|Region||Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo|
|• Toshao||Hildebrand James|
|Elevation||614 ft (187 m)|
Aishalton is an Amerindian village that is situated in the Rupununi savannah of southern Guyana, in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo Region (Region 9) of the country. It is the administrative centre for the southern sub-district of Region 9. In 2002, an official census recorded a population of 1,063 people in Aishalton, making it the second most highly populated village in Region 9 (after Lethem), and the most populated village in the southern sub-district. The village is predominantly inhabited by Wapishana peoples.
Archaeology and the Aishalton Petroglyphs
Makatau mountain, which is situated approximately 3 km outside Aishalton village, is one of Guyana's most well-known archaeological sites. It is particularly well known for the numerous petroglyphs (known locally as "timehri") that are found on Makatau and on rock-formations in the surrounding area. In the 1970s, the Guyanese anthropologist, Denis Williams, undertook a detailed archaeological study of the area. His research uncovered 686 petroglyphs (known as the "Aishalton Petroglyphs") that are mainly representations of humans, animals and plants as well as geometric arrangements. Williams estimated the date of the petroglyphs at 3000–5000 BCE, and described them as belonging to a specific "type" of petroglyph—subsequently referred to as the "Aishalton type"—that is defined by a distinctively figurative style. Williams also discovered 84 stone tools that had been used in the carving of the petroglyphs. They were the first tools of this kind to be found in Guyana.
Aishalton village is located in the Rupununi savannah lands in the South of Guyana, at an altitude of 187 metres. Neighbouring villages are Karaudanawa to the west and Awarewaunau to the east. Lethem, the regional capital of the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo region, is situated 180 km north west of Aishalton; and Dadanawa Ranch is located approximately halfway between these two centres.
The main transport route between Aishalton and the Guyana coastlands (the most populated region of Guyana, and the home of the country's capital, Georgetown) is the unpaved Linden-Lethem Road. From Lethem, travelers use private vehicles to traverse the 180 km dirt track between Lethem and Aishalton. Up until 2008, the Rupununi River Bridge at Katoonarib afforded a crossing-point between Aishalton and Lethem. In 2008 however, the bridge—which cost 16 million Guyanese dollars to construct—collapsed. In the 1990s an Airplane landing strip was built in Aishalton. The Airport Code of the Aishalton landing strip is AHL.
Services and Facilities
Aishalton District Hospital was founded in 1982, and it is the only hospital in the southern sub-section of Region 9. It serves over seven villages, with between 20 and 40 outpatients being treated on daily basis, and approximately 20 patients admitted every month. It has a staff-force of around 18 people. According to a report in Stabroek News that was based on interviews with hospital staff members, Aishalton District Hospital suffers from limited resources and a number of other problems. The supply of electricity to the hospital has been limited to three hours per day since the hospital generator provided by Remote Area Medical ceased to work in 2008. Hospital staff also reported an inadequate supply of water, and insufficient staffing. Patients with serious conditions have to be transferred to hospitals in either Lethem or Georgetown, but the hospital also struggles with a lack of transportation and reliable transport routes.
Aishalton has both primary school and secondary schools. Aishalton Secondary School was established in 1999, and serves the six villages of the South sub-section of Region 9. In 2009, the secondary school was reported to be suffering from overcrowding.
An internet service was introduced in the village in the 1990s. Prior to the introduction of internet, communications facilities in Aishalton were limited to radio as there is no telephone service in the village or the surrounding area.
Population and Culture
The population of Aishalton is predominantly Wapishana Amerindian. The main religion in the village is Christianity, with the majority of inhabitants identifying as Roman Catholics and smaller numbers as Pentecostal Christians, Seventh-day Adventists and Anglicans. A very small number of people belong to Hindu and Muslim faiths. The principal economic activities in the village are farming, fishing, and forestry.
