• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Preface
 Crossing the Caribbean Sea: Towards...
 What is the Caribbean? An archaeological...
 The similarity trap: Engineering...
 Something for nothing: Exploring...
 Ancient Maya canoe navigation and...
 Crossing the Galleons’ passage:...
 Modelling mobility and exchange...
 Boundary-work, reputational systems,...
 Crossing the Caribbean Sea and...














Title: Journal of Caribbean archaeology
ALL VOLUMES CITATION
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00091746/00012
 Material Information
Title: Journal of Caribbean archaeology
Series Title: SPARC (Organization)
Uniform Title: Journal of Caribbean archaeology (Online)
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: 2010
Frequency: annual
regular
 Subjects
Subjects / Keywords: Archaeology -- Periodicals -- Caribbean Area   ( lcsh )
Antiquities -- Periodicals -- Caribbean Area   ( lcsh )
Genre: Electronic journals   ( lcsh )
Electronic journals.
periodical   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Restriction: Licensed for access by authorized UF users (current UF students, faculty and staff -- and others within a UF Library.) Some e-journal service providers may offer only selected articles.
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: VID00012
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
Classification: lcc - F1614 .J68
ddc - 932

Table of Contents
    Preface
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Crossing the Caribbean Sea: Towards a holistic view of pre-colonial mobility and exchange
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
    The similarity trap: Engineering the greater-Caribbean, a perspective from the Isthmo-Colombian area
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
    Something for nothing: Exploring the importance of strong reciprocity in the greater Caribbean
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
    Ancient Maya canoe navigation and its implications for classic to postclassic Maya economy and sea trade: A view from the south coast of Belize
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
    Crossing the Galleons’ passage: Amerindian interaction and cultural (dis)unity between Trinidad and Tobago
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
    Modelling mobility and exchange in pre-Columbian Cuba: GIS led approaches to identifying pathways and reconstructing journeys from the archaeological record
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
    Boundary-work, reputational systems, and the delineation of prehistoric insular Caribbean culture history
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
    Crossing the Caribbean Sea and tracking intellectual history: A discussion
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
Full Text





Journal ofCarrbbeanArchaeology
Copynght 2010


TO WARDS A PAN-CARIBBEAN PERSPECTIVE OF
PRE-COLONIAL MOBILITY AND EXCHANGE:
PREFACE TO A SPECIAL VOLUME OF
THE JOURNAL OF CARIBBEAN
ARCHAEOLOGY

Special editors:
Corinne L. Hofma~n and Alistair J. Bright
Faculty ofArchaeology
Leiden University
P. O. Box 9515
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlan2ds


On a micro-scale, there has been evi-
dence of intensive interaction between peo-
ples throughout the Caribbean archipelago
for many years. Recently though, increas-
ing evidence has come to light to suggest
that these relationships extended over far
larger areas, bridged greater distances and
variably intersected one another more than
had been previously anticipated. Conceiv-
ing of the wider Caribbean as a circum-
Caribbean region (Antilles, coastal South
America, southern Caribbean islands,
Isthmo-Colombian area and coastal Central
America) inhabited by a multitude of pre-
Colonial Amerindian communities, is to
render (at least conceptually) the region a
variegated yet cohesive entity, and lend it a
degree of commonality and shared identity.
In so doing, actors and contact lines should
be identified, any of which could represent
pivotal nodes within what may amount to a
pan-Caribbean network system made up of
larger as well as smaller interlocked or in-
dependent interaction spheres, in which
people, goods and ideas moved. Such a
broad, regional take on the prehistory of
the wider Caribbean should not only pro-
vide a holistic view of the patterns of mate-
rial interaction in the area, but, by expand-


ing the scale of analysis, we are opening
the door to exploring hitherto under)
considered long-distance inter-societal en-
gagements between the inhabitants of the
islands and those of the surrounding conti-
nental regions. This would in turn invite (if
not demand) us to speculate on how to con-
ceptualize the potential engagements be-
tween communities with different levels of
socio-political complexity over great dis-
tances and over long periods of time. In
this spirit of scalar expansion and horizon-
gazing, an international conference session
was conceived to explicitly explore the
themes of mobility and exchange within
the circum-Caribbean region.

We are grateful to Chris O. Clement and
William F. Keegan for giving us the oppor-
tunity to publish in this special issue of the
Journal of Caribbean Archaeology the
fruits of the exciting and wide ranging ses-
sion entitled 'Mobility and exchange from
a Pan-Caribbean perspective', held at the
2008 Society of American Archaeology
(SAA) meetings in Vancouver, Canada.
The original session encompassed sixteen
presentations by scholars specialised in the
archaeology of the Caribbean and Central


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Towards a pan-Caribbean perspective ofpre-Colonial mobility and exchange


Hofman and Bright


America, i.e., John Hoopes, David Watters,
Mary-Jane Berman, Sam Wilson, Jose
Oliver, Alexander Geurds, Reniel
Rodriguez Ramos, Jago Cooper, Roberto
Valcarcel Rojas, Jorge Ulloa-Hung, Laura
Wingfield, Angus Mol, Laura van Broek-
hoven, Corinne Hofman, Alistair Bright,
John Crock, William Keegan and Peter
Siegel. This compilation represents a selec-
tion of synthesizing papers of both local
and regional studies addressing the topics
of mobility and exchange from a pan-
Caribbean perspective. Contributions from
the various areas skirting the Caribbean
Sea provide a panorama of the dynamics of
human mobility and the distribution of
goods and ideas across the circum-
Caribbean region through time. It is our
conviction that comparing developments
throughout the macro-region is important
regardless of whether there was actual con-
tact between all of its inhabitants or not.
Only in this manner can the full range of
social dynamics and mechanisms at play in
the Caribbeanscape be demonstrated.

Corinne L. Hofman, Alistair J. Bright and
Reniel Rodriguez Ramos explore the par-
ticipation of pre-Colonial Amerindian com-
munity members in interaction networks of
human mobility and exchange of goods and
ideas. They propose a multi-disciplinary
and multi-scalar approach to evaluate the
structure through time of these social net-
works, examining various lines of evidence
in the process. The focus in their contribu-
tion is on the larger archipelagic and re-
gional scale.
Reniel Rodriguez Ramos makes a case
for considering the Greater Caribbean as a
geohistorical area of study, and bolsters
this proposal by referring to the long-term
macro-regional interactions evident in the
circulation of jadeitite and social j ade.


Alexander Geurds and Laura van Broekho-
ven present data from a surface survey con-
ducted in central Nicaragua, which they
analyze for indications of political power
as well as ritual economic activity. By
merging analytical frameworks they look at
how strategic choices are made and reflect
a society's intent and subsequent level of
success in fitting into local social structures
as well as forming part of extra-local ex-
change networks.
Angus A.A. Mol reconsiders the expec-
tations that exchange entails reciprocity,
i.e., a gift and a countergift. Concentrating
on the social value of things instead of their
economical value, he proposes that certain
Caribbean shell artifacts, known as
guaiza~s, were given, but not necessarily
reciprocated.
Heather McKillop evaluates ancient
Maya economy and sea trade networks on
the basis of data stretching from the Pre-
classic to Postclassic, incorporating in her
discussion the Butterfly Wing shell midden
and the trading ports of Moho Cay and
Wild Cane Cay. The seafaring skills, ma-
rine trading networks, coastal adaptation
and exploitation of marine resources exhib-
ited by the Maya further tie them to other
ancient peoples inhabiting the circum-
Caribbean region.
Arie Boomert raises a cautionary note to
discussions of inter-island connectivity by
detailing how the convergence between the
neighboring islands of Trinidad and To-
bago during the Saladoid epoch of pan-
Caribbean cultural unity rapidly disinte-
grated after about AD 700/800. His paper
charts the patterns of Amerindian interac-
tion and communication across the Galle-
ons' Passage between Trinidad and Tobago
during Late Ceramic times and attempts to
appreciate the post-Saladoid cultural re-
alignment of the two islands and its conse-
quences.


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Towards a pan-Caribbean perspective ofpre-Colonial mobility and exchange


Hofman and Bright


Jago Cooper models movement and ex-
change between pre-Columbian sites in the
island of Cuba through GIS based cluster
analyses, viewshed analyses, surface cost
maps and simulated journey models. His
analyses suggest that in some cases, marine
or riverine based transport and interaction
would have been favoured over more time-
consuming or inefficient land based move-
ment. Furthermore, he provides hypotheses
for the nature of interaction between
coastal and offshore sites, and between
coastal and interior sites.
William F. Keegan explores how the
concepts of boundary work and reputa-
tional systems have been used to delimit
and structure the investigation of popula-
tion movement in the prehistoric insular
Caribbean. His inquiry demonstrates that
representations of prehistoric population
movements are a product of historical con-
tingencies within the discipline of Carib-
bean archaeology and not necessarily an
accurate portrait of human migrations into
and within the islands.
Peter Siegel rounds off the compilation
with a thoughtful, critical appraisal of the
papers and a number of themes that are
raised in them, principally the history of
ideas or reception of past Caribbean re-
search, geographic scales of analysis, and
modes of interaction.

In closing, we would like to acknowledge
Scott Fitzpatrick and an anonymous re-
viewer for their useful comments on the
papers submitted for publication in this
special issue. We also wish to express our
thanks to Alex Geurds for correcting all
Spanish abstracts, to Benoit Roux for cor-
recting all French abstracts, and to Anne
van Duijvenbode and Hayley Mickleburgh
for assisting with checking the copy proofs.


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Journal of Caribbean Archaeology
Copynght 2010
ISSN 1524-477o

CROSSING THE CARIBBEAN SEA:
TOWARDS A HOLISTIC VIEW OF
PRE-COLONIAL MOBILITY AND EXCHANGE

Corinne L. Hofmnan
Faculty ofArchaeology
Leiden thriversity
P. O. Box 9515
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands
c. 1.hofman~arch. leidenuniv. n!

Alistair J. Bright
Kaiserstraat 10
2311 GR Leiden
The Netherlands


Reniel Rodriguez RamRRRRRRRR~~~~~~~~~os
thriversidadddddddddd~ddddd de Puerto Rico
Recinto de Utuado
Progranza de Ciencias Sociales
PO Box 2500
Utuado, Puerto Rico 00641-2500
reniel. rodriguez@upr. edu


Abstract
Pre-Colonial Caribbean conanunities participated in intensive interaction networks of hu-
man mobility and exchange of goods and ideas, guided by their cosmovision, technology,
and socio-political organization. The urge to garner status, which reflected on the group and
the individual, and the desire for access to a myriad of materials and products formed im-
portant motivations for articulating pre-Colonial interaction circuits. Through the adoption
of a naulti-disciplinary perspective, this paper seeks to develop a holistic view on the opera-
tion of interaction networks) across a wide, socio-politically diverse region between 6000
BC and the early Colonial period. The adoption of a diachronic, nzacro-geographic perspec-
tive will help evaheate the structure through time of these social networks at archipelagic
and pan-Caribbean scales.

Rdsumd'
Guides par leur vision du cosmos, leur technologies et leur organ2isation sociopolitique, les
populations prdhistoriques de la Carai'be se sont inscrites dansddddd~~~~~~~dddddd des rdseaux d'interaction de
nzobilitd et d'dchanges de biens et d'iddes. Le besoin d'acquirir un statut refldtant l'identitd
conanunautaire et individuelle, ainsi que le ddsir d'accider c't une grande quantity de matd-
riaux et de products, ont constitute en soi des motivations insportantes. Suivant une approche


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


pluridisciplinaire, cet article tente de ddvelopper une vision holistique des modalitis de
fonctionnement de ce(s) rdseau(x) d'interaction au sein d'une vaste region, socialement et
politiquement hitdrogine, entire 6 000 av. J.-C. et les debuts de la pdriode colonial. Le
choix d'une approche macro-gdoguraphique et diachronique devrait permettre d'dvaluer la
structure de ces rdseaux sociaux sur un temps long et h une double dchelle, archipdlagique
et pan-caribdenne.

Resumen
Los miembros de la comunidad prehist~dd~~dd~~dd ric caribeha participaron en la red de interaccidn
de movilidaddddddd~ddddddddd humana e intercamnbio de mercancias e ideas, guiados por su cosmovisidn,
tecnologia y organ2izacidn sociopolitica. La ansia de obtener status, de modo a definir la
identidaddddd~ddddddddddd del grupo y del individuo, y el deseo de tener acceso a diferentes materials y
products, formaron motivaciones importantes para articular circuitos de interaccidn
precolonial. A travis de adoptar una perspective multi-disciplina~ria, este articulo intenta
desarroll arllll111~~~~~~~ una perspective holistica a la jimncionamniento de la red o de las redes de
interaccidn a travis de una dmplia region de diversidadddddddddddddddd sociopolitica entire 6000 a. C. y el
comienzo del period colonial. La adopcidn de una pespectiva geogrdfica dmplia y
diacrdnica ayudar~~dd~dddddddddddd evaluar la estructura de estas redes sociales en escalas archipeldgica~s y
pan-caribeha~s a travis del tiempo.


Communities in interaction
The highly variegated pre-Colonial Car-
ibbean (is)1andscape, always had a dy-
namic, inter-connected character thanks to
the maritime orientation of its native
(Amerindian) inhabitants and the region-
wide interaction networks they maintained.
It is now commonly accepted that human
islanders were never socially isolated ex-
cept in very extreme cases, but rather that
the sea likely functioned as an 'aquatic mo-
torway', a plane that the islanders would
have traversed frequently, despite its occa-
sional unpredictability (e.g., Boomert and
Bright 2007; Broodbank 2002; Fitzpatrick
(ed.) 2004; Rainbird 2007). Seen from this
perspective, the Caribbean Sea actually
linked communities instead of separating
them, encouraging (micro-)regional mobil-
ity and exchange (e.g., Berman and
Gnivecki 1995; Hofman et al. 2007;
Keegan and Diamond 1987; Watters and
Rouse 1989). Indeed, the pre-Colonial peo-
ples of continental regions of Central and
South America, having learned the skill of


seafaring, were able to move directly
across the Caribbean Sea and between is-
land passages as early as around 6000 BC
(Callaghan 2001; Febles 1991; Wilson et
al. 1998). The success of these early migra-
tions and of later settlement and establish-
ment of interaction networks undoubtedly
depended greatly on the maintenance of
contacts with the 'homeland(s)' and be-
tween communities throughout the region
(Hofman et al. in press). These linkages or
'lifelines' would have acted as a safety net,
crucial in times of environmental or social
hazards, by ensuring that demographically
unstable fledgling colonies would have suf-
ficient access to suitable marriage partners
(Keegan 2004; Kirch 2000; Moore 2001).
Upon first contact in 1492, the native
inhabitants of the Caribbean astonished the
Europeans with their voyaging skills and
the elaborate interaction networks they
maintained. Moreover, the Europeans were
impressed by the high speed at which ex-
change objects were introduced into and
circulated within these networks. As Chris-


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


topher Columbus noted in the diary of his
first voyage, barely 72 hours after making
landfall in the Americas:

"Mlondaly, October 15 [...]
and while I was between these
two islands i.e., Santa Maria
[Rum Cay] and this large one
which I named Fernandina
[Long Island], I met a man
alone in a pirogue [canoe]
going fr~om the island of Santa
Maria to Fernandina. He had
aI ithr him a small loafJ the size
of his fist, a gourd of water,
some red earth ground into
powder and made into paste,
and some dried leaves, which
these people must greatly
prize, for they presented me
some of it on San Salvador.
He had also a basket made in
thelir native fashion in which
he had a small string of glass
beads and two blan2cas
[Spanish coins]. From these
thrings I knew that he had
come fr~om the island of San
Salvador, had touched Santa
Maria and was now going to
Fernandina".

Irving Rouse (1951, 1992), one of the
founding fathers of Caribbean archaeology,
advanced the perspective of interacting is-
land communities as early as the 1950s. In
positing that islands are not isolated con-
texts where cultures evolve without exter-
nal influence, he defined several geo-
cultural spaces (so-called passage areas)
that acknowledged interaction between
neighboring islands, yet envisaged little or
no interactions with the adjacent continen-
tal regions after Ceramic Age settling with
the exception of northeastern South Amer-
ica, the supposed Orinocan 'homeland' of


neo-Indian Antillean cultures. Thus Rouse
opposed the concept of a 'Circum-
Caribbean culture area', which united the
Caribbean and Intermediate culture areas in
terms of parallel socio-political develop-
ments (Steward 1947).2
Instead, following a specific framework
of cultural taxonomy, cultural diffusion
was envisioned as the outcome of popula-
tion movement or migration, drawing on a
combination of archaeological, linguistic
and physical anthropological research.
With the exception of some Lithic and Ar-
chaic Age peoples, the Caribbean archipel-
ago was determined to have been settled
from the mainland of South America in a
phased, stepping-stone manner (see Curet
2005 for an extensive review of this issue).
This perspective resulted in a diachronic
focus on island settlement instead of a syn-
chronic perspective on inter-community
communication and exchange.
Various hypotheses were subsequently
advanced to understand the motivations
and mechanisms underlying migrations.
Push and pull factors were invoked, with
warfare and population pressure in the
lands of origin on the one hand and the
economic attractiveness of the insular terri-
tories on the other (Siegel 1991). Oppor-
tunism and flexibility were suggested to be
inherent traits by which people were able
to move into the Antilles through adapta-
tion to the available resources. Recently, an
Arawakan diaspora has been proposed
(Heckenberger 2002). Migration in this
sense is viewed as a unilinear event at the
macro-scale of cultures or supra-cultures
(known as series and subseries) and not
traceable at the micro-scale of local groups
identifiable by styles or complexes. Fur-
thermore, the mental template of a sole ori-
gin for Ceramic Age island populations in
northeastern South America still con-
strained these contributions, leaving poten-
tial macro-regional connections with other


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010









Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


neighboring continental areas like coastal
Central America, Colombia and western
Venezuela unconsidered (Rodriguez
Ramos and Pagan Jimenez 2006; Wilson
2007).

Shifting paradigms
Recently, a multi-linear, reticulate model
for island settlement and communication
networks has been proposed that departs
from the traditional unilinear view of mi-
gration (Callaghan 2003; Keegan 2004;
Hofman et al. 2007, Fitzpatrick 2009;
Rodriguez Ramos 2007). In addition, the
paradigm has shifted away from establish-
ing cultural frameworks and pinpointing
migration events and large population
movements towards analysing the proc-
esses underlying human mobility and mate-
rial culture distributions (e.g., Boomert
2000; Hofman et al. 2007; Keegan and
Maclachlan 1989) as well as focusing on
social organi sati on to explain culture
changes and shifting interaction spheres
(e.g., Crock and Petersen 2004; Curet and
Oliver 1998; Hofman and Hoogland 2004;
Siegel 1999).3 In this perspective migration
is regarded primarily as a continuous proc-
ess of mobility involving, amongst others,
exploratory expeditions, small-scale move-
ment of local groups and colonization from
various parts of continental America
(Rodriguez Ramos 2007; Ulloa Hung and
Valcarcel Rojas 2002)4, activity-driven or
seasonal mobility and movement between
communities triggered by marriage alli-
ances, feasting, and enmity.5 Taken to-
gether, these multi-scalar forms of mobility
give rise to complex networks within
which people move, circulate, and ex-
change goods and ideas. Exchange can thus
be regarded as the reciprocal movement of
(im)material goods through human interac-
tion embedded in a complex web of symbi-
otic social relationships and meanings
(Hofman et al. 2007). Apart from ensuring


demographic fitness, permitting access to a
range of basic needs and promoting the for-
mation and maintenance of socio-political
alliances through marriage and ritual ser-
vices, exchange is a form of communica-
tion. The exchange of utilitarian wares and
socially valued goods would for instance
frequently be accompanied by the sharing
of myths, tales, songs, dances, ritual
knowledge and experience, embedded in
native cosmovision.6 Seen in this light, we
would fully expect the maintaining of
'symbiotic relationships', initially between
Archaic and Ceramic Age communities
and later between Ceramic Age communi-
ties originating from the disparate areas
facing the Caribbean Sea.

A pan- Caribbean perspective
Such a new paradigm necessitates the re-
evaluation of the trans-Caribbean vectors
of interaction from a multi-scalar perspec-
tive.7 Archaeological evidence suggests
that we need to view the wider Caribbean
or circum-Caribbean region as potentially
one large arena within which Amerindians
could have established and maintained lo-
cal and regional circuits of mobility and
exchange as they traversed water passages
and islands, without downplaying their cul-
tural, social, biological, or linguistic par-
ticularities.8 This pan-Caribbean approach
demands a pan-regional, diachronic, multi-
scalar and cross-culturally comparative
perspective on mobility and exchange be-
tween manifold communities with varying
forms of socio-political organisation. In the
following examples focus will be laid on
the diachronic social dynamics and mecha-
nisms at play throughout the larger arena of
the Caribbean Sea. This is not to downplay
the importance of the synchronic develop-
ments at the local scale of the community
but rather to highlight the overarching set-
ting in which local communities (inter)
acted, forming variably interlocking larger


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


and smaller networks of mobility and ex-
change.

Archaeological lines of evidence
Increasingly in the last few years, evi-
dence has surfaced for a myriad of regional
interactions between the Antilles and conti-
nental America (see also Figure 1). Contact
lines between the Antilles, Colombia, and
Central America (Harlow et al. 2006, but
see Garcia-Casco et al. 2009 for counter
arguments; Newsom and Wing 2004;
Rodriguez Ramos 2007), exchanges be-
tween the Antilles and lower Central
America (Rodriguez Ramos 2007; Sued-
Badillo 1979), links between Puerto Rico,
the Dominican Republic and Cuba on the
one hand and Colombia on the other
(Cooper et al. 2008; Rodriguez Ramos and
Pagan Jimenez 2006; Siegel and Severin


1993; Valcarcel Rojas and Rodriguez
2003), connections between the Antilles,
the southern Caribbean islands and lower
Central America (Rodriguez Ramos 2007;
Veloz Maggiolo and Angulo Valdez 1982;
Versteeg 1999) and between the southern
Caribbean islands and the hinterland of
central Venezuela (Antczak 1998) have all
recently been advanced. These interactions
also include those between the Antilles and
northeastern South America and between
the Greater and Lesser Antilles that were
established at an earlier stage (e.g., Allaire
1999; Boomert 2000; Curet 2005; Helms
1987; Hofman and Hoogland 2004;
Keegan and Maclachlan 1989; Versteeg
1999; Watters and Scaglion 1994; Zucchi
1991). While these specific studies have
provided positive evidence of contacts be-
tween various areas across the Caribbean


L~ j


Figure 1. The dynamics of mobility and exchange at play across the Caribbean Sea during precolonial and early
Colonial times illustrating the diversity of interaction networks active at multiple scales (object photographs
courtesy of Roberto Valc~rcel Rojas, Alice Samson, Alistair Bright, Arie Boomert, Menno Hoogland, map
drafted by Menno Hoogland and Alistair Bright after an original by Corinne Hofman).


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


Sea, they almost exclusively provide evi-
dence for a one-way traffic into the insular
Caribbean. As such, the available data are
in many cases too fragmentary and limited
in scope to unravel the intricacies of human
mobility, regional communication net-
works and the reciprocal mechanisms un-
derlying them. Joint consideration of de-
tailed studies of non-local signatures in hu-
man skeletal remains, provenancing of
source areas and raw materials as well as
the study of shared iconographic themes
has the potential to furnish a more compre-
hensive, well-founded framework of mo-
bility and exchange throughout the circum-
Caribbean and possibly, pan-Caribbean
exchanges. This potential will now be
highlighted through the examination of a
number of case studies within the realm of
the three research themes mentioned above.

