Caribbean Landscapes in the Age of the Anthropocene: The First Colonizers


Identifying first human colonization of new places is challenging, especially when groups were small and material traces of their occupations were ephemeral. Generating reliable reconstructions of human-colonization patterns from intact archaeological sites may be exceedingly difficult given post-depositional taphonomic processes and in cases of island and coastal locations the inundation of landscapes resulting from post-Pleistocene sea-level rise. Paleoenvironmental reconstruction is a better way to identify small-scale human-colonization events than by using archaeological data alone. This is demonstrated through a sediment-coring project across the Lesser Antilles. Paleoenvironmental data were collected informing on the timing of multiple island-colonization events and land-use histories spanning the full range of human occupations in the Caribbean, from the initial forays into the islands through the domination of the landscapes and indigenous people by Europeans. In some areas, our data complement archaeological, paleoecological, and historical findings from the Lesser Antilles and in others amplify understanding of colonization history. We highlight data relating to the timing and process of initial colonization in the eastern Caribbean. Paleoenvironmental data provide a basis for revisiting initial-colonization models of the Caribbean. Archaeological programs addressing human occupations dating to the early to mid-Holocene, especially in dynamic coastal settings, should systematically incorporate paleoenvironmental investigations.

Cite this Record

Caribbean Landscapes in the Age of the Anthropocene: The First Colonizers. Peter Siegel, John Jones, Deborah Pearsall, Nicholas Dunning, Pat Farrell. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403649)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;