On the Edge of the New World: Colonizing the Bahamas

Author(s): William Keegan

Year: 2017


The Bahama archipelago is the last place colonized in the New World, and the first encountered by Europeans. Previous efforts to explain the arrival of humans followed the stepping-stone model of expansion that began in the Orinoco River drainage of lowland Venezuela. Communities island-hopped through the Lesser Antilles, expanded into the Greater Antilles, and continued their northward migration through the southern Bahamas after crossing the last open water gap between Hispaniola and the Turks & Caicos Islands. We now know that none of this is true. The Bahamas are not visible from any of the surrounding land areas, most of which were first occupied from 10,000 (Florida) to 4,000 (Greater Antilles) years before the Bahamas (circa AD 700). In 1995, Berman and Gnivecki made the case that the central Bahamas were the first colonized by colonists that came from Cuba. This was not further explored because there was equal or better evidence that the southern Bahamas were colonized earlier from Hispaniola. Part of the issue is how archaeologists envision island colonization. This paper takes a fresh look at the processes of island colonization with specific reference to the Bahama archipelago.

Cite this Record

On the Edge of the New World: Colonizing the Bahamas. William Keegan. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430798)


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): 15389