Biogeochemical analysis of human skeletal
remains
In recent decades the development of
various biogeochemical methods has al-
lowed inferring patterns of mobility and
migration from the archaeological record.
Recent studies of ancient-DNA and of mor-
phological traits of human skeletal remains
from the Caribbean have proved that mi-
gratory movements took place from
mainland South America into the Antillean
archipelago and from northwestern Vene-
zuela into the southern Caribbean islands,
as evidenced by a study on recent DNA on
Aruba (Lalueza-Fox et al. 2003; Toro-
Labrador 2003). However, genetic research
has yet to be refined so as to either include
or rule out other areas of origin of the is-
land populations such as Central America.9
More recently, studies of strontium iso-
topes have also proved to be successful in
determining past movements, geographic
origins and cultural affinity (Booden et al.
2008). Results from biogeochemical analy-
sis combined with demographic data as


well as information on mortuary practices,
palaeopathology, distribution of diseases
(for example the spread of the Treponema
bacteria), health conditions and diet pro-
vide a solid base for the interpretation of
social relationships and mobility through-
out the region.
Strontium isotopes vary regionally ac-
cording to a limited number of factors and
as strontium can often be found in a variety
of archaeological materials such as human,
faunal, and plant remains this approach has
widespread utility. A database is currently
being created with local signatures ob-
tained from plant, faunal and geological
samples in order to establish a baseline for
the measurements of the human remains
from assemblages across the Caribbean
(Laffoon and Hoogland 2009). The Carib-
bean coast of Central America remains a
blank spot as not many skeletal assem-
blages are available from that area to date.
Strontium isotope analysis carried out on
skeletal remains from the archaeological
site of Anse a la Gourde (AAG), located on
the limestone island of Grande Terre, Gua-
deloupe, has revealed that at least one
fourth of the population was non-local.
The site was inhabited between AD 500
and 1400, but the major occupation con-
centrates between AD 1000 and 1400.
Thus far 24 round and oval house struc-
tures have been documented surrounded by
an oval shaped midden (Hofman et al.
2001; Morsink 2006). The houses vary be-
tween eight and twelve meters in diameter
and the habitation area also served as a bur-
ial ground. Eighty-three burials containing
103 individuals have been found in and
around the houses, suggesting the repeated
interment of ancestors close to and among
the living. Burials occur in clusters and
mortuary practices are varied and complex.
The maj ority of the burials was inhumed in
a flexed position, which is characteristic of
Late Ceramic Age burial assemblages. Ma-


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


nipulation of the bones after decomposition
of the weak parts indicates that the graves
were left open after interment of the dead
persons and emphasized the role ancestors
played in day-to-day social life (Hoogland
et al. 1999).
The strontium values of 28% of the
AAG individuals do not match the values
of the island of Grande Terre, indicating
that they spent their childhood in another
island (Hoogland and Hofman 2010). On
the basis of their strontium isotope hetero-
geneity, it is unlikely that they represent
one single group of migrants. The non-
local indivi dual s, randomly di stributed
over the habitation area, mainly consist of
females. This trend may be indicative of a
preference for virilocal residence. It is
noteworthy that tools and ornaments manu-
factured from non-local materi al s
(greenstone and calci-rudite from St. Mar-
tin and flint from Antigua) were only found
in the grave inventory of non-local fe-
males. One of the female burials was found
with more than 1000 shell beads on her
pelvis. The beads were manufactured from
Eustrombus gigas shell, but as no produc-
tion debris was found at the site, it is as-
sumed that the beads were also imported
from another place. The unique occurrence
of non-local females buried with non-local
grave goods may offer a rare insight into
direct transmission, i.e., the transporting of
material culture directly by the people con-
cerned as opposed to a down-the-line ex-
change of goods.

Provenancing source areas and' raw
materials
The varied geological make-up of the
circum-Caribbean region means that the
distribution of various natural resources,
such as lithics, clays, pottery temper mate-
rials, shell, fiber and wood differs from is-
land to island and between the various con-
tinental regions. Over the past decades, ar-


chaeometric research (e.g., X-Ray Fluores-
cence (XRF), X-Ray Diffraction (XRD),
Inductively coupled plasma Mass Spec-
trometry (ICP-MS) and Instrumental Neu-
tron Activation Analysis (INAA) has posi-
tively identified the provenance areas of a
number of pre-Colonial artifacts from the
Caribbean (e.g., Descantes et al. (eds)
2008; Fitzpatrick et al. 2009a; Harlow et al.
2006; Knippenberg 2006; see Hofman et
al. 2008 for a summary).
This research implies that raw materials
and finished products circulated within a
vast network, underpinned by direct pro-
curement at the source but also by exten-
sive exchange of semi-finished or finished
objects. In a number of cases we may also
assume that the communities who had ac-
cess to certain raw materials became spe-
cialized in the manufacture of certain
goods over others, as has been ethno-
graphically documented among many low-
land South-American groups (cf. Butt
Colson 1973). Also, as on the continent,
social mechanisms aimed at maintaining
relationships between communities must
have been an important factor in the ex-
change of goods.
There is ample evidence that exchange
of various materials occurred within the
archipelago and also between the Greater
and Lesser Antilles at different points in
time. We also have confirmation that ce-
ramics, lithics and guanin (gold-copper al-
loy) objects as well as tools and ornaments
of coral, shell and bone reached the islands
from continental America and vice versa
(Boomert 2000; Cooper et al. 2008;
Rodriguez Ramos 2007). There are exam-
ples of ornaments made of armadillo, opos-
sum, deer and jaguar bone, there are shell
objects of the Unionidae family (a fresh
water mollusk possibly endemic to the riv-
erine environments of mainland Vene-
zuela) and a large number of exotic beads
and pendants are found on the islands made


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


of semi-precious stones (agate, amber,
amethyst, aventurine, barite, camelian,
malachite, nephrite, and olivine among oth-
ers) not indigenous to these islands
(Boomert 2000; Fitzpatrick et al. 2009b;
Grouard 2001; Serrand 2001). In the same
vein there is evidence that Eustrombus gi-
gas shells (botutos) from the southern Car-
ibbean islands were transported to the hin-
terland of central Venezuela to be ex-
changed with inland communities (Antczak
1998).
Initially, X-Ray diffraction analysis of
(fragments of) jadeite axes or adzes from
the Lesser Antilles suggested that either the
raw material itself or objects manufactured
from this material were transported from
Central America (i.e., Guatemala) into the
islands (Harlow et al. 2006). However, the
recent discovery of jadeite sources in Cuba
and Hispaniola decreases the likelihood of
a Central American connection and rather
points to a Greater Antillean origin (i.e.,
Garcia Casco et al. 2009; Rodriguez
Ramos, this issue). Similar adzes have been
found throughout the Greater and Lesser
Antilles both during the Early and Late Ce-
ramic Ages suggesting that a vast network
existed in which these obj ects circulated.
Petrographic analysis also positively
identified Guyanese affiliation of the Cayo
ceramics in the Windward Islands of the
Lesser Antilles. Additional confirmation of
the South American origin of this pottery is
found in its stylistic affiliations to Koriabo
ceramics of that area of the mainland and
in part of it being tempered with caraipe,
the burned bark of the South American
'kwepi' tree (Licania sp.), which does not
occur on the islands. Cayo pottery in the
Windward Islands is dated to the late pre-
Colonial and early Colonial periods and
has been found from Grenada to Basse
Terre, Guadeloupe. Cayo pottery has been
correlated with the so-called Kallinago or
Island Carib, whose presence in the south-


ern portion of the Lesser Antilles during
the Late Ceramic Age is debated, though
they are certainly firmly established by the
early Colonial period, as described in the
ethnohi stori cal sources (Allaire 1984;
Boomert 1986).
A last case-study concerns XRF analysis
on a number of gold and guanin objects
from the Greater Antilles. Fragments of
hammered ornaments made of a gold
Placerr gold) and pendants made of a gold-
copper alloy or guan2in are known from
Puerto Rico and Vieques from Saladoid
times onwards and from the Dominican
Republic and Cuba from the Late Ceramic
Age (see Cooper et al. 2008). Combined
archaeometric and iconographic analysis
confirmed the origin of some of the guanin
pieces on the South American mainland
(Colombia) and they probably reached the
Greater Antilles via Central America. Two
main areas of origin have been pinpointed
for the Cuban guanin in Colombia, namely
Tairona and Zenu. A similar piece is
known from the Mazaruni river area in
Guyana (Whitehead 1990) which suggests
that trade of these objects also took place
along the coast or the rivers of northern
South America.
It is very likely that the Spanish contin-
ued the trade in guan2in gold with the Co-
lombian ateliers during the early Colonial
period. This is best evidenced from the
contact site of Chorro de Maita in Cuba
(AD 1400-1600) excavated by Cuban ar-
chaeologists during the 1980s and currently
being analyzed by Roberto Valcarcel
Rojas. Numerous ornaments as well as
European brass objects have been found at
the site buried as grave goods among the
120 individuals (Cooper et al. 2008; Val-
carcel Rojas and Rodriguez Arce 2005).

Iconographic analysis of shared themes~l~
and ideas
A number of iconographic themes are


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


also clearly shared between the islands and
continental America, pointing to the recur-
sive flow of ideas across the region. The
circum-Caribbean Amerindian world re-
volved around the circulation of goods and
ideas, from the distribution of raw materi-
als, reforms and finished products to the
spread of ideas and social valuablesto by
means of exchange and/or gift-giving. Spe-
cific pottery objects and items made of
guanin, semi-precious stones and other
rock materials, shell, coral, bone and wood,
were imbued with multiple meanings that
extended beyond their function. Social
valuables continued to accrue symbolic and
codified connotations upon entering net-
works of interaction as items of exchange
and communication sometimes becoming
heirlooms over time (Hofman et al. 2008;
Fitzpatrick et al. 2009a). These meanings
and associations all derived from the natu-
ral and cultural surroundings, ultimately
encompassed in Amerindian cosmovision,
and expressed in oral traditions transmitted
through stories, tales, songs and dances.
The following cases point to such a re-
cursive relationship between material cul-
ture and cosmovision. Exotic lithic materi-
als with non-insular iconographic represen-
tations associated with the Huecoid/Huecan
Saladoid ceramics in Puerto Rico and the
northern Lesser Antilles have been as-
cribed a Costa Rican and Panamanian ori-
gin (Rodriguez Ramos and Pagan-Jimenez
2006; see also Rodriguez Ramos this is-
sue). On the other hand, greenstone frog-
shaped pendants (known as Muiraquith in
Brazil) and other exotic rock materials
point to connections with the tropical low-
lands of South America (Boomert 1987).
Furthermore, the mainland iconography of
jaguars, king vultures, peccaries and cai-
mans on insular Saladoid ceramics, micro-
lapidary work, and ceremonial parapherna-
lia underscores the continuing affiliations
with the South American mainland, or at


least the endurance of a mental template of
the homeland environment (Boomert 2003;
Hofman et al. in press; Roe 1989).
During the Late Ceramic Age, there is a
sudden appearance of female figurines or
statue(tte)s in Suazan Troumassoid assem-
blages throughout the southern Lesser An-
tilles. Petitjean Roget suggests that their
appearance denotes a realignment of soci-
ety and potentially traces the roots of this
phenomenon back to the late Saladoid
(Petitjean Roget 1993, 2005). However, it
is more likely that the phenomenon is con-
nected to that of the sitting or standing fe-
male figurines that feature so prominently
in the Late Ceramic Age Marajoaroid
(Roosevelt 1991), Arauquinoid (Rostain
and Versteeg 2004) and Valencioid
(Antczak and Antczak 2006) series that
feature across large swaths of coastal
north-eastern South America.
Although these examples are likely just
the tip of the iceberg, research in this field
is the least developed of the three avenues
discussed above, and much work remains
to be done, particularly in the realms of
comparing material culture assemblages
throughout the circum-Caribbean, com-
parative mythology and materiality.

Discussion
In this paper we have explored different
strands of multi-disciplinary research that
can be fruitfully drawn together to explore
the circum-Caribbean as a meaningful en-
tity, whose inhabitants constructed social
and trade networks by maintaining exten-
sive circuits of mobility and exchange. Evi-
dently, over a period of some 6000 years
the Caribbean islands witnessed a continual
coming and going (i.e., to-ing and fro-ing;
sensu Hofman et al. 2007) of a differenti-
ated flux of populations with a high degree
of mobility, with a range of motives, and
with various origins and destinations. In
time, people, perishable and non-perishable


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


hall un honibre solo en una ahnadia que se pasaba
de la isla de Sancta Maria a la Fernandina, v traia
un poco de su pan, que seria tanto coino el puiio y
una calabaza de agua, y un pedazo de tierra
berineja hecha en polvo y despuds ainasada, y unas
hojas secas, que debe ser cosa niuy apreciada
entrellos, porque ya ine truxeron en San Salvador
d 'ellas en present: y traia un cestillo a su guisa en
que tenia un rainalejo de cuentezillas de vidrio y
dos blancas, por las cuales cognosci qu edl venia de
la isla de San Salvador y avia pasado a aquilla de
Sancta Maria y se pasaba ala
Fernandina (Columrbus 1992(1):55, according to
Las Casas).
2. The Caribbean culture area includes eastern
Venezuela, the coasts of the Guianas, and the Antil-
les. The Intermediate area encompasses the coastal
areas of Central America, west Venezuela and the
islands offshore its coast such as the Dutch Carib-
bean Islands (see Rodriguez Ramos, this volume).
Steward's framework was adopted by Meggers and
the group of 'social archaeologists See Fonseca
1988: Meggers 1979: Vargas Arenas and Sanoja
1999; Veloz Maggiolo 1980.
3. Research in this line was also carried out under
the auspices of Hofman and Bright within the Neth-
erlands Foundation for Scientific Research (NWO)-
funded ASPASIA project 'Socio-political complex-
ity in the pre-Coluinbian Caribbean: an integral
approach to inter-insular and inter-regional rela-
tionships '.
4. Recently Archaic Age sites in the Greater Antil-
les have yielded evidence of pottery making inde-
pendent of the later ceramic tradition known as
Saladoid, which has traditionally been interpreted as
the earliest pottery of the region introduced by the
alleged first ceramic-producing migrants from
northern South America (Rimoli and Nadal 1983:
Rodriguez Ramos et al. 2008: Veloz Maggiolo
1974).
5. For different types of mobility, see e.g., Bell-
wood 2004; Curet 2005; Hofman et al. 2006; Kelly
1995: Manning 2005; Moch 2003; Moore 2001;
Sellet et al. (eds) 2006.
6. This definition of exchange has been adapted
from Boomert 2000 and Arvelo-Jim~nez and Biord
1994.
7. See Nassaney and Sassaman (eds) 1995 for a
multi-scalar approach to the archaeology of the
American Southeast.
8. E.g., Bentley 1999; Lewis 1999; Rodriguez
Ramos 2007; Vidal 2003.
9. Although there is some preliminary data about
central and western Cuban populations being related
to Central America (Schurr and Sherry 2006).


goods, ideas and information as well as
cultural and social practices from numer-
ous 'homeland(s)' amalgamated. This led
to a growing number of local communities
of heterogeneous composition and the ulti-
mate diversification within the archipelago
in late pre-Colonial times, amounting to
what has been called a 'mosaic of cul-
tures' (Wilson 1993). The plurality of this
region, mirrored in today's societies, had
initially been downplayed by the adoption
of an uni-linear approach, raising the spec-
tre of a non-dynamic or rather slow-
moving migratory pattern that runs counter
to everything we know of how these socie-
ties live in continental America (Hofman
and Carlin 2010). Goods, ideas, and cul-
tural and linguistic traits were most likely
exchanged through the Caribbean islands at
a high speed. Boundaries and alliances
were doubtlessly being constantly shifted
and negotiated, adopted and rejected. More
extensive research into the archaeological
and anthropological reflection of cultural
interactions should allow the identification
of many more contact lines, and the con-
textualisation of such nodes as to their po-
sition within an overarching pan-Caribbean
network system, or within the various lar-
ger and smaller interaction spheres that
constitute it.

Acknowledgments
We would like to thank Benoit Roux for
correcting our French abstract and Alex
Geurds for correcting our Spanish ab-
stract. The Netherlands Foundation for
Scientific Research (NWO) is thanked for
providing the financial support (YICI grant
#016084621) which made the research for
this article possible.


1. "[...] y estando a medio golpho d'estas dos islas'
es de saber, de aquella Sancta Maria y d'esta
grande a la cual pongo noinbre la Fernandina,


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


10. See Mol 2007 for this adaptation of the concepts
of socially valued goods (Spielmann 2002), social
goods (Siegel pers. comm.) and primitive valuables
(Earle and Ericson 1977).

References cited
Allaire, L.
1984 A reconstruction of early historical
Island Carib pottery. Saidemicin l~ll
Archaeology 3: 121-133.
1999 Archaeology of the Caribbean Re-
gion. In The Cambridge history of
the Native peoples of the Americas,
Vol. III, PartPPPPP~~~~~~~PPPPPP 1, edited by F. Salo-
mon and S. B. Schwartz, pp. 668-
733. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni-
versity Press.
Antczak, A.
1998 Late prehistoric economy and soci-
ety of the islands off the coast of
Venezuela: a contextual interpreta-
tion of the non-ceramic evidence.
Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation.
London: Institute of Archaeology,
University College London.
Antczak, M. M., and A. Antczak
2006 Los idolos de las islas prometidas:
arqueologia prehispanica del ar-
chipidlago de Los Roques. Caracas:
Editorial Equinoccio.
Arvelo-Jimenez, N., and H. Biord
1994 The impact of conquest on contem-
porary indigenous peoples of the
Guiana Shield: the system of Ori-
noco regional interdependence. In
Amazonian Indians fr~om prehistory
to the present: Anthropological
perspectives, edited by A. C. Roo-
sevelt: pp. 55-78. Tuscon: Univer-
sity of Arizona Press.
Bellwood, P.
2004 First farmers: the origins of agri-
cultural societies. Oxford: Black-
well Publishing.
Bentley, J. H.
1999 Sea and Ocean Basins as Frame-


works of Historical Analysis. Geo-
graphical Review 89(2): 215-225.
Berman, M. J., and P. L. Gmivecki
1995 The Colonization of the Bahama
Archipelago: a reappraisal. World
Archaeology 26(3): 422-441.
Booden, M. A., R. Panhuysen, M. L. P.
Hoogland, H. de Jong, G. Davies and C. L.
Hofman
2008 Tracing human mobility with 87Sr/
86Sr at Anse a la Gourde, Guade-
loupe. In Crossing the borders.
New methods and techniques in the
study of archaeological materials
fCrom the Caribbean, edited by C. L.
Hofman, M. L. P. Hoogland and A.
L. van Gijn, pp. 214-225. Tusca-
loosa: University of Alabama Press.
Boomert, A.
1986 The Cayo Complex of St. Vincent:
Ethnohistorical and Archaeological
Aspects of the Island Carib Prob-
lem. Antropologica 66: 3-68.
1987 Gifts of the Amazons: "Green
Stone" Pendants and Beads as
Items of Ceremonial Exchange in
Amazonia and the Caribbean. An-
tropologica 67:33-54.
2000 Trinidadddddddddd~~~~~~~ Tobago and the lower
Orinoco interaction sphere. An ar-
chaeological /amhlria
study. PhD dissertation, Leiden
University. Alkmaar: Caini Publica-
tions.
2003 Raptorial birds as icons of shaman-
ism in the prehistoric Caribbean
and Amazonia. In Proceedings of
the XIXth International Congress
for Caribbean Archaeology (2),
edited by L. Alofs and R. A. C. F.
Dijkhoff, pp. 121-157. Publication
of the Archaeological Museum
Aruba 9. Oranjestad: Archaeologi-
cal Museum Aruba.
Boomert, A., and A. J. Bright
2007 Island Archaeology: In Search of a


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


New Horizon. Island Studies Jour-
nal 2(1): 3-26
Broodbank, C.
2002 An Island Archaeology of the Early
Cyclades. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Butt Colson, A.
1973 Inter-tribal trade in the Guiana
Highlands. Antropologica 34: 1-70.
Callaghan, R.T.
2001 Ceramic Age Seafaring and Interac-
tion Potential in the Antilles: A
Computer Simulation. Current An-
thropology 42(2): 308-313.
2003 Comments on the Mainland Origins
of the Preceramic Cultures of the
Greater Antilles. Latin American
Antiquity 14(3): 323-338.
Columbus, C.
1992 The Journal Account of the First
Voyage and Discovely of the In-
dies. Vohenze I, Part 1. Institute
Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato.
Rome: Libreria dello Stato.
Cooper, J., M. Martinon-Torres and R.
Valcarcel Rojas
2008 American gold and European brass:
metal obj ects and indigenous values
in the cemetery of El Chorro de
Maita, Cuba. In Crossing the bor-
ders. New methods and techniques
in the study of archaeological ma-
terials in the Caribbean, edited by
C. L. Hofman, M. L. P. Hoogland
and A.L. van Gijn, pp. 34-42. Tus-
caloosa: University of Alabama
Press.
Crock, J. G., and J. B. Petersen
2004 Inter-island exchange, settlement
hierarchy, and a Taino-related
chiefdom on the Anguilla Bank,
Northern Lesser Antilles. In Late
Ceramic Age Societies in the ea~st-
ern Caribbean, edited by A.
Delpuech and C. L. Hofman, pp.
139-158. Paris Monographs in


American Archaeology (E. Ta-
ladoire, series ed.). BAR Interna-
tional Series 1273. Oxford: Archae-
opress.
Curet, L. A.
2005 Caribbean paleodentography.
Population, culture history and
socio-political processes in ancient
Puerto Rico. Tuscaloosa: Univer-
sity of Alabama Press.
Curet, L. A., and J. R. Oliver
1998 Mortuary practices, social develop-
ment, and ideology in Precolum-
bian Puerto Rico. Latin American
Antiquity 9(3): 217-239.
Descantes, C., R. J. Speakman, M. D. Glas-
cock, and M. T. Boulanger (eds)
2008 An exploratory study into the
chemical characterization of Carib-
bean ceramics: an introduction to a
special volume of the Journal of
Caribbean Archaeology in memory
of James B. Petersen. Journal of
Caribbean Archaeology Special
Publication Number 2: An Explora-
tory Study into the Chemical Char-
acterization of Caribbean Cera~n-
ics.
Earle, T. K., and J. E. Ericson
1977 Exchange systems in archaeologi-
cal perspective. In Exchange Sys-
tents in Prehistory, edited by T. K.
Earle and J. E. Ericson, pp. 3-12.
New York: Academic Press.
Febles, J.
1991 Estudio Comparativo de las Indus-
trias de Piedra Tallada de Aguas
Verdes (B aracoa) y Playitas
(Matanzas): Probable Relacion de
estas Industrias con otras del S.E.
de los Estados Unidos. In Ar-
queologia de Cuba y otras Areas
Antillanas,~~ll11~~~111~~~ edited by M. A. Rodri-
guez, pp. 312-370. La Habana: Edi-
torial Academia.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


Fitzpatrick, S. M. (ed.)
2004 Voyages ofDiscovely: The Archae-
ology oflslan~ds. Westport: Praeger.
Fitzpatrick, S. M.
2009 Salad'oid' seafarers: on the origins
and' migrations of EarlyE~~~~EEEEE~~~~EEEE Ceramic
Age Amerind'ian populations. Paper
presented at the symposium: The
Caribbean basin before Columbus.
The Pre-Columbian Society of
Washington, D.C., September 19,
2009.
Fitzpatrick, S. M., Q. Kaye, J. Feathers, J.
A. Pavia, and K. M. Marsaglia
2009a Evidence for Inter-Island Transport
of Heirlooms: Luminescence Dat-
ing and Petrographic Analysis of
Ceramic Inhaling Bowls from Car-
riacou, West Indies. Journal of Ar-
chaeological Science 36(3): 596-
606.
Fitzpatrick, S. M., M. Kappers, Q. Kaye, C.
Giovas, M. LeFebvre, M. Hill Har-
ris, S. Burnett, J. A. Pavia, K. M.
Marsaglia, and J. Feathers
2009b Precolumbian Settlements on Carri-
acou, West Indies. Journal of Field
Archaeology 34: 247-266.
Fonseca Zamora, O. M.
1988. Reflexiones sobre la arqueologia
como ciencia social. In Hacia una
Arqueologia Social, edited by O.
M. Fonseca Zamora, pp. 13-21. San
Jose: Universidad de Costa Rica.
Garcia-Casco, A., A. Rodriguez Vega, J.
Cgrdenas Pgrraga, M. A. Iturralde-Vinent,
C. Lgzaro, I. Blanco Quintero, Y. Rojas
Agramante, A. Kroiner, K. Nufiez Cambra,
G. Millin, R. L. Torres-Roldin, S. Carras-
quilla
2009 A new jadeitite jade locality (Sierra
del Convento, Cuba): first report
and some petrological and archaeo-
logical implications. Contributions
to mineral Petrology 158: 1-16.


