Black pitch, carved histories: Prehistoric wood sculpture from Trinidad's Pitch Lake

Lead Research Organisation: National Museums Liverpool
Department Name: World Museum Liverpool

Abstract

Since 6000 BC, if not earlier, Trinidad has been the gateway into the Caribbean for waves of South American migrants - the first stepping stone in the long chain of islands that make up the archipelago. Its critical position to the settlement of the Caribbean is reflected in its deep archaeological record, documenting the complex interactions between its diverse peoples over millennia. Unique among its archaeological sites is Pitch Lake, one of the largest natural deposits of asphalt in the world (see Fig. 1 - Visual Evidence), which over the years has yielded extremely rare wood carvings - to date the largest concentration of ancient wood artefacts in the Lesser Antilles (of the 18 carvings known from the region, eleven were recovered from Pitch Lake). However, unlike any systematic archaeological excavation, these carvings have been dredged up as a consequence of commercial pitch harvesting (Fig 2), and any association between them, or the skeletal remains that were also recovered, have been lost. They are thus rarely discussed in the archaeological literature - they float outside chronologies, peripheral to the ceramic and stone foundations upon which Caribbean prehistory is based.

Yet wood is among the most insightful of materials, lending itself to radiocarbon dating, stable isotope analyses and botanical identification - the latter two providing direct insights into people's interaction with their environment. The carving scars evident on these pieces echo the movements of those labouring over them and provide a window onto their past activities. Historical accounts from the 15th-16th centuries indicate that Caribbean cultures had rich wood carving traditions, and that much of their material culture was carved in wood - from massive communal houses to utilitarian objects such as canoes, paddles and vessels, to ritual items and ceremonial seats - and this heritage can now only be glimpsed through the handful of examples that survive in museum and private collections. This reliance on wood undoubtedly goes back to the first migrations - without canoes and paddles, for example, the islands could not be settled. Hence, despite the lack of context, the carvings from Pitch Lake - now held in three separate institutions - provide a unique opportunity to investigate the importance of wood artefacts, especially valuable in a context where wood was the basis of material culture, but rarely survives. The proposed research would be the first detailed, multi-disciplinary investigation of the Pitch Lake wood carvings, with the aim of placing these objects in a chronological and cultural perspective.

From the artefacts (Fig 3) recovered from this one site we can potentially explore not only local adaptations, but regional influences and exchanges - as well as more esoteric/symbolic meanings. The methodologies enable a deeper level of investigation into the corpus - from the stable isotope analysis that can provide insights into the source of the trees used for the carvings, to the wood ID which can be cross-referenced with historical accounts of how such woods were used (from timber to medicinal knowledge). The deposit of burials and artefacts in the lake also suggests a deeper symbolism, one befitting such an unusual setting. Several myths collected during the 19th century, a time when an indigenous population was still resident in the area, recount that the lake was a portal through which the deceased returned in the form of birds to visit their descendants. The recurring themes in the legends, of death and the afterlife, give some support to the possibility that the area may have had a spiritual significance, one that may have had a considerable chronological depth spanning many generations. The lake could have had conceptual parallels to caves, used across the Caribbean for burials and the deposit of ritual objects - and as such a fitting area of ceremonial deposit and myth.

Planned Impact

The project develops collaborative networks between colleagues in diverse international venues, including wildlife and environmental organizations (Pointe-à-Pierre Wildfowl Trust [PPWFT] and National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago [NTTT]), museums (the National Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago [NGTT], Peabody Museum of Natural History [PMNH], National Museums Liverpool) and academic institutes (Leiden University, University of Oxford, University of the West Indies and the Max Planck Inst.). The project's unique cross-disciplinary approach - a synergy between the arts and sciences - contributes to enhancing public awareness and understanding of Caribbean cultural heritage.

The NGTT, PPWFT, PMNH are the direct stakeholders in the project, and through them, their local, target audiences as well as the wider international community-including academic as well as public sector beneficiaries (e.g., Caribbeanists, archaeologists, botanists, Trinidadian diaspora). The research highlights the benefit of long-term museum care and storage of cultural patrimony, most especially of objects whose value is not immediately apparent due to the paucity of associated information and their preservational challenges. Bringing these little known collections to wider attention by utilising their inherent research potential goes some way to justify the investment of care that continues to go into their safe keeping.

