Second set of indigo tank systems at Savonet

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Seru Christoffel Chikitu 20150709 054 smallOn Thursday July 9, 2015 a small subgroup of the archaeology sleuts consisting of François, Fred, Eddy and me went to the Christoffelpark. Our goal was to search for a small indian site that was mentioned by Jay Haviser in his dissertation. It was marked on the map made by Werbata, so Fred and I stored the location of that mark in our GPS. After parking our cars next to the plantation house of Savonet we went with one car into the park. We were warned by the rangers that where we wanted to start our hike bees were seen in a Tamarind tree. And that there was a ruin in that area.

We parked the car under a Tamarind tree and checked that one for bees. None to be found. But to be safe we all held our can with bug spray at hand. We entered the roi to start our hike. Almost immediately we saw the remnants of a large dam. We assumed that that was the ruin the rangers told us about. Next to it was another Tamarind tree and here we found part of a honeycomb on the ground, so there was definitely a bees nest in this tree. But at this time we couldn't see any bees. 

We continued our hike through the roi. A very nice hike through a rather open vegetation with impressive Tamarind and Manzaliña trees on the side. When we came at a fork in the roi we went into the left branch in the direction of the indian site. After passing two dry-stone walls we left the roi and continued our hike based on the course to the site in our GPS. On our way we found several small pieces of earthenware but no sea shells. Arrived at the location of the indian site François and Eddy took a break and Fred and I started searching the surroundings for traces of the site. But without result. Not a single shell. 
After rejoining with the others we decided to go in Southerly direction to search for the site. The area was easily accessible. Not too many plants with thorns. We spread out to cover as much area as possible but also this didn't result in finding the site.

After a second break we decided to continue in the direction of another roi. This time we found an area with a lot of artifacts. Certainly not of indian origin but almost certainly a location where people often came in the past or possible even lived in this area. 

Through the roi we went back in the direction of the site and continued on the Northern side of the marked location. We went to the top of a low hill. There we saw a number of Candle cacti and also Aloe plants; both are possible indications of former habitation. And indeed we did find a lot of artifacts here and also some traces of foundations of several houses. 

It was getting late so we decided to follow a large roi back to the car. And there on the side of the roi François found an indigo tank system. A complete surprise because we already found triple indigo tank systems not too far away near Pos Monton. Apparently there was a second field of indigo that made it worthwhile to build extra indigo tanks here. And not one system. Next to it we found the remnants of a second indigo tank system and a bit further parts of what we first thought would be the remnants of a third indigo tank system but what during a later visit appeared to be the remnants of a well. 
What made this find extra special is the fact that the rotting tank of the most intact indigo tank system was subdivided in smaller compartments. So this tank is the first one that is clearly reused after the indigo production stopped in Curaçao. Given the size of the smaller compartments it is most probably that this is done to tan leather. That is also a process that needs water and that produces a pungent smell so the best place to do this tanning is downwind from the plantation house close to water. Similar conditions as for the indigo production. Surprisingly no other plantation came with the idea to reuse the indigo tanks for this process. The rotting tank of the indigo tank system is far too large for tanning, so building extra walls inside that tank to make smaller compartments was clearly an innovation.

We checked for the normal indications of an indigo tank. There was an opening between the rotting and beating tank; there were still IJssel bricks in that opening and also pink watertight plaster. There were multiple tanks per system (at least clearly visible for the most intact system) and on the inside of the rotting tank we found in two of the corners IJssel bricks embedded in watertight plaster. Interesting was the fact that the IJssel bricks were clearly eroded by the aggressive fluids used for the tanning process.

Maybe this is the ruin that the rangers were talking about. In that case the location was known but the remnants were not yet identified as indigo tank systems. 

Satisfied with this very rewarding hike even though we didn't find what we came for, the indian site, we returned to the parking lot of the park.