Caribbean Environmental Archaeology: New Perspectives on Human Ecodynamics and Social Relations

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 81st Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (2016)

Worldwide, archaeological research increasingly demonstrates the complexity of interactions between human groups and the environment. In the Caribbean, this complexity is underscored by environmental archaeology studies that reveal how past landscapes and seascapes have been shaped at multiple scales by interlinked cultural and ecological systems. The analytic methods of zooarchaeology, archaeobotany, geoarchaeology, and biochemistry have been become powerful tools to understand these dimensions of connectivity. This session will examine human social and ecological relations across space and time in the Caribbean based on various environmental and biogeochemical proxy records. Session themes include, but are not limited to, human mobility and interaction, animal translocation, anthropogenic environmental impacts, cultural responses to ecological change, ecosystem and human social resilience, insular adaptation, and cultural diversity across space. The session will highlight the many dynamic lines of inquiry in environmental and biogeochemical archaeology under investigation in the Caribbean, situate Caribbean-based research within broader topics of environmental archaeology and human ecodynamics, and foster dialogue with researchers pursuing related studies in regions elsewhere.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-15 of 15)

  • Documents (15)

  • Archaeozoology contributions to the studies of the anthropology of food through the study of two archaeological contexts of early Hispanic – Indigenous interaction in the northeast of Cuban. (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lourdes Pérez Iglesias.

    The study of bone modifications in archaeology becomes an important source of information for understanding aspects of food anthropology and extinct human groups, as well as it improves the knowledge of these aspects in poorly documented historical stages. This applies to the first moments of Spanish colonization in the north of Holguin. This paper includes elements of the exploitation of faunal resources in two marked Indo-Hispanic archaeological contexts in northeastern Cuba: Chorro de Maita...

  • Archaic Era Vertebrate Faunal Remains from Cuba (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Roger Colten. Brian Worthington.

    The broad patterns of Archaic or pre-ceramic subsistence adaptations are not well known for the broader Caribbean region partly due to the ecological variability among the islands and limited quantified faunal data from sites of appropriate age. The state of knowledge for Cuba is hampered by a limited number of radiocarbon dated archaeological sites. In this paper we present quantified vertebrate faunal data and radiocarbon dates from three Cuban sites, Las Obas, Vega del Palmar, and Los...

  • Avian Remains from the Late Pre-colonial Amerindian Sites on the Islands of the Venezuelan Caribbean (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marlena Antczak. Maria Magdalena Antczak. Andrzej Antczak. Miguel Lentino.

    Abstract This paper presents the results of the analyses of an assemblage of over 3,000 bird remains systematically recovered in various late pre-Hispanic sites (c. AD 1000–1500) on the islands of the Venezuelan Caribbean. We discuss possible signatures of seasonal occupancy of the island campsites as inferred from the bio-ecology of the identified bird specimens. The data indicates that several families of birds were persistently targeted by Amerindians for food and/or feathers, and their bones...

  • Caribbean Anthropogenic Paleozoogeography: Cultural and Ecological Significance of Animal Introductions in the Lesser Antilles (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christina Giovas.

    Studies of exotic animal introductions in the insular Caribbean have focused on the paleozoogeography, origin, and dispersal patterns of these taxa, but have yet to resolve a number of important, related issues. Among these are the critical problems of distinguishing live introductions from the import of animal parts and assessing the degree of animal management practiced by Amerindians. These questions are fundamental to understanding the broader cultural and ecological significance of faunal...

  • Caribbean landscapes during the late-precolonial and early-colonial periods (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Neil Duncan. Peter Siegel. John Jones. Nicholas Dunning. Deborah Pearsall.

    People in the Caribbean have been interacting with their landscapes for at least 8,000 years (Trinidad), sometimes in ways that leave only subtle traces of actions and in others the evidence is dramatic. Over this span we see variable trajectories of landscape engagements, ranging from early relatively intense activities followed by abandonment to continuous occupations throughout prehistory to places occupied late in the historical sequence. First colonizers to the Caribbean modified and...

  • Coastal resource exploitation during the late ceramic age on Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Joost Morsink. Jay Haviser. Ruud Stelten. Dr. Corinne L. Hofman.

    Leiden University recently initiated a long-term field project on Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean, which focuses on the human exploitation of resources in dynamic coastal environments. The location of the Den Bon site - behind a large inland bay bordered by mangroves and on the edge of a tidal flat – suggests an explicit interest in resources that derive from such environments. Previous research has indicated that island-specific resources were fundamental in the creation of larger regional networks in...

  • Environmental Archaeology in the Caribbean Islands: Multi-disciplinary Approaches to Past Human-Environment Dynamics across Time and Space (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michelle LeFebvre.

    Environmental Archaeology is a diverse field that focuses on the inherent relationships between past people and the physical environments in which they lived. Archaeologists employ traces of past human behavior and cultural practices in their macro-, micro-, geo- and biochemical forms to study past environmental conditions as well as human activities that directly or indirectly involved or impacted the environment. In the Caribbean islands, archaeologists employ a diversity of analytical...

