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Important Taino Petroglyph Discovered

Virgin Islands National Park

National Park News

A Taino Indian petroglyph has been discovered that has significant implications regarding human occupation and use of Reef Bay and St. John.

Evidence that the petroglyphs were carved by the Taino Indians has been strongly supported through the designs found on pottery at the Cinnamon Bay and Trunk Bay archaeology excavations along with correlating radiocarbon dates. This ‘new’ petroglyph is exciting for a number of reasons:

  • The design of the recently documented petroglyph is similarly found painted on the oldest dated pottery style in the islands. The style known as Saladoid pottery has been dated between 100 BC and 500 AD.  This means that the people who were coming to the area of the Reef Bay petroglyphs were utilizing this site for a lot longer than was once thought, possibly a thousand years more.  And the carving could be potentially 2,500 years old.  
  • This finding strongly supports continuity in ritual places as cultural beliefs shifted towards a Classic Taino society. In essence the carving represents at least 1,500 years of people coming to a single place that they felt was sacred.  It emphasizes the significance that Reef Bay had to the people who lived here prior to the European colonization of the islands.  
  • This style of carving is also found down island in St. Lucia and even as far as Venezuela, further confirming the route of those who came to live in St. John, possible going back to the fourth century BC. This also shows how far people travelled and how widely spread their cultural beliefs and ties extended throughout the Caribbean .   

Additional research on the site is underway.



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