In 2010, the remnants of a 16th century indigenous village were discovered in St. Vincent, on the construction terrain of the new International Argyle Airport. The Amerindian village is now reconstructed based on excavated floor plans and the detailed descriptions of 16th century travellers. The Cayo Village Reconstruction Project at Argyle is the first and only Kalinago-European site of encounter to be found and fully excavated.
The site was initially excavated by NEXUS 1492 archaeologists Dr. Corinne Hofman and Dr. Menno Hoogland and revealed floor plans of eleven Amerindian houses. Two of these dwellings were larger, elongated structures, which, using the dictionaries of Reverend Raymond Breton, were interpreted as men’s houses. Breton’s dictionaries include detailed descriptions of the houses and building materials.
In the interest of preserving this important local heritage, the Cayo Village was declared a National Heritage Site.
The team reconstructed five Kalinago houses in the manner in which it was originally built, using ancient technology. The Cayo Village is an outstanding contribution to the island’s heritage; documenting the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and its earliest inhabitants. It is also a tourist attraction, and will offer for sale local arts, crafts, entertainment and indigenous foods.
The reconstruction project has been undertaken by the St. Vincentian Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture, in collaboration with the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Also involved are the SVG Tourism Authority; the National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority; IADC; Alliance Francaise, and the Garifuna Heritage Foundation.
Text & photo: Nexus 1492