I couldn’t help but smile while listening to the speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony of New College of Florida’s public archaeology lab. And I suspect the ancestors of an 1800s settlement called Angola smiled along with me. After all, their lives and legacies were at stake.
A few flashbacks on that fine occasion reminded me of why the archaeological search began for artifacts linked to what then was the little-known and under-reported saga of an outpost of freedom that thrived on the Manatee River near the time of our nation’s birth.
The “Looking for Angola” project subsequently has been established and furthered to pay tribute to that diverse community’s occupants, whose courage, determination and enterprise inspired me.
“This (Angola) is my most important project,” New College associate professor of anthropology Dr. Uzi Baram told the audience gathered next to the lab site.
In a career that spans 25 years, Angola is indeed my most significant venture. Since its inception in 2003, the experience has underscored the importance of collaboration, collegiality and collective work for our team of scholars. That’s the spirit that led to Angola’s existence.
And it’s the same spirit of collaboration that led federal, state and local funders to contribute $500,000 to build the lab. The facility will provide a place for New College students to partner with seasoned researchers, archaeology students from across the country, and volunteers for artifact analysis.
Little did the Angola residents know what their tools, utensils and pottery shards would teach. Their presence guides “Looking for Angola” and every ancillary project that develops as a result.
Vickie Oldham, Project Director, “Looking for Angola” Parrish