While enhancing knowledge of current collections, the project also builds relevant holdings - such as the duplicate herbarium samples collected as part of the stable isotope project (deposited at the NTTT and NML), as well as the planned handling collections, commissioned from local artists, that will be integrated into museum activities and events. This contributes to engaging local communities and bringing Trinidadian wood carving heritage into wider discourse and public awareness by highlighting it as a rich resource for study, with implications for building understanding of Pitch Lake archaeology and its place in the wider archaeology of the circum-Caribbean.

In addition to cultural sector benefits, the project contributes to wider social, economic and environmental issues - from working collaboratively with conservation societies (PPWFT and NTTT - aspects of this study highlight environmental issues such as the preservation of native trees) to drawing attention (via the web, media, etc) to Pitch Lake itself, a key tourist attraction upon which the local residents depend (as tour guides, vendors, taxi drivers, etc). Aside from tourism, the lake continues to be a vital economic resource for asphalt mining. The project contributes to highlighting the archaeological value of the site: there is every possibility that other artefacts may emerge as dredging continues, and raising awareness of the value of the artefacts contributes to the resource management of the site. The project has been approved by the Archaeology Committee at the University of West Indies, who advise government on site protection, and working in collaboration with these various stakeholders bridges different sectors and their remits, enhancing information across the disciplines. Further, the project contributes directly to the development and training at the NTTT and PPWFT, with the former providing staff and expertise for the stable isotope/herbarium collecting and the latter enhancing collections knowledge, which would in turn contribute to events (exhibit, tours) at the Centre. The PPWFT, a centre of excellence for local education about the natural environment (with innovative outreach and 'hands on' sessions for young children as well as training for school teachers and members of community based organisations), also has a long standing record of influencing local and international policy, and is an ideal venue through which to disseminate project results, directly contributing to socio-economic impact.

Publications

10 25 50
publication icon
Brock F (2020) Dark materials: Pre-Columbian black lithic carvings from St Vincent and the wider Caribbean in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports

publication icon
Gannon, Megan I. (2018) Caribbean Time Capsule: Entombed in Asphalt in Archaeology

publication icon
Ostapkowicz, J. (2020) New World 'Souvenirs': South American Indigenous clubs, bows and darts aboard the San Pedro shipwreck of 1596 in Bermuda Journal of Archaeology and Maritime History

publication icon
Ostapkowicz, J. (2016) Guadeloupe, Etude sur les figurines en << bois >> in Bilan Scientifique: Direction RĂ©gionale des Affaires Culturelles Guadeloupe

 
Title Carving artefact replicas for handling collections 
Description Replicas of artefacts recovered from Pitch Lake, Trinidad were made for museum handling collections. These were carved from the same species as the originals (based on wood identification studies done by the USDA Forest Service Centre for Wood Anatomy), with the aim of understanding the qualities of the woods selected. The artists' involvement was documented with video, which is another creative output from the project. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact This part of the project benefited from the direct involvement of artists from the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community, Trinidad's indigenous Carib community. Their participation was invaluable not only in terms of the information and creativity that they brought to the commission, but also directly involved them in the representation of indigenous culture in museums, which had both community and wider impact. 
URL http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/collections/research/trinidad/artist-commission.aspx
 
Title Display of collected Trinidad plant specimens in the Clore Natural History Centre, World Museum, Liverpool 
Description A display of the herbarium specimens collected as part of the Trinidad and Tobago strontium isotope study is scheduled for April 2017 in the Clore Natural History Centre, World Museum, Liverpool, coinciding with the launch of the collection web pages (http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/wml/collections/botany/seed-plants/trinidad-and-tobago/) . The specimens were processed and mounted by NML's Botany Department, and now form part of the permanent museum collections (with a duplicate set in the National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago). The 131 specimens representing 24 different tree species significantly augment the holdings of World Museum's Caribbean Botany collections, which prior to the acquisition numbered only 500 specimens. The project will be briefly summarised through in-case labels, with several of the mounted herbarium collections on display. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The collections generated by the project are being used for publicly accessible collections, both on display at the museum's Clore Natural History Centre, as well as on-line (http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/wml/collections/botany/seed-plants/trinidad-and-tobago/). 
URL http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/wml/visit/floor-plans/natural-history-centre.aspx
 
Title Exhibition/re-display of Pitch Lake artefacts at the National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago (NMAGTT) 
Description NMAGTT is planning a redisplay of the Pitch Lake collection to highlight recent project work on artefact materials and chronologies. An external designer was commissioned in 2016 and has drawn up plans, and work is anticipated to start in 2017. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The re-display will update important exhibits at the museum, some on view since the 1950s. The collections will have greater visibility in newly commissioned cases and vitrines, and the display will incorporate the most up to date project results on the provenance, materials and chronologies of the featured artefacts. Replicas carved by local artists and the Santa Rosa First Peoples community will be available as handling collections. This makes the collections more accessible to local, national and international visiting audiences, highlighting the island's cultural heritage. 
 
