Rethinking Puerto Rican Precolonial History
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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The archaeology of Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean has long been dominated by the archaeological model proposed by the late Irving Rouse. Although the contributions of this pioneering archaeologist for the development of culture-historical systematics have been many, the time has come for us to unthink many of the assumptions that are made in his models in order to develop a fresh perspective on the precolonial histories of the original inhabitants of the insular Caribbean...
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Since its onset, archaeology has had a close relationship with political and cultural colonialism. The many shades of colonialism not only include the political and economic straightjacketing of the occupied territories but in many cases also involve the invention of the histories of the colonized by the colonizer (Fannon 1988; McNiven and Russell 2005). As noted elsewhere (e.g., see chapters in Liebman and Rizvi 2008), archaeology has played an important role in this endeavor, which in many cases has led to the alienation of peoples from the construction of their own histories...
2. Culture History: Toward a Revamped Perspective
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Keegan and Rodríguez Ramos (2004) have recently indicated that there is a theoretical crisis in Antillean archaeology. We argued that none of the models in existence, particularly Rouse’s time-culture systematics and the Arqueología Social’s modos de vida approach, are appropriate for addressing the culturally and socially plural precolonial landscape of the insular Caribbean since both are essentialist in nature...
3. The Method, the Sample, the Contexts
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As previously noted, a major objective of this work is to develop a data set that can be used to evaluate Rouse’s chrono-cultural model for Puerto Rico as well as to revisit some of the assumptions embedded in such a framework regarding the lifeways and dynamics of interaction of the precolonial peoples of the island. This will be accomplished primarily by analyzing the ways in which objective pieces were shaped or reduced through the employment of different manufacturing techniques, which are reflected in the negative signatures imprinted on the produced materials and their by-products...
4. Discovery of Puerto Rico and the Lifeways of Its Earliest Inhabitants
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Around 5000 b.c., the inhabitants of some of the coastal areas of the Americas that faced the Caribbean Sea embarked on the first long-distance maritime movements registered in this hemisphere. These voyages were directed to a group of islands whose territories marked the northern boundary of the Caribbeanscape, a fluid space that has united people from such continental regions with those of the Antillean archipelago for more than 7,000 years...
5. Coming, Going, and Interacting: An Alternative Perspective on the “La Hueca Problem”
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After around 3,500 years of Pre-A rawak occupations and interactions in Puerto Rico, other groups of people began to make their entrance into the Antilles. It is generally considered, on the basis of Rouse’s (1992) model, that those groups migrated from a single ancestral area that has been traced to the mouth of the O rinoco. These migrants, grouped by Rouse (1992) within the Cedrosan Saladoid subseries, moved from that area into the Lesser Antilles, eventually reaching Puerto Rico around 400 b.c...
6. Horizontal Diversification in Puerto Rico: The Forging of New Identities
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It has often been assumed, on the basis of Rouse’s (1992) model, that the most pivotal event in the development of what is commonly known as the “Taíno” is marked by the rise of the Ostionoid series in Puerto Rico around a.d. 600. The beginning of this series is represented by the divergence of the Cuevas style of the Cedrosan Saladoid subseries into the Monserrate style of the Elenan Ostionoid subseries in the eastern part of the island and the Pure Ostiones style of the Ostionan Ostionoid subseries in the west...
7. The Intensification of Regional Political Integration
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As was evident in the previous chapter, the political landscape of the island after a.d. 500 was characterized by social and cultural plurality rather than homogeneity. New identities emerged at the local and regional levels, which resulted from the myriad of intersocietal engagements that were taking place during this time. These processes intensified after a.d. 1000, a period characterized by higher degrees of political integration on the island. This chapter will address the articulation of Puerto Rico’s late precolonial landscape...
8. Putting It All Together
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Throughout this book, I have provided an alternative perspective on the precolonial landscape of Puerto Rico at different points in time employing as primary lines of evidence the study of the technological styles used in lithic production and the radiocarbon database from the island that I developed. By integrating these two sources of evidence and others as well, I have aimed to elicit the complex nature of the social and cultural landscape of the island throughout our precolonial history...
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Page Count: 267
Publication Year: 2010