Den Dunki and Jan Thiel

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Den Dunki 20150910 002 smallOn thursday September 10, 2015 the archaeology sleuths went for a trip on the Band'ariba (East) side of the island. Two targets: the area of Den Dunki (Parke Sorsaka) and an area with a lot of waterworks to the East of country house Jan Thiel. 
For our first target we parked our cars close to the entrance of Den Dunki at 8 AM. There are several stories about Den Dunki. It should have been a slave camp where sick slaves could recuperate before being sold. That story is not supported by documentation or archaeological proof. Most slaves were sold from ship to ship because most slaves went to other regions in the Caribbean. In my opinion it is very unlikely that especially the sick and weak slaves would have to walk a large distance from the harbor to this area (and the same applies to St. Joris) to recuperate here and then walk back to the harbor to be sold. It is more likely that the sick slaves were sold immediately for a discounted price. And even if there was a place where sick slaves could recover then it would have been more likely that one of the WIC-plantations near the harbor would have been used for this. But for this theory there is no documentation either so everybody should reach his/hers own conclusion about the use of Den Dunki as a slave camp.

The other use of Den Dunki is as a recreational garden for the owners of the plantation, the family Gorsira. When the country house was restored or rebuilt in 1876 a Swan Park was created next to the country house. That is what now is called Den Dunki or Parke Sorsaka. It was a park with a monumental bridge over a stream, a large well, an ornamental pond and another ornamental pond with a fountain. The name of the park refers to the swans that were living in the waterworks. The only remains of this Swan park are the monumental bridge, the large octagonel well and the remains of one of the ornamental ponds. During excavations done and documented by Jay Haviser also the remains of another ornamental pond probably with a fountain were found completely underground.
The third story is about the monumental bridge; this bridge would have been used to showcase the slaves before they were sold. That story is definitely not true because the bridge dates from past he slave trade period.

Special attention from the sleuths went to the remains of the ornamental pond. Three sides of that pond suggest a large water tank in which half circular structures were built. Could the original water tank have been one of the tanks of an indigo tank system? The three still standing walls cover an area that could have been one of the two larger tanks of an indigo tank system. There are IJsselbricks present and also pink watertight plaster. Problem is that these same components would also have been used to build a watertight ornamental pond. The walls are of a lesser thickness than what we normally find in an indigo tank system. Without further excavation there is also no trace of the other two tanks that complement an indigo tank system. So the investigation is inconclusive. In my opinion it is a newly built ornamental pond and not a reuse of one of the tanks of an indigo tank system; this conclusion is mainly based on the thickness of the walls and the lack of at least one of the other tanks. 

Jan Thiel 20150910 021 smallOur second stop was close to the country house of Jan Thiel. There several wells and dams are marked on the Werbata map. An interesting area to investigate. 
We parked on our cars on a parking lot next to the road to the country house. There a path starts that is used for mountain biking and hiking. So we had ourselves 'a walk in the park' compared to our usual trips through dense vegetation. 
It is indeed a park-like environment with tamarind trees, Kenepa trees and some very large Mahogany trees. Also with a lot of irrigation channels that indicate that this area was used for agriculture.

We found all the wells that are marked on the Werbata map and even some more. The extra wells are probably from a later period than the beginning of the 20th century when the Werbata map was made. Most interesting was a large water tank with a small building attached to it. The construction suggests that it is an old structure but it is not marked on the Werbata map. Werbata would not have missed such a large construction so it is likely that it was built later in the 20th century. We found a mark in the wall that suggest a date with 51 in it. So that would lead to a construction date of 1951. That seems unlikely; the walls of the water tanks as well as the walls of the oldest part of the attached building suggest a much older date. So also here an inconclusive result.

We concluded our hike early this time. Around half past eleven we were back at the parking lot.