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Crossing the Borders

New Methods and Techniques in the Study of Archaeology Materials from the Caribbean

Edited by Corinne L. Hofman, Menno L. P. Hoogland and Annelou L. van Gijn, with

Publication Year: 2008

Explores the application of a selected number of newly emerging methods and techniques.
 
During the past few decades, Caribbean scholars on both sides of the Atlantic have increasingly developed and employed new methods and techniques for the study of archaeological materials. The aim of earlier research in the Caribbean was mainly to define typologies on the basis of pottery and lithic assemblages leading to the establishment of chronological charts for the region, and it was not until the 1980s that the use of technological and functional analyses of artifacts became widespread. The 1990s saw a veritable boom in this field, introducing innovative methods and techniques for analyzing artifacts and human skeletal remains. Innovative approaches included microscopic use-wear analysis, starch residue and phytolith analysis, stable isotope analysis, experimental research, ethnoarchaeological studies, geochemical analyses, and DNA studies. 
 
The purpose of this volume is to describe new methods and techniques in the study of archaeological materials from the Caribbean and to assess possible avenues of mutual benefit and integration. Exploring the advantages and disadvantages in the application of a selected number of newly emerging methods and techniques, each of these approaches is illustrated by a case study. These studies benefited from a diverse array of experience and the international background of the researchers from Canada, the Netherlands, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Italy, Mexico, Dominican Republic, England, and the United States who are integral members of the archaeological community of the Caribbean. A background to the study of archaeological materials in the Caribbean since the 1930s is provided in order to contextualize the latest developments in this field.   

Contributors:
Benoît Bérard, Mathijs Booden, Iris Briels, Jago Cooper, Alfredo Coppa, Andrea Cucina, Gareth Davies ,Hylke de Jong, Christy de Mille, Corinne L. Hofman, Menno L. P. Hoogland, Charlene Dixon Hutcheson, Daan Isendoorn, Loe Jacobs, William F. Keegan, Harold J. Kelly, Sebastiaan Knippenberg, Yvonne M. J. Lammers-Keijsers,Fernando Luna Calderón, Marcos Martinón-Torres, Lee A. Newsom, Channah Nieuwenhuis José R. Oliver,Jaime R. Pagán Jiménez, Raphaël G. A. M. Panhuysen, Roberto Rodríguez Suárez, Glenis Tavarez María, Michael Turney, Roberto Valcárcel Rojas, Annelou L. van Gijn,Rita Vargiu,Tamara Varney, Johannes Zijlstra

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Contents

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pp. v-vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xii

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1. Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries and National Borders: New Methods and Techniques in the Study of Archaeological Materials from the Caribbean

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pp. 1-17

During the past decades, Caribbean scholars have increasingly employed and developed new methods and techniques for the study of archaeological materials. While the aim of earlier research in the Caribbean was mainly to define typologies on the basis of pottery and lithic assemblages leading to the establishment of chronological charts for the region, it was not until the 1980s that the use of technological and functional analyses of artifacts gained interest. The 1990s saw a veritable boom in this field, introducing...

PART I. PROVENANCE STUDIES

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2. In Tuneful Threefold: Combining Conventional Archaeological Methods, Archaeometric Techniques, and Ethnoarchaeological Research in the Study of Precolonial Pottery of the Caribbean

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pp. 21-33

Studies that compare clays, temper materials, and potsherds have proved to be essential when studying the provenance, procurement strategies, manufacturing techniques, and distribution patterns of precolonial pottery in the insular Caribbean (Hofman et al. 2005). In the present study conventional archaeological methods, that is, workability tests, technological experiments, thin sectioning, and ...

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3. American Gold and European Brass: Metal Objects and Indigenous Values in the Cemetery of El Chorro de Ma

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pp. 34-42

Gold was one of the most sought after resources for the Europeans arriving in the New World in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Ethnohistoric sources have long formed the basis for discussions regarding the use, availability, and role of metals among the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean (Szaszdi Nagy 1984). Early European interest in metals has left a second, less welcome, legacy, and that is the paucity of metal artifacts available...

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4. Chert Sourcing in the Northern Lesser Antilles: The Use of Geochemical Techniques in Discriminating Chert Materials

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pp. 43-65

One of the main topics in the present volume is the use of archaeometric techniques in determining the source of specific materials used by the Amerindian populations of the Caribbean realm. In the opening chapter of this volume, Hofman and colleagues mention that the introduction of these techniques in this area occurred relatively late as compared to other parts of the world, despite the fact...

PART I I. FUNCTIONAL STUDIES OF ARTIFACTS

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5. A New Material to View the Past: Dental Alginate Molds of Friable Artifacts

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pp. 69-77

Palmettan Ostionoid pottery, or Palmetto ware dated to a.d. 850–1500 (see Hoffman 1967, 1970), in the Bahama Archipelago is primarily undecorated (Keegan 1997a:39; Rouse 1992:99), although very limited examples of punctate- incised and molded appliqué occur (Sears and Sullivan 1978). The primary decorations on Palmetto ware are negative basketry impressions, which occur to a varying degree (4 to 14 percent) in the reported assemblages. There is some debate concerning the purposefulness of the basketry impressions...

