by Linda Straker
- Human remains not of those killed in October 1983
- Remains appear to be late 18th or early 19th century
- May be burials of enslaved persons from plantation which had 120 enslaved in 1832
- True Blue site a known historic burial ground
An anthropologist who has conducted extensive research about Grenada’s archaeological sites has ruled out any possibility that the bones unearthed by sea erosion at a small beach in True Blue are that of deceased Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and others who were killed in October 1983.
Dr Jonathan Hannam, who studied Anthropology at Penn State and was recently appointed as the Curator of the Grenada National Museum (GNM), said the remains unearthed in the area are human remains from another century. He said that through research conducted there over the years, that site is a historic burial ground.
“This is a known site, one of several historic cemeteries eroding into the sea on the island. Based on the artefacts recovered in years past, especially coffin nails and push up bottle bases, they appear to be late 18th or early 19th century,” he said. “And given the limited artefacts and the location in a marginal area of the True Blue Estate, they may well be burials of enslaved persons from the plantation which had 120 enslaved in 1832. The site also contains pottery and other relics of Indians who originally inhabited the island [who] were also buried on the area,” he added.
“The only way to really know would be to run their DNA, which is prohibitively expensive,” he said, expressing optimism that funds may be able to be sourced to pay for the expense that will be necessary to confirm the DNA of the bones unearthed.
On Monday, a group of fishermen passing in the area observed the bones and shared photographs on social media platform Facebook. The site has since been visited by law enforcement officers while the management of the GNM is putting into action the draft of a working protocol.
Grenada’s 2017 museum legislation states that the Government shall have a right over every artefact in the State of Grenada and no person shall seek to exercise any right over any artefact, if the Minister, on the behalf of Government makes a request in writing to the person for the surrender of any artefact in his or her possession.
The National Museum Act (No. 12 of 2017) covers all archaeological sites on the island and imposes a $10,000 fine for selling Grenada’s antiquities.