From Spaniard to Creole : the archaeology of Hispanic American cultural formation at Puerto Real, Haiti


Material Information

From Spaniard to Creole : the archaeology of Hispanic American cultural formation at Puerto Real, Haiti
Physical Description:
xii, 259 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.
Ewen, Charles Robin
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Acculturation -- Haiti   ( lcsh )
Antiquities -- Puerto Real (Haiti)   ( lcsh )
Colonial influence -- Haiti   ( lcsh )
Civilization -- Spanish influences -- Puerto Real (Haiti)   ( lcsh )
Anthropology thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Anthropology -- UF
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1987.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 236-248).
Additional Physical Form:
Also available online.
General Note:
General Note:
Statement of Responsibility:
by Charles Robin Ewen.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
oclc - 16881809
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Full Text







Copyright 1987


Charles Robin Ewen


The initial work at Puerto Real was facilitated by

the Institute de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine National

(ISPAN) under the direction of M. Albert Mangones.

Later the Institute National Haitien de la Culture et

des Artes (INAHCA) assumed the role of primary sponsor

and Dr. Max Paul of the Bureau d'Ethnologie aided our

efforts. Funding for the project was provided by the

Organization of American States, represented in Haiti

by M. Ragnar Arnessen and by a grant from the National

Endowment for the Humanities (RO-20935-85) awarded to

the University of Florida Center for Early Contact

Period Studies with Dr. Kathleen Deagan as Principal


While at the University of Florida, support also

came from various sources. A University of Florida,

Division of Sponsored Research Graduate School

fellowship was followed by a teaching assistantship

with the Department of Anthropology. The final

preparation of this work was supported by the College

of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Institute for

Early Contact Period Studies. Interspersed throughout,

the Florida State Museum was always there with

facilities and part-time employment when needed.


Faunal analysis and production of this work were

completed with the help of a Charles H. Fairbanks


A great deal is owed to various faculty members

for their guidance on this project. First and foremost

is the committee chair, Dr. Kathleen Deagan. She has

formalized an otherwise too casual graduate student

while at the same time restraining his "uppity"

tendencies. The other members of the committee; Dr.

Jerald Milanich, Dr. Elizabeth Wing, Dr. Lyle

McAlister, and Dr. Michael Gannon were all there when

needed. Dr. Gannon deserves special mention for being

there when the candidate's funds ran out at the bar of

the Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince. Dr. David Geggus

couldn't be there at the end but did help get me

started off on the right foot.

Although the actual writing was a solitary task

performed in a remote office on campus, the recovery

and analysis of the data involved a multitude of people

to which I am must grateful. In the field, assistance

at the site was most ably given by Greg Smith and Patti

Peacher. Greg also kept me sane both in the field and

during the preparation of this dissertation. In the

field lab, Tim Deagan and Jim Cusick somehow kept up

with a daily torrent of artifacts. Maurice Williams

shared his experiences and knowledge of the site. I am

especially grateful to Dr. William Hodges of the


Hopital le Bon Samaritan for discovering the site and

forcing me to justify my interpretations. The bulk of

the fieldwork was done by local Haitian villagers.

These men formed the best field crew I have ever had

the priveledge to work with. They were extremely

patient with my Creole, always in good humor, and true

artists with a trowel. This same gratitude is extended

to the Haitian students who came up from Port-au-Prince

to work with us.

Back in the United States Greg Smith, Bonnie

McEwan, and John Marron aided with the analysis. John

is to be commended for completing the odious task of

coding and entering the data. Let it be noted that

this was not a thankless task. The excellent artifact

photographs were taken by James Quine and served to

accentuate my own shortcomings in field photography.

The faunal analysis was performed under the direction

of Dr. Elizabeth Wing in the Florida State Museum

Zooarchaeology Laboratory by Karen Walker, Susan

DeFrance, and Karla Bosworth to whom I am extremely

grateful, having been involved with that exacting task

in a previous project. I am also very grateful to Ray

Willis, Rochelle Marrinan, Jennifer Hamilton, Bonnie

McEwan, Gary Shapiro, and Alicia Kemper whose work

preceded mine and from which I benefitted.

The final round of applause goes to those who more

casually, though no less importantly, contributed to


the completion of this task. Charles Poe, Richard

Vernon, Lee Nabergall, and Rich and Barbara Johnson

helped me recover from a car accident in Tallahassee,

enabling me to continue my studies. Jeff Brautigam

tolerated my near takeover of our office and listened

politely to the rough drafts. My good friend, Russ

Skowronek, commiserated with me and spurred my progress

in a spirit of friendly competition. My family has

stood by me throughout my education always chiding me

to work harder though never questioning my choice of

subjects. Finally, Kathy Gladden provided an

atmosphere of order and support without which the whole

process would have been no fun. And if archaeology is

not fun then why do it?




ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................. . i

LIST OF TABLES ................................... ix

LIST OF FIGURES................................... x

ABSTRACT........................................... xii


I INTRODUCTION................................ .

IN BETWEEN.................................. 10

Spain .......................... ........... 11
The West Indies............................ 28
Puerto Real.............. .. .. .............. 41


IV THEORETICAL ORIENTATION.................... 64


VI EXCAVATED DATA .............................. 96

Locus 19 Proveniences........................ 96
Group 1 Majolicas............................ 115
Group 2 Utilitarian Wares............... 124
Group 3 European Tablewares.............. 129
Group 20 Hispanic Tablewares............. 135
Group 4 Colono and Aboriginal Wares...... 137
Group 5 Kitchen Artifacts................ 141
Group 6 Strucutural Hardware............. 145
Group 7 Weaponry and Armor............... 146
Group 8 Clothing and Sewing Items......... 146
Group 9 Personal Items ................... 151
Group 10 Activity Related Items........... 164
Group 13 Furniture Hardware.............. 167
Group 14 Tools................... ........ 172
Group 15 Toys and Games .................. 173
Group 16 Harness and Tack ................ 173
Group 18 Miscellaneous Substances........ 174
Faunal Assemblage.......................... 194


VII RESULTS OF ANALYSES ........................ 206

Test 1 .................................... 206
Test 2 ...... .............................. 208
Test 3........... ......................... 213
Test 4.................................... 216
Test 5 ..................................... 222

VIII SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS .................... 227

Summary.......................................... 227
Conclusions................................. 230
Suggestions for Future Research............ 232

BIBLIOGRAPHY.............................. ....... 235


1 PUERTO REAL ANALYSIS SHEET................. 249


3 PROVENIENCE GUIDE.......................... 252

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH............................... 259




6-1 ARTIFACT CATEGORIES .................... 109

6-2 MAJOLICAS .............................. 175

6-3 UTILITARIAN CERAMICS ................... 177

6-4 EUROPEAN TABLEWARES ..................... 178

6-5 HISPANIC TABLEWARES......... ............. 179


6-7 KITCHEN ARTIFACTS ...... .... ............ 181

6-8 STRUCTURAL HARDWARE......... ... ...... 183

6-9 WEAPONRY AND ARMOR...................... 184

6-10 CLOTHING AND SEWING ITEMS .............. 185

6-11 PERSONAL ITEMS ......................... 187

6-12 ACTIVITY RELATED ITEMS ................. 189

6-13 FURNITURE HARDWARE .................... 190

6-14 TOOLS ...... ............................ 191

6-15 TOYS AND GAMES........................... 192

6-16 HARNESS AND TACK ....................... 193

6-17 SPECIES PRESENT ......................... 195

6-18 MAMMALIAN FAUNA........ ................ 200

6-19 AVIAN FAUNA............................. 201

6-20 REPTILIAN FAUNA ........................ 201

6-21 FISH.......................................... 202

6-22 INVERTEBRATE FAUNA...................... 204









5-1 MASONRY LOCI AT PUERTO REAL............. 86

5-2 LOCATION OF LOCUS 19................... .87


6-2 THE MIDDEN AT LOCUS 19................. 100


6-4 FEATURE 6--THE BRICK PAVEMENT .......... 105

6-5 FEATURE 8--A BRICK DRAIN............... 107

6-6 MAJOLICA.................................. 114

6-7 VESSEL FORMS.......................... 116

6-8 OWNER'S MARKS ON CERAMICS .............. 119

6-9 OLIVE JAR NECKS ........................ 127

6-10 COLOGNE STONEWARE .................... 131

6-11 MING PORCELAIN ......................... 134

6-12 CHRISTOPHE PLAIN......................... 139

6-13 GLASS ARTIFACTS ......................... 143

6-14 BONE ARTIFACTS ........................... 148

6-15 BUCKLES ................................ 150

6-16 STRAIGHT PINS AND AGLETS ............... 153

6-17 4 MARAVEDI COINS ....... ................ 155

6-18 UNICORN PENDANT....................... 158

6-19 BEAD TYPES FROM LOCUS 19................ 160



6-21 CANDLE SNUFFER .. ..................... 166

6-22 JEW'S HARP ................... ......... 169

6-23 BRASS STARS ............................ 171


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
School of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy



Charles Robin Ewen

May 1987

Chair: Kathleen Deagan
Major Department: Anthropology

The adaptive measures used by some of the earliest

European colonists are archaeologically investigated at

Puerto Real, Haiti (1504-1578). Based on the results

of excavations at both Puerto Real and St. Augustine,

Florida, it is believed that the processes of

incorporation of New World and African cultural

elements into Spanish colonial culture began almost

immediately and lie at the roots of contemporary Latin

American culture. It is specifically hypothesized that

the Spaniards practiced conservatism in those socially

visible areas associated with male activities coupled

with the incorporation of native traits in the less

visible, female dominated areas. Archaeologically

testable implications of this hypothesis are offered,

tested, and tend to support this hypothesis.


Puerto Real, founded in 1503 just over a decade

after Columbus's initial voyage of discovery, was one

of the earliest Spanish colonial settlements in the New

World. The site provides an important opportunity for

archaeological research into initial Spanish colonial

adaptations to the New World and their role in the

development of an Hispanic-American colonial tradition.

Here, it is possible to identify specific ways in which

sixteenth century Iberian colonists adapted to New

World social, economic, and environmental conditions.

Through the combination and exchange of Old World and

New World cultural and physical elements, the colonists

developed a unique adaptive tradition that

characterized the pioneer Spanish settlements and

represented the earliest expression of Hispanic-

American culture.

The approacn to the study of culture contact and

acculturation taken here is somewhat unusual in that it

emphasizes the effects of the New World people and

environment on the European colonists. Traditional

studies of acculturation have dealt predominantly with



the impact of the colonial power on the indigenous

peoples (Foster 1960:7). Researchers should not forget

that this was not a one-way transfer of traits (i.e.

colonists to indigenous peoples), but rather an unequal

exchange. The Spaniards, while not suffering the

enormous cultural transformations thrust upon the

Indians, did experience social modifications. It is

these modifications that this study will seek to


This particular study of culture contact and

change must of necessity be confined to Spanish

colonial activity in the New World. It is expected

that by examining Iberian adaptive responses in various

New World settings (i.e. Puerto Real, Haiti and St.

Augustine, Florida) it will be possible to arrive at

some generalizations concerning Spanish colonization

strategies and how they are reflected in the

archaeological record. It is important to build solid

midrange theory if archaeologists are ever to attempt

to formulate general laws governing human behavior.

With the approach of the Columbian quincentenary

in 1992, scholarly as well as popular attention is

being drawn to Spain's activities in the western

hemisphere. Several historical, anthropological, and

archaeological works (cf. Deagan 1983, Floyd 1973,


Foster 1960, Gongora 1975, Sauer 1966) deal

specifically with Spanish colonial adaptations.

Of these, Foster's and Deagan's work have most directly

influenced the author.

Foster (1960:7-12) provides the working

theoretical model for this study with his idea of a

"culture of conquest." Here he acknowledges that, in

contact situations, the major changes are to be found

in the culture of the recipient group. However, the

donor group or "conquest culture" also changes its

character to some degree. Foster (1960: 233) states

that the basic colonial cultures took shape relatively

rapidly. As they became more successful in satisfying

the basic needs of the colonists, they become more

static or "crystallized" to use Foster's term. Once

crystallized, the culture became more resistant to

change from the mother country. It is predicted that

this situation will be manifest at Puerto Real.

