Dominican REpublic


In the summer of 1998, I went on one of those adventures of a lifetime.  While in graduate school, I was able to join a group of professors heading back to the western Dominican Republic to study the remnants of the Taino Indians.  The Taino once greeted Christopher Columbus.  Today, their people and customs are all but extinct.  Perhaps some of their bloodlines remain in part within some local folks.  Really, once the explorers came and brought both disease and war, the Taino quickly declined.

Our goal was to visit and document several locations where Taino artifacts remained with hopes of protecting the locations and the artifacts.  Locally, simple artifacts were commonplace; larger artifacts were available.  Locally, development and the economic benefits it brought were more important that shards of old pottery.  Given, the rural area we were in of a developing nation, that mindset was understandable.

We left our dorms for an all-inclusive tropical resort.  While there, just a short walk down the beach, a burial site was dug up during construction.  The archeologist for the Dominican Republic government came in to collect as many artifacts, bones, and information as possible before the area was developed.  We got to watch as they slowly sifted soil in search of the island’s history.

My project while in the Dominican Republic was to better understand the water.  There was a very special hole, La Aleta, a natural sinkhole that we were to visit.  This cenote,  a rock doomed water hole, provided fresh water to inland peoples and thus had many artifacts left within.  The water in the cenote was about fifty feet below the rock dome of the land above.  There was a layer of fresh water that floated on sea water below.  A chemocline of different salinities was a special feature of the water within.  I assisted my professor, Dr. Jones, with gathering water chemistry data for La Aleta and other wate-filled caves and natural springs.


studying the taino indians; above and below the sea

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