Title: Journal of Caribbean archaeology
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00091746/00005
 Material Information
Title: Journal of Caribbean archaeology
Series Title: Journal of Caribbean archaeology
Alternate Title: JCA
Abbreviated Title: J. Caribb. archaelo.
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Publisher: Christopher Ohm Clement ;
Christopher Ohm Clement
William F. Keegan
Place of Publication: Gainesville FL
Publication Date: 2004
Frequency: annual
Subject: Archaeology -- Periodicals -- Caribbean Area   ( lcsh )
Antiquities -- Periodicals -- Caribbean Area   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
System Details: Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 1 (2000)-
General Note: Title from title screen (publisher's Web site, viewed Dec. 2, 2002).
General Note: Latest issue consulted: Vol. 5 (2004).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00091746
Volume ID: VID00005
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 003345617
oclc - 41077527
lccn - sn 99003684
issn - 1524-4776


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Journal ofO "v"""" y' 4',n,
I 776


Scott M. Fitzpatrick
Department of Sociology & Anthropology
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695

Quetta Kaye
Institute of Archaeology
University College London
31-34 Gordon Square, London, WCIH OPY
United Kingdom

Michiel Kappers
IN TERRIS Site Technics
T. Majofskistraat 25-3
1065 SR, Amsterdam
The Netherlands
michiel @in-terris.com

Recent archaeological survey on the island of Carriacou in the West Indies revealed
numerous sites that were heavily eroding and under threat of destruction by visitors, looters, or
developers. In an attempt to record these rapidly disappearing sites and provide the first
chronology for the island's prehistory, we collected samples for radiocarbon dating from the
Sabazan site on the eastern coast. Results suggest that the site was occupied intensively from
about AD 700-1130. These dates compare well with the only other dates from Carriacou and
nearby Union, indicating a strong post-Saladoid presence in the Grenadines.

Since the development of radiocarbon dating
in the 1940s, Caribbean archaeologists have
been working to construct and refine phases of
prehistoric Amerindian occupation and
associated artifact assemblages. Rouse (1963;
Rouse and Allaire 1978; Rouse and Alegria
1990; Rouse and Bullen 1978) and Bullen
(1964; Bullen and Bullen 1968, 1972; Bullen
and Sleight 1963) were instrumental in first
actively using radiocarbon dating in the region
for answering questions about prehistoric
settlement patterns and how artifacts, particularly

ceramics, changed through time. As a result of
their efforts and subsequent attempts by others
to develop chronologies for the West Indies, we
now have a better and more complete picture of
when the Caribbean was settled, subsequent
periods of occupation, and the cultural
developments that occurred over a period of at
least 6,000 years (Keegan 2000).

Unfortunately, although there has been an
increase in archaeological research in the West
Indies, it has primarily focused on those islands

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology 5, 2004

A Radiocarbon Sequence for the Sabazan Site

in the northern Antilles (e.g., Puerto Rico,
Antigua). The islands south of Martinique
remain understudied and the paucity of well
dated sites has resulted in chronological gaps
for the region. The lack of extensive dating is
surprising considering the number of
archaeological sites found here (Bullen and
Bullen 1968, 1972; Bullen and Sleight 1963;
Drewett 1991, 2000; Sutty 1990; Kaye et al.
2004) and the implications the southern Antilles
have for understanding the migration of both
Archaic and ceramic making peoples from
South America (Bullen 1964:1; Rouse 1986;
Keegan 2000).

To improve the information now available
about southern Antillean prehistory, we
conducted the first comprehensive
archaeological survey on the island of Carriacou
in the Grenadines. Our investigation revealed
multiple sites along the coastline that were
rapidly eroding due to storm, wave, and tidal
action, and active sand dredging by local
developers. One of our major research goals
was to determine the age of sites, especially
important because only one 14C date existed for
the island to document its antiquity. Based on
our assessments, we estimated that some of
these sites had a great likelihood of continuing
to succumb rapidly to both natural forces and
human induced destruction. This made the
recording and dating of these sites all the more
critical. The 14C dating of archaeological sites in
coastal and erosional environments during
survey has also shown to be an effective
technique for examining patterns of
palaeoenvironmental change, settlement and
demography, and site survival, among other
issues (Erlandson and Moss 1999). Following
this strategy, we collected several samples for
14C dating along an eroding coastal profile at the
Sabazan site.