Grouard, S.
2001 Subsistance, Systenzes Techniques
et Gestion Territoriale en M~ilieu
hIsulaire Antillais Pricolonabien.
Exploitation des Vertibrds et des
Crustacis aux dpoques Subithsidellr'
et Tirsinllas\~tl side de Guadeloupe
(400 av. J.-C. c't 1 500 ap. J.-C~.)
Ph.D. dissertation, U.F.R. Sciences
Sociales et Administration. Paris:
University de Paris X-Nanterre.
Harlow, G. E., A. Reg Murphy, D. J.
Hozjan, C. N. de Mille and A. A. Levinson
2006 Pre-Columbian jadeite axes from
Antigua, West Indies: description
and possible sources. The Canadian
Mineralogist 44(2): 305-321.
Heckenberger, M. J.
2002 Rethinking the Arawakan Diaspora:
Hierarchy, Regionality, and the
Amazonian Formative. In Cont-
parative Arcurakan Histories: Re-
thinking Language Family and Cul-
ture Area in Anzazonia, edited by F.
Santos-Granero and J. D. Hill, pp.
99-121. Illinois: University of Illi-
nois Press.
Helms, M. W.
1987 Art styles and interaction spheres in
Central America and the Caribbean:
polished black wood in the Greater
Antilles. In Chiefdonts in the
Americas, edited by R. D. Drennan
and C. A. Uribe, pp. 67-83. New
York: University of America Press.
Hofman, C. L., and E. B. Carlin
2010 The ever-dynamic Caribbean: ex-
ploring new approaches to unravel-
ling social networks in the pre colo-
nial and early colonial periods. In
Linguistics and Archaeology in the
Americas: The historization oflan2-
guage and society, edited by E. B.
Carlin and S. van de Kerke, pp.
107-122. Brill's Studies in the In-
digenous Languages of the Ameri-


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


cas. Leiden: Brill.
Hofman, C. L., and M. L. P. Hoogland
2004 Social dynamics and change in the
Northern Lesser Antilles. In Late
Ceramic Age Societies in the ea~st-
ern Caribbean, edited by A.
Delpuech and C. L. Hofman, pp.
47-58. Paris Monographs in Ameri-
can Archaeology (E. Taladoire, se-
ries editor). BAR International Se-
ries 1273. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Hofman, C. L., M. L. P. Hoogland, and A.
Delpuech
2001 Social organization at a Troumas-
soid settlement, the case of Anse a
la Gourde, Guadeloupe. In Pro-
ceedings of the XZXth International
Congress for Caribbean Archae-
ology (1, edited by L. Alofs and R.
A. C. F. Dijkhoff, pp. 124-131.
Publications of the Archaeological
Museum Aruba 9. Oranjestad: Ar-
chaeological Museum Aruba.
Hofman, C. L., M. L. P. Hoogland, and A.
Delpuech (eds)
2001 Le site de l'Anse c't la Gourde. St.
Frangois, Grande-Terre, Guade-
loupe. Fouille progra~nmnte pht-
riannuelle 1995-2000. Rapport de
spubese\l 2000. Basse-Terre/Leiden:
Direction Regionale des Affaires
Culturelles/Universite de Leiden.
Hofman, C. L., A. J. Bright, and M. L. P.
Hoogland
2006 Archipelagic resource mobility.
Shedding light on the 3000 years
old tropical forest campsite at Plum
Piece, Saba (Northern Lesser Antil-
les). Journal of Islan2d and Coastal
Archaeology 1(2): 145-164.
Hofman, C. L., A. J. Bright, A. Boomert,
and S. Knippenberg
2007 Island Rhythms. The web of social
relationships and interaction net-
works in the pre-Columbian Lesser
Antilles. Latin American Antiquity


18(3): 243-268.
Hofman, C. L., A. J. D. Isendoorn, M.
Booden, and L. Jacobs
2008 In tuneful threefold. Combining
conventional archaeological meth-
ods, archaeometric techniques and
ethnoarchaeological research in the
study of pre-colonial pottery of the
Caribbean. In Crossing the borders.
New methods and techniques in the
study of archaeological materials
in the Caribbean, edited by C. L.
Hofman, M. L. P. Hoogland, and A.
van Gijn, pp. 21-33. Tuscaloosa:
University of Alabama Press.
Hofman, C. L., A. Boomert, A. J. Bright,
M. L. P. Hoogland, S. Knippenberg, and A.
V. M. Samson
in press Ties with the 'Homeland': ar-
chipelagic interaction and the en-
during role of the South American
mainland in the pre-Columbian
Lesser Antilles. In Islands in the
Streamn: Interislan2d and Continen-
tal hIteraction in the Caribbean,
edited by L. A. Curet and M. W.
Hauser. Tuscaloosa: University of
Alabama Press.
Hoogland, M. L. P., and C. L. Hofman
2010 Island dynamics. In Island Shores,
Distant Pasts: Archaeological and
Biological Approaches to the Pre-
Coumabian Settlement of the Carib-
bean, edited by S. M. Fitzpatrick
and A. H. Ross, pp. 148-162.
Gainesville: University of Florida
Press.
Hoogland, M. L. P., T. Romon and P. Bras-
selet
1999 Troumassoid burial practices at the
site of Anse a la Gourde, Guade-
loupe. In Proceedings of the 18th
hIternational Congress for Carib-
bean Archaeology (2), pp. 173 178.
Basse-Terre: Association Interna-
tionale d'Archeol ogi e de la


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


Carai'be, Region Guadeloupe, Mis-
sion Archeologique
Keegan, W. F.
2004 Islands of chaos. In Late Ceramic
Age societies in the Eastern Carib-
bean, edited by A. Delpuech and C.
L. Hofman, pp. 33-44. Paris Mono-
graphs in American Archaeology
(E. Taladoire, series ed.). BAR In-
ternational Series 1273. Oxford:
Archaeopress.
Keegan, W. F., and J. M. Diamond
1987 Colonization of Islands by Humans:
A Biogeographical Perspective. Ad-
vances in Archaeological M~ethods
and Theory 10:49-92.
Keegan, W. F., and M. D. Maclachlan
1989 The evolution of avunculocal chief-
doms: a reconstruction of Taino
kinship and politics. American An-
thropologist 91(3): 613-630.
Kelly, R. L.
1995 The Foraging Spectrum: Diversity
in Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways.
Washington: Smithsonian Institu-
tion Press.
Kirch, P. V.
2000 On the road of the winds: an ar-
chaeological history of the Pacific
Islands before European contact.
University of California Press,
Berkeley.
Knippenberg, S.
2006 Stone Artifact Production and Ex-
change among the Northern Lesser
Antilles. Ph.D. Dissertation, Fac-
ulty of Archaeology, Leiden Uni-
versity. Utrecht: DPP.
Laffoon, J., and M. L. P. Hoogland
2009 An Application of Strontium Isotope
Analysis to Caribbean Contexts:
Promises and Problems. Paper pre-
sented at the 23rd Congress of the
International Association for Carib-
bean Archaeology, June 29 July
3, 2009, Antigua.


Lalueza-Fox, C., M. T. P. Gilbert, A. J.
Martinez-Fuentes, F. Calafell and J. Ber-
tranpetit
2003 Mitochondrial DNA from pre-
Columbian Ciboneys from Cuba
and the prehistoric colonization of
the Caribbean. American Journal of
Physical Anthropology 121: 97-
108.
Lewis, M. W.
1999 Dividing the Ocean Sea. Geo-
guraphicalReview 89(2): 188-214.
Manning, P.
2005 M~igration in World History. Lon-
don: Routledge.
Meggers, B. J.
1979 Prehistoric America: An Ecological
Perspective (2nd edition). New
York: Aldine.
Moch, L. P.
2003 M~oving Europeans: M~igration in
Western Europe since 1650.
Bloomington: Indiana University
Press.
Mol, A. A. A.
2007 Costly Giving, Giving Guaizas. To-
wards an organic model of the ex-
change of social valuables in the
Late Ceramic Age Caribbean.
MPhil Thesis Faculty of Archae-
ology, Leiden University. Leiden:
Sidestone Press.
Moore, J. H.
2001 Evaluating five models of human
colonization. American Anthro-
pologist 103(2): 395-408.
Morsink, J.,
2006 (Re-) Constructing Constructions;
Quotidian2 hfe and social practice
at Anse a la Gourde. Unpublished
MPhil thesis, Faculty of Archae-
ology, Leiden University, Leiden.
Nassaney, M. S., and K. S. Sassaman (eds)
1995 Native American Interactions: M~ul-
tiscalar Analyses and Interpreta-
tions in the Eastern Woodlands.


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


Knoxville: University of Tennessee
Press.
Newsom, L. A., and E. S. Wing
2004 On Land and Sea: native American
uses of biological resources in the
West Indies. Tuscaloosa: University
of Alabama Press.
Petitj ean Roget, H.
1993 La Venus impudique de Point des
Pies, Saint Frangois, Guadeloupe.
Contribution a l'etude de l'art an-
cien des Antilles. In Proceedings of
the 14th Congress of the Interna-
tional Association for Caribbean
Archaeology, edited by A. Cum-
mins and P. King, pp. 476-491.
Bri dgetown: Barbados Museum
and Historical Society.
2005 Une collection archeologique des
Petites Antilles entire au Musee Re-
gional d'Histoire et d'Ethnographie
de la Martinique. La Revue des
M~usdes de France. La Revue du
Louvre: 37-46.
Rainbird, P.
2007 The archaeology of islands. Cam-
brid ge: Cambrid ge University
Press.
Rimoli, R. O., and J. Nadal
1983 El Horizonte Ceramista Temprano
en Santo Domingo y Otras Antillas.
Santo Domingo: Editora de la Uni-
versidad AutC~noma de Santo Do-
mingo.
Rodriguez Ramos, R.
2007 Puerto Rican Precolonial History
Etched in Stone Unpublished Ph.D.
Thesis, University of Florida,
Gainesville.
Rodriguez Ramos, R., E. Babilonia, L. A.
Curet, and J. Ulloa
2008 The Pre-Arawak Pottery Horizon in
the Antilles: A New Approxima-
tion. Latin American Antiquity 19
(1): 47-63.


Rodriguez Ramos, R., and J. Pagan Jime-
nez
2006 Interacciones multivectoriales en el
Circum-Caribe precolonial: un vis-
tazo desde las Antillas. Caribbean
Studies 34(2): 103-143.
Roe, P. G.
1989 A Grammatical Analysis of
Cedrosan Saladoid Vessel Form
Categories and Surface Decoration:
Aesthetic and Technical Styles in
Early Antillean Ceramics. In Early
Ceramic Population Lifeways and
Adaptive Strategies in the Carib-
bean, edited by P. E. Siegel, pp.
267-382. Oxford: British Archaeo-
logical Reports International Series.
Roosevelt, A. C.
1991 M~oundbuilders of the Amazon:
Geophysical A rchae ology on
Marajo Island, Brazil. San Diego:
Academic Press.
Rostain, S., and A. H. Versteeg
2004 The Arauquinoid tradition in the
Guianas. In Late Ceramic Age So-
cieties in the Eastern Caribbean,
edited by A. Delpuech and C. L.
Hofman, pp. 233-250. Paris Mono-
graphs in American Archaeology
14 /BAR International Series 1273.
Oxford: Archaeopress.
Rouse, I.
1951 Areas and periods of culture in the
Greater Antilles. Smoeti
Journal of Anthropology 7: 248-
265.
1992 The Tainos: rise and decline of the
people who greeted Columbus.
New Haven: Yale University Press.
Schurr, T. G., and S. T. Sherry
2004 Mitochondrial DNA and Y Chro-
mosome Diversity and the Peopling
of the Americas: Evolutionary and
Demographic Evidence. American
Journal of Human Biology 16: 420-


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


439.
Sellet, F., R. Greaves and P.-L. Yu (eds)
2006 Archaeology and' ethnoarchaeology
of mobility. Gainesville: University
Press of Florida.
Serrand, N.
2001 Occurrence of exogenous freshwa-
ter Bivalves (Unionoida) in the
Lesser Antilles during the first mil-
lennium A.D.: example from the
Hope Estate Saladoid site (St. Mar-
tin, French Lesser Antilles). In Pro-
ceedings of the 18th International
Congress of the Association for
Caribbean Archaeology, pp. 136-
152. Basse-Terre: Association In-
ternationale d'Archeologie de la
Carai'be, Region Guadeloupe, Mis-
sion Archeologique.
Siegel, P. E.
1991 Migration research in Saladoid ar-
chaeology: a review. The Florida
Anthropologist 44(1): 79-91.
1999 Contested Places and Places of
Contest: The Evolution of Social
Power and Ceremonial Space in
Prehi stori c Puerto Rico. Latin
American Antiquity 10(3): 209-238.
Siegel, P. E., and K. P. Severin
1993 The First Documented Prehistoric
Gold-Copper Alloy Artefact from
the West Indies. Journal of Ar-
chaeological Science 20: 67-79.
Spielmann, K. A.
2002 Feasting, Craft Specialization, and
the Ritual Mode of Production.
American Anthropologist 104: 195-
207.
Steward, J. H.
1947 American Culture History in the
Light of South America. Saider~ I't-
ern Journal of Anthropology 3(2):
85-107.
Sued-Badillo, J.
1979 La mujer indigena y su sociedaddddd. ddddd~~~~~~
Rio Piedras: Edit. Antillana.


Toro-Labrador, G., O. R. Wever, and J. C.
Martinez-Cruzado
2003 Mitochondrial DNA Analysis in
Aruba: Strong Maternal Ancestry
of Closely Related Amerindians
and Implications for the Peopling
of Northwestern Venezuela. Carib-
bean Journal of Science 39(1): 11-
22.
Ulloa Hung, J., and R. Valcarcel Roj as
2002 Ceramica temprana en el centro
del oriented de Cuba. Santo Do-
mingo: Viewgraph.
Valcarcel Rojas, R., and C. A. Rodriguez
Arce
2005 El Chorro de Maita: Social Inequal-
ity and Mortuary Space. In Dia-
logues in Cuban Archaeology, ed-
ited by L. A. Curet, S. L. Dawdy
and G. La Rosa Corzo, pp. 125-
146. Tuscaloosa: The University of
Alabama Press.
Vargas Arenas, I., and M. Sanoja
1999 Archaeology as a social science: its
expression in Latin America. In Ar-
chaeology in Latin America, edited
by G. G. Politis and B. Alberti, pp.
57-73. London /New York:
Routl edge.
Veloz Maggiolo, M.
1980 Las sociedaddddesdddddd~~~~~~ Arcaicas de Santo
Domingo. Museo del Hombre
Dominicano, Serie Investigaciones
Antropol6gicas No. 16. Santo Do-
mingo: Fundaci6n Garcia Arevalo.
Veloz Maggiolo, M., and C. A. Angulo
Valdes
1982 La aparici6n de un idolo de tres
puntas en la tradici6n Malambo
(Colombia). Boletin del M~useo del
Hombre Dominicano 10: 15-20.
Veloz, M., E. Ortega, and P. Pina P.
1974 El Caimito: Un Antiguo Complejo
Ceramista de las Antillas Mayores.
Santo Domingo: Ediciones Fun-


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Crossing the Caribbean Sea


Hofman et al


daci6n Garcia Arevalo, Inc.
Versteeg, A. H.
1999 Archaeological records from the
Southern and Eastemn Caribbean
Area. How different and how simi-
lar are they? In Proceedings of the
XyTlth hIternational Congress for
Caribbean Archaeology, edited by
J. H. Winter, pp. 86-104. New
York: Rockville Centre.
Vidal, A.
2003 La regi6n geohist6rica del Caribe.
Revista Mexicana del Calribe 15: 7-
37.
Watters, D. R., and I. Rouse
1989 Environmental diversity and mari-
time adaptations in the Caribbean
area. In Early Ceramic Population
Life ways and Adaptive Strategies in
the Caribbean, edited by P. E.
Siegel, pp. 129-144. Oxford: Brit-
ish Archaeological Reports.
Watters, D. R., and R. Scaglion
1994 Beads and pendants from Trants,
Montserrat: implications for the
prehistoric lapidary industry of the
Caribbean. Annals of Calrnegie M~u-
seunt 63(3): 215-237.
Whitehead, N. L.
1990 The Mazaruni Pectoral: A Golden
Artifact Discovered in Guyana and
the Historical Sources Concemning
Native Metallurgy in the Carib-
bean, Orinoco and Northern Ama-
zonia. Journal of the Walter Roth
Museum ofAnthropology 7: 19-38 .
Wilson, S. M.
1993 The Cultural Mosaic of the Indige-
nous Caribbean. Proceedings of the
British Academy 8 1: 37-66.
2007 Stone Pavements, Roads, and En-
closures in Central America and the
Caribbean. In Proceedings of the
XXlst Congress of the hIternational
Association for Caribbean Archae-
ology (1, edited by B. Reid, H. Pe-


titjean Roget, and L. A. Curet, pp.
381-389. St. Augustine: The Uni-
versity of the West Indies, School
of Continuing Studies.
Wilson, S. M., H. B. Iceland, and T. R.
Hester
1998 Preceramic connections between
Yucatan and the Caribbean. Latin
American Antiquity 9(4): 342-3 52.
Zucchi, A.
1991 Prehispanic connections between
the Orinoco, the Amazon and the
Caribbean area. In Proceedings of
the XII~th international Congress
for Caribbean Archaeology (I), ed-
ited by E. N. Ayubi and J. B. Hay-
iser, pp. 202-220. Reports of the
Archaeol ogical-Anthropol ogical
Institute of the Netherlands Antil-
les, no. 9. Willemstad: Archaeo-
logical-Anthropological Institute of
the Netherlands Antilles.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Journal ofCarrbbeanArchaeology
Copynght 2010
ISSN 1524-4776

WH-A T IS THE CARIBBEAN? AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE

Reniel Rodriguez RamRRRRRRRR~~~~~~~~~os
Universidadddddddddd~ddddd de Puerto Rico
Recinto de Utuado
Program de Ciencias Sociales
PO Box 2500
Utuado, Puerto Rico 00641-2500
reniel. rodriguez~upr. edu


Abstract
The Caribbean as a culture area has tradtionallyt~t~r~r~rtrt~t~ been limited to the Antilles and north-
eastern .Sonlu America. This geo-cultural construct has thus served to alienate the Antillean
chain fr~om other surrounding continental regions that are also bathed by this body of water.
Evidence recently recovered fr~om the Antilles of jade circulation that indicates long-term
macro-regional interactions across the Caribbeanscape will be presented. These data will
be used to show the limitations imposed the current configuration of the Caribbean culture
area and to propose the consideration of the Greater Caribbean as a geohistorical area of
study.

Rdsumd'
Les Carai'bes, comprises comme aire culturelle, ont tradtionnellemen~r~r~r~r~r~r t dtd limities aux Antil-
les et au nord-est de l'Amdrique du Sud. Cette construction gdoculturelle a ainsi conduit d
dissocier l'archipel antillais des rd gions continentales voisines, 4galement baigndes par la
mer des Camibes11' Cet article dclaire la ddcouverte rdeente, dansddddd~~~~~~~dddddd les Antilles, de preuves de
la circulation de jade, impliquant des interactions macro-rd gionales sur une longue pdriode
dansddddd~~~~~~~dddddd le paysage caribden (Caribbeanscape). Ces donndes mettent en evidence les limits de
la conception tradtionnelle~t~r~r~rtrt~t~ de l 'aire culturelle Carai'be et permettent de proposer la prise
en compete d'une grande Carai'be comme aire d'dtude gdohistorique.

Resumen
El drea cultural Calribe se ha remitido tradicionalmente a las Antillas y el noreste de
Amdrica del Sur. Como resultadot~~~~~ttttt~~~~ este concept geocultural ha servido para aislar el arco
antillanollll~~~~~~11111 de otras drea~s continentales que tamtttttttt~~~~~~~~~bidn son bailda~s por este cuerpo de agua.
Evidencia recuperada recientemente de las Antillas sobre la circulacidn de jade, la cual
indica interacciones macro-regionales de larga duracidn, es presentada. Esta evidencia es
empleada para demostrat~rt~rt~t~rt~rt~r las limitaciones impuestas por la configuracidn actual del drea
cultural Caribe y para proponer la consideracidn del Gran Caribe como un drea
geohistdrica de studio.


Introduction may seem like a banal statement, the reality
The Caribbean is not the Antilles and the is that in archaeological terms the Carib-
Antilles is not the Caribbean. Although this bean tends to be summarized into the An-


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


tilles, a perspective that disregards the fact
that in geographic terms the Caribbean in-
cludes not only the archipelago but also the
rest of the continental areas that are bathed
by this body of water (cf. Bracho 2004;
Gaztambide Geigel 2000, 2003; Rodriguez
Ramos 2007, in press; Rodriguez Ramos
and Pagan Jimenez 2006; Vidal 2003).
This archaeological misconception is to
a great extent derived from the current con-
figuration of the Caribbean culture area. As
was established by the late Irving Rouse
(1960:6), and as is currently conceived by
most archaeologists, the Caribbean culture
area is constituted by "the region lying east
of Mesoamerica and the Intermediate area,
north of Amazonia, and southeast of the
United States, that is, to central and north-
eastern Venezuela, the adjacent part of
British Guiana, and the West Indies". The
segregationist narrative embedded in the
articulation of this geocultural construct
has thus created a segmented Caribbean
body, resulting in a disjoined perspective
about the ways in which the histories of the
peoples that inhabited the Antilles and
other surrounding continental regions
united by the Caribbean Sea where shared
in precolonial times.
In this work, I will argue for the need to
reattach this partitioned liquid body in or-
der to understand the mutually constituting
nature of the processes that took place in
the different areas bound by it. With such
an objective, I will propose that we
broaden the analytical scope of what we
archaeologically conceive as the
"Caribbean" by incorporating other conti-
nental areas facing such sea. In order to
demonstrate the utility of employing this
fluid scape as a unit for archaeological
analysis and as an avenue of macro-
regional integration, as Fernand Braudel
(1972[1944]) did with the Mediterranean, I
will use as a case sample the multiscalar


Rodriguez Ramos


circulation of jade (in its various forms)
across the Caribbean through time. Particu-
lar attention will be paid to evidence of in-
teractions between the precolonial inhabi-
tants of the Antilles with those of a sur-
rounding continental Caribbean region sel-
dom mentioned in what is currently con-
ceived as "Caribbean archaeology": the
Isthmo-Colombian area (sensu Hoopes and
Fonseca 2003). Through the reexamination
of the possible connections between the
inhabitants of these two areas in pre-
Columbian times, I hope to demonstrate
how thi s shift toward a "Pan-
Caribbean" (see Hofman et al., this vol-
ume) geohistorical perspective has implica-
tions for the understanding of archaeologi-
cal processes in both, the insular and the
continental Caribbean.

A BriefHistory ofthe Caribbean
Culture Area
Culture areas have been the main geo-
cultural heuristic devices used in archae-
ology. Derived primarily from the German-
Austrian kulturkreise template (Barnard
2000), these have served as the most inclu-
sive geographic units of culture in archaeo-
logical research since the beginning of the
20th century. Culture areas have been con-
ceived as spatially confined cultural cores,
where peoples shared a set of trait com-
plexes that were mainly defined on the ba-
sis of the geographic patterning of their
ethnic, linguistic, and cultural makeup at
the time of the European conquest and/or
in the ethnographic present (Creamer
1987). In some cases, such trait complexes
have been traced back in the archaeological
record to earlier population movements
through a direct-historical approach (e.g.,
Jones 2003; Rouse 1955; Willey 1971).
Culture areas have of served to delineate
intra-areal culture-hi stori cal traj ectories
(often from a phylogenetic perspective)


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010









What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


and to determine the role of the natural en-
vironment on cultural developments within
those areas (Linton 1936).
However, the use of this modernist con-
cept has been widely criticized in archae-
ology recently (e.g., Hoopes and Fonseca
2004; Lyman et al. 1997). As indicated by
Curet (n.d.), the problems and limitations
of this concept "are many and include as-
pects such as the non-historicity of the
term, the overuse of diffusionism to ex-
plain similarities, the lack of hierarchiza-
tion of cultural traits, the lack of consider-
ing the function and reinterpretation of cul-
tural features in each society within the
area, underestimation of internal variabil-
ity, and the lack of analytical potential of
the concept". Despite these limitations, cul-
ture areas are still at the geocultural core of
archaeological research, having remained
basically unaltered since their original con-
struction in the earlier part of the 20th Cen-
tury in later theoretical perspectives devel-
oped in the discipline. Even concepts that
fall within what has been termed by Short-
man and Urban (1992) the "interaction
paradigm" such as peer polities (sensu
Renfrew 1982), interactions spheres (sensu
Friedel 1979), and world systems (e.g.,
Peregrine 1996; Schneider 1977) have been
encapsulated within the confines of pre-
defined culture areas (e.g, Mesoamerican
World System [Carmack and Salgado Gon-
zalez 2006; Paris 2008], Hopewellian inter-
action sphere [Seeman 1979]). This is par-
ticularly evident in the case of what is cur-
rently conceived as the Caribbean culture
area, whose definition was established
more than half a century ago and has re-
mained fossilized ever since.
The term "Caribbean" itself has a long
and dilapidated history. Although the origi-
nal name provided by the Spaniards to the
whole set of islands was La~s India~s (i.e.,
Indies) and then Antilla~s (by way of the


Rodriguez Ramos


French word entilles) (e.g., Rafinesque
1836), since the 17th century the term
Caribe has become the main referent not
only for the sea which bears such name but
also for the group of islands that were the
first context of colonization of Europeans
and its respondent indigenous resistance in
this hemisphere (Sued Badillo 1978). The
name Calribe itself is derived from the
word caniba, meaning cannibal (Keegan
2007; Wilson 2007), a term used by the
Spaniards to demonize the indigenous peo-
ples that resisted their infringement (Sued
Badillo 1978). This concept became the
most common referent to the islands to-
ward the end of the 17th century by way of
the English word Caribby or Caribbee,
eventually gaining currency in conjunction
to United States' expansionist agenda to-
ward the south (Gaztambide Geigel 2003;
Girvan 2001). The colonialist implications
of this word usage as resulting from the
United States' intrusion across its south-
ern frontier have been critically analyzed
elsewhere (Gaztambide Geigel 2000,
2003).
It is within this political context that the
construction of the Caribbean culture area
took place. The contours of this culture
area were originally established by Fewkes
(1922), who in 1902 came to Puerto Rico
on behalf of the Bureau of American Eth-
nology, shortly after the invasion of the
island by the United States in 1898 (Hough
1932). On the basis of his extensive re-
search in Puerto Rico and other islands in
the Greater and Lesser Antilles, he was the
first to propose the arcuate archipelago that
conforms the Antilles as a distinct culture
area, an idea that was also advocated at the
time by Holmes (1914) and Wissler (1916)
from anthropological and museological
perspectives respectively. Fewkes
(1922:51) noted that "The Antillean culture
is sufficiently self-centered and distinctive


