“Serendipity.” That was the word used by National Trust Co-ordinator, Jalaludin Khan to describe the visit of a mixed group of American and Dutch experts on archaeological heritage management.
Their arrival this week and the National Trust’s ability to co-host a seven-day programme of events around it, in collaboration with UTT, follows recent reports on failure to conserve our national monuments, and according to Khan comes at a time, when there is an “urgent need to focus attention on our archaeological heritage”.
The visitors invited by the UTT, comprise a team from the University of Missouri including the Director of the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR), Dr Neal Lopinot, and researchers from the Leiden University, Netherlands, among them, a specialist on T&T archaeology, Dr Arie Boomert.
We forget, points out Khan, that T&T is considered a critical archaeological world heritage site, and that the 5,000 year-old fossils of the Banwari man or woman, discovered in 1969 at Banwari Trace, San Francique, remain the oldest skeleton discovered in the West Indies. This according to Khan, locates our island among wonders like the Eygytian Pyramids and the Roman Colleseum, and underscores the importance of preserving our heritage.
Set up by an act of Parliament in the 90s, the National Trust has among its remit, encouraging research into heritage property, making the public aware of the importance of our heritage, and advising government on the care of our heritage.
The Archaeology Heritage Panel Discussion, Seminar and Archaeology field training class, which begins today, with a screening of the Alex DeVerteuil film, Buried Treasure and a panel discussion on archaeological heritage management, offers the trust multiple ways to fulfill its unique role, while also building capacity itself—the chance to get up to speed on trends in the field and create opportunities for partnering and collaboration with agencies and organisations that have a vested interest in the field.
But while acknowledging the importance of exploring how to be more effective as an organisation—the trust has funding and accommodation hurdles to overcome—and excited by the prospect of being able to take a more integrated approach to heritage management through multi-agency working, perhaps the biggest win for the trust comes in the chance to gain support and guidance for its draft strategic plan.
Describing the current condition of some of our heritage sites as “fragile”, Khan accepts that the trust which is still in the process of listing buildings, needs “sharper teeth”, if it is to effectively reduce the risk of our built and natural heritage being lost to land use development.
The draft strategic plan covers ownership and protection of our heritage buildings and how the National Trust intends to effectively approach its management.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
5 pm-7.30 pm: T&T Archeology Film Screening
Public Expert Panel discussion (5 pm - 6 pm)
Question and Answer (6 pm - 7.30 pm).
Venue: AV Room, Nalis, Port-of-Spain
9 am: Trinidad and Tobago Archeological Heritage Management Technical Seminar
Opening ceremony (9 am—10 am)
Seminar (10 am—4.30 pm)
Venue: UTT Campus Chaguramas, Main Lecture Hall and Marine Sciences Campus, 2nd Ave North, Western Main Rd, Chaguaramas.
By invitation only
Archeological field training methods in archaeology survey
Lopinot and Caura Valleys, Northern Range, Trinidad.
For further details, contact the National Trust, National Museum & Art Gallery, 117 Frederick Street, Port of Spain. Call 623-0339 or e-mail [email protected]