The most extensive archaeological study of Spanish

colonial adaptation to the New World to date has been

conducted in St. Augustine, Florida. The best summary

of this work is Deagan's (1983) Spanish St. Augustine

The Archaeology of a Colonial Creole Community. In it

she formulates a cultural pattern for the residents of

this colonial outpost. On the basis of archaeological

evidence accumulated over the last decade, Deagan


(1983:271) suggests that the processes involved in the

formation of the Hispanic-American tradition in St.

Augustine were common to much of the Spanish New World.

Conservatism in those socially visible areas associated

with male activities was coupled with Spanish-Indian

acculturation in the less visible, female dominated

areas. She goes on to suggest that this pattern of

behavior should be expected in any situation where a

predominantly male group imposes itself on a group with

a normal sex distribution. It is this hypothesis,

specifically, that will be tested with the data from

Puerto Real. An ancillary purpose of this study will

be to gain a better appreciation of the past lifeways

of the vecinos. How did they live? What did they eat?

What did they own? These are all questions that

archaeology can help answer.

The material recovered from the 1984-85

excavations represents only part of the Puerto Real

database which will be used to test the St. Augustine

pattern. Puerto Real appears to have been a grid

pattern town with over fifty masonry structures

(designated as loci #1-57) situated around a central

plaza. The most recent work was conducted at a

structure in the northern part of the town, designated

Locus 19. Excavations in the plaza area of Puerto Real

were carried out in 1979 and 1980, locating two large


stone buildings and a cemetery (Willis 1981, Marrinan

1982). Test excavations were performed in 1981 at

areas where previous testing had indicated that there

was a range of variability in the status of the

inhabitants. These included an area believed to have

been a beef and hide processing area (Reitz 1982) and a

domestic occupation site believed to represent a

wealthy Spanish household (McEwan 1983). The latter

area is of particular interest for comparative purposes

with Locus 19.

Testing the hypothesis requires a series of test

implications, that is; "what would we expect to find if

the hypothesis is correct?" In archaeology the

material assemblage is a limiting factor. It forces

the investigator to rephrase the question to "what

would we expect to find preserved if the hypothesis is

true?" Because the evidence is often fragmentary and

incomplete, the archaeologist must extract all possible

information from the archaeological record. This means

examining every aspect of the data recovered. Without

going into the specifics of the test implications for

the hypothesis (this will be done in Chapter 4) it is

possible to elucidate various aspects of the

archaeological record and point out their value to the

interpretation of the site.


Artifacts are the building blocks of induction for

the archaeologist. At Puerto Real the artifact

assemblage has been divided into twenty functionally

specific categories for comparative purposes (Table 1).

These categories will be further discussed Chapter VI

along with the artifacts in. Ceramics are a key

category, since previously they have provided both a

chronological framework and indications of the owners'

statuses. Similarly non-ceramic artifacts such as

glass, tools, weaponry, etc., can be used to suggest

their owner's relative status, occupations and ethnic

affiliations. In addition certain artifacts (i.e. food

preparation items, types of tablewares) give clues as

to the type diet enjoyed by the site's occupants.

However, there are also other ways of obtaining this

particular information.

The faunal assemblage can allow the researcher to

make a very good assessment of the meat portion of the

Spanish colonist's diet. Of particular interest is the

proportion of the diet that is made up of indigenous

species (fish, turtles, fowl) as opposed to introduced

domesticated species (swine, cattle, chickens). Is

differential use of various species a sign of status

differences, preferences based on ethnicity or a

combination of both? Another question that can be

addressed using the faunal assemblage is the effect the


New World environment had on the introduced domestic

species. Historical records indicate that the cattle

thrived in an environment of extensive, ungrazed

pastures, few parasites, and no natural predators

(besides humans). The effects of this bovine utopia

should show up in the faunal assemblage as skeletal

evidence denoting larger and healthier individuals.

Another aspect of Spanish colonial adaptation

falls into the realm of architecture and urban design.

Were the houses Spanish or aboriginal in design? What

materials were used to build the structures and what

factors influenced their selection? The grid pattern

was the hallmark of Spanish colonial town planning, Dut

had not been officially decreed until 1573 (Crouch et

al. 1982:xviii). The excavation of Puerto Real

provides an opportunity to see if this decree was

implemented to correct haphazard town planning or

whether it was merely a formalization of a de facto

urban design.

Using the data collected to date it should be

possible to formulate a tentative "Puerto Real pattern"

of Spanish colonial adaptation. The presence of early

period (pre-1550) and late period (post-1550)

occupation loci at the site facilitates diachronic

analysis of the material to detect the

"crystallization" processes in the pattern. Having


delineated a pattern of adaptation at Puerto Real, this

pattern can then be compared to the one derived from

data obtained from St. Augustine. The comparison of

these two patterns will make it possible to detect the

effects that different economic and environmental

factors have on colonial culture formation.

The next chapter describes the historical,

economic, and environmental milieu in which these

adaptational processes took place. Chapter III covers

the previous archaeological work done at Puerto Real.

The ensuing chapters build on each other, in a

logical progression, to the final resolution of the

Spanish colonial adaptive pattern. Chapter IV is the

formal presentation of the hypothesis and delineation

of the test implications. From there the dissertation

moves from the ideal to the real. Chapter V describes

the field methodology and strategy used at Locus 19,

while Chapter VI is a description of the data recovered

(e.g. ceramic types, fauna, etc.). The faunal material

is quantified in terms of MNI and biomass and species

distribution. Chapter VII manipulates the raw data

presented in Chapter VI. The data are applied to the

to the test implications, artifact distributions are

examined, the material assemblage from the late period

is compared to the early period of the site, and the

entire assemblage is compared with St. Augustine.


Finally, in Chapter VIII, the analyses are summarized

and conclusions are presented. The chapter concludes

with an assessment of the material assemblage, a

tentative proposal for a colonial pattern, and

suggestions for further research.


The documentary record for the colonization of the

Caribbean in general during the 16th century is, on the

whole, fairly extensive. Unfortunately this does not

apply to Puerto Real in particular. Puerto Real was an

economic backwater almost from the beginning and has

not merited a great deal of historical research. Many

of the pertinent documents that have been discovered

were located by Dr. Eugene Lyon in the Archivo General

de las Indias in Seville, Spain (Lyon 1981).

Recounting the events that took place at Puerto

Real will tell the reader what happened at the site but

not why these events took place. To understand the

history of Puerto Real, why it was founded, why it was

neglected by the crown, and then forcibly evacuated

less than a century later, it is necessary to look

beyond the city limits. That is, to put events in

their proper perspective it is essential to know what

was happening throughout the Hispanic world during the

16th century. This chapter will begin with a brief

history of Spain, emphasizing the economic imperatives

of the



crown and daily life of the citizens in the 16th

century, and progressively narrow its scope to the

Caribbean, Hispaniola, ending with the town of Puerto



On the eve of Columbus's departure for the New

World, Spain had completed the final stage of its

reconquest of the Iberian peninsula, victory over the

kingdom of Granada. To some historians, the imperial

designs of Spain in America were merely a logical

extention of the Reconquista which had begun back in

A.D. 718 near the caves of Covadonga in the Cantabrian

mountains of northwest Spain (McAlister 1984:3). This

Reconquista was not a well-organized conscious, crusade

to oust the Moors, but rather a centuries long series

of gains and losses by small Christian kingdoms

fighting against each other as well as against the

Moslem occupants of Spain. Thus, Spain was not and

would not be a unified nation until well into the 16th


The first steps toward integration were taken, in

1469, when Isabella of Castile married Ferdinand, heir

to the crown of Aragon. Though neither monarch ever

tried to officially join the two kingdoms into a single

administrative unit, their joint reign informally

achieved this end. An important factor in the creation


of a national, unified spirit was the royal effort to

cleanse Spain of its perceived ethnic and religious

impurities. In the wake of the fall of Granada in 1492

all Jews residing in Spain were ordered to convert to

Catholicism or leave the country. A decade later, the

Moors still residing in the peninsula had to make the

same decision. Conversion, though, did not guarantee

acceptance into society. Conversos, as the new

Christians were called, were discriminated against at

every turn. The establishment of the Spanish

Inquisition attempted to abolish all social deviation

by enforcing a policy of religious intolerance and

limpieza de sangre [purity of blood]. That instability

still existed can be seen in the turmoil for succession

after Isabella's death in 1504. After much difficulty

and intrigue, Ferdinand was able to rule both Castile

and Aragon until his grandson, Charles (the son of

Joanna the Mad and Phillip of Austria) came of age.

Charles I of Spain was Spanish neither by birth

nor inclination. His formative years were spent in

Burgundy in the south of France. In 1517, when he

arrived in Spain to claim his inheritance, he was

young, inexperienced, unaccustomed to the ways of

Spain, and spoke no Spanish (Lynch 1984:38). Charles

was already the king of the Low Countries (Luxembourg,

Brabant, Flanders, Holland, Zeeland, Hainault, and


Artois), when, upon the death of his grandfather,

Maximillian, in 1519, he inherited the Habsburg's

estates of Austria, Tyrol, and parts of southern

Germany. His last inheritance allowed him to assume

the title of Emperor Charles V.

The Holy Roman Empire, as the realms of Charles V

were called, was extensive and included Spain, the Low

Countries, Germany, Austria, parts of Italy and

outposts in North Africa. Charles was an ambitious

monarch and had dreams of uniting all of Europe under

his reign. This had unfortunate consequences not only

for Spain but for its colonies in the New World as

well. First, because his domains were so vast, Charles

had little time to devote exclusively to Spain. He

spent only 16 years of his 40-year reign actually

residing in Spain (Elliot 1963:154). Secondly, the

size of his empire and ambitions dictated that Charles

would be almost constantly at war, sometimes on as many

as three different fronts. These wars were costly and

drained Spain's resources to the point of bankruptcy

(this did, in fact, happen three times during his son's

reign). Spain's fledgling New World colonies were

seemingly viewed as little more than a source of wealth

to be spent on European wars.

The government and development of the New World

colonies were low on the emperor's list of priorities


and so their administration was turned over to one of

his counselors, Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, then

archdeacon of Seville. The commercial aspects of the

colonies were handled by the Casa de Contratacion, but

Fonseca remained in overall command until his death in

1524. The Council of the Indies was then created to

administrate the colonies (Elliot 1963:165).

Meanwhile, Charles had to cope with an attempted

civil war in Castile when the comuneros [middle

classes] revolted in 1520. This revolution was

ostensibly to protect the old way of life in Castile.

Most Spaniards, especially Castilians, saw Charles as

a Burgundian interloper who shipped wealth out of their

country and replaced it with foreign ministers. The

revolt, however, was disorganized and lacked the

support of the powerful nobility, who were more afraid

of the comuneros than a foreign monarch. The defeat of

the comuneros in 1521 secured the Habsburg dynasty in

Spain (Elliot 1963:149).

When Phillip II, son of Charles V, inherited the

empire in 1556, he also inherited a war with the Pope

and France. The following year he was forced by the

Spanish state bankruptcy of 1557 to make peace and

abandon the imperial policy of Charles V (Lynch

1984:179). In contrast with the warrior-king Charles

V, Phillip II, the supreme bureaucrat, spent his reign


ruling from Spain. This change "fittingly symbolized

the transformation of the Spanish empire as it passed

out of the age of the conquistador into the age of the

civil servant" (Elliot 1963:160). It was from Spain

that Phillip directed the ill-fated attempts to hold

together the empire and crush the rising forces of


This is not to say that Phillip II's tenure as

king of Spain was a disaster. On the contrary, Lynch

(1984:184) refers to him as "the hardest working

monarch in history." Phillip II reorganized the

government to more efficiently rule the empire.

However, widespread corruption and Phillip's insistance

to personally authorize virtually every official

decision prevented this system from operating as

smoothly as it could have. Nevertheless, it was an

improvement. Militarily and diplomatically there were

some notable achievements. The Moriscos (Christianized

Moors residing in Spain) were quickly put down after an

attempted revolt in 1568. At Lepanto, in 1571, the

Ottoman Empire was beaten at sea and the Mediterranean

was made more secure. Finally, in a series of shrewd

maneuvers Phillip was able to gain the crown of

Portugal and thus, in 1580, united the entire Iberian

peninsula under one ruler.