Title Museum guide/pamphlet highlighting project results (National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago) 
Description As part of its re-display plans, NMAGTT commissioned a designer to create a dedicated museum pamphlet highlighting the results of the Pitch Lake project. The publication is internally funded by the museum, with an anticipated 2017 production date. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The pamphlet, together with the planned re-display, will enhance NMAGTT's Pitch Lake exhibits, improving both visible access and information about the chronologies of the artefacts. The pamphlet, provided free of charge to the visiting public, has the added benefit of serving as an accessible publication to the results for local, national and international visiting audiences. 
 
Title Video documentary of Pitch Lake artefacts and replica commission 
Description A documentary film about the carving of the Pitch Lake replicas, including an overview of the original artefacts, their histories, chronologies, materials and provenance, directed by Mr. Wayne Cezair, Caribbean Travelling Film School, will be completed in the Summer of 2017. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The video is to work both as a ca. 10 minute documentary for use in the museums, as well as a series of shorts or video clips for web content. This will not only contextualise the artefact displays in the museums for the visiting public, but also enable the general public - from anywhere in the world - to learn more about the artefacts and Trinidadian archaeology via the web. 
URL http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/collections/research/trinidad/artist-commission.aspx
 
Description This study has not only yielded the earliest examples of wood carving in the Caribbean, but considerably expanded on prehistoric wood technologies and resources - all of which establishes core information about the artefacts. They are now refining our understanding of the archaeology of Pitch Lake specifically, Trinidad generally, and more broadly, perishable organic material culture in the Lesser Antilles and the wider Caribbean region.

Our newly developed pitch removal protocol was applied to the Pitch Lake artefacts for dating. These samples presented a particular challenge for demonstrating the removal of pitch prior to dating (and hence providing confidence on unexpected dates), as the contaminant (i.e. the pitch) is chemically very similar to that of the wood of the artefacts, rendering more routine techniques such as % carbon content or FTIR analysis ineffective. This study employed py-GC/MS and optical microscopy to look for residual pitch within the samples. The former technique is rarely used by the radiocarbon community, but this study provides an excellent case study to highlight it's suitability and applicability to radiocarbon dating of contaminated materials.

The technique has subsequently been used by the applicants for a further study of pre-Columbian wooden artefacts from Florida that were contaminated with conservation treatments, and has the potential to be of use for the wider research of organic materials.
Exploitation Route Among the findings that can be of use by others is the development of protocols for the removal of pitch contamination from wood - both for 14C and for strontium analyses. The investigative methodologies developed here - using a wide spectrum of scientific analyses to establish key information for objects of cultural patrimony - provide standards which can be applied by other researchers.
Sectors Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/collections/research/trinidad/index.aspx
 
Description The project has had impact in a range of sectors - from heritage and museum/collections to culture and the creative economy. It has made concrete contributions to the collections of both the National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago and National Museum Liverpool, through herbarium specimens collected as part of the strontium study. These function not only as a long-term resource for future researchers, but are unique in providing for the first time isotopic values for the specimens collected in Trinidad and Tobago. The herbarium/strontium isotope fieldwork was documented via a series of blogs aimed at making this part of the study accessible to a general audience, and these can be accessed here: http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/tag/trinidad-and-tobago/ One of the main heritage impacts is the way the project results have been made available and accessible to museum audiences via interactive re-displays, which incorporate handling collections commissioned directly from local artists. The aims of this are fourfold: 1/ to make the science-led results of the project - which document the chronologies, materials and provenance of the Pitch Lake artefacts - more widely accessible to the public, 2/ to involve local communities in the creation and interpretation of the replicas/artefacts, 3/ to provide, via the replicas, a tactile connection to the past, and 4/ to bring wider attention to the significant heritage value of Pitch Lake (most often viewed only as an economic or natural resource). The artist commission, which involves local partners in the cultural heritage sector, wood carvers and, critically, artists from the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community (representatives of Trinidad's indigenous community), is set to yield a variety of cultural benefits. Exploring the creative aspects of these artefacts - of their manufacture, purpose and meaning - is something that is being documented in video, with the direct involvement of a local film director. This will be available to both museum audiences and to a much wider international audience via short clips on the dedicated artist commission web pages that are currently being developed (the intro page can be found here: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/collections/research/trinidad/artist-commission.aspx , and this will have further links as this part of the project progresses).
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description Collection care links between NMAGTT and NML
Geographic Reach South America 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Title Pitch removal experiments 
Description A key aspect of this study is the development of a protocol to remove pitch (from Pitch Lake, Trinidad), from wooden carvings to ensure accurate radiocarbon dates. A variety of chemical methods published for removing another geological pitch (from La Brea, California) from bones and wood for radiocarbon dating was tested, and the most suitable identified. Further work is on-going to demonstrate the effectiveness of this technique when applied to wood recently contaminated with Trinidad Pitch Lake pitch. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This is an ongoing part of the project, and results will be published, and so shared with other research groups, in due course. 
 