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


to be called unique, although the germ
originally came from South America".
In the early 1930s, the concept of a Car-
ibbean culture area was inserted into the
discipline in conjunction with the macro-
regional scope of the Caribbean Archae-
ology Program of the Peabody Museum of
Yale University, directed at the time by
Comelius Osgood. The main research
agenda of this program was to "attempt to
improve the methodology of archaeology
through intensive research in a particular
area, as well as to resolve the Historic
problems of the aboriginal populations of
the West Indies" (Osgood 1942:6-7, cited
in Rodriguez Ramos 2005a:1). The effort
of these researchers was erected upon the
platform of what was initially called the
Puerto Rican Survey, directed since 1914
by Franz Boas, which brought to Puerto
Rico distinguished archaeologists such as J.
Alden Mason, Robert Aitken, and Herman
Haeberlin. Their efforts, as well as the later
ones by Froelich Rainey, laid the founda-
tions for establishing the Caribbean culture
area, which was formally defined in the
mid-20th Century by Irving Rouse, who, as
Jesse W. Fewkes, also had the advantage of
getting an Antillean-wide perspective of
the culture-historical stratigraphy of the
islands. By employing the term
"Caribbean" not in its "ordinary, geo-
graphical meaning but in a special cultural
sense" (Rouse 1992:6), the boundaries of
the Caribbean culture area have since then
been defined resting on several assump-
tions: that there was only one migration of
pottery making culture to the Antilles,
which represented a biologically and lin-
guistically homogeneous group; that as-
pects of religion, diet, and social organiza-
tion of Antillean indigenous societies were
built over an Amazonian template; and that
all those elements were derived from north-
eastemn South America, the only continen-


Rodriguez Ramos


tal region that is included within this cul-
ture area.
In the process of inventing the Caribbean
culture area, other geocultural models, such
as the Circum-Caribbean proposed by
Steward (1948), were put to the test and
debunked (Rouse 1953). Steward had de-
fined the Circum-Caribbean area, primarily
on the basis of ethnographic and ethnohis-
toric data, as being comprised geographi-
cally by the "Intermediate Area" and the
Greater Antilles. He proposed that the
circum-Caribbean peoples that inhabited
those areas shared analogous properties
that resulted primarily from their develop-
ment in similar environmental matrices,
and that they also shared an Andean
"substratum" that diffused across the Car-
ibbean Sea (Steward 1948:13; see discus-
sion of this in Curet n.d.; Rodriguez Ramos
in press, Rodriguez Ramos and Pagan
Jimenez 2006). Rouse later criticized Stew-
ard's model by arguing that, although there
were some isolated Andean traits that
might have appeared in the Antilles due to
diffusion, the linguistic, biological, and
cultural makeup of the area indicated a sin-
gle Orinocan origin.
This fixation on the Orinocan corridor as
the exclusive ancestral homeland of Antil-
lean indigenous societies has resonated
archaeologically in a generalized lack of
consideration of the possibility of sustained
trans-Caribbean engagements between the
precolonial inhabitants of the islands with
those from surrounding continental regions
beyond northeastern South America. Al-
though one of Rouse' s most important con-
tributions was his early consideration of the
sea as a bridge that united neighboring is-
lands, this perspective was limited to the
maritime passages between insular territo-
ries, while paradoxically the Caribbean Sea
was envisioned as a barrier for contacts
with surrounding continents, as he clearly


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010









What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


exemplified by saying:
The Caribbean is a large body of open
water, 1,500 miles long and at least 350
miles wide. Traversing it was no problem
for Columbus, but so far as is known, the
natives lacked ships, sails and the ability
[emphasis mine] to navigate such long dis-
tances. Hence, they are generally assumed
to have traveled up and down the chain of
islands, rather than across the Caribbean
Sea (Rouse 1992:1). This quote not only
makes evident the commonplace downplay
of the navigational capacities of the native
inhabitants of the Antilles and the rest of
the Greater Caribbean, but also shows the
consideration of this body of water as a
negative space, which has led to the ne-
glect of the study of archaeological proc-
esses that crosscut the cultural boundary
lines of the peoples united by the Carib-
beanscape.
In fact, as noted elsewhere (Rodriguez
Ramos 2007, 2010) the Antilles has been
made invisible, literally, by archaeologists
working in surrounding continental re-
gions, being even erased from the maps
that delimit their study areas. In other
cases, the Caribbean portion of continental
areas facing these sea have been labeled as
part of the "Atlantic" watershed (e.g.,
Fonseca 2002; Snarskis 1984), thus obfus-
cating their relationship to this Sea. This
has been translated into a lack of dialogue
between colleagues working in different
parts of the Caribbean, whose research has
gone almost completely unnoticed by those
of us working in the Antilles and vice
versa. This is clearly exemplified by the
current configuration of the International
Association for Caribbean Archaeology
(IACA). Between 1963 and 1994 around
98 percent of the papers delivered at the
IACA Congresses were geographically cir-
cumscribed to the areas collapsed under the
Caribbean culture area, utterly disregarding


Rodriguez Ramos


the rest of the regions unified by this mari-
time basin (Alegria [editor] 1994). This
cultural configuration of the Caribbean is
also observed in the construction of anthro-
pological perspectives developed for the
study of "Caribbean" peoples (e.g., Slocum
and Thomas 2003; Yelvingston 2001).
As was previously noted, the construc-
tion of culture areas as integrative devices
also assumed a horizontal perspective be-
cause these were primarily defined on the
basis of similarities in cultural trait com-
plexes and language documented within
maj or physiographic divisions in the ethno-
historical record and/or in the ethnographic
present. Due to the lack of indigenous
groups in existence in the Antilles at the
time in which the Caribbean culture area
was defined, the establishment of these
shared traits relied primarily on the Spanish
chronicles of the islands. Since those re-
cords supposedly indicated that the area
was dominated by groups that spoke a sin-
gle language and that were otherwise quite
similar, the Caribbean culture area was
considered to be biologically, linguisti-
cally, and ethnically homogeneous in pre-
colonial times. The use of analogies for the
interpretation of aspects such as Antillean
cosmovision (Alegria 1978; Boomert 1987;
Roe 1989), language (Taylor 1977), diet
(Petersen 1997), and the organization of
communities (Siegel 1992), among many
others, have often been erected upon a sin-
gle "Orinoquian" (sensu Gass6n 2002)
template.
However, as Wilson (1993) has been
saying for almost two decades, if there is
something that the Caribbean has ever
lacked it is homogeneity. Rather, he has
defined the Caribbean-with an emphasis on
the Antilles-as a mosaic of cultures (see
also Trincado 1984). A similar perspective
was ingrained in Mintz's (1971) definition
of the Caribbean socio-cultural area as he


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


understood that, although there were social
similarities in the Antilles resulting from
colonialist processes such as slavery and
sugar production systems, any attempt to
arrive at a unified ethos in the Caribbean is
a futile attempt because the area is actually
characterized by cultural, linguistic, and
biological plurality.
When envisioning, not only the Antilles,
but the Greater Caribbean as a seascape of
plurality within which peoples with distinct
ancestral histories contested and negotiated
ideologies and identities in varying ways
through time, the inadequacy of the current
essentialist definition of the Caribbean cul-
ture area becomes readily apparent. There-
fore, I consider that we would be better
served if we work beyond this and the
other culture areas that have sliced up Car-
ibbean body and rather consider the
Greater Caribbean (i.e., pan-Caribbean) a
geohistorical space. This will allow us to
overturn the "politics of segrega-
tion" (Rodriguez Ramos and Curet in
press) involved in the definition culture
areas that has resulted in the segmentation
of the shared precolonial histories that have
bound the peoples united by such body of
water through time and will allow us to ad-
dress cultural and social processes that
transcend cultural boundary lines.

Toward a Pan-Caribbean Geohistorical
Perspective
Geohistorical areas have been used as
units of macro-regional analysis in disci-
plines such as geography (Bentley 1999;
Lewis 1999), history (Amodio 1991; Vidal
2003), and sociology (Mintz 1971), as well
as in archaeology (McGregor 2002; Sanoja
Obediente 2006). The application of this
perspective has allowed scholars to de-
velop the "ability to convey the realities of
different territories of the region beyond
the language barriers and nationalist limita-


Rodriguez Ramos


tions" (N'Zergon Tayo 2001:150). This
organizing framework has several impor-
tant differences with the culture area ap-
proach. First, this analytical category is
particularly useful when culturally plural
contexts are encountered, as was Braudel's
case study in the Mediterranean, because it
allows addressing historical processes
which shaped and were shaped by the cul-
tures and societies of all peoples linked be-
yond cultural frontiers from a reticulate
perspective. This is because the frontiers of
geocultural areas are porous and, as a re-
sult, there is no discrimination by culture,
biology or language in their potential for
the study of historical, social, and/or cul-
tural processes. By focusing spatially on
the "liquid planes of the sea", as Braudel
(1992:65) did in the Mediterranean, it is
also assumed that the maritime nature of
coastal scapes overrides their continental or
insular character. This allows avoiding the
limitations imposed by the so-called 'island
archaeology' perspective, which has often
restricted our perception of the social dy-
namics registered between the inhabitants
of insular and continental territories (cf.
Boomert and Bright 2007).
These geographic analytical units are
also emancipated from the synchronic tem-
poral boundaries and the essentialism in-
volved in the definition of culture areas,
thus being able to highlight the changing
dynamics of long-term social and cultural
interactions conducted across bodies of wa-
ter and their effects at the micro and macro
scales that recursively constitute each
other. A geohistorical perspective also al-
lows higher degrees of vertical plasticity
for addressing fluctuating patterns of hu-
man activity and interaction through time
beyond cultural boundary lines. For in-
stance, it will be demonstrated that the in-
habitants of what is termed Mesoamerica
and the Isthmo-Colombian area were in-


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


volved in maritime-based interaction net-
works that extended up to the insular Car-
ibbean in varying ways through time, al-
though the Antillean chain lies outside both
of those spatio-cultural constructs. At first,
these interactions involved population
movements between central Mesoamerica
(i.e., Yucatan Peninsula, Casimiroid series;
Rouse 1992) and/or the Isthmo-Colombian
area (Rodriguez Ramos 2007; Rodriguez
Ramos and Pagan Jimenez 2006; Veloz
Maggiolo 1972) and the Antilles, while
later on the interactions focused on the
long di stance negotiation of prestige-
enhancing commodities (raw materials and
finished products) and their attached ideo-
logical narratives between the inhabitants
of those territories (Rodriguez Ramos
2007, 2010; Rodriguez Ramos and Pagan
Jimenez 2006). As previously mentioned,
the possible implications of these broad
horizontal phenomena in both the insular
and the continental Caribbean have not
been adequately addressed due to the
straightjacketing that cultural areas have
imposed on their analysis.
By using the pan-Caribbean as a pano-
ramic subject, I will now turn my attention
to the macro-regional distribution of jade in
order to show how does adopting a geohis-
torical perspective might help us gain a
better understanding of the processes that
took place between the many peoples
united by the Caribbean Sea.

Jade Distribution across the Caribbean-
scape
One of the types of materials that have
the longest record of circulation in the Pan-
Caribbean has been jade. Jade is a generic
term often used for making reference to
different types of gemstones and greenish
lustrous rocks that represented very impor-
tant commodities during precolonial times
in the Greater Caribbean. Lange (1993) and


Rodriguez Ramos


Guerrero (1993) have established a distinc-
tion between true jade which refers to
jadeitite and nephrite, and social jade,
which includes rocks such as serptentinite,
quartz, and agate, among others. This dis-
tinction is quite important because, as will
be argued, these rocks were used inter-
changeably in the widespread negotiation
of ideological traditions in the area. In ad-
dition to true jades, in the following discus-
sion I will focus on three other forms of
social jade: serpentinite, turquoise, and ra-
diolarian limestone. These rocks were used
concomitantly with jadeitite in the Antilles
for the production of similar personal
adornments and/or celts, so they seem to
have played overlapping symbolical and
functional roles.

The Sources
Sourcing studies have determined the
main social and true jade occurrences in
the Greater Caribbean (Figure 1). The prin-
cipal source of jadeitite often mentioned in
the archaeological literature has been lo-
cated in the Motagua River Valley of Gua-
temala. The movement of this material into
the Caribbean basin seems to have pro-
ceeded from the Motagua Fault Zone to-
ward the Caribbean coast of Guatemala,
around drainages of the Motagua, Dulce,
and Sarstun Rivers. From there, jadeitite
moved along the coast as far north as the
Yucatan Peninsula, south down to Colom-
bia, and across the Caribbean to the Antil-
les, as will be discussed below. On the
other hand, in the Pacific coast the reach of
the southern circulation of this raw material
seems to have been more limited, stopping
south in the Greater Nicoya (Femnandez
2006).
Until recently, the Motagua source was
considered to be the only occurrence of
jadeitite in the Americas (Harlow 1993; for
arguments against the single-source hy-


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


Rodriguez Ramos


5--~~~
9
~P.
o
o
IP, ;: ap dl


Figure 1. Location of jade sources in the Greater Caribbean. Round symbols reflect jadeitite and square ones
indicate serpentinite.


pothesis see Bishop and Lange 1993).
However, recent research has also docu-
mented jadeitite in the Greater Antilles,
namely in south central (Escambray) and
eastern (Sierra del Convento) Cuba
(Garcia-Casco et al. 2008), as well as in
north-central Hispaniola (San Juan com-
plex melange; Baese et al. 2007; Schertl et
al. 2007). These sources form part of the
tectonic boundary zone between the Carib-
bean and the North American plates, which
extends eastward from Guatemala into
Puerto Rico. The existence of jadeitite
sources has also been mentioned for south-
western Puerto Rico in association to the
Sierra Bermeja Complex (Moya 1989;
Smith 1954), but there has been no geo-
logical confirmation of its occurrence. Al-
though thus far there are no quarry sites
associated to any of these Antillean jadeit-
ite sources nor any artifacts clearly as-
cribed to them, their documentation opens
a complete new avenue of investigations
for the understanding the distribution of


this type of rock in the area, as will be dis-
cussed below.
The distribution of nephrite is the less
well researched form of true jade. Occur-
rences of this type of rock have been pro-
posed for Bahia in Brazil and the Santa
Elena peninsula in northwestern Costa Rica
(Fernandez 2005:27), but thus far no geo-
logical confirmation of their local occur-
rences has been produced neither in South
America or Mesoamerica (Middletown
2006).
There are other important sources of so-
cial jade that have been documented in the
Greater Caribbean. Serpentinite is the type
of social jade that seems to have the widest
distribution in the area (Cody 1991). In the
Antilles, several sources of serpentinite
have been located. The most often cited in
the archaeological literature of the islands
is the serpentinite occurrence that is located
in the southwestern part of Puerto Rico
(Lao-Davila 2008; Mattson 1964), which
has been considered as the most likely


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


provenance for most of the pendants and
celts made of this raw material in the archi-
pelago (Cody 1991; Narganes Storde 1995;
Rodriguez L6pez 1993; Rodriguez Ramos
2002). However, further consideration
needs to be provided to other serpentinite
occurrences located in Jamaica, Cuba, and
Hispaniola (La6 Davila 2008) as potential
sources for this raw material in the islands.
Other sources of this raw material have
been documented in both the Pacific and
the Caribbean sides of Costa Rica
(Fernandez 2006; Guerrero 1993), Guate-
mala, Bay Islands of Honduras (George
Harlow, personal communication 2010),
Margarita Island, northwestern Venezuela,
and Colombia (Guajira peninsula) (Wagner
and Schubert 1972).
Other widely distributed form of social
jade is radiolarian limestone. Sourcing
studies have clearly ascribed radiolarian
limestone to the Point Blanche Formation
of St. Martin (Knippenberg 2006). This
Antillean version of social jade, because of
its green and lustrous character, was widely
circulated across Puerto Rico and the
Lesser Antilles, primarily in association to
the production of celts (Haviser 1999; Hof-
man et al. 2007; Knippenberg 2006). Ar-
chaeological contexts of the Antilles and
other continental parts of the Greater Car-
ibbean have also shown the use of tur-
quoise. Thus far, there are no known occur-
rences of this type of raw material in the
Greater Caribbean, as its nearest sources
are in northern Bolivia, northern Mexico
and the southwestern United States (Cody
1991; Rodriguez L6pez 1993).
It should be noted that in most cases, the
identification of the particular archaeologi-
cal materials as either form of jade have
been based on visual inspections that need
further corroboration by a trained expert.
This is particularly the case of the catch-all
"greenstone" category, under which some


Rodriguez Ramos


of these materials have been classified.
Therefore, further lithic characterization
research is definitely needed to corroborate
the adscription of artifacts to the different
types of jade rocks and their sources.
As will be discussed below, all of the
aforementioned jade sources intersected in
the interaction networks articulated in the
Greater Caribbean through time. Now, I
will tumn my attention to the production and
circulation of materials made of these rock
types in the area and how these interaction
networks shifted through time. I will divide
this discussion along the lines of critical
periods when the main temporal changes in
the pan-regional distribution of these re-
sources are registered, following the lead
of Bentley (1996; see also Rodriguez
Ramos 2007, 2010) for addressing long
term changes in societies under interaction
within maritime basins.

2500 500 BC: The Foundational Period
The available evidence indicates that
jadeitite use in the Americas starts around
1500 BC in Soconusco in association to
Mocaya sites, eventually gaining currency
in Olmec territory, most notably in Ve-
racruz (Taube 2004). The geological prove-
nance of the finely carved jadeitite pieces
that have been recovered in these Forma-
tive sites have been traced to the Motaguan
source, from where these were exported
north along the Caribbean coast into south-
eastern Mexico. Jade (including jadeitite
and locally available serpentinite) has been
considered to be central to Olmec ideology
but, as far as it is known, it did not become
a major exchange commodity south of
Mexico until around 900 BC, when it was
imported south to Copan in Honduras
(Fernandez 2006). Thus far, no evidence of
true or social jade has been unearthed in
the Isthmo-Colombian area prior to 500
BC.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


In the Greater Antilles, the earliest refer-
ence that we have of the movement of so-
cial jade comes from Puerto Rico. There,
serpentinite beads have been found in pre-
Arawak contexts with dates that go back to
2500 BC. Personal adornments of tear-
drop shape made of this form of social jade
have been unearthed from the Ortiz site in
Cabo Rojo (Koski-Karell 1993) and, in as-
sociation to a burial, in Angostura (Ayes
Suarez 1988) in north-central Puerto Rico.
Although scarce, this evidence indicates
that the pre-Arawak inhabitants of the is-
land were moving this type of raw material
across rather long distances within, at least,
Puerto Rico thus highlighting its early im-
portance for those societies (Rodriguez
Ramos 2007). Thus far no evidence has
been found in these sites of blanks, pre-
forms or debitage associated to the produc-
tion of the aforementioned personal adorn-
ments, these seem to have been moved as
finished items between locations. A rim
fragment of a serpentinite stone bowl as
well as a polishing stone have also been
documented in Banwari Trace, in Trinidad
(Harris 1973), where this type of raw mate-
rial has not been documented locally thus
far. The finding of jade-like rocks has also
been reported in an early context in
Guayana in northeastern Venezuela
(Sanoja Obediente 1980).
During this period, there has been no
evidence of the translocation of any jade
form across the Caribbean Sea. However,
there are other indications of the interac-
tions between the insular and the continen-
tal Caribbean, namely through the circula-
tion of a botanic tradition that emphasized
the movement of cultivar complex that in-
cluded maize, manioc, and sweet potatoes
(Fortuna 1980; Pagan Jimenez 2007; Pagan
Jimenez et al. 2005), as has been docu-
mented thus far in Puerto Rico and His-
paniola. Prior to these findings, common


Rodriguez Ramos


wisdom regarding early plant dispersals in
the Neotropics indicated that domesticates
such as maize had spread south from its
homeland in western Mexico, while others
such as manioc were supposed to have
moved from South America into Central
America. This supposedly took place via
overland or coastal routes predominantly
along a north-south axis (Dickau 2005).
However, when considering the evidence
recently generated in the Antilles a com-
pletely different panorama is observed
since it indicates that these and other culti-
vars were translocated outside the conti-
nent into the islands since at least 2500 BC,
which is much earlier than originally
thought. This not only underlines the im-
portance of navigation as a mechanism for
early plant dispersals in the neotropics but
also indicates the multiple vectors across
which these botanical traditions were dif-
fused (cf. Pagan Jimenez et al. 2005; Rod-
riguez Ramos 2005b, 2007; Rodriguez
Ramos and Pagan Jimenez 2007). The evi-
dence from the islands also demands that
more research is placed on the continental
Caribbean in order to look for the sources
of such botanical traditions, which must
have reached those coastal locations much
earlier than is actually thought (cf. Griggs
2005).
These botanical traditions also included
a plant-processing repertoire that was
dominated by the edge-ground cobble/
millingstone complex. Experimental work
and starch grain evidence recovered from
Colombia, Panama, and Puerto Rico has
shown that these implements were associ-
ated to the confection of pastes that could
be transformed into meals by different reci-
pes such as the making of bollos, tamtttttttt~~~~~~~~~ales
or guanimes (Ranere 1980; Rodriguez
Ramos 2005b). This indicates that the
macro-regional spread of these early bo-
tanical complexes entailed much more than


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


the mere translocation of domesticated
crops and agricultural techniques, but also
involved the spread of culinary repertoires
and very likely a set of ideological princi-
ples associated with those botanical tradi-
tions. This is particularly notable when
considering the central role that maize
played in Formative societies in Central
America during this time and until much
later.
Furthermore, obsidian, which very likely
has either a Central American or an An-
dean origin, has also been documented on
Puerto Rico (Febles 2004; Rodriguez
Ramos 2007). Furthermore, some Greater
Antillean early pottery traditions seem to
have spread between the Antilles and the
Isthmo-Colombian area (Reichel Dol-
matoff (1997) and/or northern Venezuela
(Arvelo and Wagner 1984; Zucchi 1984)
much prior to previously thought. This evi-
dence for the maritime circulation of early
botanical traditions, early pottery, and
lithic materials between the Antilles and
surrounding continental regions, brings
back the idea of the articulation of a pan-
Caribbean Formative, as was suggested
more than two decades ago by Donald
Lathrap and Jose Oliver (1986; see also
Rodriguez Ramos and Pagan Jimenez
2006), which might have laid the founda-
tions for the later interactions that took
place within this body of water, such as
those registered since 500 BC that empha-
sized the negotiation of an ideological rep-
ertoire objectified in celts and shiny wear-
able art, as will be discussed below.

500 BC -AD 500/700: ThelIridescent
Period
It is after 500 BC that a Fluorescent pe-
riod of jadeite movement has been docu-
mented in the Isthmo-Colombian area,
most notably in Costa Rica emphasizing
the circulation of jadeitite and social jade


Rodriguez Ramos


celts and personal adornments (Guerrero
1993). The earliest evidence of jade con-
sumption in this region comes from La Re-
gla in the Gulf of Nicoya, in the form of an
axe-god pendant found in a burial context
dated to circa 500 BC. The widespread dis-
tribution of jade goods as well as of the
ideological narratives attached to them has
been associated to the early rise of social
asymmetry in the area (Corrales 1999).
Jade working in Costa Rica has also been
considered to be an indicator of a
southbound Olmec ideological vector from
where the traditions of j ade working and its
attended symbolism originated, which in-
fluenced southern developments until much
later in time (Snarskis 1984).
The main source of the jade used in this
period in the continental Caribbean contin-
ues to be that of the Motagua river valley.
This period shows a considerable distribu-
tion of raw materials from this source, go-
ing north up to Mayan territory in the Yu-
catan and down to northwestern Colombia
around AD 300 (Saenz Samper and Lleras
Perez 1999). In addition to jadeitite and
nephrite, sites in the continental Caribbean
also evidence the use of other forms of so-
cial jade, such as serpentinite. The exten-
sive networks documented in the Isthmo-
Colombian area at this time have tradition-
ally been deemed to reflect a similar north-
south axis of influence as was the afore-
mentioned case of early cultivars (i.e.,
maize to the south and manioc to the
north). This is because jade traditions have
been argued to diffuse south from Meso-
america while metallurgical traditions
spread north from Colombia, again via
overland or coastal routes (Cooke 2005;
Fernandez 2005). However, the horizontal
configuration of these networks again
changes dramatically when considering the
evidence generated in the Antilles, where
an emphasis on the consumption of jade


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


celts and personal adornments (as well as
tumbaga, as will be discussed below) dur-
ing this period is also observed mirroring
the changes noted at this time in the
Isthmo-Colombian area, most conspicu-
ously in Costa Rica (McGinnis 1997;
Rodriguez Ramos 2007; Rodriguez Ramos
and Pagan Jimenez 2006; Sued Badillo
1979).
The available evidence indicates that
some of the most recurrent pan-regional
themes observed in the Isthmo-Colombian
area are manifested in quite a similar fash-
ion in contemporaneous contexts in Puerto
Rico and the northern Antilles, in associa-
tion to both, Huecoid and Saladoid cultural
manifestations. Amongst the pan-regional
themes reflected in personal adornments
associated to these Antillean cultural mani-
festations are the representation of beak
birds, axe-god, curly-tailed, frog-shaped,
reptilian, and winged pendants (Figure 2),
which are markedly similar to contempora-
neous pieces produced in Costa Rica and


Rodriguez Ramos


Colombia at this time (Perera 1979; Plazas
2007; Rodriguez Ramos 2007, in press;
Rodriguez Ramos and Pagan Jimenez
2006).

