Crossing the Borders
New Methods and Techniques in the Study of Archaeology Materials from the Caribbean
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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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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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
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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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 ...
3. American Gold and European Brass: Metal Objects and Indigenous Values in the Cemetery of El Chorro de Ma�ta, Cuba
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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...
4. Chert Sourcing in the Northern Lesser Antilles: The Use of Geochemical Techniques in Discriminating Chert Materials
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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
5. A New Material to View the Past: Dental Alginate Molds of Friable Artifacts
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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...
6. Saladoid Lapidary Technology: New Methods for Investigating Stone Bead Drilling Techniques
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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...
7. Lithic Technology: A Way to More Complex Diversity in Caribbean Archaeology
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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...
8. Tool Use and Technological Choices: An Integral Approach toward Functional Analysis of Caribbean Tool Assemblages
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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...
9. Understanding the Function of Coral Tools from Anse � la Gourde: An Experimental Approach
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Coral objects are found throughout the Caribbean in archaeological excavations. A magnificent example is the mask from Anse � la Gourde (Hofman et al. 2001). Other examples are the zemis made of Acropora palmata and Porites sp. found at Golden Rock on St. Eustatius and several Saban sites (Hoogland 1996; Steenvoorden 1992). However, coral fragments also were collected as raw material for the manufacture of tools. Sometimes...
10. The Significance of Wear and Residue Studies: An Example from Plum Piece, Saba
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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...
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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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...
12. The Bur�n in Precolonial Cuban Archaeology: New Information Regarding the Use of Plants and Ceramic Griddles during the Late Ceramic Age of Eastern Cuba Gathered through Starch Analysis
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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
13. Caribbean Paleoethnobotany: Present Status and New Horizons (Understanding the Evolution of an Indigenous Ethnobotany)
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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....
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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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)...
15. Tracing Human Mobility with 87Sr/86Sr at Anse � la Gourde, Guadeloupe
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The presence of nonlocal pottery, lithic material, shell, and bone at Anse � la Gourde suggests the existence of interaction networks in the Lesser Antilles in which raw materials and exotic items circulated (Hofman et al. 2001; Hoogland and Hofman in press; Knippenberg 2006). In this study we assess the applicability...
16. Epilogue: The Correct Answer Requires the Right Question (and the Technology to Back It Up)
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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)...
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Publication Year: 2008