`Prehistoric Guiana’ launched
March 28, 2004
PREHISTORIC Guiana, a book by the renowned Guyanese painter and archaeologist, Dr. Denis Williams, was launched two Fridays ago at the Umana Yana.
Dr. Ian McDonald, friend of the late founder and first director of Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, read a message by the Williams family. In his prelude to the actual message, McDonald recalled Denis Williams as being the typical Renaissance man, comparing the self-taught artist and archaeologist to Leonardo Da Vinci.
The message, written by Tony Williams, gave a brief background to Denis Williams’ archaeological work in Guyana, starting from the discovery of pre-historic shards of pottery near the Mazaruni.
The message thanked the persons who made the book possible, including the book’s editor and former colleague of Williams, Dr. Mark Plew, and Minister of Culture, Gail Teixeira who provided the initiative for the publication.
Dr. Plew, Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Boise State University in the US, said he saw Williams as living proof that art and science do not have to be mutually exclusive in one person. During the year and a half that he spent editing the manuscript, Dr. Plew said that he made some interesting discoveries within Williams’ work, although he was already familiar with much of it.
Dr. Desrey Caesar-Fox, current head of the Amerindian Affairs Unit at the University of Guyana, welcomed `Prehistoric Guiana’ as the first such publication of its kind. She said that the book would prove indispensable for archaeological research, as a schooling text, and will be as easily accessible to the general reader.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Ms. Gail Teixeira said that the book provided the sort of indigenous insight that Denis Williams used to say was lacking in the Caribbean. She traced Williams’ interest in archaeology to his work as an artist for an archaeological project in Sudan.
After the launch, persons in attendance were invited to peruse the late archaeologist’s notebooks and to watch a video, Errol Brewster’s documentary on the
Denis Williams, founded the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology in 1975 and acted as its first director. (Ruel Johnson)