In addition to the iconographic parallels
between the wearable art of the Isthmo-
Colombian area and the Antilles, these
items were also produced following similar
technological styles, as is particularly noted
by the use of string sawing for the produc-
tion of the beak bird pendants as well as
the use of transverse drilling for pendant
suspension in both areas. It should be noted
that the use of the string sawing technique
outside Puerto Rico has only been observed
thus far at this time in Costa Rica, Ecuador,
Mexico, and southeastern United States.
The concomitances between these Antil-
lean and Isthmo-Colombian adornments
are not only limited to iconographic and
technological elements, but are also re-
flected in the types of raw materials se-
lected for their production, as these were


b c


Figure 2. Pan-Caribbean themes objectified in personal adornments in the Antilles: (a) axe-god pendant, Anti-
gua (modified from hopll w\ int .archaeologyantigua.org.htm); (b) frog-shaped pendant, La Hueca-Sorc6,
Vieques (Centro de Investigaciones Arqueol6gicas [CIA]): (c) curly-tailed pendant, La Hueca-Sorc6 (CIA); (d)
reptilian amulet, La Hueca-Sorc6 (CIA); (e) beak-bird pendant, La Hueca-Sorc6 (CIA).


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010













What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


Rodriguez Ramos


Figure 3. Jade pendants. Far left Tecla I, Guayanilla, Puerto Rico (CIA); all others La Hueca Sorc6, Vieques


(CIA).


manufactured using the various forms of

jade, which included jadeitite, serpentinite,
and nephrite (Figure 3).
Unfortunately, thus far there have not
been any detailed petrographic studies on
these ornamental materials in the Antilles,
so their identification (particularly of

jadeitite and nephrite) remains tentative at
present.
Blanks and performs of serpentinite
beads and pendants have been documented
thus far in Puerto Rico contexts in La
Hueca-Sorce, Maisabel, and Punta Candel-


ero (Figure 4), from where they were
moved south all the way down to Grenada

(Cody 1991; Oliver 2008).
In contrast, in the case of the jadeitite and

nephrite pendants, there has been no indi-
cation of their intra-Antillean manufacture.

This indicates that either these jadeite

pieces were brought as finished items or
that their last stages of reduction were con-
ducted at off-site or unsampled locations.
This is also the case of turquoise, which
seem also to have arrived in finished form
to the islands, as no evidence of discarded


I~' '1.:~- ..z::,-"r


5 I~C
-'
-"
-e

I-
~I
Irr

r .
"'r

;
;,
I.I ..
. ~.

); r

~J ,. i
.
-. '':
I


~~ -11'`~'i'
!? ~,


''~..

I



r .
~F~I'
';
'
~-~.

:~:


r


Figure 4. Serpentinite reforms of beak-bird pendants, Punta Candelero, Puerto Rico (courtesy of Miguel
Rodriguez L6pez).


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


performs or detritus associated to their
transformation into tools has been recov-
ered thus far (Chanlatte Baik and Narganes
Storde 2005). As previously noted, the ori-
gins of these rocks is not clear at the mo-
ment, but on the basis of reported geologi-
cal occurrences these could been obtained
could be from Chile by way of Colombia,
or from Mexico, perhaps following a simi-
lar route of that of the Guatemalan jadeitite
into Puerto Rico.
It should be noted that although there are
some marked similarities in the icono-
graphic themes that were deployed in these
forms of j ade as well as in their technologi-
cal styles of manufacture, the contexts in
which these have been found vary between
the Isthmo-Colombian area and the Antil-
les. For instance, in Costa Rica, these jade-
ite pieces are usually associated to burial
contexts (Guerrero 1993), while in Puerto
Rico and the Lesser Antilles these materi-
als have usually been found in mounded
middens. Despite the iconographic simi-
larities, there are also some interesting dif-
ferences in the ways that the themes are
represented both areas, as for example
while in Costa Rica most of these birds
seem to be in the act of feeding or eating
the prey (being depicted by the beak con-
nected to the head), in the Huecoid the
beak of the bird is separated from the
clasped head, perhaps representing the act
of catching it. This might be either suggest-
ing local reinterpretations in both areas of
the same motif or different but related
events within a single mythical narrative
(Rodriguez Ramos 2007, in press). This
indicates that, although some of the ideo-
logical narratives that are attached to these
materials are spread in these areas, still the
negotiations that are made with such mate-
rials vary from region to region.
As is the case in the Isthmo-Colombian
area, there was an emphasis during this


Rodriguez Ramos


time in the manufacture of jade celts in the
Antilles, most notably made of social jade
varieties available within the islands such
as serpentinite (Figure 5) and radiolarian
limestone (see Knippenberg 2006;
Rodriguez Ramos 2007).

Serpentinite and peridotite celts have been
documented in Puerto Rico in sites such as
La Hueca-Sorce, Maisabel, and Punta
Candelero. In none of those sites has there
been any indication of their local produc-
tion, so these also seem to have been circu-
lated as finished items.
The widest intra-Antillean distribution
during this time of greenstone celts has


Figure 5. Serpentinite celt (6.75x3.75 cm), Maisabel,
Puerto Rico.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


been associated to radiolarian limestone.
Knippenberg's (2006) studies have demon-
strated that there were some focal points of
radiolarian celt manufacture, namely in St.
Martin initially and eventually between St.
Kitts and Anguilla, from which these were
exported west into consumption sites into
Puerto Rico and south into Martinique. In
fact, Haviser (1991) has argued for the
presence of celt manufacturing centers in
the northern Antilles (an example being
Hope Estate), from which these imple-
ments were widely distributed by maritime
based networks into consumption sites in
islands to the south.
Petrographic studies conducted by
George Harlow have shown the presence of
jadeitite celts in Huecoid and Saladoid con-
texts in Puerto Rico (Harlow 2007, cited in
Rodriguez Ramos 2007), St. Croix (Hardy
2008), and Antigua (Harlow et al. 2006).
This researcher has proposed as the most
plausible provenance of the jadeite used in
the manufacture of these ground bifaces the
Motagua Valley in Guatemala. If this is
further confirmed, this would provide solid
evidence for the participation of the inhabi-
tants of the island in the pan-regional inter-
action spheres that led to the movement of
this raw material during this period.
The aforementioned evidence of jadeite
occurrences recently reported in Cuba
(Garcia-Casco et al. 2009) and Hispaniola
(Baese et al. 2007; Schertl et al. 2007) pro-
vide additional geologic alternatives for the
obtainment of this important raw material.
However, it should be noted that thus far
there is no evidence in Cuba or Hispaniola
of finished jadeitite artifacts or their pro-
duction predating or contemporaneous to
Huecoid and Hacienda Grande contexts
from Puerto Rico and the northern Lesser
Antilles. Thus far, there are also no ar-
chaeological contexts associated to any of
those cultural manifestations in those is-


Rodriguez Ramos


lands. In fact, the dates from Puerto Rico,
St. Croix, and Antigua where this raw ma-
terial has been unearthed are at least half a
millennium earlier than the earliest Arawa-
kan contexts of Cuba and Hispaniola.
Therefore, if the Cuban or Hispaniolan
sources were indeed the areas from which
jadeite was procured and then circulated to
the islands to the east, this could imply the
arti cul ati on an Pre-Arawak/Saladoid/
Huecoid interaction network, as has been
suggested for Puerto Rico (Rodriguez
Ramos 2002, 2007). But, taking into con-
sideration the iconographic and technologi-
cal concomitances observed between the
Isthmo-Colombian region, Puerto Rico,
and the northern Antilles at this time, it is
very likely that the jadeitites found in ar-
chaeological sites that date to this period
have a Central American origin.
Almost all of the jadeitite celts docu-
mented thus far are of petaloid (i.e., tear
drop) shape. However, a notable finding
has been that of one jadeitite plano-convex
adze that was recovered from Tecla 1 in
southwestern Puerto Rico. Due to its asso-
ciation to mortuary practices and its lack of
use traces at the macroscopic level, the
plano-convex adze has commonly been
considered to be manufactured for non-
utilitarian activities (Rodriguez Ramos
2001, 2007; Siegel 1992). This finding of a
jadeitite plano-convex adze is quite inter-
esting, since this type of celt has not been
documented thus far in northeastern South
America in contexts predating those of
Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles, while
it has been widely documented in Costa
Rica. This indicates the pan-regional im-
portance placed in the manufacture of this
type of implement at this time. Particularly
in Costa Rica, plano-convex adzes are
found without decorations or as pendants
depicting the axe-god motif, thus signaling
the possibility that this type of implement


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


might have played a significant ideological
role in the Antillean negotiation of the
mythical narratives associated to those celt
idols in the Isthmo-Colombian area. Thus
far, there has been no evidence for the in-
tra-Antillean manufacture of jadeitite celts,
so these were very likely imported to the
sites in finished forms.
Another product that has an Isthmo-
colombian origin and made its way to
Puerto Rico is tumbaga or guanin (i.e., a
gold copper alloy), which very likely ar-
rived through the same networks that pro-
moted jade circulation across the Carib-
beanscape. The metallurgical evidence
comes from a guanin hammered plate re-
covered from a Saladoid context in north-
ern Puerto Rico dated to AD 100 (Siegel
and Severin 1993), which is a time where
the only circum-Caribbean areas where this
gold-copper alloy was being produced
were located between Colombia and Costa
Rica (Fernandez 2005). Other materials
that were of marked importance in the
Isthmo-Colombian area and the Antilles for
the manufacture of wearable art is mullu, a
concept that makes reference to artifacts
made of Pinctadatttt~~~~~~tttttt and Spondyhts shells
which have usually been considered as em-
blems of long di stance relationships
(Cooke and Sanchez 2001). Also, drilled
jaguar and peccary teeth for their use as
pendants have been documented in Puerto
Rico, which is very notable since none of
those animals formed part of the endemic
fauna of the Antilles (Chanlatte Baik and
Narganes Storde 2005). Other artifacts
such as the womb-shaped vessel recovered
from the Saladoid context of Indian Creek
(Rouse and Morse 1999) also show marked
similarities to contemporaneous materials
from Costa Rica. All of this evidence un-
derlines the pan-regional negotiation of
technical and ideological traditions re-
flected in pottery, shell, metallurgical, and


Rodriguez Ramos


lapidary work across these vast stretches of
sea.
The botanical evidence recovered during
this time also provides further confirmation
of these Isthmo-Antillean engagements.
Pagan Jimenez (2007) has noted that, al-
though most of the cultivated plants con-
sumed by the Huecoid had already been
introduced during pre-Arawak times, one
of the missing pieces of the Isthmo-
Colombian plant assemblage, leren
(Calathea allouia and calatea or Calathea
of. veitchian2a), was found amongst the
Huecoid botanical assemblage. Further-
more, the possible use of hallucinogenic
substances associated to a similar array of
snuff inhaling paraphernalia in both areas
(Oliver 2009; Wilson 2007) might attest
shared ritual practices between these re-
gi ons.
As suggested by Helms (1987), the mari-
time movement of agents through such
long distances provided them with a privi-
leged access to the sources of esoteric
knowledge. This must have played a piv-
otal role in the social accommodation of
those individuals who were able to reach
those places located beyond the horizon.
Although most researchers of the insular
Caribbean (e.g., Curet and Oliver 1998;
Siegel 1992) consider that the societies of
the islands during this period were equali-
tarian, Cody (1991; see also Chanlatte and
Narganes 1983) has argued that these long
distance engagements served to legitimize
a pyramidal societal structure in, at least,
those communities that participated in
these macro-regional networks at this time.
This echoes the observations about the on-
set of social asymmetry noted for the
Isthmo-Colombian area at this time
(Corrales 1999; Fonseca 2002; Hoopes
2005). As argued by Drennan (1984), the
long distances involved in these inter-
societal translocations of jade pieces indi-


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


cates that it is very unlikely that these en-
gagements involved high-necessity goods,
but rather were mostly concentrated on so-
cial tran sacti on s emphasizing rank-
enhancing commodities and information.
Therefore, the enzymatic agent behind the
movement of these fetishized obj ects rested
on their imbued ideological capital, which
was variably negotiated at both the local
and extralocal levels by all the parties that
participated in these inter-societal transac-
tions across the Caribbean.
Perhaps, the population movements of
Early Ceramic societies from the continen-
tal Caribbean into the Antilles during this
period at least in part responded to the
search of agents for suitable venues in
which to position themselves within these
pan-Caribbean interaction networks
(Rodriguez Ramos 2007, in press). This
could explain why some of the earliest sites
are located in proximity to sources of mate-
rials with ritual and/or economic value in
these transactional circuits, which may also
point to community-levels of specialization
in the manufacture of certain goods that
were important in such networks. This is
the case, for instance, of the social j ade ob-
tained from the serpentinite belt located
nearby Tecla and the radiolarian limestone
used in green-stone celt production ob-
served in Hope Estate, both of which were
within easy reach from those sites.
The trans-Caribbean engagements regis-
tered during this period not only indicate
the movement of raw materials, technologi-
cal styles, and iconographic themes but
also seem to have entailed the macro-
regional negotiation of a system of belief
that was materially and symbolically obj ec-
tified in the aforementioned materials. The
pan-regionally negotiated structural princi-
ples of this cosmovision perhaps laid the
foundation for the eventual materialization
of some of the most conspicuous ideologi-


Rodriguez Ramos


cal grammar observed in later contexts in
the Antilles and the Isthmo-Colombian
area. This could have been a very impor-
tant element in social practices that eventu-
ally gave rise to pyramidal social structures
in these areas, which intensifies after AD
500, as will be discussed below.

AD 500/700 -1500: The Nucleation
Period
After AD 500, there is a marked shift in
the insular Caribbean with regards to the
articulation of the interaction networks reg-
istered earlier in time. This is reflected by
the marked decline in the widespread dis-
tribution of shiny raw materials used for
making personal adornments concomitant
with an increase in emphasis in the circula-
tion of green celts. Taking into considera-
tion the technological changes noted during
this period in the organization of core-flake
technologies toward ones that emphasized
the manufacture of larger and thicker
flakes, it is very likely that these interaction
circuits emphasized the circulation of wood
commodities (Rodriguez Ramos 2007).
These changes coincide with marked al-
terations in the social structure of Antillean
societies, most notably in Puerto Rico and
the Greater Antilles. Among some of the
most notable changes observed during this
period that signal higher degrees of social
stratification are the construction of stone
lined precincts or bateyes, shifts from com-
munal to nuclear households, the practice
of tabular oblique fronto-occipital cranial
deformation in certain individuals, and
changes in mortuary behaviors from ones
that emphasized a kin-based corporate sys-
tem where there was a communal right
over space and ideology to a formalized
lineage based elite that now had control
over those resources (Crespo Torres 2005;
Curet 2003; Curet and Oliver 1998; Pagan
Jimenez 2007).


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


It around this period that a shift in em-
phasis from jade to tumbaga circulation is
noted in the Isthmo-Colombian area, most
notably after AD 700 (Guerrero 1993;
Hooopes 2005; Snarskis 2003). As is the
case in the Antilles, this shift toward in-
creasing levels of social asymmetry was a
widespread phenomenon, which extended
from eastern Honduras to Sierra Nevada de
Santa Marta in Colombia (Hoopes 2005).
The available evidence indicates that it is
after AD 500 that the widest distribution of
jadeitite celts is registered in the Antilles,
now involving other Greater Antilles be-
sides Puerto Rico as well as other islands in
the Lesser Antilles. Based on visual inspec-
tions of the materials, jadeitite celts have
also been observed in the Dominican Re-
public (El Cabo), Puerto Rico (La Mina,
Monserrate, Tibes, Jacanas, Aguacate), the
Virgin Islands (Coakley Bay and Estate
Adrian in St. Croix and Estate Anguilla in


Rodriguez Ramos


St. Johns), St. Eustatius (Golden Rock),
Anguilla (Forest North), Saba (Kelbey's
Ridge), Guadeloupe (Anse a la Gourde),
and several other islands, going all the way
down to sites near Balembouche in St. Lu-
cia (Figure 6).

Thus far, petrographic studies have been
conducted on jadeitite celts from Tecla II
and Rio Tanama sites in Puerto Rico
(Harlow 2007, cited in Rodriguez Ramos
2007) and have again traced this raw mate-
rial back to the Motagua formation in Gua-
temala. If, as has been usually argued, the
control of the exploitation and distribution
of jadeitite nurtured the nucleation of
power as a core strategy in the Meso-
american World System at this time (which
now includes the northern part of the
Isthmo-Colombian area; Carmack and
Salgado 2006), then the particular role that
the inhabitants of the Antilles played as


Figure 6. Jadeitite celts. (left) El Cabo, Dominican Republic (courtesy of Alice Samson); (right) Tecla II,
Guayanilla, Puerto Rico.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


active participants in the macro-regional
distribution of this raw material needs to be
further addressed, in order to elucidate
what was coming back from the Antilles
into the continent in exchange for jadeitite
social goods.
The widespread movement of jadeitite is
mirrored in the Antilles by the long-
distance distribution of radiolarian lime-
stone. During this period, there is an in-
crease in sites to which radiolarian lime-
stone obj ective pieces were moved for their
local transformation into celts, including
islands such as Anguilla, Saba, and St.
Martin (Crock 2000; Knippenberg 2006).
From these sites, finished celts were dis-
tributed as far south as Martinique
(Knippenberg 2006). No radiolarian lime-
stone celts have been uncovered west of St.
Martin, so the connection with Puerto Rico,
Vieques, and the Virgin Islands related to
the counterclockwise movement of this raw
material subsides after AD 500.
Although the emphasis during this pe-
riod on jade circulation was related to celts,


Rodriguez Ramos


there have been some mentions of personal
adornments made of this type of raw mate-
rial during this period. Frog shaped jadeit-
ite pendants have been observed in sites
such as Jacanas and Aguacate in Puerto
Rico as well as in Anse a la Gourde in
Guadeloupe (Figure 7).

No evidence of reforms or debitage asso-
ciated to the production of these adorn-
ments has been uncovered thus far at those
sites, thus underlining again the fact that
these seem to have been moved either as
finished items and/or as pre-shaped per-
forms to the different locations from yet
unknown production sites.
It is quite possible that after AD 1000,
the Cuban and Hispaniolan sources of
jadeitite get inserted into the pan-regional
distribution of this raw material along
routes previously delineated in the interac-
tion networks that also emphasized the
movement of this raw material from other
sources (i.e., Motagua). Jadeitite has been
recovered at this time from the Bahamas


Figure 7. Jadeitite pendant, Anse g la Gourde, Guadeloupe (courtesy of Sebastiaan Knippenberg).


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


(Carlson 1995; Rose 1989) and Jamaica
(Allsworth-Jones 2008). In Cuba, artifacts
associated to the "Taino" culture were re-
covered from a site quite near jadeitite oc-
currences in the eastern part of the island
(Garcia Casco et al. 2009; Mendoza
Cuevas et al. 2009).
Another notable Greater Antillean devel-
opment takes place after AD 1000 has to
do with the production of adorned celts that
sport emblems reminiscent of the axe-god
motif documented in Costa Rica (as well as
in the aforementioned Antiguan axe-god
pendant) since much earlier. Celts deco-
rated with these images have been uncov-
ered from Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and
Cuba (Figure 8).

However, in contrast to
the ones produced in
Costa Rica, these are not
to be worn but rather
served as hand held im-
plements. Also, while ,
the head of the Costa
Rican icons is located to
the "poll" side of the
celts, in the Antillean
specimens these are lo-
cated toward their bits,
again showing a varia-
tion of the same theme
in these areas.
Another type of im-
plement that appears
after AD 1000 in the
Greater Antilles that
shows the heavy ideo- 2
logical loads imbued in
these ground imple-
ments is the monolithic
axe. Greater Antillean
axes show marked re-


Rodriguez Ramos


semblances to specimens in the Isthmo-
Colombian area, most notably those of Co-
lombia. In fact, monolithic axes are still
being used by the Kogi in rain ceremonies
(Bray 2003), and were very likely used in
the Antilles and Colombia in precolonial
times for similar ritual activities.
The pan-regional negotiation of the ideo-
logical template that led to the maritime
circulation of these celts was very likely
associated also to the movement of guanin
or tumbaga. These gold-copper alloy
adornments were brought to the Antilles
from the mainland, as there is no evidence
of the practice of metallurgy anywhere in
the Antilles. Due to the fact that there has
been no finding of guanin in the Lesser


Figure 8. Decorated celts depicting variations of the axe-god motif. (left) Dominican Republic; (center) Puerto
Rico; (right) Cuba (modified from plates VIe, VIIb, and XIXb from Herrera Fritot 1964).


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


Antilles or any evidence of metallurgical
practices in northeastern South America, it
is very likely that these prestige-enhancing
items were brought to the Greater Antilles
directly from the Isthmo-Colombian area
across the Caribbean Sea, as was the case
proposed of the Motaguan j ade. Other pres-
tige paraphernalia such as the stone belts,
dujos, and other materials made of black-
polished wood (Helms 1987) could have
also been inserted in these pan-regional
networks of highly valued commodities
within which ideologies and knowledge
were objectified. Some of these superstruc-
tural-based interactions extended between
the Greater and the Lesser Antilles, leading
to the inter-island movement of ceremonial
paraphernalia and/or its emulation by the
inhabitants of the islands engaged in these
networks within which 'Tainoness' was
negotiated (Allaire 1990; Hofman and
Hoogland 2004; Hoogland and Hofman
1993; Mol 2007; Oliver 2009; Rodriguez
Ramos 2007).
These macro-regional engagements
might have also been related to the con-
struction of integrative facilities, or
bateyes, in the Greater Antilles and in the
northern Lesser Antilles (most notably in
Antigua). As has been noted by Wilson
(2007b), these bateyes show quite marked
architectural similarities to enclosures built
between Colombia and Costa Rica at this
time. The lithification of the landscape in-
dicated by the construction of these archi-
tectural features is related to an emphasis
in the enacting of communalizing activities
that served to negotiate sameness and dif-
ference between groups at the local and
macroregional levels (Rodriguez Ramos
2007). Perhaps, in addition to their local-
ized functions, these structures served to
engage networks of interacting elites of the
Isthmo-Colombian area and the Antilles in
the negotiation of widespread religious so-


Rodriguez Ramos


dalities (Hoopes 2005:25). If such is the
case, the production of these sacred centers
might be related to a process of religious
'routinization' (Oyuela Caycedo 2002) by
which a set of precepts was transmitted be-
tween priestly and/or chiefly authorities at
both the micro and macro-regional levels
(Hoopes 2005) across the Caribbean.

Discussion
The information that is available regard-
ing the pan-regional distribution of differ-
ent forms of jade in the Greater Caribbean
that has been hereby presented seems to be
very promising for understanding the types
of inter-societal and ideological engage-
ments that were established through time
across this sea between the Antilles and the
Isthmo-Colombian area, and potentially
other continental Caribbean regions. How-
ever, there are still many voids in the data
that we have available, particularly from
the islands, which definitely make any ob-
servation at this time preliminary. Never-
theless, on the basis of the data at hand
there are some trends that are emerging in
the pan-regional distribution of jade that
we want to advance:
(1) The pan-Caribbean distribution of jade
starts around 500-300 BC, and seems to
have been framed upon previous interso-
cietal networks that were established since
earlier times across the Caribbean Sea. The
macro-regional distribution of jade focuses
initially on the production of personal
adornments, some of which obj ectify
iconographic themes that circulated along
with ideological narratives and their tech-
nological styles of production, most nota-
bly in the Antilles and the Isthmo-
Colombian area.
(2) On the basis of the iconographic and
technological correspondences observed
between these two areas at this time, in
conjunction with the lack of evidence of


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


the exploitation of intra-Antillean jadeitite
sources, the evidence seems to pinpoint to
Guatemala as the main (or perhaps the
only) source of this raw material before
AD 1000, being interchangeably used for
the production of similar items with locally
available materials. Guatemalan jadeitite
made its way between Puerto Rico and An-
tigua, from where it might have eventually
been moved clockwise into the Lesser An-
tilles.
(3) Sometime around AD 500, this empha-
sis on the circulation of wearable art sub-
sides, while a transition to the widespread
movement of jadeitite celts is registered in
the Antilles, perhaps in tandem with an in-
crease emphasis in the circulation of
wooden commodities. The movement of
these materials is inserted within previ-
ously articulated interaction spheres that
emphasized the movement of green shiny
celts made out of radiolarian limestone and
serpentinite, most notably between eastern
Hispaniola and the Lesser Antilles. A tran-
sition is also observed during this time in
the Isthmo-Colombian area, but in that area
the shift is toward tumbaga (i.e., guanin)
distribution. After AD 500, the movement
of some forms of social jade such as ser-
pentinite and turquoise (in conjunction
with other semi-precious stones) also re-
flects a drastic decline.
(4) It is very probable that after AD 1000,
the Antillean jadeitite sources became
more sought after. At this time, a tradition
of celt making develops in the Greater An-
tilles that emphasized the representation of
axe gods and other images in their ventral
and dorsal aspects. Also at this time, the
widespread circulation of radiolarian lime-
stone drastically declined. It is during this
period that the inhabitants of islands in the
Bahamas and Jamaica became inserted into
these pan-regional spheres of jade distribu-
tion.


