Archaeology of Cuba Tour

When: November 9 – 19, 2018
Where: Cuba
How Much: $6,599 per person, double occupancy; $650 single supplement      

Archaeology of Cuba – New Tour!

Join us for an archaeological adventure of a lifetime to Cuba. We will have the chance to  visit famous early colonial archaeological sites, including the site of the village first spot by Columbus,  see Pre-Columbian sites across the island,  and drink in the history with museums & colonial architecture in Havana. We will be joined along the way by a number of noted Cuban archaeologists who are experts on specific areas of Cuban prehistoric and historic archaeology. The tour leader is Dr. Brooke Persons, Office of Archaeological Research at the University of Alabama Museums, an expert in Caribbean and Cuban archaeology. Read about our research team visiting Cuba: The Point Where Two Worlds Collided

 For further information or to join us, contact us at tours.tac@gmail.com or by phone at (505) 266-1540. This tour will fill fast!

Friday, November 9:  Arrive Miami, Florida

Join us in Miami, Florida for an orientation reception and lecture at our hotel at the Miami International Airport.

Saturday, November 10: Depart Miami arrive Holguin, Cuba  L,D In the morning we fly from Miami to Holguin in eastern Cuba.  We will meet the Cuban archaeologists who will be traveling with us for the next two days and we’ll get our first look at the city of Holguin. Then we’ll travel to the beautiful Las Brisas Resort Hotel on the coast.

Sunday, November 11: Holguin, Bariay Key   B,L,D  We’ll visit Bariay Key, the Indian village seen by Columbus on October 28, 1492. Bariay is a beautiful place that has a well-developed historic park dedicated to the native village and archaeological site. We’ll be accompanied by the Cuban archaeologists who spent years conducting excavations at the site and helped design the park. There is a replica of the Native American village, including houses and gardens, as well as an excavation, native dressed guides and a restaurant/bar. We will spend the day exploring the beautiful area around Bariay and then return to the Las Brisas Resort.

Monday, November 12:  Chorro de Maita     B,L,D  From the Las Brisas Resort, we’ll travel to Chorro de Maita. This is one of the best known and most investigated sites on the island and was featured in the fall 2009 issue of American Archaeology. It consists of a village, museum and cafe. The museum protects the excavated village and cemetery that date to the early 16th century. Our guides conducted excavations at Chorro, so we’ll get extra insight as to why this site was, and still is, so important. Next, we will visit the town of Banes, which was established by an American banana company, Chiquita Bananas, in the late 1890s. Here, we will tour the Banes Museum, housed in the old Royal Bank of Canada building. It is one of the best archaeological museums in Cuba, with many spectacular artifacts from Chorro and other sites. It sustained hurricane damage a few years ago and has been closed for repairs but is expected to have reopened by the time we visit. We will then return to the Las Brisas Resort.

Tuesday, November 13:  Holguin, Havana         B,L,D  We will breakfast at the hotel, then depart for the airport for our mid-afternoon flight to Havana.
The Spanish founded Havana, a UNESCO world heritage site, in 1519.  By the 17th century, it had become one of the Caribbean’s main centers for shipbuilding. Defined by the old city walls, Old Havana was built in a mixture of baroque and neoclassic styles.  Although many of the buildings have fallen into disrepair, many are being restored. We’ll freshen up at our hotel in Old Havana and then gather for a brief lecture on the archaeology of Havana. Then we will explore the area around our hotel before we have our first dinner in Havana.

Wednesday, November 14:  Havana 

B,L,D After breakfast, we’ll take a walking tour of Habana Vieja. Havana contains the largest collection of colonial-era architecture.  We will visit four of the five historic plazas that make Havana unique in the western hemisphere.

We’ll visit Cathedral Square, the most beautiful and picturesque colonial plaza on the island.  The square is named after the Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana, one of the finest examples of baroque architecture on the island. It was built by the Jesuit order between 1748 and 1777.  Then we’ll see the Square of Arms, Havana’s oldest square, which was used as a military parade ground for Spanish soldiers. It is flanked by the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the former seat of colonial government.  We will also visit San Francisco Square, one of the oldest plazas in the historic quarter, built in the 15th century. The square is named after the magnificent Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco de Asís.

Finally we’ll explore Plaza Vieja.  Built in 1559, the plaza was the only civic square of colonial times and was used for processions, bullfights, fiestas and later a market.  Elegant colonial residences that surround the square were constructed during the 17th  century to the early 20th century.

All of this history means lots of archaeology. We’ll visit the Archaeological Museum of the City Historian and learn firsthand how Havana’s archaeologists document and preserve so many layers of history – both on land and in Havana’s harbor. This museum is housed in a historic building with murals on the walls that date back as far as the 1600s. After lunch, we will visit the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the former official residence of the governors (Captains General) of Havana and now the city museum. In addition to museum displays, it has several rooms furnished as they were when it was the governor’s residence. We’ll have dinner at a private paladar (restaurant).