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6. Saladoid Lapidary Technology: New Methods for Investigating Stone Bead Drilling Techniques

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pp. 78-89

Ancient lapidary traditions are frequent objects of interest and curiosity. The high degree of artistry and technical skill demonstrated by these industries worldwide is characteristic of both the Saladoid lapidary industry and the Saladoid occupation of the Caribbean (Watters 1997c). Stone beads, in particular, have played an important role in discussions of Saladoid socioeconomic systems and interaction. For example, the most frequently cited evidence for interisland movement is the common occurrence of exotic stone artifacts...

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7. Lithic Technology: A Way to More Complex Diversity in Caribbean Archaeology

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pp. 90-100

Caribbean archaeology has been essentially built on the analysis of only one type of remains: ceramics. This focus has been a good choice in the pioneering days of Caribbean archaeology, and this for a number of different reasons. First, pottery often constitutes the major part of the remains we fi nd during excavation of archaeological sites in the Caribbean. Second, the making of pottery in Caribbean prehistory is not only the production...

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8. Tool Use and Technological Choices: An Integral Approach toward Functional Analysis of Caribbean Tool Assemblages

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pp. 101-114

Archaeological research relies on the material remains of past peoples. Although this may seem obvious, it is remarkable that especially material objects have not always received maximum attention and, during much of the last century, were mainly used as chronological markers. In the last decade interest has shifted toward material culture studies, both in archaeology and in cultural anthropology. We have realized that tools...

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9. Understanding the Function of Coral Tools from Anse

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pp. 115-124

Coral objects are found throughout the Caribbean in archaeological excavations. A magnificent example is the mask from Anse

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10. The Significance of Wear and Residue Studies: An Example from Plum Piece, Saba

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pp. 125-136

Many archaeologists agree that statements on the function of stone tools cannot be made without the study of microscopic wear traces. Although the morphology of stone tools is still the first criterion to separate “tools” from “waste,” the presence and type of use- wear on the surface of stone artifacts is a better indication of use than morphology (Nieuwenhuis 2002). Complementary to these wear traces...

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11. Starch Residues on Lithic Artifacts from Two Contrasting Contexts in Northwestern Puerto Rico: Los Muertos Cave and Vega de Nelo Vargas Farmstead

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pp. 137-158

This chapter discusses the preliminary results derived from the analysis of 15 starch residue samples obtained from seven ground stone tools recovered from Los Muertos Cave (SR-1) and Vega de Nelo Vargas (Utu-27) sites, both located in the karst mountain region of northwestern Puerto Rico (Figure 11.1). This study provides new data that contribute to a better understanding of the nature of the agrarian economy of ancient...

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12. The Bur

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pp. 159-169

Our understanding of the way of life of the precolonial populations of Cuba and their interrelations with the environment has changed due to new approaches that, in our opinion, mark an important advancement in our knowledge of the foods consumed. One of these approaches is the analysis of direct evidence, such as fats, carbohydrates, and proteins from food remains, that was preserved on the...

PART I I I. NEW TRENDS IN PALEOBOTANICAL AND PALEO-OSTEOLOGICAL RESEARCH

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13. Caribbean Paleoethnobotany: Present Status and New Horizons (Understanding the Evolution of an Indigenous Ethnobotany)

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pp. 173-194

Humanistic botanical knowledge and practices in the Caribbean culminated an ancient and richly textured ethnobotanical tradition, a complex- adaptive process that was the multidimensional product of centuries of human- plant interactions and that also involved a fusion of earlier botanical traditions transferred from different source regions....

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14. New Evidence of Two Different Migratory Waves in the Circum-Caribbean Area during the Pre-Columbian Period from the Analysis of Dental Morphological Traits

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pp. 195-213

The circum- Caribbean area is formed by the southeastern part of the Mesoamerican continent, the northern part of South America, the archipelagos of the Bahamas, Florida, and the Greater and the Lesser Antilles (Figure 14.1). The ocean and the Caribbean Sea represented a way of communication, rather than a barrier, that allowed population movements and the interaction among the various groups (Watters 1997c; Watters and Rouse 1989)...

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15. Tracing Human Mobility with 87Sr/86Sr at Anse

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pp. 214-225

The presence of nonlocal pottery, lithic material, shell, and bone at Anse

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16. Epilogue: The Correct Answer Requires the Right Question (and the Technology to Back It Up)

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pp. 226-231

Let me start with an anecdote. When I fi rst started working in Caribbean archaeology in 1978, I happened to be associated with several biologists who were studying Queen Conch (Strombus gigas). I was in the Caicos Islands and at the time they were still shipping millions of dried conch per year to Haiti (until the conch population crashed a few years later)...

References Cited

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pp. 233-284

Contributors

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pp. 285-290

Index

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pp. 291-293


E-ISBN-13: 9780817381967
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817354534

Publication Year: 2008

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • West Indies -- Antiquities -- Congresses.
  • Indians of the West Indies -- Antiquities -- Congresses.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- West Indies -- Congresses.
  • Archaeology -- West Indies -- Methodology -- Congresses.
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