Identity and Change: Archaeological Interaction across Archipelagos, Inland Seas, and Oceans

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

This symposium examines the emergence, dynamics and change of island societies, linked together in wider coastal and island worlds. Papers address the archaeological evidence for interactions between different communities over time and explore the nature and significance of interactions that emerge as distinct island identities.The symposium seeks to address the changes that take place in islands over long timescales notably between prehistoric and globalised historical societies, taking examples from the central Mediterranean, and regions bordering the Atlantic. In many cases, striking new data from recent fieldwork are brought to bear, including isotopes, trade characterisation and environmental data. The symposium has deliberately taken examples from seas with different degrees of closure, and where contrasts between early and later maritime technologies can be compared. A key theme of the symposium is the broader political context of island societies and how island communities respond to changing conditions as measured in environmental impact and local development.

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  • Documents (9)

  • Ancient networks of the Caribbean: Interaction and Exchange across the Historical Divide (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Corinne Hofman.

    In this paper, we present multiple lines of evidence for the existence of interwoven and dynamic ancient networks in the Caribbean. This region is characterized by a long and unique history of social relationships between communities and peoples at various temporal and spatial scales. Through time, Caribbean networks of human mobility and the exchange of goods and ideas were shaped by expanding and contracting group territories, fission and fusion of local communities, and variable degrees of...

  • Contrasting Communities: Relationship Change in the Western Isles of Scotland (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Niall Sharples.

    The paper is an examination of the cultural differences that exist within the Western Isles and how these relate to similarities and differences with other areas of the North Atlantic, such as the Orkney and Shetland. It will focus on the changes that occur in the first and second millenium AD; the relationship with the Picts and Scots, the transformation brought about by the Vikings and the integration of the islands into the Kingdom of the Scots. These political changes can be compared and...

  • Dependent Independence? Identity, Interconnection, and Isolation in Iceland (AD 870-1800) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kevin Smith.

    This paper will explore intersections among international trade, domestic economy, and identity in Iceland from the time of its settlement shortly before AD 870 until its quest for post-colonial, independent nation status in the late-19th century. Focusing primarily on three periods—the Viking Age: AD 870-1050, the medieval/Sturlung period: ca. AD 1150-1300, and the Early Modern era, ca. 1500-1800—this presentation will integrate archaeological data gleaned from a range of recent projects with...

  • Examining the Religious Dynamics of the Columbian Exchange: Islands of Belief and Conversion (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alice Samson. Jago Cooper.

    The major moments of cultural exchange in global accounts of encounter have happened across the oceans and therefore island communities have often been first to experience contact and shape the nature of this encounter. This is certainly the case in the Caribbean where the island Taino were the first to encounter Europeans in the New World. The archaeology of Mona Island provides insights into both the origins of indigenous Taíno identities and religious communities, and the processes of...

  • Introduction—Islands Connected or Unconnected: A Case Study of Malta (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Caroline Malone. Nicholas Vella. Reuben Grima. Katya Stroud. Anthony Pace.

    Islands gave birth to many cultural and economic adaptations in prehistory. After an introduction to the symposium, the paper will focus on the small archipelago of Malta, which demonstrates a particularly resilient trajectory of survival set against environmental and economic limitations, that lasted millennia. Compared with the neighbouring areas (Sicily, Sardinia, Italy) Maltese megalithic "Temple" culture presented an unparalleled c.1500 years of unbroken development, and this paper...

  • The Longue Duree of Malta (Mediterranean) and Lismore (Argyll, Scotland) Compared and Contrasted, and Set within Concluding Remarks (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Simon Stoddart. Christopher Hunt. David Redhouse. Ewan Campbell. Charles French.

    The author has undertaken fieldwork on both of these two limestone island systems, one in the Mediterranean, one leading into the Atlantic. The paper will reflect on the longue duree development of these two contrasting contexts, in terms of the rhythms of settlement organisation and interaction. The first, Lismore, an area of only 23.5 square km, is set within an enclosed maritime zone close to shore, off the western seaboard of Scotland. The second, Malta, a larger area of 316 square km, is...

  • Lucayan Connections: Core and Periphery in the Bahama/Turks and Caicos Archipelago (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Joanna Ostapkowicz. Emma Slayton. John Pouncett. Alice Knaf. Gareth Davies.

    Of the many islands of the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos—together comprising the Lucayan archipelago—were settled relatively late, seeing seasonal to permanent occupation from ca. AD 600 to 1000. A uniquely Lucayan material culture quickly emerged, from Palmetto ceramics to a distinctive style of wood carving (i.e., duhos/ceremonial seats). While rich in many resources, the Bahamas/TCI are strictly limited in others, notably the absence of hard stone in a purely limestone...

  • Patterns and Outliers in Prehistoric Island Mobility: Comparing the Strontium Data (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Thomas Leppard. Jason Laffoon.

    During the colonisation of islands in the Pacific and Caribbean by agropastoral communities, a variety of proxies (e.g., material, genetic, zoogeographic) indicate substantial inter-island and inter-community contact. It has been suggested that this contact represents an adaptive response to intrinsic demographic fragility during the initial phases of island colonisation, and that this connectivity imperative faded in the aftermath of initial dispersal as overall population density increased....

  • Rhythms of Stability and Change in the Central Mediterranean (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rowan McLaughlin. Katrin Fenech. Rory Flood. Michelle Farrell. Ronika Power.

    This paper explores changing patterns of isolation in prehistoric island societies, and their ongoing connections with the wider world. The case study is the expansion of agriculture in Southern Europe in the 6th millennium BC, and subsequent landscape and cultural evolution in the Maltese archipelago. This was a series of maritime events, establishing connectivity between Mediterranean islands whose inhabitants’ ‘Neolithic package’ lifeway permitted high-density settlements in small islands. In...