Unfortunately, Phillip II's personal integrity was

not sufficient to make Spain an economic or military

success. The defeat of the invincible Armada (1588)

and loss of the Netherlands tarnished Spain's military

image. The disastrous military campaigns and dismal

domestic industrial picture resulted in three

bankruptcies during Phillip's reign (1557, 1575, 1596).

Broken both physically and spiritually, Phillip II

died in 1598. His son, Phillip III inherited a nation

needing a capable ruler to pull it out of its decline.

Phillip III did not possess his father's drive or

acumen. Spain would never regain its dominant position

in world affairs.

Spain never dominated the western world in

commerce as she had dominated it militarily and

politically. Most Spaniards regarded commerce as they

did manual labor, a degrading activity to be avoided if

possible (Pike 1972). This ethos explains, in part,

why Spain did not develop into an industrial power.

Spain's economy, never very strong, changed throughout

the 16th century. The following discussion will be

primarily concerned with Castile's role in the Spanish

economy since this bears most directly on New World


The roots of 16th century Spain's economy are to

be found in the wool trade. By 1300, with the


introduction of a superior breed of Merino sheep,

Castile became the leading wool producer in the

international market. The Mesta (stockmen's guild) was

formed in 1273 by Alfonso X. Though it later became a

powerful political entity, the chief duty of the Mesta

was to organize and maintain the caiadas (sheep trails)

that ran between the summer pastures and winter

pastures (Vicens Vives 1969:253). The Crown's pastoral

bias worked to the detriment of Spain's agricultural

efforts, but the tax base represented by the Mesta was

too tempting to resist.

Wool was the principal but not the only export of

Spain. Iron was mined and forged in the north while

cloth was made from Castilian wool in the central

region. Between 1492-1560, Spain was exporting

quicksilver, wine, cloth, and luxury items (Vicens

Vives 1969:326). The quicksilver (used in the

amalgamation of silver ore), wine, and cloth were bound

primarily for the American colonies. Spain exported

raw materials and metals relying on imports for most of

its manufactured goods, its own industry being very

limited in scope. Hence, as is exemplified by Seville,

Spanish industry was geared more towards quality

production of luxury goods, not production of

utilitarian goods (Pike 1972:131). This would have a


significant effect on the mercantilistic relationship

with her colonies.

The impact of the New World on the Spanish economy

was considerable. The colonies represented wealth in a

number of different forms. First, as a source of

precious metals they were unsurpassed. European mining

virtually ceased, being unable to compete in either

cost or quantity with New World silver and, to a lesser

extent, gold. An unfortunate repercussion of this huge

influx of wealth was a staggering inflation rate known

as the "price revolution" in Spain (Vicens Vives

1969:379). The colonies supplied a number of other

items besides bullion. Hides from the Indies revived

the leather working industry in Spain which had been

initiated by the Moors. Ornamental leather goods,

jackets, and the famous gloves of Ocana and Ciudad Real

were made from West Indian hides and sold throughout

Europe (Lynch 1984:125). Other imports included

cochineal, indigo, dyewoods, sugar, pearls, and plants

such as Cassia fistula (used as a purgative). Many of

the West Indian imports paused only briefly in Seville

before becoming part of Spain's export trade.

The preceding statements concerning the thriving

wool trade and glut of precious metals and tropical

products beg the following question, "Why was Spain

perpetually on the verge of bankruptcy?" The answer is


simply that Spain's expenses outstripped her income.

The next question, then, is "Where did the money go?"

Much of the wealth was used to supply Spain with

goods and services not produced domestically. Spain's

pro-Mesta policies meant that it was constantly

importing food to supplement its meager agricultural

production. Also, as previously mentioned, the

industrial capabilities were not much better than the

agricultural base, forcing Spain to rely on other

nations' industries for finished products. Even in its

trade with the Americas, Spain lost potential revenue

to foreigners. Vicens Vives (1967:98) states that

Genoese bankers monopolized the profits from
the exploitation of American mines; Genoese
outfitters controlled the provisioning of the
fleets. Meanwhile, Italian, Flemish, and
French merchants seized control of the
colonial trade by means of the fairs at
Medina del Campo and the embarkations from
Seville and Cadiz.

The trade deficit and foreign domination of trade

robbed Spain of much of her potential wealth but it was

not the primary drain on the economy.

Most of Spain's revenue went either to the pursuit

of imperial conquests or defense from foreign and

internal enemies. Since the Reconquista, Spain had

been almost continuously at war with at least one

adversary, frequently with multiple foes. Charles V

initiated many of these costly wars. Elliott


(1963:191) describes the longterm effects of this

monarch's aggressive policies on the treasury:

Charles's appeals to the generosity of his
subjects and his constant recourse to loans
from bankers managed to stave off disaster,
but the price paid was a renunciation of any
attempt to organize Imperial finances on a
rational basis and to plan a coherent
economic program for the various territories
of the Empire.

The situation did not improve under the reign of

Phillip II; if anything it worsened.

Along with costly foreign campaigns came a

concomitant rise in the costs of defensive measures

that had to be taken against Spain's growing list of

adversaries. In Europe this meant that a standing army

had to be continuously maintained. As the 16th century

progressed, Spain came to have another realm to

protect, the Caribbean.

Little royal funding went to the exploration and

settlement of the New World. These activities were

done primarily at the personal expense of the

conquistadors in return for shares of the colonial

revenue. Thus, initially the Crown realized a large

return on a very small investment. Lynch (1984:155)

neatly summarizes the significance of this income


Trade between Spain and the Indies in the
16th and first half of the 17th century, both
in value and the volume of goods carried, was
the biggest trans-oceanic trade in the world.


It became the most important single item in
Spain's economy.

However, as American silver began to pour into Spain,

other nations started to take an interest in the source

of this treasure, forcing Spain to protect its resource


The depredations of first French and later English

and Dutch interlopers in the Caribbean obliged Spain to

take costly and only partially successful defensive

measures. These measures included the implementation

of a convoy system to protect the treasure fleets and

the construction of harbor defenses at key ports in the

Caribbean (e.g. Santo Domingo, Cartegena, and Havana).

The convoy system functioned well, in that it generally

protected the fleets from attack. The consequences of

the convoy system on Caribbean demographics will be

discussed later. The harbor defenses were less

successful, each of the main ports being sacked at

least once in their history. Successful or not, these

defences were expensive and required regular upkeep as

well as sufficient manpower to maintain any sort of

effectiveness at all.

The preceding paragraphs have outlined the history

and motivations of the Spanish elite, but what of the

rest of the society? Who were the people that settled


the New World and how did they behave before they got


Spain, despite the efforts of the Crown and the

Inquisition, was a heterogeneous society throughout the

16th century. Castilians, Basques, Catalans, et al.,

all had distinctive cultural traits which make most

generalizations invalid. Since the province of

Andalucia, and most especially the city of Seville,

contributed the most to the early colonization effort

(Boyd-Bowman 1976), this region will serve as the basis

for the description of Spanish life in the 16th

century. Much of the basic information for this

section is derived from Pike's (1972) work

Aristocrats and Traders: Sevillian Society in the 16th


Sevillian society was polarized into elites and

commoners. Very little existed in the way of a true

middle class. The Sevillian elite was composed of six

subcategories: nobles, clergy, lawyers, medical

practitioners, notaries, and merchants. Of these, the

professionals occupied the most fluctuating and

insecure status in the elitist social hierarchy. The

clergy's status was secure but had a ceiling above

which, in theory, they could not aspire. The

individuals who had the potential to win and lose the

most wealth were the merchants.


Many, if not most, of the merchants were of

converso origin. Under the doctrine of limpieza de

sangre in effect at the time, all conversos were

discriminated against economically and were excluded

from public and clerical office (Elliot 1963:218).

Naturally many conversos tried to avoid this

distinction by commissioning elaborately forged family

geneologies and purchasing titles to nobility.

The nobility, on the other hand, by virtue of

their pure lineage, had assured social status but were

often impoverished. They solved their financial

difficulties by either going into business for

themselves or marrying into one of the wealthy merchant

(i.e. converso) families. This symbiotic relationship

benefitted the nobles by enriching their coffers and

the merchants by legitimizing their status. So common

were these unions, claims Pike (1972:213), that

by the middle of the 16th century, the
majority of the Sevillian nobility consisted
of recently enobled families of mixed social
and racial origins whose commercial
orientation and activities reflected their
mercantile background.

On the next social level the working classes struggled

with much less success to better their social position.

The working classes, which included artisans and

unskilled laborers, were generally looked down upon

because they performed what was considered manual


labor. Conversos dominated the upper level crafts

(e.g. pharmacists, silversmiths, clothing makers).

These craftsmen were organized by the government into

tightly regulated guilds of which there were about 60.

The creation of these guilds had the effect of stifling

free enterprise while forming an easily taxable entity

for the crown (Defourneaux 1979:93-4). Outside the

guilds were the unskilled laborers who were only

slightly higher in status than the unassimilated


At the bottom of the hierarchical ladder were the

unassimilated classes (Moriscos, slaves, and the

underworld). The free Moriscos (Moors who had

converted to Christianity) usually earned their living

as stevedores, bearers, and occasional farm laborers.

The majority of the Moriscos were only nominally

Christians, retaining their traditional dress and

customs. These differences prevented the Moriscos from

becoming fully integrated into Sevillian society.

Blacks, on the other hand, adopted Catholicism and

Spanish ways and so fared better in Sevillian society.

The underworld held a unique place in the society

of Seville. Known as picaros, these thieves and rogues

had informal unions of their own. They were attracted

to Seville by the riches of the Indies trade

(Defourneaux 1979:88). It is tempting to speculate


that not a few of these picaros found their way to the

source of the New World treasure by signing on ships

bound in that direction.

Judging by the number of different classes of

people and the disparity in wealth, any attempt to

describe the range of housing, dress, and food habits

would seem to be beyond the scope of this work. Yet,

there are some broad generalizations that can be made

in regard to these issues.

Spain in the 16th century had become a powerful

world force not only economically and militarily, but

in fashion as well. According to Braudel (1985:320),

the European upper classes adopted an austere costume

inspired by Phillip II's Spain. The male ensemble

consisted of dark material fashioned into close fitting

doublets, padded hose, short capes, and high collars

edged with a small ruff. This began to change in the

17th century as the French penchant for brighter colors

became more popular. Even then, official decorum

insisted on the traditional dark Spanish outfit being

worn at court. Peasants, on the other hand, do not

appear to have been slaves to fashion. Their rough

shirts and hose changed little through time.

The eating habits of the Spaniards were, not

surprisingly, tied directly to level of affluence,

varying from the multi-course fetes of the nobility to


the meatless gruels of the abject poor. Yet, despite

the differences in content, the main meal for both the

affluent and the poor was taken at noon, with no hot

food being served in the evening (Defourneaux


Prior to 1550, meat of all kinds was abundant

throughout Europe. This relative abundance of meat was

due to the catastrophic human population losses of the

plagues of previous centuries (Braudel 1984:190-194).

As populations recovered, meat became a less regular

part of the peasant diet. Defourneaux (1979:103)

characterized the poor peasant's stable diet as

consisting of rye bread, cheese, onions, and in

Andalusia--olives. Milk and butter were scarce. Meat,

when available, was served up in empanadillas, small

turnovers filled with an unspecified type of meat. For

the upper classes meat occupied an essential place in

the diet. It was commonly prepared in the form of stew

or marinated in spices (e.g. pimento, garlic, or

saffron). Esteemed dishes included olla podrida (meat

stew) and blancmange (chicken in cream sauce), as well

as roast of lamb and beef (Defourneaux 1979:152). Fish

was an important feature in the Catholic diet with its

many meatless days. Many freshwater as well as marine

species were caught and shipped, on muleback,

throughout Spain. Despite


smoking, drying and salting the catch, spoilage was a

common problem (Braudel 1985:219). Cumbaa (1975:45)

points out that the difference between the food of the

peasant and the well-to-do was mainly one of degree.

