Ancient carvings found in St. John, Virgin Islands

Archaeologists say two participants in a petroglyph seminar at the US Virgin Islands National Park have come across the first newly discovered rock carving there since the 1970s.

The carving looks like a spearhead or an elongated leaf.

Park archaeologist Ken Wild says the design is different from others on St John island.

"It's the type that's seen in Venezuela or St. Lucia" across the Caribbean."

His archaeological team say they believe last month's discovery is the work of settlers who came to the island of St John more than 2,000 years ago.

The carving is called a saladoid. "It's a ceramic type," Mr Wild said. "There's a symbol that was used between 100 BC and 500 AD."

Saladoid pottery is linked to early island settlers who researchers believe raised villages and made their living constructing clay pots and other household items.

Ancient village

Archaeologists have long believed that ancient settlers migrated between the islands in large canoes carved from tree logs.

The latest find was made in January by tourists taking who were given photos of rock formations bearing carvings and sent to see what they could find.

Assistant park archaeologist Kourtney Donohue said the find carries more significance because of other artifacts that have been found on St John since the 1970s when the last petroglyph was archived.

A positive identification of the image came when one image matched up to pottery shards that were discovered in an archaeological dig, said Wilde.

Now, he says, park officials may explore the area to see if traces of an ancient village can be found nearby.

Petroglyphs have been known to exist on St. John since the age of Danish colonization.

Images of rock carvings have found their way into locally made jewelery and are even used as a symbol by a popular resort.

The St. John National Park hosts more than 800,000 visitors a year, many of whom sign up for tours on trials where petroglyphs can be seen.


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