Investigating animal trade, transport, and translocation in the precolonial Caribbean: New isotopic and zooarchaeological evidence
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 precolonial movement of various animals and their physical remains between islands or archipelagoes, and between the mainland and insular Caribbean by indigenous peoples is evidenced by ancient and modern faunal distributions. However, many questions concerning these processes remain unresolved, including the dating, intensity, and frequency of these movements; the mechanisms involved (transported, traded, or translocated); the number and types of species; and their geographic origins. Here we highlight an ongoing multi-disciplinary study of animal mobility and exchange in the precolonial Caribbean combining zooarchaeological and isotopic analyses. Results to date indicate the previously undocumented movement of certain mammal species; the early presence of locally born ‘introduced’ taxa; the continued inter-island transport of animals long after initial colonization; correlations between geographic origins and certain taxa; and macro-regional correlations between human and canine dietary patterns.
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Investigating animal trade, transport, and translocation in the precolonial Caribbean: New isotopic and zooarchaeological evidence. Jason Laffoon, Till Sonnemann, Menno Hoogland, Gareth Davies, Corinne Hofman. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403386)
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