That is, the peasant usually ate a vegetable laden stew

(puchero) while the elite dined on the heartier, spice

laden olla podrida. All classes were partial to

chocolate which became widely available after the

discovery of the Americas.

Housing, like food habits, also differed more in

degree than in kind. The exterior of nearly all houses

were plain; any decorative attention was on the

interior. In Andalusia, where Arab influence

persisted, the upper class house was built of brick or

stone around a central patio. The houses of the

peasants were simpler, being built of mud and often

consisting of only a single room. Furniture was sparse

in 16th century Spain, even among the upper classes

giving the house interiors what must have been by

today's standards a generally stark appearance The

wealthy filled space with a few costly items of

furniture and many carpets and tapestries. In a

country with little in the way of wood this is not

unusual. The peasant home as described by Defourneaux

(1979:103) was even simpler.


The furniture comprised a roughly made table
and some wooden benches. The beds often
consisted only of a simple plank or one
simply slept on the floor. In a corner of
the main room was the hearth, where
occasionally a brushwood fire was lit--nearly
everywhere wood was rare and expensive.

The hearth refers to a brazier which was the

principal source of warmth in all Spanish homes. In

them wood, charcoal and even olive pits were burned

(Defourneaux 1979:149). Along with oil lamps and

candles, they also provided some light In 16th

century Spain, windows were not covered with glass,

they were shuttered and some had coverings of paper or

oiled, thin parchment. Floors were of bare earth, tile

and/or covered with mats or oriental carpets, depending

on the wealth of the inhabitants.

The preceding historical, ethnographic portrait of

Spain was drawn as a backdrop for an examination of

colonial life in the Caribbean. Only by knowing the

history and habits of the colonizing peoples can their

responses to what was encountered be properly


The West Indies

The historic period in the Caribbean began with

the arrival of Christopher Columbus. The intent of

Columbus's first voyage was the discovery of a western

route to the spice islands of the East Indies. In this

he failed completely, although he stubbornly refused to


admit his error for the rest of his life (Morison


The exact route of Columbus's first voyage is a

matter of much speculation and heated debate. The

traditional site of the first landfall has been

Watling's Island, renamed San Salvador to commemorate

the event (Morison 1942:222-36). However, a recent

investigation that used computers to take into account

the effects of ocean currents and winds, proposes

Samana Cay as the most likely candidate (Judge and

Stanfield 1986). Other candidates for the landing site

have been put forth, but it is sufficient here simply

to know that he proceeded through the Bahamas to Cuba

(which he mistook for mainland China) and turned east

and traveled along the north coast of Hispaniola.

It was along the north coast of Haiti that an

event took place that pertains directly to the current

research. On Christmas Eve, 1492, the Santa Maria ran

aground on a barrier reef just east of the present city

of Cap Haitien. The crew was able to reach shore

safely, but the ship was a total loss. After

negotiations with the native cacique Guacanagari,

Columbus decided to leave 39 men to found a small

settlement while he went back to Spain. The settlement

was named La Navidad in honor of the season. According

to Morison (1942:306),


Navidad fort was built largely of Santa
Maria's planks, timbers and fastenings, and
provided with a "great cellar" for storage of
wine, biscuit, and other stores salvaged from
the flagship. Seeds for sowing crops and a
supply of trading truck to barter for gold
were also left.

Columbus returned a year later to find the settlement

burned and all the settlers dead or missing. The

reasons for the massacre are believed to be the

Spaniards greed and mistreatment of the local


Ongoing research by the University of Florida

(Deagan 1986) has located what appears to be the

village of Guacanagari within which the site of La

Navidad was located. This site, if it is indeed the

location of La Navidad, is within 1.5 Km of the site of

Puerto Real. Whether the fact that the Spanish

returned to the same area 10 years later is a

coincidence or a deliberate act will have to await the

discovery of more documentation before it can be


Columbus's first voyage set in motion forces that

affected and continue to affect the world to this day.

This interaction of the New World with the Old has been

labeled "The Columbian Exchange." Alfred Crosby, who

coined the term in a book of the same name (1972:219),

renders a harsh verdict concerning the consequences of

this exchange:


The Columbian exchange has included Man, and
he has changed the Old and New Worlds
sometimes inadvertently, sometimes
intentionally, often brutally. It is
possible that he and the plants and animals
he brings with him have caused the extinction
of more species of life forms in the last
four hundred years than the usual processes
of evolution might kill off in a million. .
We, all of the life on this planet, are the
less for Columbus, and the impoverishment
will increase.

Columbus made three other voyages to the

Caribbean. The 1493 voyage was specifically to settle

the island of Hispaniola, and was successful after a

fashion. The third and fourth voyages, in 1498 and

1502 respectively, were exploratory ventures aimed at

finding the riches of what he thought was Asia. If

Columbus was adept at exploration he was equally inept

at the administration of what he had discovered. This

task would be left to the more capable and ruthless

Spaniards who were to follow. Relating some of their

activities illustrates the historical setting in which

Puerto Real developed.

Even while Columbus conducted his third and fourth

reconnaisance efforts, other Spaniards were making

their own voyages of discovery in the Caribbean.

According to Sauer (1969:108), at least four voyages

were licensed to take place in 1499, those of Alonzo de

Hojeda, Peralonso Nifo, Vicente Yanez Pinzon, and Diego

de Lepe. It was Peralonso Niio who discovered the


pearl coast of Venezuela that Columbus just missed on

his third voyage. After the break in the Columbian

monopoly, the entire Caribbean was explored and its

major islands and mainland settled. Tierra Firme (or

the Spanish Main) as the southern mainland portion of

the Caribbean was called, was an early site of

intensive exploitation, but not much settlement.

Early colonization efforts focused on the

Caribbean islands. In 1508 Sebastian de Ocampo

circumnavigated Cuba proving it to be an island. Three

years later Diego Velazquez, then Lieutenant-Governor

of Hispaniola, undertook the task of settling the

island. The following year, in 1512, Ponce de Leon

savagely subdued Puerto Rico and used it as a base for

his ill-fated exploration of Florida. During this

period of early exploration, Hispaniola served as a

jumping off point. As the emphasis of colonization

shifted to the west, Cuba became the base for the

conquistadors. As early as 1519, Hispaniola had

already begun to assume a lesser role in the affairs of

the Caribbean.

The Caribbean, at the time of earliest Spanish

involvement, was wholly subservient to Spain. The

keyword that describes the relationship between Spain

and the New World is exploitation. According to


McAlister (1984:81) the Crown and its subjects had

similar but conflicting interests.

The Crown wished to convert and patronize the
indigenous population, establish exclusive
sovereignty in its American possessions and,
at the same time gain a profit from the
enterprise. Conquerers and settlers wanted
to exploit the natives, acquire senorios, and
become wealthy.

The result was that the Indies were developed only to

the point of being profitable to the investor.

Most sought after were the precious metals,

particularly gold. Columbus was one of the first to

voice its importance, "Gold is the most precious of all

commodities . and he who possesses it has all he

needs in the world, as also the means of rescuing souls

from purgatory, and restoring them to the enjoyment of

paradise" (quoted in McAlister 1984:80-1). However,

gold from the islands was never very substantial and

was quickly superceded by the major deposits in the

mainland. This prompted a gold rush to the mainland.

For the second time (the decline of the native

population being the first) the islands were

depopulated; the Caribbean economy reorganized around

less profitable commodities.

The remaining Spaniards on the islands turned to

agriculture and animal husbandry as a means of making a

living. Crops such as manioc were grown on large

estates. The cassava bread made from manioc flour was


used as a shipstore, as a staple food for native and

African laborers, and to supply early exploratory

expeditions. Other subsistance crops such as maize,

tropical fruits, yams, beans and squash were also

raised (Parry and Sherlock 1971:15).

Some plants were grown strictly for profit. Of

these cash crops, sugar occupied the primary position

of importance. Sugar cane had been among the plants

brought by Columbus on his second voyage (Sauer

1966:209), but was not developed commercially for

another 20 years. Once started, though, production

spread rapidly so that by 1523 there were 24 mills, or

ingenios, in operation on Hispaniola (Parry and

Sherlock 1971:17). Sugar never became the major export

in the Spanish West Indies that it would later become

for the French and British colonies. The difficulty in

obtaining sufficient numbers of slaves and the

inability to compete with gold and silver for the

limited cargo space on the fleets curtailed production.

If sugar was the most profitable agricultural

product, it was not the only one being exported to

Spain. The islands produced some cotton and Sauer

(1966:208) mentions the possible existance of an early

cotton gin. Cassia fistula, a tree whose bark is

similar to cinnamon, was promoted but never became very

important as an export. Other plants were cultivated


for their medicinal, spice, and dye qualities and

formed a small part of the Atlantic trade. Tobacco,

native to the West Indies, was grown by small planters

and its cultivation and exportation was not significant

until the last quarter of the 16th century (Parry and

Sherlock 1971:15). More in line with the temperment of

the Spanish colonists was the development of a

livestock industry.

As mentioned previously, the economy of Spain was

basically a pastoral one. When transferred to the New

World, cattle supplanted sheep as the most numerous

Iberian domestic animal. Cattle proliferation was so

phenomenal that within decades after their

introduction, the hunting of wild cattle became a

full-time profession.

The settlers derived many products from their

extensive herds, leather being the most important. As

early as 1512, hides were being exported to Spain and

production continued to increase throughout the century

(Macleod 1984:361). Beef was smoked and jerked for

shipment and, unlike his European contemporaries, no

colonist ever wanted for meat. Another by-product of

the island cattle industry was beef tallow. Both

edible and inedible tallow were produced. The former

was derived from crushed and boiled bones and trimmed

fats, the latter from cartilage and sinews. Inedible


tallow was the basic ingredient in the manufacture of

soap and candles (Reitz 1986:325). As sugar and gold

production declined, hides became the economic mainstay

of the islands and figured prominently in the later

illegal trade.

How was the settlement of Hispaniola accomplished

so quickly? When the Spanish came to the New World

they did not find an unpopulated, fertile land waiting

to be developed by industrious Europeans, but a land

already fully populated. And when Europeans did start

to modify and exploit their discoveries, they did very

little of the actual physical modification themselves.

This was left to the native inhabitants of the

so-called virgin lands. The native inhabitants had

already been in the New World of the Caribbean

centuries before Spain was a nation.

The prehistory of the Circum-Caribbean region is

an area of dynamic research. Ideas concerning the

population's size, origin, movement, and

characteristics continue to change with each new

addition to the archaeological database. The generally

held hypothesis has been that the islands were

originally inhabited by a primitive, preceramic people

of uncertain origin, sometimes referred to

(erroneously) as the Ciboney. These peoples were

displaced and/or absorbed by the Arawaks who migrated


northward from the north coast of South America,

probably from eastern Venezuela (Sauer 1969:5). The

peaceful and friendly Arawak, in turn, were being

overrun by the war-like and cannibalistic Carib, who

had made it as far up the island chain as Puerto Rico

when Columbus arrived (Parry and Sherlock 1971:3).

Different authors vary on the details, but most

historians would agree that this scenario generally

fits the meager evidence.

One of the former proponents of this scheme,

Irving Rouse, has recently taken a different stance on

the peopling of the Caribbean. Now, instead of

successive waves of invading cultures, Rouse (1986:153)

claims "that linguistic and archaeological research .

. indicate that the Island Carib and Taino (Arawak)

Indians developed in situ as the result of a single

population movement from South America around the time

of Christ." He further proposes (1986:155) that the

point of entry into the Caribbean was not eastern

Venezuela, but more likely the Guianas.

As the Tainos entered the West Indies, they
headed for the major streams, settled along
their banks some distance from their mouths,
and exploited the resources in the
surrounding forests, paying relatively little
attention to seafood. The only places in
South America where they could have acquired
these preferences are in the Orinoco Valley
and on the Guiana coastal plain.


This revised hypothesis, as Rouse himself points out,

needs further testing before acceptance.

However these people came to be there, the

aboriginal's general social organization and

infrastructural base is fairly well understood. Helms

(1984:37) groups the Circum-Caribbean area into two

major spheres of political interaction: the Spanish

Main (N. Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and N.

