Underwater archaeological field school, St. Eustatius

COVID-19 NOTICE: Please be sure to reach out to the project contact to find out the status of their upcoming season. Many projects have cancelled fieldwork for 2020 and the information below may not reflect that.

Location: Oranjestad, St. Eustatius, AN

Season: July 21, 2022 to August 3, 2022

Session Dates: July 21 - August 3, 2022

Application Deadline: April 21, 2020

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

The Shipwreck Survey, St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research

Project Director:
Ruud Stelten, Director, The Shipwreck Survey

Project Description:

The Shipwreck Survey, in cooperation with the St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research (SECAR), is organizing an underwater archaeological summer field school on St. Eustatius in the Dutch Caribbean. Both summer 2021 sessions have now filled up. The next field school will take place in the summer of 2022.

St. Eustatius, a tiny island in the northeastern Caribbean, was the busiest port in the Americas in the late eighteenth century and played an instrumental role in supplying arms and ammunition to the rebels during the Revolutionary War. The island is believed to have the densest concentration of archaeological sites of any area of comparable size in the New World, and is dotted with the remains of sugar plantations, cemeteries, old warehouses, fortifications, and marine structures. The waters surrounding the island are home to an estimated 200 shipwreck sites.

The field school will comprise a two-week program packed with adventure and exploration. The focus will be on documenting submerged archaeological remains and learning surveying and documenting techniques such as photogrammetry (3D recording) and underwater photography, drawing underwater sites, geophysical surveying techinques, recording cannons and anchors, etc. Two years ago we discovered a shipwreck dating to the 1740s which we will continue to study during this course. Artifacts retrieved from the site will be subjected to conservation treatment and analysis so that participants gain hands-on experience with all aspects of the archaeological process. We will start research on adjacent sites as well. In addition to the practical applications, there will be presentations on the history of St. Eustatius and shipwrecks, artifact workshops, excursions and hikes on our beautiful dormant volcano and archaeological sites on the island.

Participants are required to be certified scuba divers (PADI Open Water Diver or equivalent certification from another agency). Scuba diving courses can also be taken on the island prior to the start of the field school (not included in the price). Scubaqua Dive Center is our local partner when it comes to all diving activities. See their website for more information.

The island of St. Eustatius is relatively quiet and undeveloped. There are no large resorts, casinos, night clubs, or crowds of tourists. Instead, the island is a hidden gem with friendly people, little to no crime, beautiful national parks, and a laid-back atmosphere. Getting to St. Eustatius is easy. There are several direct flights into St. Maarten (airport code SXM) from US and European cities. From St. Maarten, take a short 18-minute flight to St. Eustatius (airport code EUX) with Winair.

Period(s) of Occupation: Colonial period, 17th and 18th centuries

Caribbean, underwater, archaeology, maritime, marine, shipwrecks

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 14 days

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: None

Room and Board Arrangements:
Accommodation will be at the Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute, a spacious building in a quiet part of town. It features two bedrooms (bunk beds) and adjacent bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, office and laboratory facilities, living area, Wifi, daily maid, washing machine, and a large porch. Food will be provided for the duration of the project. Cost: Total cost for the field school program is $3,100. This includes 13 nights accommodation, 3 meals a day, all activities including diving and full equipment rental, marine park fee, airport pickup and drop off, and all transportation on island.

Contact Information:

Ruud Stelten

Road to English Quarter


St. Eustatius

Phone: 31642311256

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