In this paper, we report the first radiocarbon
chronology for Carriacou. Investigations at
Sabazan revealed exposed stratified profiles
stretching over 100 m along the coastline. To
provide a chronology for the site, we submitted a
suite of four radiocarbon dates from three

Fitzpatrick, Kaye and Kappers

distinct strata. Results suggest that the primary
occupation of the site was post-Saladoid, dating
from ca. AD 700-1130. These dates correspond
well with the only other dates (n=2) from
Carriacou and nearby Union Island (Bullen and
Bullen 1972).


Carriacou is located in the eastern Caribbean
approximately 250 km north of Venezuela and
30 km north of Grenada (Figure 1). The island
measures 10.4 km from north to south, 8.7 km
across at its widest point, and is roughly 32 km2
in area. Geologically, Carriacou is composed of
a mixture of volcanic lava and Miocene-aged
fossiliferous limestone that reach heights of up
to 290 m in both the island's northern and
southern half. Other nearby islands include
Petite Martinique, Petite Dominique, Petite St.
Vincent, Palm Island, and Union, only the latter
of which has been investigated archaeologically
(Bullen and Bullen 1972; losif Morovetz pers.

One of the first attempts to investigate
Carriacou and adjacent islands was by Fewkes
(1907:189-190) in 1904 who described the
artifacts found there as "among the finest West
Indian ware that has yet come to the
Smithsonian Institution." Intensive
archaeological research on the island, however,
has been limited. Bullen and Bullen (1972)
made a short trip to Carriacou and Union in the
1960s in which they collected artifacts and
excavated a foot thick "slice" from the coastal
profile at Sabazan. Sutty (1990) conducted a
more extensive survey of Carriacou and
recorded a number of sites with a wide array of
ceramic styles, some of which appeared to have
unique designs.

In March/April 2003, we systematically
surveyed nearly the entire coastline as well as
interior areas that were relatively flat or easily
accessible. We recorded 11 locations with
evidence for prehistoric occupation, six of which
had significant finds indicative of long-term
settlement (Kaye et al. 2004). Of these six sites,

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology 5, 2004

A Radiocarbon Sequence for the Sabazan Site

two (Sabazan and Grand Bay) had
extensive stratified coastal profiles
with abundant faunal remains, artifacts,
and hearth features that were heavily
eroding (Figure 2).1 To determine the
earliest occupation of the site and
subsequent periods of activity, we
obtained samples from Sabazan and
submitted them for radiocarbon dating.


Four samples were collected from
the profile at Sabazan and submitted to
two different laboratories for
radiocarbon dating. A charcoal sample
(OS-41358) was sent to the National
Oceanic Sciences Accelerator Mass
Spectrometry (NOSAMS) laboratory
in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and
three marine shell samples were sent to
Geochron Laboratories, Inc. in
Cambridge, Massachusetts for
conventional dating (GX-30423,
30424, 30425). The samples were
collected along one of the tallest
sections of the profile (50-51 m from
datum and slightly more than four
meters in height) from Layers 5, 6, and
7 (Figure 3). These strata had
abundant evidence of cultural remains Figure 1.
(e.g., pottery, food shell, fishbone, and recorded
charcoal) whereas Layer 8 had only minimal
1 During their brief visit in 1969, Bullen and Bullen
(1972:13) described Sabazan as "a small midden
presently being badly eroded by the sea.... (with) an
exposed vertical face over 20 feet (6 m) in length..." The
coastal profile at Sabazan now stretches over 100 m in
length along the coast, a testament to how the site has
degraded over time. Based on previous photographs
taken of the Grand Bay site between 1999 and 2003, we
estimate that it has been eroding at the alarming rate of
roughly one meter per year. Grand Bay and Sabazan are
also two of the largest sites found on the island with a
wide array of surface remains, including burials, that are
being washed out to sea. Piles of unwanted ceramics
scattered around these and other sites on Carriacou testify
to locals and/or tourists recently searching for and
actively collecting artifacts.