Title On-line collections (Herbarium collections at the National Museums Liverpool) 
Description In 2015, 131 herbarium specimens from Trinidad and Tobago were collected as part of the project's strontium study, and entered the collections of the National Museums Liverpool (duplicate samples were also acquired by the National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago). These have now been catalogued, photographed and uploaded on-line on the museum's server for public access, linked to the project's web pages and blogs. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Making collections publicly accessible via the web highlights not only the holdings of NML, but underscores the value of international collaborative efforts in bringing such collections together. This collection, now housed in the Botany Department of the World Museum, was made possible by the direct involvement of colleagues at Trinidad and Tobago's Forestry Division and the National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago, who also acquired the duplicate specimens for their own collections. Making these holdings available via the web to a wide international audience benefits the dissemination of information about the islands' heritage and resources. 
URL http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/wml/collections/botany/seed-plants/trinidad-and-tobago/
 
Title Photographic inventories of museum collections 
Description Extensive photographic inventories were taken during each museum research visit, not only to provide a clear artefact record for the purposes of the research project (from entire artefact documentation to details such as carving scars, resin/adhesive remains, pitch staining, etc.), but to provide as detailed a record of the condition of the artefacts for the museums involved. Over a thousand images were forwarded to the participating museums, some of which are already being used on the institution's web pages, and as part of their database inventories and collection documentation (e.g., http://collections.peabody.yale.edu/search/Record/YPM-ANT-145145 ) 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The photographic inventories serve both to document the condition of the artefact (and as such are relevant to the artefact's history files), as well as a visual record for the purposes of database inventories (which, in some museums, are not yet established). As such, sharing these visual records with the museums involved has immediate and future impact for their collection documentation aims. 
 
Description Bristol University chemistry 
Organisation University of Bristol
Department School of Earth Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contacted a previous collaborator to enlist help with analysis
Collaborator Contribution Analysis of 8 samples (and interpretation of data) by py-GC/MS to identify possible residual pitch in samples for radiocarbon dating. This work was vital for demonstratng the accuracy of the radiocarbon dating which was central to the overall project. A further 3 samples were analysed in 2018 for a follow-on project, investigating black lithic carvings to help identify the material in question
Impact Data and interpretation is included in Brock et al. paper submitted to Radiocarbon, with Ian Bull of Bristol University chemistry department who did the work listed as a co-author. Further work arose from this collaboration unrelated to this AHRC project, and that data and interpretation has been accepted for publication by JAS Reports. Future collaborations are likely, as colleagues from Bristol University have recently (2/17) visited team member Brock at Cranfield University to discuss future collaborations and research projects. 2019 update: the original work has now been published. The following 3 samples are included in a draft manuscript to be submitted to JAS (Reports) in 2019.
Start Year 2015
 