Rodriguez Ramos


Concluding Remarks
This analysis of the pan-regional distri-
bution of jadeite in the Greater Caribbean
has aimed to show how does working be-
yond the cultural boundary lines in the
Greater Caribbean allows addressing proc-
esses of maritime-based precolonial inter-
actions. This type of study had previously
been limited due to the physical fragmenta-
tion of the Caribbean into culture areas,
which tended to obscure our perceptions of
processes that take place beyond their con-
stituent limits.
The available evidence indicates that,
starting around 500 BC, there were multi-
ple intersecting circuits of jade distribution
in the Greater Caribbean, which were also
related to the widespread movement of
other types of gemstones, metals, wood,
and shell artifacts. The mechanisms and the
social and ideological reasons that regu-
lated the circulation of these materials
along such long distances is most definitely
an issue that needs to be further addressed
in dialogue between the researchers that
work in the different areas bound by these
networks of interactions.'
The consumption of jades and their re-
lated technological styles and iconography
in the Antilles and the Isthmo-Colombian
area seems to have entailed the macro-
regional negotiation of a pan-regional sys-
tem of belief whose structural principles
were articulated from within and without
each of the areas integrated by this body of
water. I consider that the "diffuse
unity" (Hoopes 2005:5) reflected by these
macro-regional ideological concomitances
objectified in the artifacts that were moved
through such vast stretches of sea were not
the result of the sudden manifestation of a
cultural substratum (Spinden 1917; Stew-
ard 1948) or of the psychic unity of these
peoples (Ford 1969), but rather denote the


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


outcome of the millenary interactions that
took place within the Caribbeanscape. In
order to understand the deep seated rela-
tions that might have promoted these ho-
mologous developments and the ways in
which these were embedded in the daily
lives of the peoples that participated in
their structuration we have come to terms
with the statement made at the beginning
of this work: that the Antilles is not the
Caribbean and that the Caribbean is not the
Antilles.

Acknowledgments
I want to thank Sebastiaan Knippenberg
for our discussions about jadeitite distribu-
tion in the area, which have given us a
platform for the study that we are conduct-
ing together as ithr Antonio Garcia-Casco
and George Harlow about the circulation
of this raw material in the Greater Calrib-
bean. The X-ray dif~fraction studies con-
ducted by George Harlow together as ithr his
comments on an earlier version of this
work were also instrumental in developing
some of the ideas hereby presented. Infor-
mation provided by Antonio Garcia-Casco,
Jaime Pagdn Jiminez, Mary JanJJJJJJJJ~~~~~~~~~e Berman,
Daniel Lad Dd~vila, and Elvis Babilonia,
and comments submitted by Scott Fitz-
patrick and one anonymous reviewer are
also immensely appreciated. This work was
made possible thanks to a grant fr~om the
Netherlands Foundation for Scientific Re-
search (#27762001) held by Corinne Hof-
man for the project "Communicating Com-
munities: Unraveling Precolonial Net-
works of Human M~obility and Exchange of
Goods and Ideas fr~om a Pan-Caribbean
Perspective".


1. Currently, we are moving in that direction, as
characterization research is being conducted on
jadeitite artifacts from the Greater and Lesser Antil-
les by Antonio Garcia-Casco (Universidad de Gra-


Rodriguez Ramos


nada) who, together with George Harlow (American
Museum of Natural History), will generate a dataset
that will allow us to get a better perspective on the
vectors of distribution of this raw material in both
the continental and the insular Caribbean.


References Cited
Alegria, R.
1978 Apuntes en torno a la mitologia de
los Indios Tainos de las Antillas
Mayo r es y sus or ige ne s
suramericanos. Centro de Estudios
Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el
Caribe: San Juan.
Alegria, R. (ed.)
1993 Indice analitico de las actas de los
congress de la Asociacidn de
Arqueologia del Caribe 1963-1994.
Centro de Estudios Avanzados de
Puerto Rico y el Caribe: San Juan.
Allaire, L.
1990 Prehistoric Taino Interaction with
the Lesser Antilles. Paper pre-
sented at the 55th Annual Meeting
of the Society for American Ar-
chaeology, Las Vegas.
Allsworth-Jones, P.
2008 Pre-Columbian JamJJJJJJJJ~~~~~~~~~aica The Uni-
versity of Alabama Press:
Tuscaloosa.
Amodio, E.
1991 Relaciones interetnicas en el Caribe
indigena: Una reconstrucci6n a
partir de los primeros testimonies
europeos. Revista de Indias 51
(193):571-606.
Arvelo, L., and E. Wagner
1984 Relaciones estilisticas ceramicas
del noroeste de Sudamerica con las
Antillas. In Relaciones
prehispdnica~s de Venezuela, pp. 51-
66. Caracas: Fondo Editorial Acta
Cientifica Venezolana.
Ayes Suarez, C. M.
1988 Evaluacidn arqueoldgica tipo Fase


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


2, Angostura, Florida Afuera,
Barceloneta, Puerto Rico. Copies
available at the Consejo para la
Protecci6n del Patrimonio
Arqueol6gico Terrestre de Puerto
Rico, San Juan.
Baese R., H. P. Schertl and W.V. Maresch
2007 Mineralogy and petrology of His-
paniolan jadeitites: first results. In
High-pressure belts of Central
Guatemala: the M~otagua suture
and the Chuacus Complex, edited
by U. Martens and A. Garcia
Casco. IGCP 546 Special Contribu-
tion, 1 (available at http://
www.ugr.es/*agcasco/igcp546/
Activities G uatemala
2007_Ab stracts)
Barnard, A.
2000 History and Theory in Anthropol-
ogy. Cambridge University Press:
Cambridge.
Bentley, J. H.
1999 Sea and Ocean Basins as Frame-
works of Historical Analysis. Geo-
graphical Review 89(2): 215-225.
Bishop, R. L., and F. W. Lange
1993 Sources of Maya and Central
American Jadeites: Databases and
Interpretations. In Pre-Columbian
Jade:J~~~~JJJJJ~~~~JJJJ New Geological and Cultural
Interpretations, edited by F. W.
Lange, pp. 30-60. University of
Utah Press, Salt Lake City.
Boomert, A.
1987 Gifts of the Amazon: "Green
Stone" Pendants and Beads as
Items of Ceremonial Exchange in
Amazonian and the Caribbean. An-
tropoldgica 67: 33-54.
Boomert, A., and A. J. Bright
2007 Island Archaeology: In Search of a
New Horizon. Island Studies Jour-
nal 2(1): 3-26.


Rodriguez Ramos


Bracho, J.
2004 Globalizaci6n, cultural, identidad en
la integraci6n del Gran Caribe.
Mahong6 23(12): 1-16.
Braudel, F.
1972[ 1944]The M~editerranean and the
M~editerranean World in the Age of
Phillip H (Vol. 1), translated by S.
Reynolds. New York: Harper and
Row.
1992 The Perspective of the World. Los
Angeles: University of California
Press.
Bray, W.
2003 Gold, Stone, and Ideology: Sym-
bols of Power in the Tairona Tradi-
tion of Northern Colombia. In
Gold and Power in Ancient Costa
Rica, Panama, and Colombia, ed-
ited by J. Quilter and J. W. Hoopes,
pp. 301-344. Washington, D.C.:
Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Har-
vard University.
Bricefio Guerrero, J. M.
2002 Integraci6n de la Regi6n Caribe.
Boletin Antropoldgico 20(54): 535-
542.
Carlson, B.
1995 Strings of Command and Utiliza-
tion of Shell Beads among the
Taino. In Proceedings of the X~th
International Congress for Carib-
bean Archaeology, edited by R.
Alegria and M. Rodriguez, pp. 97-
109. San Juan: Centro de Estudios
Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el
Caribe / Fundaci6n Puertorriquefia
de las Humanidades / Universidad
del Turabo.
Carmack, R. M., and S. Salgado Gonzalez
2006 A World System Perspective on the
Archaeology and Ethnohistory of
the Mesoamerican/Lower Central
American Border. Ancient M~e-
somaerica 17(2): 219-229.


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


Chanlatte, L. A., and Y. M. Narganes
1983 Vieques, Puerto Rico: Asiento de
una nueva cultural aborigen
antillana. Santo Domingo:
Impresora Corporan.
2005 Cultura La Hueca. Rio Piedras:
Museo de Historia, Antropologia y
Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico.
Chenault, M. L.
1986 Technical Analysis of Precouma-
bian Costa Rican Jadeite~JJJ~~~~JJJ~~~JJJ and
Greenstone Artifacts. Unpublished
Master's thesis, Department of An-
thropology, University of Colorado,
Boulder.

Cody, A.
1991 Distribution of Exotic Stone Arti-
facts through the Lesser Antilles:
Their Implications for Prehistoric
Interaction and Exchange. In Pro-
ceedings of the 14' bIternational
Congress for Caribbean Archae-
ology, edited by A. Cummins and
P. King, pp. 204-226. Bridgetown:
The Barbados Museum and Histori-
cal Society.
Cooke, R. G.
2005 Prehistory of Native Americans on
the Central American Land Bridge:
Colonization, Dispersal and Diver-
gence. Journal of Archaeological
Research 13(2): 129-187.
Cooke R. G., and L. A. Sanchez
2001 El papel del mar en el Panama pre-
hispamico y del period del
contact: Redes locales y relaciones
externas.
Revista de Historia 43: 15-60.
Corrales, F.
1999 Surgimiento y desarrollo de la
sociedad compleja en la Costa Rica
prehi sp amica. In Oro y Jade:J~~~~JJJJJ~~~~JJJJ
Emblemas de Poder en Costa Rica
pp. 16-37. Bogota: Museo del Oro. '


Rodriguez Ramos


Creamer, W,
1984 Costa Rican Trade in Context. In
hIter-Regional Ties in Costa Rican
Prehistory, edited by E. Skirboll
and W. Creamer, pp. 179-202.
BAR International Series No. 226.
Oxford: B.A.R.
1987 Mesoamerica as a Concept: An Ar-
chaeological View from Central
America. American Antiquity 22(1):
35-62.
Crespo Torres, E.
2000 Estudio comparative biocultural
entire dos poblaciones prehistorica~s
de la isla de Puerto Rico: Punta
Candelero y Paso del hIdio.
Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation,
Institute de Investigaciones
Antropol6gicas, Universidad
Nacional Aut6noma de Mexico,
Mexico.
Crock, J. G.
2000 hzter-island hIteraction and the De-
velopment of Chiefdoms in the Ea~st-
ern Caribbean. Ph.D. Dissertation,
University of Pittsburgh. Umiver-
sity Microfilms: Ann Arbor.
Curet, L. A.
2003 Issues on the Diversity and Emer-
gence of Middle-Range Societies of
the Ancient Caribbean: A Critique.
Journal ofArchaeological Research

n.d. To Interact or Not to Interact: The
Intermediate Area, the Circum-
Caribbean and the Greater Antilles.
Manuscript on file at the Field Mu-
seum, Chicago.
Curet, L. A., and J. R. Oliver.
1998 Mortuary Practices, Social Devel-
opment and Ideology in Precolum-
bian Puerto Rico. Latin American
Antiquity 9(2): 277-319
Dickau, R.
2005 Resource Use, Crop Dispersals,


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


and the Transition to Agriculture in
Prehistoric Panama:~PPP~~~~PPP~~~PPP Evidence from
Starch Grain Analysis and
Macroremains. Unpublished Ph.D.
Dissertation, Department of An-
thropology, Temple University,
Philadelphia.
Drennan, R.
1984 Long Distance Movement of Goods
in the Mesoamerican Formative and
Classic. American Antiquity 49: 27-
43.
Fernandez Esquivel, P.
2005 Oro precolombino de Costa Rica.
San Jose: Fundaci6n Museos del
Banco Central.
2006 Artesanos y piedras: Herramientas
y escultura precolombina en Costa
Rica. San Jose: Fundaci6n Museos
del Banco Central.
Febles, J.
2004 La industrial litica de Maruca,
Ponce, Puerto Rico. In
Excavaciones en el yacimiento
Arcaico de Maruca, Ponce, Puerto
Rico: Informe Final, edited by M.
Rodriguez L6pez. Copies available
at the Consejo para la Protecci6n
del Patrimonio Arqueol6gico
Terrestre de Puerto Rico, San Juan.
Fewkes, J. W.
1922 A Prehistoric Island Culture Area
of America. Thirty-Fourth Annual
Report of the Bureau of American
Ethnology. Washington D.C.: Gov-
ernment Printing Office.
Fonseca, O.
2002 Historia antigua de Costa Rica:
Surgimiento y caracterizacion de la
primera civilizacion. San Jose:
Editorial de la Universidad de
Costa Rica.
Ford, J. A.
1969 A Comparison of Formative Cul-
tures in the Americas: Dif vision or


Rodriguez Ramos


the Psychic Unity of Man. Smith-
sonian Contributions to Anthropol-
ogy Vol. 2. Washington D.C.:
Smithsonian Institution Press.
Fortuna, L.
1980 El maiz en la dieta indigena.
Boletin del M~useo del Hombre
Dominicano 13: 159-169.
Friedel, D. A.
1979 Culture Areas and Interaction
Spheres: Contrasting Approaches to
the Emergence of Civilization in
the Maya Lowlands. American
Antiquity 44(1): 36-54.
Garcia-Casco, A., A. Rodriguez Vega, J.
Cardenas Parraga, M. A. Iturralde-Vinent,
C. Lazaro, I. Blanco Quintero, Y. Rojas
Agramonte, A. Kroiner, K. Nufiez Cambra,
G. Millan, R. L. Torres-Roldan and S.
Carrasquilla
2009 A New Jadeite Locality (Sierra del
Convento, Cuba): First Report and
Some Petrological and Archaeo-
logical Implications. Contributions
M~ineralPetrology 158: 1-16.
Garcia-Casco, A., J. Cardenas Parraga, A.
Rodriguez Vega, K. Nufiez Cambra and G.
Harlow
2009 Cuban Jade. (electronic document
available at http://www. ugr. es/
~agcasco/igcp546/ >> Carib Met
Geol >> Jade)
Gass6n, R. A.
2002 Orinoquia: The Archaeology of the
Orinoco River Basin. Journal of
World Prehistory 16(3): 237-310.
Gaztambide Geigel, A.
2000 Identidades internacionales y
cooperaci6n regional en el Caribe.
Revista Mexicana del Calribe 5(9):
6-38.
2003 La invenci6n del Caribe a partir de
1898 (Las definiciones del Caribe,
revisitadas). Tierra Firme 21(82):
165-186.


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


Girvan, N.
2001 Reinterpreting the Caribbean. In
New Caribbean Thought, edited by
F. Lindahl and B. Meeks, pp. 3-23.
Kingston: UWI Press.
Griggs, J. C.
2005 The Archaeology of Central Carib-
bean Panama.~PPP~~~~PPP~~~PPP Ph.D. Dissertation,
University of Texas, Austin. Ann
Arbor: University Microfilms.
Guerrero Miranda, J. V.
1993 The Context of Jade in Costa Rica.
In Precolumbian2 Jade:J~~~~JJJJJ~~~~JJJJ New Geo-
logical and Cultural Interpreta-
tions, edited by F. W. Lange, pp.
191-202. Salt Lake City: University
of Utah Press.
Harlow, G. E.
1993 Middle American Jade: Geologic
and Petrologic Perspectives on
Variability and Source. In Pre-
columbian Jade:J~~~~JJJJJ~~~~JJJJ New Geological
and Cultural Interpretations, edited
by F. W. Lange, pp. 9-29. Salt
Lake City: University of Utah
Press.
2007 Technical Report on Jadeite~JJJ~~~~JJJ~~~JJJ Celts
fr~om Puerto Rico. Manuscript on
file at the Department of Earth and
Planetary Sciences, American Mu-
seum of Natural History, New
York.
Harlow, G. E., A. Reg Murphy, D. J.
Hozjan, C. N. de Mille, and A. A. Levin-
son.
2006 Pre-Columbian Jadeite Axes from
Antigua, West Indies. Canadian
Mineralogist 44: 305-321.
Harris, P. O'B.
1973 Preliminary Report on Banwari
Trace, a Preceramic Site in Trini-
dad. In Proceedings of the Fourth
International Congress for the
Study of Precolumbian Cultures of
the Lesser Antilles, pp. 115-125.


Rodriguez Ramos


Castries: St. Lucia Archaeological
and Historical Society.
Haviser, J. B.
1991 Development of Prehistoric Interac-
tion Sphere in the Northern Lesser
Antilles. Niezuwe West-Indische
Gids 65 (3-4): 29-151.
Helms, M. W.
1987 Art Styles and Interaction Spheres
in Central America and the Carib-
bean: Polished Black Wood in the
Greater Antilles. In Chiefdoms in
the Americas, edited by R. D. Dren-
nan and C. A. Uribe, pp. 67-83.
New York: University of America
Press.
Hofman, C. L., A. J. Bright, A. Boomert
and S. Knippenberg
2007 Island Rhythms: The Web of Social
Relationships and Interaction Net-
works in the Lesser Antillean Ar-
chipelago between 400 BC and AD
1492. Latin American Antiquity 18
(3): 243-268.
Hofman, C. L., and M. L. P. Hoogland
2004 Social Dynamics and Change in the
Northern Lesser Antilles. In Late
Ceramic Age Societies in the Ea~st-
ern Caribbean, edited by A.
Delpuech and C. L. Hofman, pp.
47-58. Paris Monographs in Ameri-
can Archaeology 14/BAR Interna-
tional Series 1273, London.
Holmes, W. H.
1914 Areas of American culture charac-
terization tentatively outlined as an
aid in the study of the antiquities.

American Anthropologist 16: 413-
446.
Hoogland, M. L. P., and C. L. Hofman
1993 Kelbey's Ridge 2. A 14th Century
Taino Settlement on Saba, Nether-
land Antilles. Analecta Praehis-
torica Leidenesia 26: 161-18 1.


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


Hoopes, J.
2005 The Emergence of Social Complex-
ity in the Chibchan World of South-
ern Central America and Northern
Colombia, A.D. 300-600. Journal
of Archaeological Research 13(1):
1-47.
Hoopes, J. W., and O. M. Fonseca
2003 Goldwork and Chibchan Identity:
Endogenous Change and Diffuse
Unity in the Isthmo-Colombian
Area. In Gold and Power in Ancient
Costa Rica, Panama, and Colom-
bia, edited by J. Quilter and J. W.
Hoopes, pp. 49-89. Washington,
D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees
for Harvard University.
Hornborg, A.
2005 Ethnogenesis, Regional Interaction,
and Ecology in Prehistoric Amazo-
nia. Current Anthropology 46(4):
589-620.
Hough, W.
1932 Biographical M~emoir of Jesse Wal-
ter Fewkes, 1850-1930. National
Academy of Sciences, Biographical
Memoires, Volume XV, Memoir
IX: 259-283.
Jones, D.
2003 Kinship and Deep History: Explor-
ing Connections between Culture
Areas, Genes, and Languages.
American Anthropologist 105(3):
501-514.
Keegan, W. F.
2007 Taino Indians M~yth and Practice:
The Arrival of the Stranger King.

Gainesville: University of Florida
Press.
Knippenberg, S.
2006 Stone Artifact Production and Ex-
change among the Northern Lesser
Antilles. Ph.D. Dissertation, Uni-
versity of Leiden. Utrecht: DPP.


Rodriguez Ramos


Koski-Karell, D.
1993 Status Report on Archaeological
Phase III M~itigation Investigation
for the Condominio Flamnboyan
Project in Boqueron, Cabo Rojo.
Copies on file at the Consejo para
la Protecci 6n del Patrimonio
Arqueblogico Terrestre de Puerto
Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Lange, F. W.
1993 Formal Classification of Prehistoric
Costa Rican Jade. In Precolumbian
Jade: New Geological and Cultural
Interpretations, edited by F. W.
Lange, pp. 269-288. Salt Lake City:
University of Utah Press.
La6-Davila, D. A.
2008 A Serpentinite Emplacement and
Deformation in Western Puerto
Rico and their Implication for the
Caribbean-North America Plate
Boundarydddd~~~~~~dddddd Tectonic History. Unpub-
lished Ph.D. Dissertation, Univer-
sity of Pittsburgh.
Lathrap, D., and J. R. Oliver
1986 The Pan-Caribbean Project:
Quarry Sources and Redistribution
of Exotic Lapidarydd~~~~~ddddd~~~ Materals. Un-
published manuscript in possession
of the author.
Lewis, M. W.
1999 Dividing the Ocean Sea. Geo-
guraphical Review 89(2): 188-214.
Linton, R.
1936 The Study of Man: an Introduction.
New York: Appleton-Century.
Lyman, R. L., M. J. O'Brien, and R. C.
Dunnel
1997 The Rise and Fall of Culture His-
tory. New York: Plenum Press.
Mattson, P. H.
1964 Petrography and structure of ser-
pentinite from Mayaguez, Puerto
Rico. In A study of serpentinite: the
AM~SOC core hole near Mayaguez,


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


Puerto Rico, edited by C. A. Burk,
pp. 7-24. Publication 1188. Wash-
ington D.C.: National Academy of
Science.
McGinnis, S. A.
1997 Ideographic Expression in the Pre-
columbian Caribbean. Unpub-
lished PhD. dissertation, Depart-
ment of Anthropology, University
of Texas at Austin, Austin.
McGregor, J. R.
2002 Geohistorical Archaeology: A Per-
spective for Considering the His-
toric Past. Th2e Journal of Geogra-
phy 101(4): 161-166.
Mendoza Cuevas, A., M. Iturralde-
Vinent, and A. Garcia-Casco
2009 Identificacidn no destructive de
jade en objetos arqueoldgicos:
Estudio de idolillos de aborigenes
Tainos. Paper presented at III Cu-
ban Convention in Earth Sciences,
La Habana. http://www. ugr. es
~agcasco/igcp546/ >> Activities >>
Cuba 2009 >> Abstracts submitted.
Middletown, A.
2006 Jade-Geology and Mineralogy. In
Gems, edited by M. O'Donoghue,
pp. 332-355. Oxford: Elsevier.
Mintz, S.
1971 The Caribbean as a Socio-Cultural
Area. In Peoples and Cultures of
the Caribbean: An Anthropological
Reader, edited by M. Horowitz, pp.
17-46. New York: Natural History
Press.
Mol, A. A. A.
2007 Costly Giving, Giving Guaizas: To-
ward an Organic M~odel of the Ex-
change of Social Valuables in the
Late Ceramic Age Caribbean.
M.Phil. thesis, Faculty of
Archaeology, Leiden University.
Leiden: Sidestone Press.


Rodriguez Ramos


Moya, J. C.
1989 Ana~lisis Preliminar de las Fuentes
de Procedencia de las Piezas
Liticas de Punta Candelero,
Humacao. Manuscript on file,
Museo de la Universidad del
Turabo, Caguas, Puerto Rico.
Narganes, Y.
1995 La lapidaria de la Hueca, Vieques,
Puerto Rico. In Proceedings of the
15th Interriatiorial Congress for
Caribbean Archaeology, edited by
R. Alegria and M. Rodriguez, pp.
141-149. San Juan: Centro de
Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico
y el Caribe /Fundaci6n
Pu ertorriqu efi a de las
Humanidades / Universidad del
Turabo.
N'Zengou Tayo, M.-J.
2001 Pan-Caribbean Identity in the Writ-
ings of Haitian, Cuban, and Do-
minican Writers in America. Th2a-
myris/Intersecting 8: 149-158.
Oliver, J. R.
2008 El universe material y spiritual de
los Tainos. In El Caribe
Precolombino: Fray RamdRRR~~~~~RRRRR~~~~~n PandPPPPP~~~~~~~PPPPPP y
el universe Taino, edited by J. R.
Oliver, C. McEwan and A. Casas
Gilberga, pp. 136-221. Barcelona:
Adjuntament de Barcelona-Institut
de Cultura /Museo Barbier-
Mueller / Ministerio de Cultura de
Madrid / Fundaci6n CaixaGalicia.
2009 Caciques and Cemi Idols: The Web
Spun by Taino Rulers between His-
paniola and Puerto Rico. Tusca-
loosa: The University of Alabama
Press.
Oyuela Caycedo, A.
2002 El surgimiento de la rutinizaci6n
religiosa: La conformaci6n de la elite
sacerdotal Tairona-Kogi.