Fitzpatrick, Kaye and Kappers

Map of Carriacou with locations of prehistoric activity
during the 2003 survey.

shell and no obvious diagnostic artifacts or
visible features protruding from the profile. The
three strata were clustered together from roughly
1.5 m to 2.5 m in depth and were primarily
sandy clays with rich humic topsoils intermixed
with inclusions of coral rock debris (Figure 4).

The charcoal sample was dated using high
precision AMS and prepared using standard
pretreatment procedures, details of which can be
found on the NOSAMS web site
(www.nosams.whoi.edu). The shell samples
were cleaned thoroughly with an ultrasonic
cleaner. They were then leached thoroughly
with dilute HCI to remove additional sufficial
material which may have been altered, and to be

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology 5, 2004

A Radiocarbon Sequence for the Sabazan Site

" .- ---,-*..' .- -
S- T .

Figure 2. Looking east along Sabazan's coastal profile. -
Figure 2. Looking east along Sabazan's coastal profile.

sure only fresh carbonate material was used.
The cleaned shells were then hydrolyzed with
HCI under vacuum and the carbon dioxide
recovered for analysis (Geochron Labs report
27632, 2003).

All samples were calibrated at both 1 and 2o
using Calib 4.3 (Stuiver and Reimer 1993;
Stuiver et al. 1998). A local AR for shell in
Carriacou has not yet been determined so the
mean global reservoir correction (ca. 400 14C
years) was used (Stuiver et al. 1998).2
2 Few attempts have been made to determine local
marine reservoir effects in the Caribbean. Studies in the
Cariaco Basin, Venezuela (Hughen et al. 1996), Jamaica,
and the Bahamas (Broecker and Olsen 1961) suggest,
however, that the AR may be minimal. The regional
average for the Caribbean is now estimated to be around
-19 23, although this may change as further studies are
conducted (also see ).

Results and Discussion

The four radiocarbon dates from Sabazan
range in age from ca. AD 700 to 1130 (2o).
These statistically overlap with the sample
(RL29) collected by Bullen and Bullen
(1972:161) from a section of the same profile a
few meters east (cal. AD 890-1280 at 2o), and
from a single date on nearby Union dating to
cal. AD 670-1170 at 2o (Bullen and Bullen
1972:25, 77). It is notable that all three shell
dates statistically overlap at 2o despite coming
from three different strata. This does not,
however, necessarily suggest any date reversals;
it is quite possible these dates fall within the
proper stratigraphic arrangement and that the
strata represent distinct periods of habitation that
occurred over a period of 400 years or so. The
charcoal date (OS-41358) from Layer 6 does

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology 5, 2004

Fitzpatrick, Kaye and Kappers

A Radiocarbon Sequence for the Sabazan Site

Fitzpatrick, Kaye and Kappers

S North Wall Profile
March. 2003

100 cm

In sjtu
\ V --AD 890-1130
SCffatnurm pcai

-200 cm AD 700-890
(Strombus gigas)
in stu __,emt-- AD 980-1030
charcoal icharcoali
VII 4 --AD 800-1050
(Critarnum pica)
O dar, Diown seanty clay
ipollery, shelli
W1 tijn brown send
ino c~L cuel male na evKieni,
shylsh bio.w' sandy loan
300 cmn VIII achiock cobbles VpIlr*.
O dark ga' sand
taburdanr potler/. tome the. large* Cobbles)
-- dark brwon clayey sand
iro antacts e,>den sthel, some charcoal)
mod brown clayey sand
(abundant pollery, shell ftshbone. some charcoal
daily brown clayey Sand
.soie polner,. shell and flsl*one)
WV bght Bown sillmtsandy clay
(abundadi cobbles. cullal material?)
,,* charcoal
alih potleiy
400 cmn shell
,4o ?1stbono

Figure 3. Stratigraphic profile of Sabazan showing stratified deposits. It should
be noted that the cultural remains described above are only those observed in the
profile. It is likely that additional artifacts and ecofacts would be found during
subsurface testing. Layer 8 may correspond with Bullen and Bullen's (1972:14)
"yellow brown clay" where they found four Saladoid type sherds (1972:16). The
charcoal sample taken by Bullen and Bullen (1972:14, 17) in the "upper half of
midden" in "dark brown" soil dating to cal. AD 890-1280 is probably related to
our Layers V and/or VI; the 1"C samples we collected date to roughly the same
age range. However, given that these strata were not illustrated in detail by
Bullen and Bullen (1972:14), it is somewhat difficult to make more positive
correlations based on soil descriptions alone.

