The University of the West Indies Archaeology Unit cannot excavate and survey the site where 2,000- year-old Amerindian artefacts were found in Valsayn unless the owner grants them permission.
This was revealed by senior lecturer of Archaeology at the University of the West Indies Dr Basil Reid.
In an interview, Dr Reid said he has not yet had the opportunity to visit the site as permission must be granted by land owner Melissa Jagroop-Topha.
"People have rights and the land owner will have to give permission for us to do a site visit," Reid said.
He explained that pieces of pottery or adorno appears to be Saladoid (Palo Seco), which is a Trinidadian "local" group of the Saladoid culture that extended from T&T to Puerto Rico during the period 500 BC to AD 600.
"Decoratively, Saladoid (Palo Seco) pottery show painted, incised, punctuated, and modelled motifs. Adornos were originally affixed to ceramic bowls, which were usually trotted out during ceremonial feasting and used as serving containers," he said.
Saying the find is reflective of ritual activity by this pre-colonial native group, Reid explained that the Palo Seco pottery has several traits (especially after AD 350) that were the result of trade/interaction between the Saladoid of Trinidad and the Barrancoid of South America.
"The Saladoid people were the first fully horticultural native people to have colonised T&T, arriving around 500 BC, although the Saladoid site of Lover's Retreat (Tobago) yielded an even earlier radiocarbon date of 770 years BC," Reid said.
Saying he was pleased but not surprised by the discovery, Reid noted that "several pre-colonial native sites have already been found throughout T&T and there was every reason to believe that several more will be discovered, especially in urban areas like the east-west corridor of Trinidad where there would be a relatively high level of site disturbance."
He expressed confidence that the National Trust would partner with the UWI's Archaeology Unit to excavate the site.
"However, the owner has to first give us permission to both survey and excavate, as the finds were found on private property," Reid noted.
Meanwhile, Trinidad born Art history professor Lawrence Waldron, who is based in New York, spoke with CNC3 and pleaded with the family to stop any planned construction until the site can be professionally checked.
Waldron said the discovery of the artefacts was proof that the Saladoid people did not settle only near rivers, streams and coastlines but possibly inland as well.
"I think to find it so far inland suggests to me that we should be looking for other Saladoid sites throughout the island," Waldron said.
"If they keep on finding artefacts on the property, they must stop any work that is being planned for the site so that the UWI team could step in and do a proper field study."
The landowner Melissa Jagroop Topha has not responded to requests for interviews even though she posted photographs of the artefacts on Facebook. She tagged local historian Angelo Bissessarsingh, who said it appears that the artefacts were of Saladoid origin and were part of the Parico tribe which settled on the swampy marshlands of St Augustine and Piarco.
Similar artefacts have been found in several parts of T&T. Reid and his archaeological team have discovered spatulas, grind stones, called metate and pestles, which were used to pulverize edible foods as well as an array of broken pottery at Marianne Estate in Blanchisseuse, and at St Johns Village, South Oropouche near the marshlands of the Oropouche swamp.