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


Arqueologia del Area hIternzedia 4:
45-64.
Pagan Jimenez, J. R.
2007 De antiguos pueblos y cultures
botd~nica~s en el Puerto Rico
indigena. El archipidlago borin-
cano y la llegada de los printeros
pobladores agrocerantistas. Paris
Monographs in American Archae-
ology No. 18, BAR International
Series. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Pagan Jimenez, J. R., M. Rodriguez, L.
Chanlatte and Y. Narganes
2005 La temprana introducci6n y uso de
algunas pl antas dome sti cas,
silvestres y cultivos en las Antillas
precolombinas: Una primera
revaloraci6n desde la perspective
del "arcaico" de Vieques y Puerto
Rico. Did~logo Antropoldgico 3(10):
7-33.
Paris, E. H.
2008 Metallurgy, Mayapan, and the Post-
classic Mesomaerican World Sys-
tem. Ancient M~esoa~nrica 19: 43-
46.
Peregrine, P. N.
1996 Introduction: World-Systems The-
ory and Archaeology. In Precouma-
bian World Systems, edited by P. N.
Peregrine and G. M. Feinman, pp.
1-10. Madison: Prehistory Press.
Perera, M. A.
1979 Arqueologia y arqueonsetria de las
places liticas aladas del occidente
de Venezuela. Caracas: Universidad
Central de Venezuela, Divisi6n de
Publicaciones.
Petersen, J. B.
1997 Taino, Island Carib, and Prehistoric
Amerindian Economies in the West
Indies: Tropical Forest Adaptations
to Island Environments. In The hI-
digenous People of the Caribbean,
edited by S.M. Wilson, pp. 118-


Rodriguez Ramos


130. Gainesville: University Press
of Florida.
Piperno, D., and D. Pearsall
1998 The Origins of Agriculture in the
Lowland Neotropics. San Diego:
Academic Press.
Plazas, C.
2007 Vuelo nocturne: el naurcidlago
p re h isp d ni co de 1 Is t n o
centroantericano y su consparacid~n
con el naurcidlago tairona. Bogota:
Fundaci 6n de Investigaciones
Arqueol6gicas Nacionales (FIAN).
Rafinesque, C. S.
1836 Outlines of a National History of
the Ancient and M~odern Nations of
North and .Sonlu America. Philadel-
phia: Privately Printed.
Ranere, A. J.
1980 Stone Tools and their Interpreta-
tions. In Adaptive Radiations in
Prehistoric Panama, edited by O.
F. Linares and A. J. Ranere, pp.
118-145. Peabody Museum Mono-
graphs No. 5. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press.
Reichel-Dolmatoff, G.
1997 Colombia: un texto introductorio.
Bogota: Presidencia de la
Reputblica.
Rodriguez L6pez, M.
1993 Early Trade Networks in the Carib-
bean. In Proceedings of the 14' hI-
ternational Congress for Caribbean
Archaeology, edited by A. Cum-
mins and P. King, pp. 306-314.
Bridgetown: The Barbados Mu-
seum and Historical Society.
Rodriguez Ramos, R.
2001 Lithic Reduction Trajectories at La
Hueca and Punta Candelero Sites,
Puerto Rico. Unpublished Masters
Thesis, Department of Anthropol-
ogy, Texas A&M University, Col-
lege Station, Texas.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


2002 Dinamicas de intercambio en el
Puerto Rico prehispanico. Calribe
Arqueologico 6: 16-22.
2005a The Crab/Shell Dichotomy Revis-
ited: The Lithics Speak Out. In An-
cient Borinquen: Archaeology and
Ethmshl isi\ ylI of Native Puerto Rico,
edited by P. E. Siegel, pp. 1-54.
Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama
Press.
2005b The Function of the Edge-Ground
Cobble Put to the Test: An Initial
Assessment. Journal of Caribbean
Archaeology 6: 1-22.
2007 Puerto Rican Precolonial History
Etched in Stone. Unpublished Ph.D.
Dissertation, Department of An-
thropology, University of Florida.
in press Close Encounters of the Carib-
bean Kind. In Islands in the
Stream: Interislan2d and Continen-
tal Interaction in the Caribbean,
edited by L. A. Curet and M. W.
Hauser. Tuscaloosa: University of
Alabama Press.
Rodriguez Ramos, R., and L. A. Curet
in press Intersecciones hist6ricas en el
Gran Caribe. In Relaciones
historicas entire los pueblos
indigenas de la Baja Amdrica
Central y el norte de Suramb~rica,
edited by S. Salgado. San Jose:
Editorial de la Universidad
Nacional de Costa Rica.
Rodriguez Ramos, R., and J. Pagan
Jimenez
2006 Interacciones multivectoriales en el
Circum-Caribe precol onial: Un
vistazo desde las Antillas.
Caribbean Studies 34(2): 103-143.
Roe, P. G.
1989 A Grammati cal Analysis of
Cedrosan Saladoid Vessel Form
Categories and Surface Decoration:
Aesthetic and Technical Styles in


Rodriguez Ramos


Early Antillean Ceramics. In Early
Ceramic Population Lifeways and
Adaptive Strategies in the Carib-
bean, edited by P. E. Siegel, pp.
267-382. British Archaeological
Reports International Series, No.
506. Oxford: B.A.R.
Rose, R.
1987 Lucayan Lifeways at the Time of
Columbus. In Proceedings of the
First San Salvador Conference Co-
lumbus and his World, edited by D.
J. Grace, pp. 321-339. CCFL Field
Station, San Salvador.
Rouse, I.
1953 The Circum-Caribbean Theory, An
Archaeological Test. American An-
thropologist 55(2): 188-200.
1960 Development of Culture in the
Northern Andes, Amazonia, and the
Caribbean Area. Paper presented in
the Symposium "From 15,000 B.C.
to the Thresholds of Urban Civili-
zation-A World-Wide Considera-
tion of the Cultural Alternatives,"
Burg Wartenstein, Austria.
1992 The Tainos: Rise and Decline of the
People who Greeted Columbus.
New Haven: Yale University Press.
Rouse, I., and B. F. Morse
1999 Excavations at the Indian Creek
Site, Antigua, West Indies. New Ha-
ven: Yale University Press.
Sgenz Samper, J., and R. Lleras Perez
1999 Las relaciones prehispinicas entire
los territories de Costa Rica y
Colombia. In Oro y Jade :
Emblemas de Poder en Costa Rica,
pp. 67-88. BogotB: Museo del Oro.
Sanoj a Obediente, M.
1980 Los recolectores tempranos del
Golfo de Paria, Estado Sucre,
Venezuela. In Proceedings of the
Eight International Congress for
Caribbean Archaeology, edited by


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? An archaeological perspective


S. M. Lewenstein, pp. 139-151. An-
thropological Research Papers no.
22. Tempe: Arizona State Univer-
sity.
2006 Origen de las fachadas
geohist6ricas de Venezuela. Boletin
Antropologico 24(67): 259-284.
Schneider, J.
1977 Was there a "Pre-Capitalist" World-
System? Peasant Studies 6: 20-29.
Schertl, H. P., W. V. Maresch, M. Krebs
and G. Draper
2007 The Rio San Juan serpentinite com-
plex and its jadeitites (Dominican
Republic). In High-pressure belts of
Central Guatemala: the M~otagua
suture and the Chuacus Complex,
edited by U. Martens and A. Gar-
cia-Casco. IGCP 546 Special Con-
tribution, 1. (available at http://
www.ugr.es/*agcasco/igcp546/
ActivitiesGuatemala2007_-
Ab stracts
Seeman, M. F.
1979 The Hopewell Interaction Sphere:
The Evidence for Interregional
Trade and Structural Complexity.
Prehistory Research Series, Vol. 5,
No. 2. Indianapolis: Indiana His-
torical Society.
Siegel, P. E.
1992 Ideology, Power, and Social Com-
plexity in Prehistoric Puerto Rico.
Ph.D. dissertation, State University
of New York, Binghamton. Ann
Arbor: University Microfilms.
Siegel, P. E., and K. P. Severin
1993 The First Documented Prehistoric
Gold-Copper Alloy Artifact from
the West Indies. Journal of Ar-
chaeological Science 20: 67-69.
Skelton, T. (ed.)
2004 Introduction to the Pan-Caribbean. ~PP~~P~~PP~~P
Boston: Bloomsbury Academic.


Rodriguez Ramos


Slocum, K., and D. A. Thomas
2003 Rethinking Global and Area Stud-
ies: Insights from Caribbean An-
thropology. American
Anthropologist 105(3): 553-565.
Smith, R. J.
1954 Artefactos tainos de jade en Puerto
Rico. Revista del Instituto de
Cultura Puertorriquella 16(60): 25-
28.
Snarskis, M. J.
1984 Central America: The Lower Carib-
bean. In The Archaeology of Lower
Central America, edited by F. W.
Lange and D. Z. Stone, pp. 195-
232. Albuquerque: University of
New Mexico Press.
2003 From Jade to Gold in Costa Rica:
How, Why, and When. In Gold and
Power in Ancient Costa Rica, Pa-
nama, and Colombia, edited by J.
Quilter and J. W. Hoopes, pp. 159-
204. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton
Oaks, Trustees for Harvard Univer-
sity.
Spinden, H. T.
1917 The Origin and Distribution of Ag-
riculture in America. Proceedings
of the 19th International Congress
ofAmericanists: 269-276.
Steward, J.
1948 The Circum-Caribbean Tribes: An
Introduction. In The Circum-
Caribbean Tribes, H~andbook of
Snlub American Indians, Vol. 4,
Bulletin of the Bureau of American
Ethnology, No. 143, edited by J. H.
Steward, pp. 1-41. Washington
D.C.: Smithsonian Institute.
Sued Badillo, J.
1979 La industrial lapidaria pretaina en
las Antillas. Revista Interamericana
8(3): 429-462.
Taube, K. A.
2004 Olmec Art at Dumbarton Oaks. Pre-


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










What is the Caribbean? 4n archaeological perspective


columbian Art at Dumbarton Oaks,
No. 2., J. Quilter (series editor).
Washington D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks
Research Library and Collection.
Taylor, D.
1977 Languages of the West hIdies. Bal-
timore: The Johns Hopkins Univer-
sity Press.
Trincado, M. N.
1984 hztroduccian a la protohistoria de
Cuba. Santiago: Editorial Oriente.
Veloz Maggiolo, M.
1972 Arqueologia prehistdrica de Santo
Domingo. Singapore: McGraw Hill.
1991 Panorama Histdrico del Calribe
Precolonabino. Santo Domingo:
Banco Central de la Reputblica
Dominicana.
Vidal, A.
2003 La regi6n geohist6rica del Caribe.
RM~C 15: 7-37.
Wagner, E., and C. Schubert
1972 Pre-Hispanic Workshop of Serpen-
tinite Artifacts, Venezuelan Andes,
and Possible Raw Material Source.
Science 175(4024): 888-890.
Willey, G.
1971 An hItroduction to American Ar-
chaeology. New Jersey: Prentice-
Hall.
Wilson, S.
1993 The Cultural Mosaic of the Prehis-
toric Caribbean. Proceedings of the
British Academy 8 1: 37-66.
2007a The Archaeology of the Caribbean.
Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.
2007b Stone Pavements, Roads and Enclo-
sures in Central America and the
Caribbean. In Proceedings of XX7
Congress of the hIternational Asso-
ciation for Caribbean Archaeology,
edited by B. Reid, H. Petitjean Ro-
get and L. A. Curet, pp. 381-389.
St. Augustine: University of the


Rodriguez Ramos


West Indies, Trinidad.
wissler, C.
1916 Correlations between Archaeologi-
cal and Culture Areas in the Ameri-
can Continents. In Holmes Anniver-
sary Voumse: anthropological es-
says presented to William Henry
Holmes, edited by F. W. Hodge, pp.
481-490. Washington D.C.: J. W.
Bryan Press.
Zucchi, A.
1984 Nueva evidencia sobre la
penetraci6n de grupos ceramicos a
las Antillas Mayores. In Relaciones
prehispanica~s de Venezuela, edited
by E. Wagner, pp. 35-50. Caracas:
Acta Cientifica Venezolana.
Yelvingston, K. A.
2001 Anthropology of Afro-Latin Amer-
ica and the Caribbean: Diasporic
Dimensions. Annual Review of An-
thropology 30: 227-260.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Journal ofCarrbbeanArchaeology
Copynght 2010
ISSN 1524-4776

THE SIMILARITY TRAP: ENGINEERING THE GREA TER-CARIBBEAN,
A PERSPECTIVE FROM THE ISTHMO-COLOMBIAN AREA

Alexander Geurds
Faculty ofArchaeology
Leiden University
P. O. Box 9515
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands
a.geurds@arch leidenuniv. n!

Laura N. K. Van Broekhoven
National Museum ofEthnology
Steenstr aa~rt~t~rt~r~rt~r t 1
2300 AE Leiden
The Netherlands
laura~rmy. n!


Abstract
Macro-regional studies, such as the proposition to investigate mobility and exchange in the
pan-Caribbean are dominated by an emphasis to study stylistic similarity in material cul-
ture. For the specific case of the Ilibino-Colombiabin area we argue in this paper that ob-
served lack of stylistic comparability, culture historically invariantly interpreted as socio-
political disunity, is in fact far less determining than previously assumed. By drawing on lo-
calized social dynamics fr~om synchronic perspectives in central Nicaragua, and a discussion
on recent interpretations of the semiotic form, opportunities for future explorations of the
pan-Caribbean thesis are created.

Rdsumd'
Les etudes macro-rigionales, comme les travaux sur la mobility et les changes pan-
caribdens, sont dominoes par l'dtude impirieuse des similitudes stylistiques dansddddd~~~~~~~dddddd la culture
matirielle. Dans le cas spdcifique de la region Isthmo-Colombienne, nous ddmontrons dansddddd~~~~~~~dddddd
cet article que l'absence de comparabilitd stylistique observe, gindralement interprdtie
ddddddddddddddddddddan la tradtiont~r~rt~r~rt~r~rt~ historique culturelle comme une disunion socio-politique, est en fait beau-
coup moins ddterminante que ce que l 'on a pu penser jusqu 'alors. En s 'appuyant sur la dy-
namnique social locale, du point de vue synchronique, dansddddd~~~~~~~dddddd le Nicaragua central, et grcice
au ddbat sur les interprdtations rdeentes de la forme simiotique, de nouvelles perspectives
d 'analyse de la thd re~ pan-caribdenne Amergent.

Resumen
Estudios macro-regionales, como la proposicion para investigar la movilidaddddddd~ddddddddd y el
intercamnbio en el pan-Caribe son dominados por un infa~sis en estudiar la similitud
estilistica dentro de la cultural material. Para el caso especifico de la zona A~lrlino-
Colombiana se argument en este ensayo que la observacion de la falta de comparabilid~~ddd~~dddadd~


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


estilistica, tipicamnente interpretadottt~~~~~~ttttt dentro del marco de la historia-cultural como falta de
unidadddddddddddddddddd socio-politica, es en realidaddddddddddddddddd much menos determinante que anteriormente
pensado. Apoydndose en la dindmica social localizado desde la perspective sincrdnica de la
region central de Nicaragua, y una discusidn sobre interpretaciones recientes de la forma
semidtica, se crean oportunidad es para jitturas~d~dd~d exploraciones de la tesis del Pan-Caribe.


Introduction

"We must notforget that an object is
the best messenger of a world above
that of nature: one can easily see in
an object at once a perfection and
an absence of origin, a closure and
a brilliance, a transformation of hife
into matter (matter is much more
magical than hife), and in a word a
silence which belongs to the realm
offairytales. "
(Barthes 1972:88 [1957])

For decades, the definition of culture areas
has held a commanding conceptual grip on
the study of the pre-Columbian Americas.
Almost all archaeological studies make ref-.
erence to it; symposia invariably use it in
their titles; colleagues are identified by the
Society for American Archaeology on the
basis of their culture area of expertise; and
journals validate their raison d'8tre by fo-
cusing on a specific region (e.g., Revista
del Area Intermedia, Ancient M~eso-
america, M~esoambrica, and, albeit some-
what less explicit, the Journal for Carib-
bean Archaeology). In short, the culture
area is arguably the foundation on which
studies rest seeking to understand the mo-
bility and exchange of material culture in
the past. Archaeologists, however, have
struggled to explicitly validate culture ar-
eas in light of the processual as well as
post-processual new directions that the dis-
cipline took in the last four decades. When
attempting to understand social meaning
from material things, discussions of culture


areas seemed a-historical and depersonal-
ized. As a result, periodic reformulations of
the culture area divisions of for example
Central America have resulted in many
names and minimally as many debates.

Most recently a new refinement, the
Isthmo-Colombian area, was proposed and
expanded upon in a few publications by
John Hoopes and Oscar Fonseca (most
relevant are Hoopes and Fonseca 2003;
Hoopes 2004, 2005). This proposal is
based on multiple lines of evidence, princi-
pally linguistics, genetics, art history and
archaeology. Ideas on structures in Isthmo-
Colombian oral traditions are also invoked
in the analysis. The renewed regional defi-
nition has enabled the inclusion of North-
ern and Central Colombia as well as West-
ern Venezuela in the analysis, following
earlier suggestions by Helms (1979). This
model then makes a conscious effort to
analyze Isthmo-Colombian iconography by
bridging regions and periods to identify
several basic themes. It is an important
push forward in advancing our findings for
this region, but what remains problematic
is that after identifying similarities and in-
terpreting them as indications of interaction
or a mutual cultural background, a daunt-
ing amount of differences in material cul-
ture style and object categories remains to
be discussed. Seldom though are these dif-
ferences in material culture the focus of
comparisons in Isthmo-Colombian ar-
chaeological studies. We propose here that
lack of similarity in material culture is not
a reason to adjust or abandon definitions of


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


culture areas. Rather, it is our contention
that these differences were fundamental to
social interaction in the pre-Columbian
Greater-Caribbean. Merely explaining sty-
listic similarity in material culture as a re-
sult of sociopolitical and economic rela-
tions of power is insufficient. Differences
in material culture are actively maintained.
This point will be demonstrated, using the
semiotic concept of abduction, through the
analysis of a local case study from central
Nicaragua. Stylistic and formal homogene-
ity would be expected as a consequence of
the close spatial distribution settlements in
this local setting, yet instead significant
differences are observed. This in turn holds
implications for explorations of a Greater-
Caribbean thesis. By using a local focus in
order to argue macro-regional interaction,
we conclude that the premise of inferring
identity and social interaction out of siml-
larity in form is not only inconclusive, but
also incomplete.

Boundaries
Approaches to contact and exchange in
the wider Central American and Northern
South American region have been designed
principally by means of three foci: (a) ex-
change patterns, including mobility of ma-
terial culture and agricultural practices
throughout the area); (b) political complex-
ity, being development and contrast in hier-
archies of leadership throughout the area);
and (c) iconography and form of material
culture, that is semiotic comparison of
decorated ceramic and stone material).
Combined, these foci feed into studies at-
tempting to understand pre-Columbian in-
terregional connections in this southwest-
emn rim of the Caribbean Sea. Exchange
analyses have generally indicated some
form of interaction within spheres of the
circum-Caribbean, based on similarity in
material culture, at times complemented by


thematic overlap in oral tradition. Empha-
ses are on links between northern and
southern Middle America (Cooke 2005), as
well between the insular Caribbean and the
tropical Lowlands of South America
(Boomert 2000). But other vectors of inter-
action are included as well. For example
comparative study of political complexity
is a frequent topic of investigation (Cooke
et al 2003; Haller 2004; Helms 1979; Red-
mond 1994). This may take the form of
settlement pattern analysis; examples can
be found throughout the area, but with par-
ticular abundance in Costa Rica, Panama,
and Colombia. Lastly, iconographic analy-
sis is represented as well through studies
that have looked at the identification and
interpretation of painted and sometimes
incised or carved symbols on signifiers
such as pottery, carved stone, metals as
well as semi-precious stone.l Additionally,
lithics can be mentioned as an object cate-
gory that still holds considerable potential
for evidencing direct contact through com-
positional data analysis, that is, physically
attested presence and directionality of ob-
ject movement. The high contrasting geog-
raphy and ecology of Central America will
have co-determined how raw materials
were procured and to what degree technol-
ogy and exchange would have been locally
circumscribed. Central Nicaragua, the case
under review here, is exemplary in this re-
gard, consisting of plains with rolling hills
as well as rugged mountainous terrain,
roughly following a southeast to northwest
pattern.
As mentioned, macro-regional studies on
the pre-Columbian past of Central America
have underscored a concern with interre-
gional ties, influences and interactions.
Nicaragua has featured for some time in
this debate, starting with Julian Steward
including Nicaraguan indigenous cultures
among the Circum Caribbean Tribes in his


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010









The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


sociopolitical model (Steward 1948; also
Strong 1948 in the same volume). Since
then, numerous scholars have debated, re-
futed, modified and nuanced this proposal,
predominantly based on archaeological
data (Baudez 1967, 1970; Coe 1962; Gra-
ham 1993; Haberland 1957; Healy 1980;
Hoopes 2004; Hoopes and Fonseca 2003;
Lange and Stone 1984; McCafferty and
Steinbrenner 2005; Magnus 1974; Salgado
Gonzalez 1996; Sheets 1992; Willey 1959,
1984), or ethnohistorical data (Fowler
1989; Ibarra 2001; Incer 1990; Newson
1987; Stone 1966) or an explicit combina-
tion thereof (Carmack and Salgado 2006;
Tous Mata 2002; Van Broekhoven 2002).
The archaeological investigations were
mostly aimed at identifying culture
boundaries by describing differences in
material culture, or to confirm ties by de-
scribing similarities in material culture.
Nicaragua is generally recognized as hav-
ing one of these boundaries in its modern
territory, formed by the subculture area of
Greater Nicoya. This southernmost exten-
sion of Mesoamerica holds boundaries
which are seldom speculated on, but it is
assumed to have involved Central Nicara-
gua to some degree.2,3 The uncertainty of
this boundary is addressed by taking the
better known Pacific and Caribbean coastal
areas as two opposites from which this cul-
ture boundary is extrapolated to lie roughly
northeast or southwest of respectively. Ar-
chaeological investigations in Nicaragua
historically predominate on the Pacific
side, including the Rivas region, the greater
Managua-Granada area (Healy 1980;
Lange et al. 1992; McCafferty and Stein-
brenner 2005; Salgado Gonzalez 1996). In
contrast, the extensive northern and north-
central areas (Fletcher et al. 1994; Kithl
2010) as well as the northeastern part of
Nicaragua have hardly seen any systematic
archaeological research, with the notable


exception of recent work on the Caribbean
coast by Gassiot and Clemente (2007),
based on early work by Richard Magnus
(1974, 1975).4
Combinations of ethnohistoric and ar-
chaeological data have also been applied to
define north-south boundaries, most re-
cently by Robert Carmack and Silvia
Salgado (2006). They argue that Post-
classic period Pacific Nicaragua formed
part of the Mesoamerican world system
(Smith and Berdan 2003), whereas the
southern Pacific coast in Costa Rica made
up part of an extra-systemic area what they
call the Mesoamerican frontier (Carmack
and Salgado 2006). Their analysis includes
the political systems and economic ex-
change patterns, known through early colo-
nial documents and archaeological find-
ings. For both cases the presence or ab-
sence of exchange of material culture
northward, in combination with descrip-
tions of particular cultural elements by the
Spaniards, are the fundamental motifs to
deduce levels of integration and exchange.
Carmack and Salgado induce some of the
well-known cultural features such as
ranked chiefdoms versus status based city
states, marriage systems, the use of gold as
currency, the nature of formalized rituals,
and the presence of iconographic systems
of communication, and last but not least
differences in cosmological beliefs.
As such, Central Nicaragua is periodi-
cally appropriated by archaeological and
ethnohistorical projects focusing on the
Pacific side, and to a lesser extent on the
Caribbean side. Archaeologically, this ex-
tensive watershed area is poorly known;
the nature of interaction across this area
thus also remains to be considered.'


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


The similarity trap in Isthmo-Colombian
iconography
We put forward some considerations
here as to how interaction might be ana-
lyzed without falling into, what we call the
'similarity trap'. The similarity trap is
found in research that analytically struc-
tures semiotic form to emphasize homoge-
neity in social dynamics. The workings of
this trap go at the expense of variability in
form and the assertive generation of mean-
ing. The emphasis on 'sameness' inherent
herein, is mentioned by Martin Wobst in
his influential conceptualizations of style in
archaeology (Wobst 1977, 1999). By in-
stead accepting difference as potentially
just as meaningful, we are taken away from
'tradition' and move more toward the prac-
tical dependency and historicity of mean-
ing in what is read (or 'seen' if one prefers)
in the known iconographic complexes of
this region.
This focus on practice continues to le-
gitimize style as that element of material
culture which is the clearest window to the
social human choice: "Style is seen as the
key to the social" as Boast (1997) describes
it. This does therefore not necessarily im-
ply that style can merely communicate
coded information, as can be drawn from
some structuralist approaches. It is recog-
nized that perceived meanings of styles and
objects are very much contingent upon so-
cial and historical contexts, thus the mean-
ing and purpose of objects will be open to
interpretation and prescription as they
change owner in exchange relationships.
Engaging with this potential of "stylistic
form that interferes with humans" (Wobst
1 999: 125), archaeol ogi sts using post-
structural theoretical approaches have be-
gun to see style as actively involved in dis-
course, power and so forth (Boast 1997).
These developments have not left
Isthmo-Colombian iconographic studies


unaffected. As John Hoopes notes that
"considering iconography over a broad
area defined by multiple variables, holds
the potential to facilitate in a holistic man-
ner, the interpretation of the role of actors
as dynamic agents in the modification or
resignification of ideologies and behav-
ior" (Hoopes 2004:143, own translation
and emphases). Here, Hoopes addresses the
multiplicity of meaning, highlighting not
only the arbitrariness of the sign but also
the Saussurian arbitrary relation of sign to
the signified. Even though his discussion
rests on a structural basis of power and ide-
ology by means of his identification of the
particular 'tradition keepers', his proposi-
tion contributes to the research agenda for
the interregional study of variability and
heterogeneity in semiotic form. Following
up on identifying the continuous reinterpre-
tation of iconography in the past, Hoopes
and Fonseca discuss the term 'diffuse
unity' as a working model to broach the
complexity of similarity and difference
(Hoopes and Fonseca 2003:53). This model
is argued on the basis of a deep historical
genetic and linguistic origin. The purpose
of this concept is to enhance the identifica-
tion of specific themes in Isthmo-
Colombian iconography (e.g., the Medita-
tive Shaman, double-headed saurians, beak
birds, spiral ornaments, the Crocodile Man,
and the Bat Man) whilst arguing the stylis-
tic variation these themes may assume.6
This concept of diffuse unity is an argu-
ment to see material culture as indexical
signs; what is depicted has in some way
something in common with what it refers
to (Charles Pierce, as discussed in Preucel
2006). To see Isthmo-Colombian material
things as indexical restores the importance
of social and historical dimensions and
asks for the archaeological investigation of
concrete circumstances which lead to this
continuous process of signification. This is


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


the rationale for avoiding the similarity
trap. If meaning is open-ended and in a
way 'questionable', that is, readings of
meaning are contingent, then the diversity
and apparent dissimilarities observed in
Isthmo-Colombian material things are not
per se a sign of socio-political fragmenta-
tion or even a looming failure of the inter-
action sphere thesis. Rather, it indicates the
presence of meaningful interpretation
through what Alfred Gell refers to as ab-
duction, the 'hypothetical inference of a
non-semiotic kind' (Gell 1998:14).
It is likely that the identity of people in
the Greater-Caribbean was shaped by fre-
quent and impacting forms of interaction.
But rather than assume that this would be
ideally evidenced by expecting the adop-
tion of encountered differences in material-
ity leading to the adaptation or assimilation
of one's own, the real social tension is in
the moments where knowledge of others
did not lead to these similarities. Abduction
of a sign's meaning would then speak for
resistance, made explicit through reifying
One's own identity, say, through continued
production of a particular style of material
culture. This conceptualization of interac-
tion may indeed have profound effects on
the parties involved, but this is then not
channeled through a resulting similarity,
but rather through the continued represen-
tation of existing differences whether in
degree signifierr) or kind (signified).
The approaches to exchange and contact
in the Isthmo-Colombian area revolve to a
significant degree on stylistic comparabil-
ity in iconography. Old habits die hard in
archaeology. This is true for many post-
structuralist inspired orientations that still
seem to reify the distinction between things
and ideas. Binford regarded ideas as
epiphenomenal in comparison to the real
stuff; those at the other side of the spec-
trum view material forms as singular ex-


pressions of meaning. Specifically pottery
has traditionally been approached as a cul-
turally de-contextualized object. Evidence
of this is found in studies throughout
circum-Caribbean region where, to varying
degrees, pottery specimens have for dec-
ades been analyzed in typological schemes
(e.g., Rouse 1986); leaving aside for a mo-
ment whether any knowledge of the physi-
cal context is available to begin with or
not. Style is often seen in these analyses as
non-discursive, its role as a mediator of the
material and immaterial in the social habi-
tus seldom emphasized (following
Bourdieu 1977). For example, in past stud-
ies of decorated ceramics from the Concle
site in central Panama, one can reflect on
analyses that were (a) classificatory, and
fundamentally non-interpretative (e.g.,
Lothrop 1942); (b) interpretative from a
self-reflexive standpoint (e.g., Linares
1977); and (c) semiotic studies aimed at
understanding the symbolic codified nature
of the decorations (e.g., Cooke 1998;
Helms 1995, 2000, 2006).
Given the rich variety in form, decora-
tions, appendages and so forth that charac-
terizes a significant part of Central Ameri-
can pottery, the interpretation of pottery
has tended to fetishize some of these indi-
vidual aspects at the cost of viewing the pot
as all of the above. It is essential to look at
the social context of pottery: the practice of
production, the practice of use, the practice
of discard etc. This focus toward practice
would allow us to move away from the
sticky equation of pots which are people's
identities and shift the emphasis to the
practices that constitute these subject iden-
tities to begin with.' Not only does this
bring the social more under scrutiny, but
analytically it will also allow us to better
understand semiotic differences in the
circum-Caribbean region instead of being
forced to search for similarities.