Every year, Aishalton takes part in the August Games—a sporting festival for the six villages of the South sub-section of Region 9, which was inaugurated in 1995. The games involve football, softball cricket and volleyball competitions. On the last day of the games a number of competitions are held to celebrate the Wapishana way of life, including traditional Wapishana activities such as cassava-grating and ant-stinging.
Local cuisine is reflective of traditional Wapishana culture. Cassava is the main staple that is used in cooking, and is used to make cassava bread, a marinating sauce called cassareep, farine (similar to cous-cous), and an alcoholic drink called parakari. The production of parakari involves a complicated process with thirty different stages, and the use of a sophisticated fermentation technology. The fermentation of parakari involves the use of an amylolytic mold (Rhizopus), and it is the only known fermented drink to be produced by the indigenous peoples of the Americas that involves the use of an amylolytic process.
- Google Earth (2012). Aishalton, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo, Guyana (Map).
- Government of Guyana (19 September 2007). "Gender" (PDF Download). Population & Housing Census 2002 - Village Level Data by Population. Bureau of Statistics, Government of Guyana. pp. 1–22 . Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Anon (19 September 2007). "Aishalton abustle with Heritage Day preparations". Guyana Chronicle. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Taylor, Liam (November–December 2005). "Aishalton Diary". Caribbean Beat 76. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Pereira, Gerald (28 September 2009). "The Aishalton Petroglyphs Revisited". Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport. Government of Guyana. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Plew, Mark G. (11 February 2004). "The Archaeology of Iwokrama and the North Rupununi" (JSTOR Subscriber Only). Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 154: 7–28 . doi:10.1635/0097-3157(2004)154[0007:taoiat]2.0.co;2.
- Williams, Denis (1979). "Report on Pre-Ceramic Lithic Artifacts in the South Rupununi Savannahs". Journal of Archaeology and Anthropology 2 (1): 10–53.
- Greer, David (2001). "Chapter 21: Lowland South America". In David S. Whitley. Handbook of Rock Art Research. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield. pp. 665–706 . ISBN 9780742502567. Retrieved 4 September 2004.
- Sutherland, Gaulbert (2 September 2009). "El Nino bakes South Rupununi". Stabroek News. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- Henfrey, Thomas B. (2002). Ethnoecology, Resource Use, Conservation and Development in a Wapishana Community in the South Rupununi, Guyana (PDF) (PhD Thesis ed.). University of Kent at Canterbury. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- George, Gwyneth; Gillian Thompson (14 May 2009). "Celebrating 100 years of public service: a historical perspective on the National Library of Guyana". Stabroek News. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
- Sutherland, Gaulbert (17 January 2010). "Aishalton Hospital delivers treatment in the dark". Stabroek News. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Government of Guyana (19 September 2007). "Ethnic Groups" (PDF Download). Population & Housing Census 2002 - Village Level Data by Population. Bureau of Statistics, Government of Guyana. pp. 1–38 . Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Government of Guyana (19 September 2007). "Religious Affiliation" (PDF Download). Population & Housing Census 2002 - Village Level Data by Population. Bureau of Statistics, Government of Guyana. pp. 1–38 . Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Government of Guyana (19 September 2007). "Main Occupation" (PDF Download). Population & Housing Census 2002 - Village Level Data by Population. Bureau of Statistics, Government of Guyana. pp. 1–42 . Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Henkel, Terry W. (19 May 2005). "Parakari, an indigenous fermented beverage using amylolytic Rhizopus in Guyana" (PDF). Mycologia 97 (1): 1–11. doi:10.3852/mycologia.97.1.1. Retrieved 7 September 2005. (subscription required)
- Henkel, Terry W. (Spring 2004). "Manufacturing Procedures and Microbiological Aspects of Parakari, A Novel Fermented Beverage of the Wapisiana Amerindians of Guyana" (PDF). Economic Botany 58 (1): 25–37. doi:10.1663/0013-0001(2004)058[0025:mpamao]2.0.co;2. Retrieved 7 September 2012. (subscription required)