Congress of the International
Association of Caribbean Archaeology
|ST. CROIX, US VIRGIN ISLANDS LAND OF 7 FLAGS
About St. Croix
St. Croix is located roughly 40 miles south of St. Thomas and St. John in the U. S. Virgin
Is¬lands, and about 60 miles east-southeast of Puerto Rico. The largest of the Virgin
Islands, St. Croix measures nearly 20 miles long and about 5 miles wide, and covers
approximately 82 square miles (21,238 hectares).
The Pre-Ceramic/Archaic Period is fleetingly found on St. Croix. Several sites (3) have
been reported but little has been written on them.
Several site have been found that are approximately 2,000 year old
(Longford/Prosperity/Salt River) and these gave their names to the
old pottery style names used until recently in the chronologies of the
early inhabitants of the island. More recently the names used are,
Chican, La Heuca, Ostionoide and Saladoid, recognizing the rela-
tionship with the cultures of Puerto Rico. The Eastern Taino were
here and there is some evidence of the interaction with the cultures
from the east just prior to Columbus’s visit in November 1493.
With the visit the Spanish claim was established for the island. Unlike many of the other
Lesser Antilles the colonial power did not change often. During the 1640s the English,
Dutch and French as well as Spanish from San Juan contested the rule of the island. It was
settle in favor of the French in 16--. They evacuated to San Donmique in 1696. The
French with Spanish agreement sold the island to the Danes in 1733 to form the Danish
West Indies with St. Thomas (16--) and St. John (1716.) This purchase was just after a
successful 6 month slave uprising on St. John. The island was mapped in a perfect grid
and then the land sold off for plantations by the Danish West Indian and Guinea Company.
As a result Christansted and Federiksted are among the oldest gridded towns in the
With the failure of the Company in 1754 the island became a Danish crown colony.
Denmark was the first European state to outlaw the transatlantic slave trade in a law
passed in 1792 that set 1802 as the end of the importation of slaves. On 3 July 1848 the
remaining enslaved people rose up peacefully and demanded and got their emancipation.
This is out Emancipation Day holiday in the 21st century.
Sugar was the reason for the colony, but like the rest of the West Indies it failed in the 19th
century. Twice the Danes and the American tried to sell/buy the islands. The third try in
1916 succeeded and today in 2017 we are memorializing the 100th anniversary of the
transfer of 31 March 1917.
This has left a deep archaeological history of the Amerindian presence here that has not
been studied to the fullness that it could be. The Colonial period has a few 17th century
sites and then the Danish period is well represented by more than 200 planation sites and
the two towns. The Danes also have retained in the Riksarchive in Copenhagen most of
the papers from the governing of these island so there is a rich documentary resource to
be mined for historical information.