The Mill Reef archaeological site was discovered and excavated in the 1960 by Dr. Fred Olsen and members of the Antigua Archaeological Society. The site has been classified archaeologically as a Terminal Saladoid site for stylistically it marks a change from the Saladoid tradition and the development of an island oriented culture. The Mill Reef site, formerly known as the Brook, is situated along a small watercourse in close proximity to the sea, in a marine rich environment.
Mill Reef Pottery
Mill Reef period ceramics represents the second phase of pre-Columbian ceramic/cultural development on Antigua. The date attributed to the appearance of this series is about 600 AD. It coincides with an increase in settlements on Antigua and its nearby marginal satellite islands.
Some elements of the earlier “Saladoid” ceramic styles persist while others are abandoned, and new traits appear in the archaeological record. White-on-red decoration continues but with a change from curvilinear designs to straight and diagonal striping. Zoned-incised-crosshatch disappears as do the modelled-incised lugs, nubbins, and incense burners. Cassava griddles continue to be utilized but are now built with legs. The overall quality of the ceramic style and form deteriorates. Vessel walls are thicker, and the surface roughened and at times scratched. The deep reddish brown, highly burnished, decorated thin-wall Saladoid vessels are replaced by more expedient, functional vessels that are cruder in form and technology.
From a broader perspective, the Mill Reef phase of change may be seen as the beginning of a localised cultural development, for it marks a shift in settlement pattern and subsistence strategy towards a marine orientation on Antigua. It further marks an expansion of settlements onto the arid, xerophytic low-lying limestone islands, such as Anguilla and Barbuda . Today, the Mill Reef site remains well preserved and has not been impacted by development. (Murphy 1999)