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August 17, 2015

Conclusion of the Fort George restoration project’s Archaeological Survey and Debriefing Meeting

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17th August, 2015

Spanish Archaeologist Dr. Beatriz Marin Aguilera visited the island from July 27th – August 2nd, 2015 to conduct an Archaeological Survey of the Fort George site at Monks Hill. Archaeologist Dr. Reginald Murphy of the National Parks Authority and a team of eight (8) professionals also participated in the Survey.

The discovery of forty-five buildings at the Fort compared to the 15 displayed on Great George Fort Map of 1752 was one of the Survey’s major findings. Consequently, the team of archaeologists were able to develop a new map of the Fort which identifies the exact locations of the structures on site.

Archaeologist Marin and the National Parks have made plans to display a miniature exhibit of the site and its findings at the National Museum later this month. A larger, permanent exposition of the Fort is expected to be displayed at the Nelson’s Dockyard Museum following the restoration course in October, 2015. The exhibit will disclose several findings of the archaeological dig and form part of the project’s sensitization exercise. It is anticipated that this exhibition will be completed in time for the 2015 Independence Celebrations.

On August 12th, 2015 a debriefing meeting facilitated by the Office of the National Authorizing Officer was attended by Minister of Culture Hon. E. P. Chet Greene, Deputy National Authorizing Officer, Ms. Barbara Williams, Honorary Consul to Spain, Mr. Mitchell Hill, Dr. Beatriz Marin and Project Coordinator, Ms. Arita Phillip. The meeting was held in order to provide an update on the implementation of the project and to present the Report and findings of the Survey.

Marin recommended the development of a cultural tour, which would focus mainly on exposing heritage landmarks such as Fort George and Fort James, to form part of the

educational awareness exercise of the restoration project. Marin also announced that the initial support by the Spanish Government would be used to stabilize the main entrance to the Fort.

Minister of Culture, Hon. E. P. Chet Greene offered high commendations to the Spanish Government for their continued commitment to the restoration project and expressed his warm appreciation for Ms. Marin, the National Parks Authority and the team who worked arduously on the Archaeological Survey.

Minister Greene indicated that there will be several new developments for the project including legislation to protect national artifacts from looting, establishment of a booking system for tours to the Fort, and a more engaged site management and public awareness campaign “to ensure that locals take ownership of the project and appreciate restoration as a significant part of our culture and heritage.” Greene cautioned the public from taking singular visits to the site due to the fragile and dangerous state of the Fort and admonished looters to desist from stealing the heritage of Antigua and Barbuda. He said, “Although there is no law in place, we will step up our national security by having additional security checks within the Customs Department at the Airport. As I seek to engage the Attorney General on creating legislation to prevent further theft and to allow the country to reclaim our national treasures from wherever they are in the world, I admonish persons to desist from removing items from our country’s heritage sites.”

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