  • Exploring Records of Prehistoric Anthropogenic and Climate Change in the Bahama Archipelago (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mary Jane Berman. Perry L. Gnivecki. Lisa Park Boush. Erik Kjellmark.

    The peopling of the Bahama archipelago during the eighth through eleventh centuries AD occurred at a rapid pace. In this study we examine several data sets to understand this fast-moving expansion. Sedimentological and geochemical data derived from cores from inland ponds and lakes from several islands in the Bahama archipelago indicate that migration took place during periods of hurricane hyperactivity, sea level changes, and hydrological variability. Settlement data and material culture...

  • Investigating animal trade, transport, and translocation in the precolonial Caribbean: New isotopic and zooarchaeological evidence (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jason Laffoon. Till Sonnemann. Menno Hoogland. Gareth Davies. Corinne Hofman.

    Investigations of the dynamic relationships between humans and (non-human) animals are of interest to a broad range of scientific disciplines throughout the world. In the Caribbean, the complexities of island biogeography, transportation technologies, and human agency converge to condition the spatial distribution of both humans and animals. This region has long been characterized as relatively impoverished in higher order species diversity and scarcity of domesticated animals, yet the...

  • Island extinctions and invasions: archaeozoological advance in the French West Indies (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sandrine Grouard.

    Although island faunas are relatively well studied, there are few clear examples on faunal replacement, over periods of several centuries or a few millennia. This paper brings together results from ten years of zooarchaeological studies in three different Caribbean islands: Saint-Martin, Guadeloupe and Martinique. It presents data on presence (and absence) of terrestrial vertebrates (amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals), in relation to human activities in insular environments during the...

  • Islands as gardens: plant translocations by Caribbean Indians as a dynamic and multiscalar form of cultural niche construction, with emphasis on Puerto Rico and the evidence for psychoactive/ritual plant use. (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lee Newsom.

    I consider pre-European plant introductions of exotic fruit trees and other useful plants as a multi-faceted reflection of indigenous plant use, culminating a mosaic of vegetative components in a constructed environment. I focus in particular on the plant constituents of the cajoba ritual complex, drawing especially on recent data from Tibes and Jácana (Puerto Rico), along with relevant ethnographic records from mainland South America that describe ethnobotanical practices associated with...

  • "Marineness" and Variability in Maritime Adaptations in the Late Ceramic Age Northern Lesser Antilles (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Crock. Nanny Carder. Sebastián Castro.

    Archaeological investigations in the northern Lesser Antilles have demonstrated Amerindians’ dependence on marine foods and maritime exchange throughout the Late Ceramic Age. While these data confirm the assumption that small island populations were, by necessity, maritime adapted, they also reveal subtle variability in the degree to which islanders’ depended on marine resources and the extent to which they engaged in interisland exchange networks. We use environmental and archaeological data to...

  • Natural vs. Human-caused Extinctions of Terrestrial Vertebrates in the Bahamas (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Steadman. Janet Franklin. Jim Mead. Angel Soto-Centeno. Nancy Albury.

    We report 83 taxa of vertebrates (11 reptiles, 63 birds, 9 mammals) from late Pleistocene bone deposits in Sawmill Sink, Abaco, The Bahamas. These bones were recovered by scuba divers in non-cultural contexts at water depths of 27-35 m. Among the 83 species, 40 (48%) no longer occur on Abaco (4 reptiles, 31 birds, 5 mammals). We estimate that 17 of the 40 losses (all of them birds) are linked to changes during the Pleistocene-Holocene Transition (~15 to 9 ka) in climate (becoming more warm and...

  • The Saint-Martin island's (French Lesser Antilles) Amerindian archaeomalacological record : insight into a six millennia history of interacting pre-Columbian societies and environments (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nathalie SERRAND. Dominique BONNISSENT.

    Substantial archaeomalacological assemblages have been studied from 7 pre-Columbian sites on the French part of the island of Saint-Martin (Lesser Antilles). Most of these sites were excavated through salvage archaeology procedures on large surfaces, allowing relative comprehension of their structural and functional organization, as well as the recovery of solid molluscs samples. These 7 ensembles line the complete known chronological sequence of the island's Amerindian occupation, from the 4th...

  • Zooarchaeological Records and Isotopic Systematics of Bahamian Hutia (Geocapromys ingrahami): are the Bahamas a distinct isotopic province? (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only George Kamenov. Michelle LeFebvre. Susan deFrance. Geoff DuChemin. John Krigbaum.

    Although the Bahamas are not geologically part of the Caribbean, they are culturally associated with the rest of the Caribbean Islands. Due to their unique geology the Bahamas can potentially be a distinct Pb and Sr isotopic province when compared to the rest of the Caribbean islands. Here we present the results of isotopic analysis of archaeological Bahamian hutia specimens from two pre-Columbian sites on Crooked Island (Crooked Island-8 and Crooked Island 14) located in the Bahamas, and one...