Venezuela) and the Greater Antilles (Hispaniola, Puerto

Rico, Jamaica, and Cuba), with the less developed

people of the Lesser Antilles, N.E. Venezuela and

Guiana linking them. The denser populations were

organized into ranked societies with commoners and

elites being the major social division. Many of the

societies had attained chiefdom status by the time of

Columbus's arrival. On Hispaniola this was certainly

the case.

Andres Morales and Peter Martyr, early 16th

century geographers, divided Hispaniola into five

provinces based on native territorial boundaries (Sauer

1969). Other historians (cf. Casas) used other schemes

to subdivide the island. In any case, the native way

of life was the same. Swidden agriculture provided the

villages with most of their food. Plants such as

manioc, maize, and yams were grown in cleared plots.

Protein was consumed primarily in the form of marine


species, terrestrial animals were generally small and


The Spanish were at first welcomed by the natives

of Hispaniola. Columbus (in Sauer 1969:32) wrote that

he had developed a

great friendship with the King of the Land
[Guacanagari] who took pride in calling me
brother and considered me to be such: and
even though they should change their mind,
neither he nor his people know what arms are
. and are the most timorous people of the
world. So that the men left there (La
Navidad) are sufficient to destroy all that
country, without danger to their persons if
they know how to rule.

Columbus was exaggerating somewhat in his letter as the

fate of the Spaniards at La Navidad was to show. The

short-lived first settlement of Columbus warned the

natives that the incoming Spaniards were not there

simply to trade peacefully. This knowledge,

unfortunately, did not allow them to alter the fate

that was in store for them.

On his second voyage, Columbus founded a

settlement only slightly more successful than his

first. Ill-conceived in terms of harborage and

resources, Isabela survived only as long as there was

no better place. With the establishment of Santo

Domingo on the south coast by Bartholomew Columbus in

1496, Isabella was all but abandoned (Morison

1942:430). The Indians were subjugated and forced to


pay an onerous tribute to the Spanish conquistadors.

This tribute was in the form of gold wherever possible;

otherwise it was paid in spices, cotton or food (Sauer


The tribute the Indians provided was not their

most valuable contribution to the Spaniards. Labor was

what was needed and was soon forcibly acquired through

the agencies of encomienda and repartimiento. These

two systems, although they achieved the same ends, were

subtly different (McAlister 1985:personal

communication). A repartimiento was a division of

spoils. Columbus did this with the natives of

Hispaniola. There were no restrictions imposed on the

recipient of the repartimiento and this practice was

never officially condoned. Its existance was tolerated

partly because of the dire need for labor and partly,

perhaps, because of the ambiguous humanity of the

Indians in the eyes of the Spaniards. An encomienda,

on the other hand was to put a populated place into the

charge of someone. The commander, or encomendero, had

the right to extract taxes or labor. Labor was not to

be forced, but rather "induced" from the Indians. The

encomendero had the added obligation of Christianizing

and civilizing his charges. In actual practice,

however, these obligations were rarely fulfilled

(Lockhart 1969:411-429).


The effects of these systems of labor had

catastrophic effects on the Indians. The immediate

areas of Spanish conquest suffered a precipitous drop

in native population. This decimation of the

aboriginal inhabitants can be partly explained by the

ruthless extremes of the Spaniards during the

"pacification" of the island. Other declines were the

result of overwork, abuse, and suicide induced by the

conditions of encomienda. The primary agent for the

elimination of Hispaniola's natives can be attributed

to European-introduced diseases. So great was the

population decline that slaving expeditions were sent

to neighboring islands to supplement the work force on

Hispaniola (Sauer 1966:159).

The complete subjugation of Hispaniola occurred

during the governorship of Nicolas de Ovando (1502-

1509). With brutal efficiency, Spanish administrative

sway was extended throughout the entire island. The

system of encomienda was formalized during his tenure.

Another accomplishment of Ovando was the founding of 15

towns on the island (Sauer 1966:151). This act served

a two-fold purpose; it satisfied the royal instruction

to establish proper new settlements on the island, and

it also ensured complete subjugation of the natives.

Puerto Real was one of these new communities.


Puerto Real

Much of the basic information for this section is

taken from Eugene Lyon's (1981) documentary research in

the Archivo General de las Indias, in Seville, Spain.

Around 1504 Rodrigo de Mexia, a lieutenant of Governor

Ovando, led a group of settlers to the north coast of

Hispaniola with the purpose of founding a new city. The

location chosen for this northern settlement,

Christened Puerto Real because of its excellent harbor

was very close to the old site of La Navidad. This

time, instead of being massacred by the native

inhabitants, the Spanish were successful in bending

them to their will.

Puerto Real was originally envisioned as a mining

colony. The Spanish lust for gold prompted a brief

flurry of mining activity in the mountainous hinterland

of Puerto Real (Sauer 1966:154). Unfortunately for the

settlers no gold was found and existing copper deposits

proved disappointing. The area around Puerto Real did,

however, serve as a source of labor for the more

productive mining districts.

The settlement's early years were its best years.

In the first decade of the 16th century, Puerto Real

was a thriving community of about 100 households

(Haring 1947:207n). In 1508 the Crown granted Puerto

Real its own coat of arms consisting of a golden ship


Figure 2-1 The Coat of Arms of Puerto Real


sailing a wavy sea on a field of blue (Figure 2-1).

This emblem recalled the arrival of Christopher

Columbus in the same area in 1492 (Hodges 1980:3). It

was about this time that the town experienced its boom


The decline in native population coupled with the

rise in demand for labor prompted slaving raids on

other nearby islands. In the north the Bahamas were

completely depopulated of their Lucayan inhabitants.

Puerto Plata and Puerto Real were the ports servicing

these slaving operations (Sauer 1966:159). A total of

40,000 Indians were unloaded at these two ports (Hodges

1980:3). As these imported Indians also succumbed to

disease and the harsh conditions, African slaves were

brought in. The end of the Lucayan trade (ca. 1514)

signaled the beginning of a general decline in the

towns of the north coast (Lyon 1981).

Spaniards formed only a comparatively small part

of the population. The repartimiento of 1514

illustrates the imbalance of the population at Puerto

Real. There were only 20 vecinos (in this case

probably meaning registered citizens). Of these, three

had Castilian wives and two had native wives. Also

mentioned are 18 other residents who held Indians. The

status of these other residents is uncertain. Of the

839 Indians listed, 540 were Indios de Servicio, which


were the original encomienda Indians of the island.

The other Indians were classified as naborias or

life-long serfs. These Indians were not even

technically free and may have been the imported


The continuing decline of the north prompted the

abandonment of the neighboring town of Llares de

Guahaba, whose citizens moved to Puerto Real. The fall

of the north corresponded with the situation on the

island as a whole and can be traced to the Spanish

preoccupation with silver and gold.

After the initial gold frenzy on the island had

died down, Hispaniola became a base for further

exploration. When the real mineral wealth of the New

World was discovered on the mainland, the population

drain began in earnest (Andrews 1978:54). The mainland

gold rush did more than just draw off manpower; it

diverted shipping away from the less profitable island

ports (see Figure 2-2).

The convoy system of shipping, first implemented

in 1542, was designed to insure that the precious

metals from Mexico and Peru arrived safely in Spain.

All ships were required to sail in convoy and visit

only the ports on the convoy's route. One need only

glance at the routes of the treasure fleets (Figure

2-2) to see that Puerto Real is located well away from

S Puerto Real

Fire 2-2 Routes of Treasure Fleets

Figure 2-2 Routes of Treasure Fleets


the Carrera de las Indias. Denied access to regular

shipping, Puerto Real and the other neglected island

ports turned to the rescate (illegal trade) for goods.

Meanwhile on land Puerto Real had to contend with

other problems. A smallpox epidemic swept the island

in 1518-19 nearly wiping out the Arawak population

(Lyon 1981). Puerto Real came to depend more upon

imported African labor. So great was the demand for

labor that by 1520 African slaves had become the

dominant element in the work force (Andrews

1978:11-12). The Indians do make a later appearance in

the history of Puerto Real. In 1519 there was a revolt

of the natives under chief Tamayo around the environs

of Puerto Real. They later joined with the general

revolt led by the cacique Enrique. As late as 1532,

hostilities persisted when a vecino, his wife, two

children and 14 of his Indian slaves were killed.

Peace was finally achieved the following year. In this

same year 60 colonists arrived in Santo Domingo to

repopulate Puerto Real and Monte Christi, located to

the east.

By this time the economy of Puerto Real and the

islands in general were based upon the hide trade.

Leather was much in demand in Europe and the Indies

possessed an abundance of cattle. The mercantile

policies of Spain decreed all colonial commerce should


be conducted exclusively with the mother country.

Unfortunately, bulky hides could not compete with

silver and gold for the limited cargo space of the


Such was the paradox that confronted the citizens

of Puerto Real. They could obey the law and do without

even the barest necessities, or they could trade with

smugglers and enjoy European goods unavailable to them

by other means. Another consideration was the trading

practices of the smugglers who were not above

transacting business at gunpoint. Often the choice

would be trade with the corsairs or risk having the

town sacked and burned by them. In 1566 the French

corsair Jean Bontemps was able to enter Monte Christi,

Puerto Real and La Yaguana. He seized 12 vessels and

burned Puerto Real (Andrews 1978:96). It is a small

wonder that most of the hides produced at Puerto Real

found their way into the illegal trade system.

The chief perpetrators of the rescate changed

throughout the 16th century. According to Lyon (1981)

prior to the mid-16th century most of the foreign

interlopers were Portuguese who dealt mainly in slaves.

French, interlopers present as early as 1535, were

heavily involved in smuggling after 1548. John

Hawkins, the renowned corsair, and other Englishmen

were operating in the islands after 1560. The Dutch


did not become important in the rescate until the end

of the century, but it is their presence which

eventually forced the abandonment of the western half

of Hispaniola (Andrews 1978:174).

Meanwhile Puerto Real was suffering from both

natural and economic disasters. In 1562 an earthquake

rocked the north coast of Hispaniola. This was

followed by the 1566 incident with the French corsairs.

In that same year, Spain ordered a cessation of

registry of ships at Puerto Real due to its smuggling

activities. Puerto Real sued and had its registry

temporarily restored, but this only delayed the


Ironically, it was not the loss of revenue that

worried the Spanish Crown. The economic importance of

the hide trade was negligable. Andrews (1978:195)

claims that, "hides were the virtual offal of the

Indies, left for Lutherans and mulattoes to haggle over

by Spaniards occupied with transactions of a higher

order--in sugar, dyes and precious metals." Rather,

the main concern of the Crown was the presence of these

foreign interlopers, not in the hides they diverted

from Spain.

In the ports of northern and western Hispaniola

practically the whole population was involved in

smuggling (Andrews 1978:208). Spain could not stop the


smuggling (her own Crown-appointed town officials were

heavily involved themselves!); neither could she supply

these outpost settlements with adequate shipping. In

1578, the settlement of Bayaha was established midway

Puerto Real and Monte Christi and populated with the

citizens of the two towns. An armed force was required

to coerce the resettlement. It was thought it would be

easier to stop the smuggling at a single point than all

along the coast. However, this was not the case.

Smuggling continued with the collusion of the town

officials. Spain's ultimate response was the

depopulation of the western third of the island in

1605. This ended the Spanish chapter of Puerto Real

and began the French chapter of what was to become



The site of Puerto Real was discovered in 1974 by

Dr. William Hodges. A medical missionary in Haiti for

over twenty-five years, Hodges was and is still, an

avid archaeologist and historian, whose interests are

well known to the villagers around Cape Haitian. Many

of the local farmers would bring him old "treasures"

they had found while hoeing their gardens. Hodges, who

had been actively looking for the site of La Navidad,

received an important clue when farmers from the nearby

village of Limonade showed him some 16th century

artifacts they had found. Of particular interest was a

worn copper coin. The coin was identified as a 4

maravedi piece, common in the Greater Antilles during

the 16th century. This led Hodges to conclude that

there was a Spanish settlement in the area, one that

was later than La Navidad established by Columbus in

1492 (Hodges 1980:3).

