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June 6, 2014
Argentinian geologists successfully remove petroglyphs from rock face at Argyle

Members of the St Vincent and the Grenadines National Trust are breathing a collective sigh of relief, now that five petroglyphs have been successfully extracted from a rock face at the site of the Argyle international airport.

The petrogylphs or rock carvings, estimated to be about 2000 years old, were removed {{more}}by a team of three geologists and an archaeologist from Argentina.

Numbering about 15, these valuable aspects of our national heritage are located at the mouth of the Yambou river, on the construction site of the Argyle International Airport.

Chair of the National Trust, Louise Mitchell Joseph said the success of the project so far, exceeds expectations.

“What is remarkable, is the ones they have removed so far, have been removed intact. Now, this is beyond everybody’s greatest expectations, so I don’t know if the remaining ones, they will also get to remove intact, without them crumbling, because some of them are quite challenging.”

Mitchell-Joseph said the team, which is lead by archaeologist Professor Monica Beron, has been in St. Vincent since the last week in May. She said they were originally scheduled to leave tomorrow, but have extended their stay until June 17, in order to complete the project.

And much to the delight of the members of the National Trust, two additional petrogylphs, which previously had not been documented, were “discovered” this week.

Mitchell-Joseph however said that all of the petroglyphs may not be removed from the Argyle airport site.

“Some of them are so barely, barely visible, that we are not focusing on getting them off. We are mainly looking at the images that are very prominent.”

The rocks will be relocated to a plot of land at Escape, which was acquired by the International Airport Development Company (IADC) for the establishment of a heritage park.

However, according to Mitchell Joseph, it is unlikely that there will be enough time for the team from Argentina to relocate the petroglyphs during this trip.

“Most likely Professor Beron will come back at a later date to relocate them,” she said.

Mitchell-Joseph expressed her appreciation to the governments of Argentina and St Vincent and the Grenadines for their assistance.

She said a private group had made a proposal to the National Trust to remove the petroglyphs at a cost of EC$500,000.

“So the fact that we are getting this done, basically for free, courtesy the Argentinians, is really phenomenal.”

She is also very grateful for the patience and commitment of the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the International Airport Development Company.

“We are very fortunate to have been able to salvage this important piece of our history. The history of St Vincent started 2000 years ago, and these petroglyphs are one of the few images that capture that history, so it is incredibly important to our national identity that it be saved.

“We are very happy that the government was committed to doing this, even though it took us so very long to find a team that would do it for us. I am grateful that they persevered and that they did not give up on the National Trust, they gave us the time to get it done.

“The airport company was ready to have this rock removed a couple years ago, but they waited on the Trust. They waited until we found a team that could do this. Not every government would have seen it to be a priority to preserve our heritage and waited so long. We are very happy that the government has been this committed to heritage to have persevered to save this national treasure of ours,” she said.