11th REPUBLICAN PARLIAMENT: 2nd SESSION

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Update on the Red House Restoration Project

28 Jun 2013

On March 26, 2013 during initial excavation work undertaken as part of the Restoration of the Red House, a number of skeletal remains, cultural and historical artifacts were found on the site. Subsequently, a composite of material comprising human bones, fragments of animal bones, shells, pottery and other artifacts were discovered and extracted from the soil in other areas at the Red House.
 
As a result, the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago assembled an Archaeological Excavation Team, headed by the late Mr. Peter Harris, archaeologist, along with other qualified personnel from the University of the West Indies to oversee the removal of all human skeletal remains and artifacts discovered at the test pits. Special tribute must be paid to Mr. Peter Harris whose expertise and knowledge provided the requisite leadership needed during the early stages of the excavation process. Unfortunately, Mr. Harris passed away on Saturday 18th May, 2013.

The samples of the excavated remains were subsequently sent abroad for DNA testing and Radiocarbon dating in order to determine the ethnicity, gender and likely age of the bones. The tests were conducted at Binghamton University, New York and Beta Analytic Inc. Lab, Miami and have revealed that the remains are indeed human and the age of the bones date from 430 AD to 1390 AD.

As the discovery of these human remains and other artifacts could signal the existence of other historical and cultural material at the Red House, an Archaeological Research and Rescue Excavation Team has been assigned for a six (6) month period on a full time basis, as of Monday 1st July, 2013. During this period, the Red House Restoration Project will focus on the completion of essential surveys and designs ahead of construction works scheduled to commence in February 2014. Only minor necessary works will be undertaken at the Red House site, during this period, under the supervision of the Project’s Consultant Historical Architect.

The Archeological Team is headed by Dr. Basil Reid, Lead Archaeologist, and will comprise a site manager, two (2) assistant site managers and twenty five (25) labourers. Specialists in the areas of Amerindian and European Pottery, Zooanthropology, Human Anatomy and Soil Testing will further enhance the composition of the team.
 
The Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad through the Office of the Parliament, will continue to maintain consultation with several stakeholder groupings, in particular the First Peoples Community in order to ensure that the remains are handled and treated with the care and respect required.

Additionally, the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago has established a Red House Cultural Heritage Team to manage all aspects of the Historical find and to ensure conformity with best practices and international protocols for such material.  This Committee is chaired by the Speaker of the House, the Honourable Wade Mark, MP, and includes Senator the Honourable Timothy Hamel Smith, President of the Senate as Vice-Chairman, as well as representatives of the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Project Manager for the Red House Restoration Project is UdeCOTT.