An examination of the area where the artifacts

were found confirmed Hodge's suspicions that this was

not the site of La Navidad. Far more artifacts



littered the surface than could be accounted for by a

small settlement that had lasted for less than a year.

In addition to the surface collected artifacts, several

low mounds were found. Excavation of one of these

mounds yielded three stone gargoyles and a large

quantity of building rubble. One of these gargoyles

has the head of an elephant and the body of a sheep or

some other hooved animal. Clearly, a substantial

settlement had existed in the area. The artifacts

indicated that it had a 16th-century Spanish

provenience. Based on his knowledge of the history of

the area, Hodges correctly concluded that the artifacts

must be from the 16th century Spanish settlement of

Puerto Real. His discovery opened an important chapter

in New World Spanish colonial archaeology.

Realizing the potential significance of the site,

Dr. Hodges and M. Albert Mangones (representing the

Haitian government) contacted Dr. Charles Fairbanks at

the University of Florida in Gainesville. Fairbanks, a

Distinguished Service Professor in Anthropology and

internationally known expert on Spanish colonial

archaeology, also recognized the importance of the

discovery and worked with Hodges and Mangones to put

together an archaeological project to conduct fieldwork

in Haiti. He was successful in his efforts and in 1979


Fairbanks sent one of his graduate students, Raymond

Willis, to lead a crew into the field.

The problem orientation of all the archaeological

research done at Puerto Real is to better understand

how the 16th century Spaniards adapted to the New

World. This type of long-distance colonizing effort

had very little precedent for the Spanish. What form

would Spain's effort take? Adopt New World modes of

living? Transplant the Iberian way of life in toto?

Synthesize an eclectic mixture of both? Answering

these questions has guided all previous research at

Puerto Real, including the current research.

The primary goal of the 1979 season, led by

Willis, was to positively identify the site. It was

decided that the best way to do this within the limits

of time and money was to concentrate on the supposed

center of the site, specifically the large rubble pile

where the gargoyle was found. Before actual excavation

began the area was cleared of the thorny brush growing

there and a contour map was made. A preliminary

walkover survey of the area was conducted to delineate

the site boundaries, and a permanent concrete benchmark

that would serve as a reference point for all

subsequent excavation grids was emplaced. A contour

map was prepared and revealed that there were actually

two mounds: a rectangular-shaped one running roughly


north-south and a square-shaped rise near the northwest

corner of the rectangular mound.

Willis (1984:57) initiated an excavation to

discover the nature of the rectangular mound. He

decided to bisect the mound with a north-south trench

and cross it with two east-west trenches. Ray Willis

and Paul Hodges (Dr. William Hodges's son) supervised

twenty Haitian workers who excavated thirty-nine 2 x 2

m units. These excavations revealed the remains of

what had been a three room masonry building.

Most of the stone foundation was missing, having

been robbed by later peoples for use in their own

structures. The trenches that they had dug to mine the

stone were clearly apparent as dark stains in the buff

colored clay. A large amount of broken brick and roof

tile littered both the interior and exterior of the

structure. Along with the building rubble, Willis

recovered a substantial amount of 16th century Spanish

majolica, glass, coins, iron artifacts, and faunal


The delineation of such a large structure (27 x

7 m) and the recovery of so many unequivocally datable

16th century artifacts confirmed that the site was

Puerto Real. There is no other settlement of any size

recorded for that time period in the area. A cursory

walkover survey of the surrounding area indicated that


the site measured nearly 500 x 500 m. Most

importantly, except for the robbing of construction

material, the site seemed little disturbed by any

post-abandonment activity. Today, Haitians living on

the site practice hoe agriculture and only disturb the

upper 15 cm of the soil. The success of the first

season's excavations encouraged the participants to

return to the site the following summer.

The second season (1980) saw the formal entrance

of the University of Florida into the project. This

allowed a larger scale archaeological effort. Ray

Willis returned with three other graduate student

archaeologists (Jennifer Hamilton, Rochelle Marrinan

and Gary Shapiro) from the University of Florida. The

crew of Haitian villagers hired as field hands doubled

from twenty to forty.

The 1980 field season focused on the complete

excavation of Building A, as the structure discovered

the previous year had been named. Results were

encouraging (Willis 1984:59).

Willis interpreted this building as the central

cathedral or possibly some other public structure

situated on the town plaza (Willis 1984:128). Another

structure located under the square-shaped mound next to

Building A was designated Building B. The town

cemetery was discovered a few meters west of this


structure. In the process of putting in a fencepost

one of the Haitian workers unearthed a human cranium.

A 2 x 3 m test excavation, directed by Dr. William

Hodges uncovered the remains of three individuals

(Willis 1984:65).

A rich and varied array of artifacts was recovered

from the 1980 excavations (Willis 1984:156). A wide

variety of Spanish majolica as well as the more common

utilitarian wares, such as olive jar or green bacin,

were found scattered around the exterior of Building A.

Some of the most spectacular artifacts came from the

test pits used to determine the placement of the

trenches. Two of these reconnaisance soundings yielded

nearly intact Spanish rapier swords and in another, a

reconstructable pitcher made of honey-colored melado

ware (Willis 1984:262-3). Other non-ceramic items

collected from the general excavation units included

locks, keys, hawkbells, buckles, horse tack, scissors,

an ornate book clasp, Venetian glass, and over 150

coins. All the coins were the 4 maravedi pieces

described earlier, a coin of small worth even in

colonial times, which may account for their ubiquitous

presence at the site. Perhaps, like modern pennies,

the 16th century Spaniards did not consider them worth

bending over to pick up when dropped.


While Willis was working on Building A, the other

team members pursued ancillary projects. The

topographic mapping project, under the supervision of

Jennifer Hamilton, was expanded to cover the rest of

the central area. She also delineated the site

boundaries by laying in a series of linear test-pit

transects across the site (Hamilton 1982). Hamilton's

findings indicated that the town occupied an area

measuring 450 m north-south by 400 m east-west.

Test excavation was not the only means used to

sample the site. Gary Shapiro conducted a resistivity

survey of the area around Building A during the 1980

season. Using this technique, Shapiro was able to

produce resistivity contour maps which allowed accurate

prediction of the location of subsurface features (e.g.

building foundations, see Shapiro 1984). According to


The most important advantage gained by the
use of the technique is the ability to save
precious excavation time by the prediction of
subsurface feature locations, and the ability
to generate testable hypotheses concerning
site plan. (p. 109)

The resistivity maps also allowed Willis to project the

dimensions of the buildings he only partially


In addition to the survey and excavation, a faunal

collection of contemporary Haitian vertebrates was


prepared. Rochelle Marrinan supervised this project in

an effort to supplement the comparative collections at

the Florida State Museum (Willis 1984:67). Most of the

specimens collected were marine species of fish, but

some terrestrial species were also taken. These

specimens were later used to help identify the faunal

material recovered from Puerto Real.

Although much was accomplished during the 1980

field season it became apparent that the surface had

literally and figuratively only been scratched. The

University of Florida, Organization of American States

(OAS) and the Haitian government all reaffirmed their

commitment to the Puerto Real project and to continued


Another large crew conducted field studies during

the 1981 season. This time, however, instead of

concentrating on one central excavation, several

smaller projects were initiated. Rochelle Marrinan

directed work at Building B (Marrinan 1982), while

Bonnie McEwan (another University of Florida graduate

student) and Jennifer Hamilton excavated outlying areas

that the previous year's testing and resistivity survey

had indicated might be residential structures (Hamilton

1982, McEwan 1983). The results of this season's

efforts were productive and, in some cases, enigmatic.


Building B proved to be a thick-walled 8 x 10 m

structure whose function could not be positively

ascertained. Willis (1984:145) speculates that it was

an auxillary to Building A, probably a tower of some

sort. Other possibilities include a blockhouse, secure

warehouse, or some other public building (Marrinan

1982:54-57). It is not thought to be a residence for

several reasons: its massive architecture, its location

on the plaza, and the paucity of domestic artifacts

recovered from the site. The other two areas excavated

did appear to have been habitations, or at least have

residential components associated with them.

Loci 33 and 35 (how these loci came to be

designated will be discussed later) excavated under the

supervision of Bonnie McEwan, appeared to be the

location of a high status residence (McEwan 1983:103).

This conclusion is based on the amounts and types of

high quality majolicas, Venetian glass and faunal

remains recovered. In this case the domestic refuse

rather than the structure was the most telling clue as

to site function. Very little of the actual structure

was excavated. The area excavated appears to be the

backyard fenceline against which trash had been

regularly deposited (McEwan 1983:103).

The most intriguing finds came from the third area

excavated during the 1981 field season. Artifacts that


Hamilton recovered from Locus 39 seemed, by reference

to documented patterns of status variability in St.

Augustine (Deagan 1983), to indicate a low status

household. That is, many of the ceramics were crude

locally produced wares with the expensive glassware and

decorative artifacts largely missing from the artifact

assemblage. However, the amount and nature of the

animal bone refuse recovered seemed out of place for a

domestic context, and it is possible that the site

could have been the locus of commercial activities

related to cattle.

Elizabeth Reitz, zooarchaeologist now at the

University of Georgia, performed the faunal analysis

for this area (Reitz 1986). She determined that over

70% of the animal bone recovered was the remains of

butchered cattle that had not fully matured. She also

noted that the cattle, even though immature, were very

large. In fact, the size range overlapped that of

aurochs, an extinct bovid believed to be the forerunner

of domestic cattle. Reitz attributed this to the fact

that when cattle were introduced into the area by the

colonists they found no native ruminants which could

have been vectors for disease or competitors for food;

there also were no predators, except humans.

Consequently the cattle attained large size.


It is known from the documents that Puerto Real

was a major hide-producing center (cf. Sauer 1966, Lyon

1981, Hoffman 1980). Reitz (1986:327) proposed, from

the amount and type of bone elements recovered, that

this area of the site was where refuse from skinning

and meat preservation was used to make tallow and other

cattle industry by-products. The combination of

household artifacts and faunal remains indicated that

this area may have been used for both residential and

commercial use. Reitz also noted that this

slaughter/processing area was downwind from most of the


The following year (1982) marked a change in

supervision of the Puerto Real project. Dr. Kathleen

Deagan, former student of Fairbanks and now chairperson

of the Anthropology department at the Florida State

Museum, assumed direction of the project. Her first

decision was to suspend any further excavation pending

the completion of the reconnaisance testing and contour

mapping program begun in 1980.

A total of 1,475 .25 x .25 m, test pits was

excavated at 10 m intervals across the site during the

1982 season. The contents of these test pits were

analyzed and the raw data entered into the mainframe

computer at the University of Florida. Maurice

Williams, Florida State Museum archaeologist and


project supervisor, was able to graphically depict

horizontal distributions of various types of artifacts

using the SYMAP package (a graphic/analytic program)

(Williams 1986). This was an important achievement for

several reasons. First, it more clearly delineated the

town limits than had previous attempts. Secondly, by

plotting distributions of masonry debris, Williams was

able to define 57 discrete concentrations thought to

represent structures within the town's boundaries. By

plotting distributions of high and low status artifacts

and artifacts that could be precisely dated, it was

further possible to get an idea of economically

distinct sections of the town along with demographic

shifts through time. These data were invaluable to all

subsequent work done at the site and will be elaborated

in Chapter V.

In 1984 another project was sponsored by the

Florida State Museum in cooperation with the

Organization of American States, the government of

Haiti, and the Institute for Early Contact Period

Studies at the University of Florida. Specifically,

this work was being aimed at studying adaptation thru

time at Puerto Real. To do this it was necessary to

examine a residence occupied during the early years of

the town and compare it with an economically similar


residence occupied during the latter part of Puerto

Real's existence.

Fortunately the 1984 project was in an ideal

position to accomplish this comparative task.

Excavations at Loci 33 and 35 in 1981 had provided the

necessary data from an early period (pre-1550), high

status occupation. The results of the survey in 1982

made it possible to locate a late (post-1550) high

status occupation. The field season in 1984 was spent

locating this structure and the 1985 season was spent

excavating it. Details of the excavation strategy and

tactics of data recovery at Locus 19 are discussed in

Chapter V. Chapter IV focuses on the theoretical

orientation for these investigative strategies.