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology 5, 2004

A Radiocarbon Sequence for the Sabazan Site

not quite overlap the calibrated age range of the
shell date (GX-30424) from the same context,
but was extracted from a heavy charcoal
deposit. It is possible that this specimen came
from the later occupation in Layer 5 and was
introduced into Layer 6 from an intrusive
hearth feature, or that they are
contemporaneous and statistically meet at their
higher and lower age ranges (cal. AD 980 at

Bullen (1964:7, 38-52, 68-81; Bullen and
Bullen 1972:15-18) described a number of
different ceramic wares found in the southern
Lesser Antilles ranging from the earliest Insular
Saladoid or Pearls tradition (named after the
site in Grenada where it was first identified and
beginning, according to Bullen and Bullen
[1972:10], around 120 BC), to Modified
Saladoid (a.k.a. Simon series), Caliviny (ca.
AD 1000), and the later Suazey (i.e., Suazoid,
ca. AD 1200).3 Although it is beyond the
scope of this paper to describe these ceramic
typologies in detail, it should be noted that all
four general types were found during Bullen
and Bullen s (1972:16) excavation at Sabazan
(Figure 5), most of which were undecorated
and categorized as either Insular or Modified
Saladoid (see Bullen and Bullen 1972:15, Plate
I). Our purpose was not to excavate at Sabazan
3 Bullen (1964:38) classified various ceramic series
according to paste characteristics first, and then by other
features such as decoration, paint, and modeling. Thus, a
ceramics series includes all types having the same
temper. A ceramic complex includes all the types found
at a site or in a stratigraphic zone of a site (Bullen
1964:28). To codify the significance and elucidate the
geologic implications of the different paste types,
petrographic study of the sand tempers in thin section
would be useful (pers. comm., William R. Dickinson,
2003). This analysis is currently underway because
slight or even major temper, paste (L. Drewett 2000) and
chemical (Fitzpatrick 2000) variations in ceramics are
known to occur contemporaneously within the same site
or island in the Caribbean, as well as other parts of the
world (e.g., Fitzpatrick et al. 2003). Petrographic
analysis might then be able to identify culturally or
temporally distinctive trends in pottery manufacture that
were not observed in previous classificatory schemes.

Fitzpatrick, Kaye and Kappers

Figure 4. Coastal profile at Sabazan near where 14C
samples were collected.

or extract large quantities of material from
exposed strata. However, we did collect surface
remains during our clearing of the surface and
recorded a few sherds which were visible in the
profile (see Figures 3, 6, and 7).4 Examination
of photos taken of these artifacts by Mary Hill
Harris (Cambridge University; pers. comm.
2003) revealed an array of ceramic types (e.g.,
Saladoid and Suazoid) similar to those
described by Bullen and Bullen (1972:1318).
Overall, our investigation of the site (including
macroscopic analysis of sherds and recording of
stratified layers) suggest that Sabazan was
probably occupied by Saladoid peoples
sometime around the beginning of the first
All finds collected during the 2003 survey are currently
held at the Carriacou Museum and Historical Society.
We have created a preliminary catalog of the artifacts and
will continue analysis during the 2004 field season.

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology 5, 2004

A Radiocarbon Sequence for the Sabazan Site

A s
.. -


Figure 5. An area along the coastal profile at Sabazan (about 70 m east
of datum) where Bullen and Bullen (1972) likely excavated their "foot
thick slice."

millennium AD. The
radiocarbon dates,
however, indicate that
it was occupied more
intensively later in
time (post ca. AD
500). Excavation
planned at Grand Bay
in 2004 and future
work at Sabazan
should help to
establish when the
earliest settlers arrived
to Carriacou and
subsequent phases of
cultural activity.