Description National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago 
Organisation National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago
Country Trinidad and Tobago 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We linked directly with the National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago - and through them the Forestry Division of T&T - over fieldwork to collect both herbarium specimens and strontium samples from specific geological regions across both islands (the strontium samples were essential for a provenance study related to the wooden artefacts recovered from Pitch Lake, Trinidad). The relevant tree species (Andira sp., Brosimum alicastrum, Carapa guianensis ,Guaiacum sp., Platymiscium trinitatis and Terminalia dichotoma) were selected entirely as a result of the wood identifications made on the 10 Pitch Lake artefacts (via the USDA Forest Service Centre for Wood Anatomy). The isotopic study, linking both Trinidad's natural resources and archaeological heritage, is the first of its kind, bringing new information and insight into the use of these trees. It brings concrete benefits in the form of both specimens (archived in the herbarium collections of the National Herbarium and National Museums Liverpool) and information (the strontium results will be added to the voucher specimens collected as part of this study).
Collaborator Contribution The National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago staff, in collaboration with the Forestry Division, were instrumental in identifying specimens in the field, streamlining the fieldwork process and making it very time efficient. The resources of the National Herbarium enabled the collected specimens to be dried and processed to a very high standard, preserving the integrity of the leaves and fruit, and so ensuring qualityherbarium sheets.
Impact Herbarium collections held at both the National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago, and the National Museum Liverpool; all voucher specimens will carry the tree's specific strontium values.
Start Year 2015
 
Description National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago 
Organisation National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago
Country Trinidad and Tobago 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The project's study of the Pitch Lake artefacts in the NMAGTT collections provided detailed information to the museum for their long-term records: from detailed photography of each artefact, down to macro-photography of the surviving carving marks, to exhaustive material and chronological information (through radiocarbon dating) for each carving. These results were directly incorporated into a new re-display of the artefacts in the museum's gallery, featuring a custom-built case and graphics detailing the artefact results. A large, 12 page pamphlet was published to coincide with the new displays, and is available to the public immediately next to the case. Some of the artefacts were in a very fragile condition, and the team, together with NML colleagues, helped with conservation queries/guidance.
Collaborator Contribution The NMAGTT opened its collections to the project, providing a dedicated work space for the study and fully supporting the sampling requirements for the various techniques (14C, wood ID, strontium isotopes). They integrated the results into new artefact displays within the time-frame of the project (which is remarkably fast for a museum), and made direct in-kind contributions by supporting the build of the custom-display case and the accompanying graphics and pamphlet.
Impact a new museum display; accessible pamphlets of project results; peer-reviewed publications (all are multi-disciplinary, spanning museology, art history, history, archaeology and its sciences).
Start Year 2014
 
Description Peabody Museum of Natural History 
Organisation Peabody Museum of Natural History
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The project's study of the Pitch Lake artefacts in the PMNH collections provided detailed information to the museum for their long-term records: from detailed photography of each artefact, down to macro-photography of the surviving carving marks, to exhaustive material and chronological information (through radiocarbon dating) for each carving. These data contributed to several peer-reviewed publications, which now augment the museum records. Further, the wider collection of Trinidad and Tobago archaeology held by the PMNH was studied, and all resulting photographs were submitted for museum files.
Collaborator Contribution The PMNH provided a dedicated work space for the study, staff time to assist with the movement of objects to/from storage, and fully supported the sampling requirements for the various techniques (14C, wood ID, strontium isotopes).
Impact peer reviewed publications on project results (multi-disciplinary; spanning archaeology and its sciences, history, art history, museology).
Start Year 2014
 
Description Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust 
Organisation Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust
Country Trinidad and Tobago 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The project's study of the Pitch Lake artefacts in the Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust/Peter Harris collections provided detailed information to the museum for their long-term records: from detailed photography of each artefact, down to macro-photography of the surviving carving marks, to exhaustive material and chronological information (through radiocarbon dating) for each carving.
Collaborator Contribution The Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust/Peter Harris collection staff assisted with taking the selected objects off display, and fully supported the sampling requirements for the various techniques (14C, wood ID, strontium isotopes).
Impact several peer-reviewed publications on project results, multi-disciplinary in its reach (archaeology and its sciences, history, art history, museology).
Start Year 2014
 
Description Reflectance analysis 
Organisation Royal Holloway, University of London
Department Department of Earth Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Part of a follow-on project to the Pitch Lake grant, investigating black prehistoric carvings. I have undertaken analysis via FTIR and XRF. Another collaborator has undertaken py-GC/MS. I have written up most of the analysis in a draft manuscript for submission to JAS (Reports) in 2019.
Collaborator Contribution Analysis of 6 samples (2 carvings, 4 geological specimens) by reflectance microscopy
Impact A draft manuscript has been written but needs to be completed. Hopefully to be submitted to JAS or JAS Reports in spring 2019. The paper is multi-disciplinary, covering geochemistry, organic geochemistry, archaeology, geology.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Santa Rosa First Peoples Community 
Organisation Santa Rosa First Peoples Community
Country Trinidad and Tobago 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Detailed information on Pitch Lake artefacts and their chronologies (ie., all project results to date) was shared with the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community and a collaboration was established with the community's artists to create replicas inspired by the artefacts for museum collections.
Collaborator Contribution Artists from the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community were involved in the carving of replicas of the artefacts recovered from Pitch Lake, Trinidad, which are to be used in the local museums as handling collections. The community is recognised as representative organisation for Trinidad and Tobago's indigenous peoples, so their involvement with a project focusing on indigenous heritage was particularly fitting. Between October 2015 and January 2016, two artists from the community worked on the replica commission, creating high quality handling collections.
Impact Carved replicas for handling collections at the National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago and the Pointé-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust. These were created to provide museum visitors with tangible, interactive links to T&T's indigenous heritage - both past and present.
Start Year 2015
 