The emphasis placed upon much research on early

Spanish colonialism has been understanding how the

colonists adapted themselves and their society to the

social and environmental conditions encountered in the

New World. Recent historical synthetic works (e.g.

Bethell 1984, Lockhart and Schwartz 1983, McAlister

1984) demonstrate that historians have long addressed

this topic. However, historical archaeologists have

only just begun to look at Spanish colonialism.

This raises the question, if historians have long

been addressing this topic why should archaeologists

bother? What can the archaeologist hope to add that a

legion of historians have not already discovered? The

fact that many historians have studied Spanish

colonialism partially answers the question. Paradigms

within a discipline are constantly changing and a new

perspective brings fresh insight to an old subject.

The entrance of historical archaeology into Spanish

colonial studies brings yet another approach, an

anthropologically oriented one, to bear on this topic.



Archaeology does more than merely offer a new

interdisciplinary perspective, which alone would have

justified the effort. By examining the material record

the archaeologist can examine cultural processes,

verify, supplement, or refute the historical record,

and generally gain insight into the everyday lives of

past peoples. For Puerto Real this is particularly


Few documents pertaining to Puerto Real have been

discovered or may ever be discovered. Archaeological

data can supplement the scant historic record in such

areas as foodways, material possessions, architecture,

and urban planning. Documents tell us that smuggling

was so rampant that the vecinos of Puerto Real were

relocated. How is this illicit behavior manifest in

the archaeological record, the record of the everyday

lives of the people of Puerto Real?

Archaeology is also instrumental in the study of

historically disenfranchised groups (e.g. slaves).

Descriptions of the everyday life of the Indians and/or

slaves are missing from the documents at Puerto Real,

and indeed, colonial records in general. A good

example of the contributions of archaeology in this

regard is the work of Charles Fairbanks (1984) at

Kingsley plantation which illuminated aspects of slave

society not present in the documentary record.


Historical archaeology is not a handmaiden to

history. It is an equal partner, using different and

additional data to answer questions concerning past

human behavior. The problem of culture contact and

adaptation have become central to Spanish colonial

archaeology. It is also the central theme of the

current research.

Spanish efforts to colonize previously unknown

territory had very little precedent in the 16th

century. True, the Canary Islands had been discovered

and settled in the 15th century and did provide some

lessons for the Spaniards. But the distances involved

in a trans-Atlantic effort made the colonization

process, by its very remoteness, an essentially new


Having decided to settle Hispaniola, the Spanish

had three basic options in regards to settlement

strategy. The first option would be total retention of

their Castilian lifestyle, rejecting any New World

inspired changes. At the other extreme, the colonists

could elect to abandon their "civilized" ways and "go

native." That is, adopt the cultural behavior of the

indigenous peoples in toto. The third, and based on

previous research in St. Augustine, most likely

alternative, would be a compromise solution. This

would involve retaining some traits of the original


society while incorporating new traits of the

non-Hispanic societies and modifying other traits in

response to the new circumstances. The result would be

a hybrid society, distinct from its predecessors. If

this is the case, the question then becomes one of

distinguishing which old traits were retained and which

new traits were adopted, and why?

The anthropological term used for the changes that

come about as a result of culture contact is

acculturation. But what is meant exactly by

acculturation? Acculturation, like the term culture

itself, is a loosely defined and often abused

anthropological concept. Some anthropologists have

seen it as a one way process.

Acculturation occurs when a society undergoes
drastic culture change under the influence of
a more dominant culture and society with
which it has come into contact. (Hoebel 1972)

Originally the term was employed to refer to changes

in the culture patterns of either or both groups

(Redfield, Linton and Herskovits 1936). But this

second definition is so broad as to have little


Edward Spicer (1961:529) uses acculturation in the

general sense.

The augmentation, replacement, or combination
in a variety of ways of the elements of a
given cultural system with the elements of


He does, however, go on to define four general types of

acculturation: incorporation, assimilation, fusion, and

compartmentalization. Spicer (1961:529-536) defines

each as follows:

1) incorporation--the transfer of elements from one

cultural system and their integration into another

system in such a way that they conform to the

meaningful and functional relations within the latter

without disrupting the fundamental system.

2) assimilation--acceptance and replacement of cultural

behaviors in terms of the dominant society's cultural


3) fusion--whatever the specific form of combination,

the principles which guide it are are neither wholly

from one or the other of the two systems in contact.

4) compartmentalization--a keeping separate within a

realm of elements and patterns taken over from the

dominant culture.

It is important to note that Spicer (1961:539)

sees all forms of acculturation as being preceded by a

process of adaptive integration, where nothing

important is replaced. That is, an initial acceptance

of some novelties (mostly material culture), on a trial

basis, which eventually give way to the processes

described above. This will have to be taken into

account when interpreting the data recovered from


Puerto Real. The problem is distinguishing transitory

acquisition from incorporation. This can be done by

utilizing a diachronic approach, comparing early to

late period proveniences.

The cultural exchanges that come about as the

result of a contact situation are rarely perfectly

reciprocal. Foster (1960:7) insists that the idea of

dominance should be included in the operational

definition. It is this concept of dominance that is

integral to Foster's model of the "conquest culture."

In this scenario of culture contact one society acts

primarily as the donor and the other, as the recipient.

The "conquest culture" is a model which represents

the totality of donor influences brought to bear on a

recipient society. Foster (1960:10-12) states that

this is artificial in that what the recipient culture

is exposed to represents only a selection from the

totality of the donor's culture. The formation of this

"conquest culture" is characterized by a stripping down

process in which elements of the dominant culture are

modified or eliminated. Thus, using Foster's model,

the culture of the Spanish colonists was modified

before they landed in the New World.

What were the influences that went into the

formation of the colonial "conquest culture"? Foster

(1960:12) describes two types of selective processes


that go into the formation of a "conquest culture."

The first of these are formal processes. These are

cognizant, intentional changes where the government,

church, or some other authoritative body directs the

introduction of selected attributes. An example of

this would be the imposition of the grid town plan on

the colonists by the Spanish crown. The other type of

selective process are informal and include the personal

habits of the emigrants themselves, such as their food

preferences, personal beliefs, and attitudes.

Another source of influence upon the "conquest

culture" is that of the "conquered culture." Although

the major changes are found in the culture of the

recipient group, Foster (1960:7) acknowledges that in

contact situations the donor group changes to some

degree. More emphatically, he (p.2) states that,

"during the American conquest, Spanish ways were

profoundly modified by the existing cultures." The

result of these changes (formal, informal, and

acquired) has been described as the Spanish colonial

pattern. The Spanish colonial pattern, as used in this

study, is that suggested through archaeological

investigations in St. Augustine.

Early work in St. Augustine was essentially

descriptive in nature and dealt with large monuments

[e.g. the Castillo de San Marcos (Harrington, Manucy,


and Griffin 1955)]. In the 1950s serious attention was

being directed toward sites of the colonial inhabitants

of the Spanish community. Later, following trends

already manifest in the new archaeology, Charles

Fairbanks initiated problem oriented "backyard

archaeology," which focused on the everday life of the

average Spanish colonist (Fairbanks 1975). From the

early 1970s onward, the guiding research orientation

was the understanding of the processes related to the

formation and development of the Hispanic-American

cultural tradition in Florida. This, as Deagan


encompassed a number of more specific
anthropological issues, such as the role of
acculturation in these processes, the extent
and nature of Spanish-Indian syncretism, the
crystallization of a Spanish-American criollo
tradition, and the understanding of the
nature of social variability within it.

Deagan's own work initially focused on the

cultural consequences of intermarriage between Spanish

males and Indian females (Deagan 1974). The processes

of Indian- Spanish miscegenation, called mestizaje,

were examined at the 18th century de la Cruz site

(SA-16-23) in St. Augustine, Florida. Specifically,

the excavation at the de la Cruz site
attempted to establish material correlates
for the processes of mestizaje and
acculturation represented at the site.


Applying the acculturation models of Spicer (1961,

1962) and Foster (1960) to historical and

archaeological data gathered in St. Augustine, Deagan

confirmed the hypothesis that

acculturation in 18th century St. Augustine
was effected largely by Indian women in
Spanish or mestizo household units, within a
predominantly male-oriented (military)
cultural milieu. (1974:140)

As is so common in any scientific endeavor, the process

of testing one hypothesis generated new hypotheses.

Based on the data recovered from the de la Cruz

household, Deagan (1974:150-152) proposed several

hypotheses to be tested as new data became available.

The first stated that the initial stages of mestizaje

would have a preponderance of native elements in those

areas of culture associated with female activities, but

that these native elements would be quickly replaced by

criollo or European elements as the mestizos became

established in the New World society. Secondly, it was

hypothesized that the influences on the mestizo

households were derived from the New World criollo

culture rather than that of peninsular Spain. Another

hypothesis was that the low status of the mestizo

household is reflected by its segregation into the

marginal areas of the town. Finally, Deagan proposed

that the diet of the mestizo would show a greater use

of local resources than would European households.


Unfortunately, at the time of this investigation

(1974), there was very little in the way of comparative

data available. Excavation of ordinary households in

St. Augustine was just beginning. However, the avenues

of inquiry opened in Deagan's dissertation would be

addressed by future research.

The St. Augustine pattern delineated by Deagan

(1983) is a direct outgrowth of her dissertation

research (1974). She suggests that early Hispanic

colonial adaptive efforts were characterized by the

incorporation of locally available elements into the

colonist's low visibility subsistence and technological

activities, while at the same time maintaining Spanish

affiliation in such socially-visible activities and

elements as clothing, tableware, ornamentation, and

religious paraphenalia. This dichotomous pattern was

continued and refined through time, eventually

crystallizing into a distinctive Hispanic-American

colonial tradition. These patterns were independently

linked through documentary analysis to social variation

and affiliation in the community.

Based on archaeological evidence accumulated over

a decade of fieldwork, Deagan (1983:270) suggests that

the processes involved in the formation of the

Hispanic-American tradition in St. Augustine were

common to much of the Spanish New World. Conservatism


in those socially visible areas associated with male

activities was coupled with Spanish-Indian

acculturation in the less visible, female dominated

areas. She goes on to hypothesize that this pattern of

behavior should be expected in any situation where a

predominantly male group imposes itself on a group with

a normal sex distribution.

Puerto Real is an ideal site to test this

hypothesis. It was certainly a situation where a

predominantly male group (the Spaniards) imposed itself

on a group with a normal sex distribution (the Tainos).

The differences in geographic location, relative

prosperity, and settlement type (exploitation vs.

military garrison) between Puerto Real and St.

Augustine eliminate these as biasing factors and helps

to support the contention that this hypothesis

represents a truly pan-Hispanic colonial pattern rather

than a Spanish, mainland, garrison pattern.

Certain archaeologically testable implications

follow from the hypothesized Spanish colonial pattern.

Before these test implications are delineated it is

appropriate here to discuss the problems of

interpreting past lifeways from the archaeological

assemblage. Unlike cultural anthropology, much of

which interprets from observed behavior, archaeology

must work with preserved behavior. If doing cultural


anthropology is analogous to working a jigsaw puzzle

without the benefit of the picture on the box, then

archaeology includes the extra handicap of missing many

of the pieces. Nevertheless, many aspects of human

behavior are reflected, in some way, in the

archaeological assemblage.

Determining how specified properties of past

cultural systems can be accurately identified and

measured is the domain of middle range research

(Binford 1981:25). Without going into too much detail,

this type of research simply involves the determination

of how various types of human behavior are represented

in the archaeological record. This is what the test

implications attempt to do in relation to the patterns

of human behavior outlined in the hypothesis. These

tests simply state, "if the hypothesis is true this is

what we should expect to find." Should the tests

support the hypothesis this does not exclude the

possibility that other interpretations exist for the

data. However, it does allow us to continue to use the

hypothesis to guide future research. With this in mind

test implications relevant to the hypothesis can be


1) Food preparation activities, as represented in

the archaeological assemblage, should show a

significant admixture of European and locally


manufactured wares. This is as opposed to a total

retention of European utilitarian wares. Supply lines

between Puerto Real and Spain were tenuous at best.

