Communities of Practice and Sequencing from Older Caribbean Collections in the NMAI and NMNH

Author(s): Vernon Knight

Year: 2018


The Caribbean holdings of the National Museum of the American Indian and the Anthropology Department of the National Museum of Natural History contain material from historically important early excavations like those of M. R. Harrington in eastern Cuba in 1915 and Herbert W. Krieger in the Dominican Republic in 1928. Moreover, they include the results of early collection efforts by such luminaries as Jesse W. Fewkes and Theodor de Booy, which means that they contain some of the key specimens published in the early literature of the area. Like all major Caribbean collections assembled at an early date, these lack detailed archaeological provenance. However, they do often possess information concerning the site, municipality, or province of origin. Over six years, I have assembled a database of 1,100 small carvings of stone, shell, and bone from the Greater Antilles, including 162 from the Smithsonian. I show that despite faults in provenance information, these data can still contribute to the definition of stylistic communities of practice. Such regional communities of practice offer another perspective into current discussions of pre-Contact ethnic and linguistic diversity in the islands. Moreover, using nonmetric multidimensional scaling, I show how chronological information can be extracted from these data.

Cite this Record

Communities of Practice and Sequencing from Older Caribbean Collections in the NMAI and NMNH. Vernon Knight. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443969)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20587