, “To state any more than that – I would be guessing because the site no longer exists except for a very small part of it. This site was in thick bushes for all these years and because of that no one has ever done a thorough survey.”
Dr Murphy argued that developers should not view an archaeological assessment of their site as a process that would impede their projects.
“The policy in archaeology is not to stop development but to guide development and assist. To know the history of a site enriches your development and enriches your project. We recover what we can before it’s developed but it’s a one way road – once it’s destroyed that’s it,” he said.
Dr Murphy used the proposed Royalton Antigua Hotel & Resort at Deep Bay Beach as a successful example of a developer incorporating an archaeological assessment before developing their site.
At a September 2016 public consultation following the study done on that site Dr Murphy said, “We found no archaeological material of serious significance to say that this project cannot happen.”
Yesterday he told OBSERVER media that it was not often that a site was “so rare that we’d recommend we may not want to build on it”.
However, he added that many precious sites had been built on in the last three decades without regard to their historical significance.
“I don’t know of any laws that protect these sites in Antigua. So the status of these sites is unclear. National Parks was given a mandate to look at some of these sites and monitor them, but they don’t have the resources to protect and save everything,” Dr Murphy said.

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