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Florida University to study archaeology in Berbice River area

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport, Alfred King and Dr. Stephanie Aleman from the University of Florida signing the Memorandum of Understanding.

The Ministry of Culture and the University of Florida have signed an agreement for that American tertiary institution to study archaeological sites in the Berbice River where it is believed that civilization dates back to 5,000 years BC.

The signing of the agreement was done by the University’s representative Dr. Stephanie Aleman and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Alfred King at the Ministry’s Office, Main Street, according to the Government Information Agency (GINA).

The agreement will see the incorporation of students from the University of Guyana (UG), and individuals from the various museums taking part in the study.

Dr. Aleman noted that she and a partner have been studying the river for quite some time and they have discovered that there are traces of archaeology sites in that vicinity that are the oldest in all of the Americas.

She added that they have now returned to begin surveying the area, and would be targeting the middle section of the river, however due to its depth a lot of work still has to be done.

Minster of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony during the brief ceremony noted that the Walter Rodney Museum is the country’s main archeological point, and over the years the Ministry has been working with international Universities to study the historic sites in Guyana, and to also train individuals in the study of archaeology.

He added that this initiative will allow the Ministry to better understand the area, and what can be done there while building capacity locally through collaboration.

He added that George Simon, of the first persons to walk the entire area and do works there over the years will join the team.

Simon, who was present today, noted that research in the area started in 1985, and Dr. Aleman has been in charge of the historic area. He added that there are traces of Dutch presence in the area and the team will try to look back at old maps and reconstruct the area.

Dr. Aleman further added that ceramic was found in an area which was used in 5000 BC. There are also signs of a large scale population and modification of the landscape for agricultural purposes. She added that these techniques can be reintroduced into the agricultural system.

Minister Anthony also highlighted that these discoveries can mean that Guyana was perhaps one of the earliest points of civilisation as the other countries in the Caribbean have had historic sites of 1000 BC, but Guyana shows signs of up to 5000 BC.