This situation forced the colonists to seek other means

of satisfying the need for cooking and storage

containers. Using the pottery of the local inhabitants

would have provided an inexpensive answer. Also, the

intermarriage of Spanish men with local women offered

an avenue for the introduction of these wares since

women were most involved with food preparation

activities. Non-European utilitarian ceramics, used

for cooking and storage of food, as well as manioc

griddles and other local elements not typical of the

Iberian kitchen assemblage, should demonstrate this


In the initial stage of colonization, it is

expected that the locally available Taino Indian wares

will have been used by the earliest settlers to

supplement their utilitarian wares. It is furthermore

expected that the nature of the locally manufactured

items will have shifted from Indian to African-

influenced types through time As discussed in

Chapter 2, the Indians of the encomienda assigned to

Puerto Real declined rapidly as the result of disease

and overwork. They were replaced by imported African

slaves who, by 1520, had become the dominant element in


the workforce. The archaeological record should

reflect this shift in ethnic composition by a change in

the nature of the utilitarian ceramics as the African

potters replaced the Indian potters.

2) Status related artifacts should be almost

exclusively European in trade or manufacture. Spanish

colonial status was linked to the closeness of

association with peninsular Spain (cf. McAlister 1963,

Morner 1967, 1983). It is expected that the attempts

by New World settlers to maintain an Iberian lifestyle

(with its accompanying prestige), will be reflected in

the use of articles from the Spanish empire in

socially-visible areas of daily life.

Socially-visible activities are reflected in many

aspects of the material assemblage. A Spaniard's table

would be highly visible to neighbors and guests.

Following the hypothesis we would expect the tablewares

to be composed primarily of majolica, rather than

locally made wares. The higher status colonist might

include such scarce items as porcelain and glassware.

Similarly clothing and ornamentation would be

Iberian in style, if not manufacture. Most clothing

items leave no trace in the archaeological record.

However, such Spanish clothing accessories as aglets,

buckles, and buttons would survive and serve as

evidence for the retention of Spanish costume since


local clothing (such as existed) did not utilize these

items. Ornaments, such as jewelry, would be expected

to show a preference for European styling (i.e.

clothing adornments, pendants, rings, etc.) although

the material from which they were manufactured might

have originated in the New World. This is as opposed

to the adoption of native design elements and ornaments

encountered by the early colonists.

A final category of material culture that would

indicate non-acculturation in the socially visible

sphere of activities is that of religious articles.

These are expected to remain Hispanic (Catholic) in

symbolism and include such items as crucifixes, rosary

beads, and religious medallions. An adoption of native

religious articles and/or motifs (e.g. zemis) would

perhaps be an indication of an ideological shift and

prompt a reassessment of the hypothesis.

3) Structures at Puerto Real should employ local

materials in their construction; however, the

architectural style of the buildings and physical

layout of the town should be Hispanic in nature.

Specifically this would involve rectangular single

family houses with fenced or walled yards (Manucy 1978)

laid out in a grid pattern around a central plaza. The

Taino houses and towns were very different. The

average Taino house or bohio was circular and housed


several families (Rouse 1948:525). It was made of

cane, plastered with mud, and surmountedby a straw roof

(Oviedo 1959:39). The towns varied in size from one to

1,000 such houses, irregularly arranged and having one

or more ball courts (Rouse 1948:524).

This implication follows from the hypothesized

Spanish affiliation in visible areas of colonial

culture, and also from the explicit norms and

guidelines for spatial patterns established in 16th

century Spain to guide New World town planning (Crouch

et al. 1983). Although these ordinances were not

established until the latter half of the 16th century,

the principles behind them were in effect from the time

of conquest in 1492 (Foster 1960:49). It is

interesting to note that this was a new idea being

tested by Spain as a "directed change." Towns already

established in Spain were not uniformly laid out

(Foster 1960:16). The limited amount of excavation

conducted at Puerto Real does not allow for a detailed

description of structure type and town layout.

However, enough was uncovered to satisfy the test


4) The diet of the colonist should show a mixture

of the Iberian barnyard complex of peninsular Spain

and mixed hunting-farming strategies of the indigenous

peoples. This pattern of foodways identified in St.


Augustine (Reitz and Cumbaa 1983) was a modification of

the traditional foodways in response to a new

environment. According to Reitz and Cumbaa

(1983:155-156) if the Iberian complex was transferred

intact then the New World faunal assemblage would

consist primarily of sheep, cattle, and hogs, in that

order. The diet would also have included domestic

fowl, fish but few wild mammals. To hypothesize that

this complex would have survived, intact, is

unrealistic since it is documented that sheep do not

prosper on the islands. Also since meals were, in many

cases, prepared by native wives or servants, we would

expect the incorporation of local wild species into the

Spanish colonial diet. Reitz and Scarry (1986:99) on

the basis of further research in St. Augustine have

refined the hypothesized colonial subsistance strategy

to seven key responses to the New World environment,

1) they abandoned traditional resources
unsuited to the new environment; 2) they
adopted a new constellation of domestic plant
resources; 3) they incorporated aboriginal
patterns of wild fauna exploitation; 4) they
retained Old World cultigens, primarily
fruits, which could be grown locally; 5) they
husbanded those Old World domestic animals
which could survive with limited attention in
the local conditions; 6) they added a few
exotic New World cultigens to the locally
grown plants; 7) they relied to a limited
extent on imported foodstuffs.

Unfortunately, it will be impossible to comment on some

aspects of the colonial diet since ethnobotanical


analysis was not done. However, a good faunal sample

from Locus 19 and other locii at Puerto Real has been

completed allowing comments on the carniverous side of

the colonial diet to be made. Additionally, there is

good faunal data from the nearby Taino site at En Bas

Saline which can be used for comparative purposes.

5) The material and faunal assemblage will reflect

a crystallization of the proposed Hispanic-American

colonial pattern through time. It is expected that as

the colonists became more specifically adapted to the

New World physical and social environment, their

methods of coping became standardized. This patterned

behavior should be reflected in the archaeological

assemblage in such areas as foodways, architecture, and

status artifacts. Variations among households from

this predicted pattern should become less evident in

later periods.

A key issue here is the duration of occupation at

Puerto Real, which amounted to approximately 75 years.

Is this long enough to detect a crystallization of the

Spanish colonial pattern? It is possible to clearly

distinguish between late and early occupation at Puerto


In the latter case the answer is yes. As will be

discussed in Chapter 6, it was possible, using

stratigraphy and artifact terminus post quems to


distinguish the early period (pre-1550) from the late

period (post-1550) occupation. The date 1550 was

chosen as the dividing point because it was roughly

midway through the occupation of the town and because

several types of ceramics are known to have been

unavailable before this date and can be used as

temporal markers.

The question of when crystallization occurred is

impossible to pinpoint. Culture change is a dynamic

process and any divisions imposed are artificial. This

does not invalidate the study of culture

crystallization as a process. Some crystallization

would be expected after five years. Deagan (1983)

described the Spanish colonial pattern using data from

the 18th century, 200 years after settlement. It will

be interesting to note what changes there are in the

material assemblage after only a relatively short

period of time.

These test implications provided the framework

that guided the recovery and interpretation of the data

from Puerto Real, and provide a means of assessing the

utility of the working hypothesis. What is being

specifically asked of the data is, "how do we

characterize the changes that happened to the Iberian

culture of the colonists?" Binford's definition of

archaeology is,


a discipline that searches for an
understanding of the past through the use of
objects and other organizations of matter
believed to have been parts of past
situations. (1981:22)

The task, then, at Puerto Real is to identify patterns

in the material culture that reflect the changes that

the Spaniards underwent en route to becoming creoles.


The purpose of the 1984-1985 fieldwork at Puerto

Real was to identify patterns in the material culture

that reflect the creolization of the colonists'

culture. This was done by testing implications arising

from the hypothesized pattern of Spanish colonial

adaptation (see Chapter 1) identified in St. Augustine,

Florida by Deagan (1983). Archaeological testing of

this hypothesis required the extensive excavation of a

Spanish colonial habitation outside of St. Augustine.

The site of Puerto Real fulfilled the requirements of

the proposed test.

The project was conducted over two, ten-week

periods during the summers of 1984 and 1985.

Excavations were conducted by the author, a field

assistant, a field laboratory supervisor, and a crew of

between twelve and fifteen Haitians. Based on the 1982

survey of the site, a suitable area was selected and

excavated. A brief recapitulation of the 1982 survey

will illustrate its pivotal role in selecting the locus

of excavation.



The 1982 field season complemented previous work

at Puerto Real by establishing the town boundaries and

completing a program of systematic sub-surface sampling

and topographic mapping over the entire site (Williams

1983). Material recovered from the tests was

quantified and the data entered into the mainframe

computer at the University of Florida. Using the SYMAP

graphics program, several maps were prepared which

portrayed the subsurface distribution of various types

of artifacts throughout the site. By mapping the

distribution of masonry debris, it was possible to

discern the locations of masonry structures.

Fifty-seven structural areas were defined and could be

categorized according to the abundance and diversity of

Spanish and non-Spanish artifacts associated with them

(Fig. 5-1). These groups are believed to represent

different social and economic components of the

community and are interpreted by reference to the

documentarily verified archaeological patterns of

Spanish St. Augustine (Deagan 1983).

Using the computer generated maps, a suitable area

was selected for excavation. Of the fifty-seven

possible structural areas defined by Williams (1986),

Locus 19 (Fig. 5-2) seemed the most likely to provide

the information sought. The abundance of masonry

debris indicated the presence of a structure and the


S::. . ....:::::::::::: ::::::::; :.... ::..-. '. : ..... :,.. ... ..... .* ....... :

S.......::... ............. .. ...

... ..... :...... .. .. ..... ...... . : . . ..:: :: :

.:: ; :' .... . . .. ..... .. .... ... . ..... ...

.. . . . .. ., ;.. ... . . . . .

. .. .......'. t.t. :: .:
.. ... ....... ..
....... ... . .;
........ ............. .
...... ..... .

......i ::::. :. :' ',:

:::... .:::::::. .... . ::::-.
......... ,. i. . ....... _____._

....... ..... .............. ... ....... ..

.. . .... ::::::::::::::::::::::::iiiiii~ii ::: ,, ,:::::: ::::::::::j .......... ..:. ......
........I...~..~.~.... o.~.. ...........~....... -I~iiiI.I~l~f~l~lII1II. ::::::::::::::::::::::::: ::l::::: ..... .... ................ ... .......

Figure 5-1 Masoray Loci at. Puerto ai. (Wilj.].iari 1986 reprtntec
with permiussion)


1 1 1 I i

-. . . . . . . . .

,, ' :.==' .' ... . . . . .. . . . . . . . .- L b a . . .

S . ... . . . . . . . . . . . . I . . : :. :. . A

:...... ............ ., .........
*GA R C N E . . . . . . . .. .. . .

S. . . . . . . . . . . . .
W N W N - ,. .. .

S. . . . .

S. . .

^ . . .

**'-_;a- . . . . . . . . ------ . . PUEBTO REA.. HA)TI
. . . . . . . .E .

. . .... . . .

0 ao 50 M

Figure 5-2 Location of Locus 19 (Williams 1986, reprinted mith


volume and type of ceramics in this locus suggested a

high status occupation dating to the second half of the

16th century. This would permit diachronic comparisons

with Loci 33 & 35, an early 16th century, high status

household, while controlling for economic status.

In addition to the SYMAP map, reference was made

to the contour map prepared by previous crews. The

areas outlined by the SYMAP were a good guide but still

were only able to localize the structural areas to

within half an acre. The contour maps permitted a

better on-site orientation for the excavator as well as

delineating suspicious, yet subtle topographic


The grid system employed at Locus 19 was merely an

extension of the grid established by Willis (1983:50)

who describes it as

modeled after the Universal Transverse
Mercator Grid System used on all geodetic
survey maps. It involves the use of
coordinates given in meters north and east of
an arbitrarily defined point to the south and
west of the outermost projected limits of the
site. The archaeological grid was angled 30
east of magnetic north to coincide as closely
as possible to the alignment of the Spanish
grid-town plan as suggested from the contour
map of Puerto Real.

Willis had also placed concrete markers at 80 m

intervals on the grid. Although some of these markers