Description A series of blogs on herbarium collecting/strontium study 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A series of blogs were posted on the National Museums Liverpool web pages documenting the project's herbarium collection/strontium study. These aimed to make the study's progress and purpose more widely accessible to diverse audiences:

http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/2015/07/the-connection-between-living-trees-and-trinidads-prehistory/
http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/2015/07/day-1-cocoa-mango-and-the-generous-trini-spirit/
http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/2015/07/curious-dogs-venomous-vipers-and-a-truck-full-of-samples/
http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/2015/08/mountains-maracas-beach-and-more-mangos/
http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/2015/08/the-oilfields-of-the-south-east-and-pitch-lake-roads/
http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/2015/08/the-source-pitch-lake-and-environs/
http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/2015/08/the-central-south-west-five-fingers-fat-pork-and-tamarind-sours/
http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/2015/08/tobago-the-final-stop/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/tag/trinidad-and-tobago/
 
Description Conference paper - Society of American Archaeology, Vancouver, Canada 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A paper on "Strontium provenancing wooden artefacts from Pitch Lake, Trinidad" presented at the Society of American Archaeology conference, the largest archaeological organisation in North America, by Dr. Christophe Snoeck, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.saa.org/Portals/0/SAA/MEETINGS/2017%20Program/45-250_VAN2017_Program.pdf
 
Description Conference paper - World Archaeology Congress, Kyoto, Japan 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An overview of current project results was presented at the World Archaeology Congress in Kyoto, Japan, highlighting the archaeology of Pitch Lake, Trinidad to an international audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Creating an Sr Isoscape - From Planning to Mapping 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation at the EAA 2018, Barcelona by Dr. Christophe Snoeck, entitled Creating an Sr Isoscape - from Planning to Mapping. The talk highlights the methodology development of strontium isoscape mapping, including the work undertaken as part of the Black Pitch, Carved Histories project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Media interest (Harris collection at the Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Our research visit to the Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust was reported in several Trinidadian newspapers, including The Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday (both of which have large readerships). http://newsdayntouch.realviewdigital.com/?iid=101644?tpage=page0000031#folio=30 http://digital.guardian.co.tt/?iid=101801?tpage=page0000027#folio=26
Our visit to the Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust was seen as a way to highlight the importance of the Amerindian collection and its research potential.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://digital.guardian.co.tt/?iid=101801&startpage=page0000027#folio=26
 
Description Radiocarbon & Archaeology conference (Edinburgh) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation entitled 'Radiocarbon dating wooden carvings and skeletal remains from Pitch Lake, Trinidad' given during the 'Radiocarbon dating difficult samples' session at the 8th international symposium on Radiocarbon and Archaeology, Edinburgh, UK, June 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.c14archaeology2016.com/organisation/timetable/
 
Description Result reports submitted to participating museums (NMAGTT, PaPWFT, PMNH) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Results from the artefact studies were reported to the respective museums (National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago, Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust, Peabody Museum of Natural History) when they became available, and a final report on radiocarbon dates and wood IDs was supplied in March 2016. These reports provide a detailed overview of sampling methodologies, the techniques used, and a thorough review of the results to date. They serve to document the study for the history files of the institutions involved, providing detailed information for the museums and future researchers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
 
Description Society of American Archaeology, San Francisco, 2015: Black Pitch, Carved Histories presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A paper on project results was presented in the Prehistory of the Caribbean session at the 80th Society of American Archaeology conference - the largest archaeological organisation in North America, with annual conferences attended by several thousand members. Participation in the event highlighted the archaeology of Pitch Lake, and Trinidad more broadly.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.saa.org/Portals/0/SAA/Meetings/2015%20program/Final_2015%20program.pdf