This is the first
suite of radiocarbon
dates from Carriacou
to establish the
island's antiquity.
With the exception of
the Heywoods site on

Barbados (Drewett 1991:14,
2000:32-33, 165), Sabazan is the
most heavily dated archaeological
site between St. Lucia and
Trinidad. Prior to our research
there was only one other date for
the island which was collected
over 30 years ago (Bullen and
Bullen 1972:161). Although
additional dates are needed to
determine the exact chronology
for each stratified deposit, it
appears that Sabazan was
exclusively occupied post-AD 0
given the lack of cultural remains
observed in Layer 8 and a paucity
of surface artifacts with early
Cedrosan Saladoid attributes.
However, ceramics typical of the
Saladoid tradition (e.g., White-on-
Red [WOR]; Zonelncised

.I 03CAR000141
Figure 6. Saladoid type ceramic sherds collected from surface survey in Carriacou.
The adorno on the far right/center (number 87) was found at Sabazan and is
characteristic of other "Pearls" series artifacts found by Bullen (1964:Plates III and IV)
in Grenada, Carriacou, and Union (Bullen and Bullen 1972).

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology 5, 2004




Fitzpatrick, Kaye and Kappers

A Radiocarbon Sequence for the Sabazan Site

However, there are less
than 60 published
radiocarbon dates for
03CAR000140 this part of the
03CAR000089 03CAR000085 this part of the
that has the potential to
give great insight into
the initial movement of
Archaic and ceramic
making peoples from
South America into the
West Indies (Rouse
1986). This is
unfortunate and we
hope that as research
.3CAR0 40 continues in the
3CAR00091^ region, archaeologists
03CAR00091 recognize the need to
--m m_ - -m conduct extensive
radiocarbon dating
(particularly using the
AMS technique for
Figure 7. Saladoid type ceramics collected from surface survey in Carriacou (numbers greater precision) for
85, 89, and 91 were found at Sabazan). narrowing down age
ranges of typologically
Crosshatch [ZIC]) were observed on other parts distinctive artifacts and investigating a variety of
of the island at Grand Bay, Sparrow Bay, and regional issues. Our research thus far supports
Dover, and it is possible more conclusive the observation by researchers over the past four
evidence will also be found at Sabazan. Food decades (Bullen and Bullen 1972:154; Drewett
remains in the profile such as Strombus gigas, 1991) that there are very few, if any sites in the
Cittarium pica, and crab commonly found in Lesser Antilles with strong evidence for an
archaeological sites in the Lesser Antilles,
suggest that inhabitants exploited many of the 5 See Bullen (1964), Bullen and Bullen (1968:142, 1972:
same marine resources as those on adjacent 79, 94, 153-154), Olsen (1972), Rouse and Allaire
islands (e.g., Drewett 2000:148-153). Future (1978); Rouse (1989:397), Drewett (1989:99, 1991:14,
excavation beginning in 2004 should help 2000:32-33, 165), Rouse (1989:397), and Haviser
clarify the diversity of foods eaten by prehistoric (1997:60) for previously published dates from the
peoples on the island and how food collecting southern Lesser Antilles. Astonishingly, of the 53
and other cultural behaviors changed through widely reported dates for the region (excluding Trinidad
time. and Tobago; Fitzpatrick n.d.), 18 (34%) are from
Barbados, making the lack of radiocarbon dating for most
This research is also a testament to how islands in the region even more apparent. It is likely
radiocarbon dating has been sorely underused that more dates exist, but remain largely inaccessible or
by archaeologists working in the Caribbean. in widely scattered publications and unpublished reports.
Between Martinique and South America there The development of the Caribbean On-line Radiocarbon
are six major islands (St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Database for Archaeologists (CORDA; Fitzpatrick n.d.)
Vincent, Grenada, Tobago, and Trinidad) and is an effort to remedy this situation by collating "C
numerous smaller ones such as Carriacou with dates for the region. A prototype of this database is now
good evidence for past prehistoric settlement. under development and should be freely accessible to
researchers in late 2004.

