OCTOBER SPEAKER: Archaeologist Kathy Gerace

WHERE DID COLUMBUS FIRST LAND IN 1492?
THE DESCRIPTIVE AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE

For nearly 500 years there was controversy among scholars and lay people over the exact location of Columbus’ first landfall on his maiden voyage in 1492. A review of historic documents, maps, and descriptive photos will be discussed to show why there were numerous theories, but by the 500th anniversary in 1992 some undeniable evidence had come to light through archaeology.
During the 1980’s, under the direction of Dr. Charles Hoffman of Northern Arizona State University, excavations of a Lucayan Indian site on the western side of San Salvador Island, Bahamas, unearthed numerous European artifacts. Analysis of these artifacts revealed they were of Spanish origin and dated from the very late 1400’s. The significance of these finds cannot be overstated, as it provides further proof that the island of San Salvador was the location of Columbus’ first landfall in the New World.

Kathy Gerace holds a MS degree in anthropology/archaeology from Michigan State University. In 1971, she was teaching at Elmira College in Elmira, NY, when she was asked to teach a four-week field course in historic archaeology on the island of San Salvador in The Bahamas. It was meeting the Executive Director of the field station, Dr. Donald Gerace, that led to their marriage and Kathy becoming the Assistant Director of the field station.

Over the years the field station grew to provide a venue for scientific studies and research for over 100 colleges and universities from the US, Canada, and Europe. In 1988 the Geraces formed a Bahamian, non-profit corporation named the Bahamian Field Station (BFS). Knowing that they couldn’t live forever, the Geraces gave the BFS to the College of The Bahamas (COB) in 2003, and it was renamed the Gerace Research Centre (GRC). When the COB became the University of The Bahamas (UB), the GRC became one of their campuses, and continues to provide accommodations, lab and field equipment, and all types of logistical support for professors, students, and scientific researchers in the disciplines of archaeology, biology, geology, and the marine sciences.