The Bahamas Weekly reports that the University of The Bahamas (UB) in collaboration with the Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation (AMMC) and the Florida Museum of Natural History, held a press conference at the university on November 29, 2016, to announce plans to search for ancient remains in the sand dunes of Clarence Town, Long Island. The Bahamas Weekly writes:
The collaboration was formalized with the recent signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MU) among the parties. College students in the United States and one UB student who is from Long Island, majoring in history, are participating in the search effort. Provost at UB Dr. Linda Davis said this collaboration can be useful and may be the beginning of a student exchange programme. Director of AMMC Dr. Keith Tinker said, “this could be interesting and the results could help to rewrite Bahamian history.” Participating persons from the three entities are scheduled to leave for Long Island November 30, returning December 13.
Eleuthera News writes that the remains are believed to be those of Lucayans who inhabited the islands between 600 AD and the 1500s. Here are more excerpts:
Assistant Director of the AMMC Dr. Michael Pateman explained that initial excavations uncovered three, possibly four, sets of burial sites in the sand dunes of Clarence Town Long Island. Further excavations were scheduled to recommence on Wednesday to continue investigating the extent of Lucayan sites in the area.
“This is a once in a lifetime site for archaeologists. We used to believe that the Lucayans buried their dead in blue holes. Now with the research coming out of this site we now know that they buried them on beach dunes. As Dr. Tinker said we hope to rewrite Bahamian history,” Dr. Pateman shared.
According to the AMMC, Long Island resident Nick Constantakis found the first set of ancient remains of what appears to be an elderly Lucayan male, buried face down in the sand dunes. Nick and Anthony Maillis of Clarence Town discovered a second burial approximately 25 feet away from where the original bones were located of purportedly an elderly Lucayan female buried face down. Subsequently, a third set of remains was found directly under the second burial site.
In establishing the context for the discovery and the potential implications, University of The Bahamas Provost Dr. Linda Davis expounded on the role of research on a national and international level. UB has established a partnership with the Florida Museum of Natural History.
“It is research that will define the institution. It is research from our faculty, multisectoral partnerships throughout our country, throughout our region, and of course globally that will enable us to do the kinds of things that we ought to be doing,” she said.
Dr. William Keegan, the lead archaeologist from the Florida Museum of Natural History explained that the excavation has two main goals: determine if there are any other burial sites and find out how these Lucayans lived in The Bahamas.
“We are trying to get a better definition of what life was like in that area at that time. It’s something that we need to continue to do throughout the islands,” said Dr. Keegan. “This is significant because this is the first possible Lucayan cemetery that has ever been found in The Bahamas. I think the reason is that we just weren’t looking in the right place.”