Thursday, November 15:  Havana        B,L We will start the day with a visit to the Montane Anthropological Museum at the University of Havana. The museum focuses on the material culture of pre-Hispanic Cuba.  In addition to numerous artifacts there is also a permanent pre-Columbian art exhibit. After lunch, we will return to Old Havana to visit the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, considered to be the oldest stone fort in the Americas. Completed in 1577, the fort was built to protect against pirate attacks, but was proved ineffective as it was built too far inside the bay. It eventually became the residence of the Governor of Havana and houses extensive archaeological collections, many of which were excavated from shipwrecks and contain stacks of gold and silver. The museum’s director will share the highlights of the collections with us. You have the remainder of the afternoon free to roam Old Havana and have dinner on your own.

Friday, November 16:  Havana          B,L,D  We will start the day with a visit to the Instituto Cubano de Antropología, one of the government’s research entities.  The Institute also houses a small museum dedicated to the Guarch family, Cuban archaeology’s most prominent family, members of whom you will have met in Holguin. The museum covers the entire prehistory of Cuba including the Archaic period. Here, we will learn about recent research in that field. After lunch, we will return to Old Havana and you will have the afternoon free.  Later we’ll meet for dinner and then depart for an optional show at the famous Tropicana Cabaret. This is a late night out, but it’s definitely worth it.

Saturday, November 17:  Viñales          B,L,D  This morning, we will depart for beautiful Viñales in the Sierra de los Organos mountains. As we make the two hour drive from Havana, we’ll take in the beautiful panoramic view of the valley and the incredible mogotes, dome-like limestone formations. In the region of Viñales, there are 47 known archaeological sites, 19 of which are linked to aboriginal communities of the pre-Hispanic era and reveal economic stratification and funeral rites. Twenty-eight sites are linked to nineteenth-century maroons, or runaway slaves, who sought protection from nearby plantation owners. In all cases, the material evidence of these people is found in caves and rock formations. Viñales Valley is part of the UNESCO Slave Route Project created to raise awareness of the causes and consequences of slave trade.  We’ll visit tobacco plantations and converse with local farmers – you can even roll your own cigar! We will also see the Cuevas de Santo Tomas (limestone caves with easy hiking). We will spend the night in Viñales.

Sunday, November 18: Havana          B,L,D  After breakfast, we’ll return to Havana and visit Castillo Del Morro, which is one of two fortresses that guard the port and contains a museum for the public. It is across the bay from the city and the view is wonderful. Afterward, we’ll have lunch, then you’ll be free to buy souvenirs or do last minute exploring. We’ll gather in the evening for our final dinner in Cuba.

Monday, November 19: Depart Cuba       B After breakfast, we’ll depart for the airport for early morning flights back to Miami.

For further information, contact us at tours.tac@gmail.com or by phone at (505) 266-1540.

Tour Leader:  Jessica Crawford is the Southeast Regional Director for The Archaeological Conservancy.

Tour Guide:  Dr. Brooke Persons is currently a Cultural Resources Investigator for the Office of Archaeological Research at the University of Alabama Museums. She has a BA in anthropology from the University of Tennessee and she received her Master’s degree from the University of Alabama, for which her thesis title was The Archaic-Agricultural Frontier in Western Cuba. She also earned her PhD at the University of Alabama, for which she wrote a dissertation titled Pottery, People, and Place: Examining the Emergence of Political Authority in Late Ceramic Cuba. She has worked in conjunction with all the museums and institutions we will visit while in Cuba, as well as conducted her own field work there. In July 2008, she was Field Director for the Expedicion Arqueologia Cubano-Norte Americana at El Chorro de Malta, and co-directed the field investigations for the international collaboration between the Departamento Centro Oriental de Arqueologia, Centro de Investigaciones y Servicios Ambientales y Tecnologicos (CISAT) and the University of Alabama. From 2010 to 2012, Brooke was Senior Territorial Archaeologist for St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands State Historic Preservation Office. She is fluent in Spanish and an expert in Caribbean and Cuban archaeology. We’re very fortunate to have her experience and knowledge at our disposal.

Local experts:  We will be joined along the way by a number of noted Cuban archaeologists who are experts on specific areas of Cuban prehistoric and historic archaeology.  We have been treated like royalty by the Cuban archaeological community.

Tour cost includes:First class hotel accommodations based on double occupancy (single supplement is $650), round-trip air travel between Miami and Cuba, air travel in Cuba, expert Conservancy and Cuban guides, admittance fees, tours and orientations, background reading, ground transportation, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners as noted in the itinerary, Cuban medical insurance, and Cuban visa fees.

Tour does not include: Transportation to or from Miami from U.S. destinations, trip insurance, meals not indicated, and gratuities.

Tour Policies:  Reservations are accepted on a first come basis. A nonrefundable deposit of $500 per person is required with reservations. Full tour payment is due 90 days prior to departure. The itinerary is subject to change at the discretion of the Conservancy, but participants will be notified of significant changes in advance. We welcome singles and couples. Trip Insurance is highly recommended.

Being Prepared for Cuba: Cuba can be a challenge. Often things don’t go as planned. Flexible travelers with a sense of humor consider it part of their Cuban adventure. Our Cuban partners work very hard to make your tour unfold seamlessly, but sometimes itinerary changes happen in light of hardships on the island. Patience and flexibility is key.

For further information, contact us at tours.tac@gmail.com or by phone at (505) 266-1540.

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