New Perspectives on Early Migrations in the Western Caribbean

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Building a regional picture of the early peopling of the Western Caribbean is a challenging task. One of the main issues is the lack of a consistent, large scale chronological framework that would allow us to reconstruct direction(s), frequencie(s) and causes of past population movements. Our session focuses on skeletal remains as ancestors that provide both biological and cultural information, and examines the identity of the early migrants, their mode of subsistence and reasons behind their migrations. We present research on ancient DNA (aDNA), archaeology of subsistence practices (including paleoethnobotany and isotope analyses), mortuary archaeology, paleoenvironmental reconstruction, and analyses of place names (toponymy) in order to contextualize ancestral remains within their historical, cultural, natural and ideational worlds. We particularly encourage discussion of data sets on chronometric and stratigraphic dating of relevant sites in the region. The presented results point to the multidirectionality of early migrations and to the complexity of interactions between the islands and the adjacent continental regions, calling for different scales of inquiry into the process of early peopling of the Western Caribbean.

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  • Documents (11)

  • Admixture in the pre-Columbian Caribbean (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Juan Martinez-Cruzado. Edna Tascon-Penaranda. Francez Curbelo-Canabal. Taras Oleksyk. Esteban Burchard.

    The biological origin of the Tainos is one of the most controversial issues regarding the population history of the Caribbean. The archaeological evidence suggests an early arrival from Mesoamerica and later arrivals of Arawak speaking groups from the Amazon to the Greater Antilles. We sequenced the control region of 171 Hondurans mtDNAs, 140 of which were of Native American origin, including 119 belonging to haplogroup A2, 20 to B2 and one to C1. We then chose Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic...

  • Ancient DNA prospecting in the Caribbean: preliminary findings and future perspectives (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ash Matchett.

    Recent advancements in DNA sequencing has initiated a revolution in the field of Archaeogenetics. The results of these new studies have fundamentally affected our understanding of early human migration and peoples. Limitations, however, still exist, notably in tropical environments. These environments are believed to affect the preservation of DNA in human fossils, to the extent where DNA extraction and analysis is at the limit of even the newest technologies. A specialized facility has been...

  • Bayesian probability weaning age estimates of sub-adults from Canimar Abajo, Cuba (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bill Buhay. Yadira Chinique de Armas. Mirjana Roksandic. Roberto Rodriguez Suarez. David Smith.

    Bone collagen from thirty-two sub-adults (between 0 and 5 years old) and eighteen adult females, excavated from two cemeteries at Canimar Abajo, Cuba (occupied between 1130±110 BCE and 580±120 CE) were analyzed for carbon and nitrogen isotopic compositions and then used in two open source Bayesian probability mixing models (Stable Isotope analysis in R, SIAR; Weaning Age Reconstruction with Nitrogen isotopes, WARN) to estimate weaning ages. The weaning age estimates are complimentary between the...

  • The Contribution of Canímar Abajo, Cuba to an Understanding of Early Populations in the Greater Antilles (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Smith.

    Excavation at the site of Canímar Abajo, situated in northern Cuba, has yielded new data that contribute to our understanding of early populations in the Greater Antilles. AMS radiocarbon dates on human bone collagen provide a secure chronology for a mortuary context dating to the 2nd millennium BC. Analysis of starch grains recovered from human dental calculus demonstrates that common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) was cultivated by at least 1200 BC. Stable isotope analysis of human bone collagen...

  • The Earliest Dated Skeletal Remains from the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mirjana Roksandic. Sagrario Balladares. Leonardo Lechado. Donald Byers.

    A recent discovery of a female skeleton from Monkey Point – a shell matrix site on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua – represents the earliest confirmed evidence of the occupation of the region. In 2014, the skeleton eroded from the profile (left unprotected after the excavations in the 1970s) prompting rescue excavations. The skeleton was not disturbed, and the excavations could follow proper archaeological procedures, allowing us to reconstruct the burial position and to attempt chronometric 14C...

  • Indigenous Migration, Diaspora, and Transculturation in Colonial Cuba (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jason Yaremko.

    For nearly half a millennium, Cuba served as an outpost, key to the defence of the Spanish American empire, and one of the first centres for slavery in the colonial Americas. At the same time, Cuba also served the interests of various continental and isthmian American Amerindian groups and individuals, many who, from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, journeyed to the island colony voluntarily for trade, diplomacy, and refuge. At the same time, thousands were also transported...

  • Investigaciones arqueológicas en el Caribe Sur Nicaragüense (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Leonardo Lechado. Sagrario Balladares.

    Los primeros datos arqueológicos obtenidos para la costa Caribe de Nicaragua, surgieron en la década de los setenta del pasado siglo con los trabajos del norteamericano, Richard Magnus, (1974, 1975 y 78) y el arqueólogo nicaragüense, Jorge Espinoza, 1974, sobre todo en la Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur (RAAS), ya que la norte RAAN, los estudios son muy escasos; entre 1998 y 2006, se desarrollaron estudios conjuntos entre la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona UAB y la Universidad Nacional...

  • The Nicaraguan Rise and the Problem of Early Peopling of the Greater Antilles (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ivan Roksandic.

    This presentation examines the patterns of interaction in the Greater Antilles at the time of early migrations, the sources of those population movements and the reasons behind them, with a special focus on the probable links between Lower Central America and the Western Caribbean, in light of recent research results from several academic fields, such as archaeology; aDNA studies; physical anthropology; toponomastics. It investigates developments that made possible such long distance maritime...

  • Proyecto Gran Canal: El patrimonio caribeño nicaraguense (cultural y arqueológico) en peligro. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sagrario Balladares. Donald Byers. Leonardo Lechado.

    Este tema estará referido a la preocupación de algunos investigadores, arqueólogos y antropólogos, nacionales y extranjeros, que trabajamos en la región caribeña de Nicaragua por las implicancias que tendrá la construcción del canal interoceánico en el caribe. Siendo que el área geográfica que se verá afectada posee en la actualidad un patrimonio vivo (comunidades originarias y étnicas) asentado en Punta de Aguila, lugar donde se pretende la construcción del principal puerto que dará inicio al...

  • Reconstructing Caribbean Paleotopography during the Holocene: Implications for Archaeology and Biogeography (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matthew Peros. Amy Daradich. Bill Buhay.

    Our understanding of the Holocene sea level history of the Caribbean Sea is improving through the development and analysis of mangrove and coral-based relative sea level data. In this poster we present a time-series of maps showing how the paleotopography of the region changed throughout the Holocene. The maps were generated using a recently developed model of Caribbean sea level change that incorporates the effects of both eustasy and isostasy to model past sea level positions. The results show...

  • Starch in Cuba (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sheahan Bestel.

    Evidence of subsistence and diet in the Carribean is examined using evidence from starch grains extracted from human dental calculus. This is compared with isotope data to examine distinct populations of humans in Cuba. SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation,...