Bayamanaco and the Cayman: The Mythic origin of Manioc Cultivation, Amazonia-Antilles

Author(s): Peter G. Roe

Year: 2017


Recent trace analysis of Greater Antillean culinary implements finds a paucity of evidence for manioc until late times. This is anomalous since it was believed that manioc accompanied the first truly horticultural and ceramic-producing groups, the Saladoids, from the Orinocan lowlands of South America through the Lesser Antilles to Puerto Rico at 800-500 B.C. Such late occurrence also contradicts the fact that manioc is a lowland cultigen, spanning northern tropical South America. Actual tubers from arid early sites along the Peruvian coast at 3000 B.C. suggest even earlier lowland dates, early enough for the Saladoids to have taken it with them. Utilizing "cultural archaeology," pioneered by Irving Rouse and Donald Lathrap, this paper address this anomaly, comparing the Bayamancao myth from Hispañola, recorded by Fray Ramón Pané (1498), to the Caymanic origin of manioc instantiated @900 B.C. on the Tello Obelisk at the ancient Andean ceremonial center of Chavín de Huántar, Peru, as well as in ethnographic Pan-Amazonian mythology. Thus the "mythic charter" for this crucial horticultural pattern is equally old and spans the Amazonia-Antilles culture areas. This implies that preservational bias may account for the lack of early manioc residues on artifacts from the Antilles and northern South America.

Cite this Record

Bayamanaco and the Cayman: The Mythic origin of Manioc Cultivation, Amazonia-Antilles. Peter G. Roe. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429075)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 12123