Results from the DNA tests confirmed that the samples of bones, which were discovered along with cultural artefacts during the excavation phase of the Red House in Port-of-Spain, belonged to people living in Trinidad and parts of Central America during the period AD 990 to AD 1400.Speaker Wade Mark revealed this on Friday in Parliament during his statement update on the Red House Restoration Project.
Upon receipt of the results of the radiocarbon dating, the Cabinet was informed and The Red House Historical Cultural Heritage Team was established to manage all aspects of the historical finds, and to ensure conformity with best practices and international protocols for such material.This committee is chaired by Mark and comprises members of all stakeholder groups.
Due to the passing of archaeologist Peter Harris, the Office of the Parliament secured the services of Dr Basil Reid, senior lecturer in Archaeology at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. Work commenced under Dr Reid on July 1, 2013, and involved excavation and processing of all artifacts and biological remains.
Over the past year, Dr Reid has developed a network of specialists in various disciplines to provide assistance when needed. Research partnerships have been established with academics in the USA and Europe.
Mark disclosed that the Office of the Parliament has also signed an agreement with the University of Central Florida. This will facilitate a visit by Dr John Schultz, forensic anthropologist and an assistant who will visit Trinidad for two weeks in early January 2015 to examine and conduct tests on the skeletons and bones found.
"At the conclusion of the project, an academic publication will be compiled and published, possibly by the University of the West Indies Press or an alternative publisher." All information gathered will be passed on to the Archaeological Sub-Committee of the National Trust of T&T.Mark said excavation works to a depth of 1.5 metres have already been completed and there have been some significant finds, including:
�2 Six complete skeletons,
�2 36 incomplete skeletons,
�2 A complete skull in a pot,
�2 Several coins, the most valuable of which is a one dollar US gold lustre coin.
"In harmony with their requests, the First Peoples' have been allowed to hold religious ceremonies on the grounds of the Red House and the Cabinet appointed committee has agreed in principle that all the remains of the First Peoples' should be interned on the grounds of the Red House with an appropriate sign indicating the significance of the area." Dialogue with these groups are continuing.
A small group of workers, mainly university students, are currently at the Red House engaging in the final cleaning and cataloguing of the finds. The first phase of the archaeological eight project is scheduled to be completed by January 31, 2015, and is on time, Mark stated.The Office of the Parliament and Udecott, project managers for the Red House Restoration Project have recently arrived at consensus for a communication strategy in respect of the project.
On March 26, 2013, cultural remains, which included bones resembling that of humans were discovered during the excavation of a "Test Pit" named CEP 13 in the north rotunda area of the Red House. Within days, a similar discovery was made in another "Test Pit" BM5 located under the north parliamentary chamber.The Office of the Parliament took the following steps:
�2 Convened a meeting at the Red House site with stakeholders, which included representatives from the Santa Rosa Carib Community and the late archaeologist Peter Harris among others;
�2 The remains were examined by forensic pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov who confirmed that human bones and other human skeletal remains were among the remains shown to him;
�2 Homicide Division visited the scene and permitted excavation work to continue as they were of the view that it was not a crime scene;
�2 A team carefully retrieve all human skeletal remains and artifacts discovered in all inspection units.
�2 Convened another meeting with stakeholders which included representatives of the National Trust of T&T, the Red House project consultants, and the three representative groups of the T&T Amerindian and First Peoples' Communities.
�2 Arranged for samples of the human remains to be analysed using DNA at the Merriwether Ancient DNA and Forensic Lab, Binghamton University, New York, and for Radiocarbon dating (C14 testing) and N15/N14 testing to be conducted by Beta Analytic Inc Laboratory, Miami, Florida.