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology 5, 2004

Fitzpatrick, Kaye and Kappers

A Radiocarbon Sequence for the Sabazan Site

initial Saladoid colonization (especially in the
form of 14C dates; Fitzpatrick n.d.). This is in
stark contrast to the northern West Indies where
the earliest Saladoid dates appear. This may lend
support to the hypothesis that peoples voyaging
from South America landed first in Puerto Rico
rather than the Lesser Antilles (Callaghan 2001;
Keegan 2000:138) and eventually migrated
south, not in the stepping stone pattern
northward as suggested by Rouse (1986) and

In conclusion, Erlandson and Moss
(1999:439) noted that for the western coast of
North America:

The alarmingly rapid loss of sites to
erosion, development, looting, and other
destructive processes strongly suggests
that we must do more to evaluate the age
of existing sites, placing them firmly in
both space and time before they are lost
forever. By placing a wider range of
sites in a well-defined chronological
framework, archaeologists may more
effectively evaluate the significance and
research potential of individual sites and
components.... Increasing the number
and percentage of 14C-dated sites within
a region also has the potential to enhance
the resolution of local and regional
chronologies and the utility of
chronological databases.

We would argue that a similar approach can be
an effective means for filling in the many
chronological gaps in Caribbean prehistory and
at the same time, encourage local communities,
outside researchers, and other interested parties
to preserve and protect these important, but
rapidly disappearing sites. Although
archaeologists in the Caribbean are fortunate to
have some ceramic typologies that are fairly
time-sensitive, enabling cultural chronologies to
be constructed, this does not preclude the
widespread use of radiocarbon dating for
helping us understand trends in island
settlement patterns and assigning age ranges for
artifacts and sites identified during survey or

Fitzpatrick, Kaye and Kappers

excavation. The construction of radiocarbon
chronologies for this part of the Caribbean will
ensure that the hypotheses we develop regarding
migration, settlement, and sociocultural changes
through time are fully testable, and that the
unique cultural traits which occurred in this
region are given the close attention they deserve.

Acknowledgements. We would particularly like to thank
the Grenada Ministry of Tourism for granting us
permission to conduct the 2003 survey on Carriacou.
Local agencies including the Carriacou Historical
Society and the Tourist Offices greatly assisted with
planning efforts. The investigation could not have been
done without help from Claudia Kraan and Esther Mietes
(archaeologists, The Netherlands) and students from the
University of Oregon. The radiocarbon dating of
samples submitted to Geochron Laboratories, Inc. was
made possible by a 2003 Research Award to Fitzpatrick.
We greatly appreciate the comments made by
Christopher 0. Clement, William F. Keegan, and
anonymous reviewers on previous drafts of this paper,
and for helping us to bring this article to publication.


RL-29. Sabazan 940 100
813C = unknown
This determination was obtained from wood charcoal in a
midden deposit (Bullen 1972:161). Calibrated date range
at lo: AD 1000-1220; 2a: 890-1280.

OS-41358. Sabazan 1030 30
813C = 23.9%
This determination was obtained from wood charcoal
(0.5 g) in Layer 6 at a depth of approximately 210 cmbs.
Calibrated date ranges at lo: AD 990-1020; 2a: 980-

GX-30423. Sabazan 1400 60
813C = 2.4%
This determination was obtained from a C. pica shell
(11.0 g) in Layer 5 at a depth of approximately 160
cmbs. Calibrated date ranges at lo: AD 960-1050; 20:

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology 5, 2004

A Radiocarbon Sequence for the Sabazan Site

GX-30425. Sabazan 1460 60
813C = 2.5%
This determination was obtained from a C. pica shell
(24.8 g) in Layer 7 at a depth of approximately 230
cmbs. Calibrated date ranges at lo: AD 890-1020; 2o:

GX-30424. Sabazan 1570 60
"13C = 0.2%
This determination was obtained from a S. gigas shell
(8.4 g) in Layer 6 at a depth of approximately 210 cmbs.
Calibrated date ranges at lo: AD 760-900; 2a: 690-980.

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