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


Central Nicaraguan archaeology
An example from the archaeology of
Central Nicaragua will illustrate the men-
tioned social complexities of similarity and
difference in relation to the local spaces of
this study (Figure 1).
Ethnohistorical and linguistic research
describes a less than straightforward situa-
tion in the area, and in fact stress cultural
difference rather than similarity. The only
clear division that can be made during the
early colonial period is between the intru-
sive Nahuatl speakers on the Pacific side
and Misumalpan language family speakers
to the north, northeast. Linguistic maps of
the watershed area project different and
overlapping language realms of Nahuatl,


Misumalpan and Rama (Constenla 1991;
Newson 1987; Incer 1985, 1990; Van
Broekhoven 2002). This linguistic diversity
makes it likely that mother tongues may
have differed from community to commu-
nity, not unlike parts of the Amazon Basin.
It is here in this central Nicaraguan water-
shed area where the problematic nature of
spatial distributions of culture manifests
itself,s where it is viewed as the spatial
limit (referred to in terms of 'break',
'border', 'periphery' or 'frontier' etc.).
Central Nicaragua seemingly is a frag-
mented region, to which past research into
interactions and material culture has con-
tributed.


Figure 1. General map of Nicaragua and its mountainous watershed interior.

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010









The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


Archaeological findings indicate differ-
ent cultural affiliations, both on different
sides of the watershed, but also changing
through time. In general, artifact distribu-
tions do not correlate to the language data
available for the sixteenth century. Richard
Magnus' surveys and test excavations
yielded nineteen sites in the early 70s, both
on the Caribbean coast (i.e., Bluefields,
Pearl Lagoon, Kukra Point and Italia) and
four years later in the Chontales highlands
(i.e., Cerna, Copelito and Sabana Grande)
(Magnus 1974, 1975). His findings at the
coast established a ceramic sequence as
well as initial knowledge on subsistence
patterns. An analysis of the material col-
lected during the subsequent Proyecto Ar-
queologico de la M~eseta Central in the
Chontales department of the watershed,
was never published, with the exception of
a later study of lithics found at Sabana
Grande (Gerstle 1976). Magnus' finds re-
lated ceramic types both on the coast as
well as in the eastern watershed, princi-
pally for the Late Formative period (300
BC AD 300). His interest for Central
Nicaragua lies in part in testing the hy-
pothesis of the regional line of develop-
ment during the final pre-Columbian pe-
riod, for a particular decorative style, Luna
Polychrome, which has been proposed to
originate on the Caribbean coast (Magnus
1974:15). In his conclusions, Magnus of-
fers a remarkably clear perspective: "One
must ask why all of Lower Central Amer-
ica is not a zone of South American influ-
ence and Upper Central America a zone of
Mesoamerican influence, the two grading
into each other gradually. [...] The answer
is quite simple: all other things are not
equal in Central America" (Magnus
1974:218). Despite the sins of the time of
to equating change with diffusion, the
overall argument is straightforward: In this
relatively localized area of central Nicara-


gua, pervasive contact would have been
likely, however, synchronic distinctions
can be observed in the material culture and
thus merely recognizing relations of inter-
action through similarities is at best a par-
tial analysis.9

CentralNicaragua
To address Magnus' observations on
questions of interaction in central Nicara-
gua and to be able to insert them as part of
a much larger debate on the interpretative
value of similarities in material culture, we
briefly illustrate here the results of recent
archaeological activity on the western side
of the watershed. The Central Nicaragua
Archaeological Project aims at gaining a
general understanding of the pre-
Columbian settlement patterns and material
culture in a topographical cross-cut of the
central mountainous watershed area, char-
acterized by floodplains near Lake Nicara-
gua and foothills leading to increasingly
mountainous terrain cut by several river
drainages, and ultimately the mountainous
cordillera~s overlooking the Caribbean
plains to the northeast. The project aims to
look specifically at spatio-temporal dynam-
ics along this presumed frontier of culture
areas, as such providing information on the
ways in which the local river valley land-
scape was used and modified by indige-
nous settlers. To gain insights into mobility
of material culture and potential links to
and fro the eastern half of Nicaragua, the
principal drainage system on the western
side of the watershed, the Mayales River
valley was investigated by means of a full-
coverage field prospection (Geurds 2008).
The survey was conducted by walking in
teams diagonally or perpendicular to the
sloping angle of the terrain at intervals of
25-40 meters, exploring and when needed
recording cultural features on the surface.
The general topography of the terrain con-


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


sisting of relatively flat areas used for agri-
cultural purposes, allowed maintaining the
systematic walking patterns. Where foot-
hills began to slope at steep gradients,
probability walking along ridges and paths
was chosen. All surrounding hill tops,
ridges and spurs were covered. With the
exception of the immediate urban sur-
roundings of Juigalpa, we covered the sides
of the river with a width of at least 1 km on
both sides. On average we covered around
3 km on a side depending on topography
(Figure 2).
Following the Mayales river valley
southward, 38 pre-Columbian sites and 59
findspots dating from AD 400 to 1521
were identified.10 Additionally, Hyve sites
on the outskirts of Juigalpa were visited as
well as a local museum collection in La


Libertad, approximately 25 kilometers
northeast. The majority of sites in the main
survey area are habitational sites smaller
than 0.5 ha. In addition to these habita-
tional settlements, four hill top sites were
recorded.
Settlement behavior generally, but not
exclusively, favors the low banks in close
proximity to river courses. Most habitation
sites were recorded at distances of 1.5 kilo-
meters or less from the river. Hilltops
higher than 350 meters never showed any
traces of cultural use and were used here as
a topographical limit of the survey area.
These preferences show up in other sectors
of the watershed as well (Gorin 1990).
Given the compact character of most multi-
component sites, spatially delimiting occu-
pations of specific time periods proved im-


Figure 2. Surface surveying in progress near the Mayales river.

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


possible. Furthermore, characteristics of
individual sites revealed moderate varia-
tion, the majority of sites lack mounded
structures (32 of 38) and were most likely
habitation sites, and a minority displays
extensive amounts of generally low
mounds of unworked stone (6 of 38). The
smallest of these six sites featured seven
low stone mounds and the largest over 200
(Figure 3).
The mound architecture is often round
and at times rectangular in shape and up to
three meters high. The hilltop locations fa-
vored for these mound complexes often
forces arrangements of mounds along the
linear axis of the hill. Mounds predomi-
nantly consist of piled up loose stones, with
remarkably little constructive material fill-


ing up the cavities. Additional research into
the constructive nature of this monumental
architecture is needed, but there does seem
to be clear distinction between this area
and the nearby Granada and Pacific coast
beyond, where monumental mounds are
predominantly built of earth instead of the
unworked stone observed here (see Lange
et al. 1993, for similar observations). A re-
markable correlation appears to exist be-
tween the monumental sites and a scarcity
of materials on the surface (see, for exam-
ple Gorin 1990 and Lange et al. 1993:261).
Our investigation remained inconclusive as
to the reasons why this was so. Suffice it to
say that it does present a significant im-
pediment for the analysis of regional devel-
opments when the monumental sites can


Figure 3. El Salto site, a monumental site featuring four mound platforms. Note the worked stele fragment
fallen over in the foreground.


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010













































0 4m


Figure 4. Site M3 featuring twenty-three linear aligned burials, marked on the surface.


j


The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


only tentatively be assigned to a temporal
phase of use.
The habitation sites are often found in
open fields and consequently with distur-
bances, and exist in varying states of pres-
ervation, depending on agricultural activi-
ties that may have contributed to leveling
of the contours of these low earthen
mounds. This made site size determinations
only approximate; in such cases we pre-
ferred conservative estimates.
Considering the relative richness of eth-
nohistoric as well as ethnographical data on
burials in Central America, nature and lo-
cation of burials was of particular interest
to us, at least as far as they were marked on
the surface. Our findings indicate that buri-
als were at least partially if not exclusively
placed in clusters and away from nearby
habitational areas. Site M3 is an excellent
example of this (Figure 4).


Twenty-six ovaloid burials, many of
which in linearly arranged, were placed on
a small embankment close to the Mayales
river. Individual burials are characterized
by slight elevations on the surface ranging
from 5 cm to about 25 cm which are cov-
ered by rocks along the extremities. The
top area of the burial seems to have typi-
cally been left uncovered by rocks. Exca-
vation contexts of similar cemeteries in
Chontales have revealed secondary indirect
burials in large urns (Gorin 1990:643-654).
The practice of locating this type of ceme-
tery away from communities is observed in
other locations of the Isthmo-Colombian
area, and though the meaning of this prac-
tice has been viewed differently, a domi-
nant thought is that these locations served
as communal areas, socially and spatially
bonding the surrounding villages (McKee
et al. 1994). In addition, cultural analogy


O


O


O


C

O O


o


a


O


O


O


O


O


0O


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010









The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


Collected surface materialS12
A total of 722 ceramic sherds were col-
lected from 17 sites, of which 169 (24%)
were classified following existing typolo-
gies (Baudez 1967; Bonilla 1990; Gorin
1990; Lange et al. 1992). The sequence
proposed by Gorin based on ceramic vari-
ability (1990:658-670), is by and large con-
sistent with the types from the Mayales
river valley. The diagnostics from the earli-
est three periods in this sequence (Mayales
I and II, Cuisala, 500-200 BC / 200 BC -
AD 400 / AD 400-800) show significant
differences in form and decorative patterns
when compared to materials in all known
surrounding areas. Some imports from the
Pacific coast are present, but consistently
form a minor segment in the inventory. The
following Potrero period (AD 800-1200)


from later ethnographic data reflects simi-
lar practices. The Bribri in Costa Rica ar-
gued their practice of burying the deceased
at a distance from settlements so as to keep
the living and the dead separated, thus fit-
ting the settlement data we Eind in the Ma-
yales river valley (Stone 1962).
Lastly, two sites with petroglyphs were
registered, one on isolated basalt boulders
without any habitation associated to it, and
a second extensive group of petroglyphs on
one of the largest sites in the area (Figure
5), San Isidro (referred to in Rigat 1992
and Lange et al. 1993:49-50 as Agua
Buena). How these latter petroglyphs, their
specific locations and depicted themes, re-
late to the site lay-out is unclear, as often is
the case with this type of feature."


Figure 5. Detail of zoomorphic petroglyph at Site M13 (Aguas Buenas).

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


begins to demonstrate more ceramic types
with a consistent presence on the Pacific
coast, which Gorin concludes to be imports
from that region. The concluding Monota
and Cuapa periods overlap in the sequence
(respectively AD 1200-1550 and AD 1400-
1600) and this is explained through assum-
mng: "the arrival of a new population which
does not merge with the residing
one" ibidd: 669, our translation). The west-
ern side of the watershed was thus charac-
terized by two coeval ceramic traditions
that lasted for at least a century. The con-
clusion of Gorin that the ceramic style dis-


tribution is bounded almost to the individ-
ual community level, is mirrored by the
local ceramic distribution zones on the Pa-
cific coast (Lange et al. 1992:58-62)
(Figure 6).

As Figure 6 shows, the western watershed,
represented by Zone 4, is analyzed as shar-
ing minimal similarities to Zones 2 and 3,
which are located adj acent to Zone 4 on the
northern edge of Lake Nicaragua. Overall
thus, we find relatively little similarity in
ceramic form and decoration in a very re-
duced spatio-temporal period.
The lithics recovered
represent a substan-
tial part of the total
inventory; the den-
RA~GUA sity at some sites ap-
proached that of the
ceramics, and allows
for a few general ob-
servations. Andesite
axes and porphyry
bifaces represented
center/ the bulk of the speci-
t9"ersy mens, with a small
amount (< 0.8 per-
cent) of obsidian
ZonelIV blade fragments
completing the sam-
ple. Regional refer-
ence material is
) based on the study of
the lithic material
from the Sabana
Grande excavations
by Richard Magnus
(1975; subsequent
analysis in Gerstle
1976) and the study
by Dominique Rigat
COSTARICA (1992). The richness
in igneous rocks in
ific Nicaragua (modified this volcanic area


NICA


Pacific Ocean


0 50km
I 1


Figure 6. Locations of Ceramic Zones in Central and Pac
from Lange et al. 1993:59).


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010


HONDURAS










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


leads to similar patterns in the types of
chert used in the lithic industry. The minor
role for obsidian, on the other hand, is ex-
plained by the absence of sufficiently large
nodules to exploit a substantial core-blade
technology, and the subsequent emphasis
in developing technical knowledge to proc-
ess the chert into different types of bifaces
(Lange et al. 1992:163-176).
The existence of obsidian sources more
to the northeast towards the mountains was
mentioned several times by local guides,
but sources were not registered. Moreover,
the existing Sabana Grande data analysis
by Gerstle does not indicate any presence
of significance for obsidian tools to be
found in future investigations. Even if ob-
sidian cores would be traded into the Chon-
tales area, the existing advanced techno-
logical skills to work the locally abundant
lithics would have made it unlikely for spe-
cialists to switch to obsidian or even incor-
porate it in their workshop production. The
data show that the procurement and use of
lithic materials such as andesite and por-
phyry, contrast to a minimal working of
obsidian cores into prismatic blades,
whereas the latter material abounds in the
northwestern extremity of Nicaragua or
southern Honduras and El Salvador.

Community relations
Based on the preceding general analysis,
complemented by data from past surveys
along neighboring watercourses (Espinosa
and Rigat 1994; Gorin 1990; Rigat 1992),
the archaeology in this geographical fron-
tier region indicates relative stability in the
material culture until AD 400, after which
the first significant cultural developments
take place. Marked by exchange relation-
ships to the Pacific coast that shift in inten-
sity through time, the material culture in
the Chontales region begins to show influ-
ence from the western Pacific coast by


means of introduced ceramic types. Subse-
quently this development reverses, with
principally ceramics showing a stylistic
pattern distinct from that of neighboring
areas, a development we cannot adequately
explain at this time. Certainly seeing these
changes as being caused by: "Principally
men, warriors, whose women they [locally]
marry, would continue to make vessels ac-
cording to their traditions, with little or no
change", as suggested by Gorin (1990:668)
based on Samuel Lothrop's original pro-
posal, does not seem like a particularly so-
cially informed analysis anymore.
It is fair to say that the Nicaraguan Wa-
tershed, and Chontales specifically, are a
blank spot on the map in terms of settle-
ment patterns, diversity in site morphology
and intra-site characteristics. This is not to
mention the total absence of any form of
household archaeology. What can our ini-
tial investigation add to the analysis of lo-
cal processes of interaction, and what in
turn can this reveal about the viability of
the macroregional Greater-Caribbean the-
sis?
First, our data point to a rather consistent
dispersal of communities across the foothill
landscape of Western Chontales. We see
this lack of nucleation of villages through-
out the pre-Columbian sequence as a strong
indicator for networks of contact across the
landscape. Although the precise nature of
these inter-community relations in the area
cannot be precisely evidenced at this time,
one can speculate that a likely scenario
would have been social ties through mar-
riage. Relationships were established
through intermarriage, kinship ties, and
exchange. These all are likely candidates
and the short distances between communi-
ties, would strongly argue for these link-
ages. Moreover, aside from a small per-
centage of significantly larger settlements,
the strikingly small size of the bulk of these


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


communities (we would estimate no more
than 50 occupants in these individual loca-
tions), would have needed to establish and
maintain marriage alliances with members
of different communities to support the
small number of inhabitants in these indi-
vidual villages. This thus would speak to a
closer knit network of interaction than the
dispersed pattern perhaps initially might
indicate.
Second, the exchange of objects would
also be an anticipated pattern in the ar-
chaeological record, considering the role it
is deemed to play in building and maintain-
ing these intercommunity relationships.
Yet this does not seem to be the case. The
ceramic inventory of the Chontales region
vis-a-vis directly neighboring regions, such
as the Granada area between the two lakes,
and the Rivas area on the other side of
Lake Nicaragua, is distinctly different. The
same can be concluded for the lithic assem-
blage. The paradox is that these differences
persist in a landscape in which distances
are never more than one days walking dis-
tance. This makes contact and knowledge
of others an arguable scenario. All the indi-
cations are that the individual village and
the landscape of the western watershed in
which it was located, would have been a
space of contact and exchange. The simi-
larity trap, however, argues primarily for
contact through similarity, reversing the
burden of evidence in cases of morphologi-
cal and stylistic differences in material cul-
ture. Looking at the comparability of the
material culture complexes though, pre-
sents only a partial picture and most likely
an erroneous one at that. What our Eindings
in Central Nicaragua indicate, combined
with the outcome of previous investiga-
tions in neighboring regions, is that the es-
tablishing and maintaining of interaction
on the community and inter-community
regional level, appears to have been a nec-
essary and common practice, but that this


did not result in comparable material cul-
ture.
The archaeology of Central Nicaragua
presents significant potential for under-
standing regional dynamics beyond the Pa-
cific coast and toward the potential interac-
tion with the Eastern part of Nicaragua and
the Caribbean coast and beyond. Obviously
controlled excavation and more extensive
surveying are needed in order to further
address interaction on a regional or even
macro regional scale.

Discussion
Past syntheses concerned with the ar-
chaeology of Central America were de-
fined largely by structuring data into ho-
mogenous types, i.e., the identification of
complexes of stylistic similarities indicat-
ing regular interaction across this vast geo-
graphical area. As our research in Nicara-
gua indicates however, a great deal of vari-
ability in social, political, and economic
organization is noticeable on the local
level. Much of this observed variability
appears to be related to basic differences in
adaptive strategies and spatial organization,
and can be seen as characteristic for deal-
ing with the mosaic pattern of environ-
mental diversity that characterizes Central
America. Against these kinds of social and
economical backgrounds, contrasts in ma-
terial culture can arise, but what kind of
dynamics are at play between them is one
of the questions that certainly still needs to
be addressed more profoundly. What the
localized archaeological example from
Central Nicaragua has shown, is that on the
inter-community level, where interaction
and the mobility of people would have
been the rule rather than the exception, dif-
ferences in settlement pattern and structural
dissimilarity in the material culture can still
be seen. These differences are so stark as to
warrant the earlier mentioned denomina-
tions of 'frontier', 'periphery' and so forth.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


The literature on the archaeology of
Lower Central America is practically de-
Eined by definitions of self, that is, consid-
erable attention has been given to exploring
what historically united it, and how it dif-
fered from Mesoamerica and the Andean
regions (Sheets 1992). Remarkably similar
observations can be made for the insular
Caribbean region. The Greater-Caribbean
thesis goes beyond this and we this edited
volume represents a further and significant
next step in this teleology of territory. In
previously proposed definitions, analyses
of the visual, iconographic aspects of mate-
rial culture in the Isthmo-Colombian area
have taken center stage searching for a pro-
found form of sameness; the "the essential
unity of the esthetic products" as Lothrop
referred to it more than 80 years ago as
(Lothrop 1926:105). This notion of essen-
tialism in Isthmo-Colombian art is still ech-
oed today as reconsiderations of universal-
ism have tentatively resurfaced (Helms
2006). Anthropology has by now exten-
sively critiqued this form of categorizing of
material culture. The implicit assumptions
in these essentialist studies regard cultures
as isolated, the emphasis is on the collec-
tive instead of on individuality and the re-
lation between time and material expres-
sion is largely excluded in studies of this
universalist kind (e.g., Fabian 1983).13
Therefore, instead of searching for similari-
ties in semiotic expressions of Isthmo-
Colombian material things, we propose to
consider these objects (whether painted
ceramics, sculpted stone or jadeite) as cata-
lysts of social activities. The identities cre-
ated depended on particular contexts and
should thus not solely be judged on equa-
tions of stylistic similarity. The interpreta-
tions given to these objects did not neces-
sarily favor and certainly not exclude dif-
ference .


We argue that this change is not to be
recognized as difference and thereby as
lack of interaction. We can briefly address
this through two arguments. Firstly, the
oral tradition, as invoked by Hoopes and
others (Bray 2003; Helms 2000; Hoopes
2004) in ongoing discussions on princi-
pally Costa Rican, Panamanian and Colom-
bian material culture, is adaptive over time
and when we assume a relation between
this orality and a visual expression thereof,
we should not be discouraged by the seem-
ingly overwhelming diachronic and as well
as synchronic plurality in iconography but
in fact encouraged by it. Following
Hoopes, we can say that the semiotic read-
ings of this iconography will indeed also
change (Hoopes 2005:143). Secondly, re-
gional or inter-regional synchronic diver-
sity in iconographic expression is also not
as problematic as perhaps traditionally per-
ceived in studies in sub-regions of the
Greater-Caribbean. The evidencing of in-
teraction and contact through analysis of a
symbolic system, as is the case from exam-
ple in Hoopes' 'diffuse unity' concept,
need not solely take place through the es-
tablishment of links through similarity.
When comparing localized predominance
of one form of iconic expression, as op-
posed to another in a neighboring region,
the implicit supposition is that the producer
or consumer of expression A would be un-
able to interpretatively bridge to under-
stand expression B, thus leading to a pessi-
mistic conclusion regarding potential inter-
action. This however disregards all social
embeddedness that this 'strange encounter'
would have accompanied. It is to be ex-
pected that transmission of meaning would
have resolved many of these problems,
opening up a radically different view on
the recognition of interaction in the ar-
chaeological record.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


Conclusion
In light of the foregoing, the Greater-
Caribbean thesis of this issue may in fact
seem oddly out of place for Central Amer-
ica. Weren't we just moving toward reval-
orizing this latter geographical area in
terms of its proper cultural significance,
and changing the long-standing negative
comparative perspective, voiced famously
through Michael Coe's view that: "The In-
termediate Area itself, remained a cul-de-
sac open at both ends, within which civili-
zation never appeared" (Coe 1962:181).
This in reaction to a generally felt senti-
ment of an 'Intermediate Area' that is be-
twixt and between the Mesoamerican and
the Andean regions, as Robert Drennan
(1996) analyzed it not too long ago. How
can these two seemingly conflicting views
be meaningfully united in a research hy-
pothesis such as the Greater-Caribbean
area?
In their introduction to this issue, Hof-
man and Bright optimistically signal stud-
ies that show indications of contact be-
tween various areas around the Caribbean
Sea, but at the same time warn that "the
available information is too fragmentary to
unravel the intricacies of human mobility,
regional communication networks and the
mechanisms behind them. Furthermore, the
articulation of engagements between socie-
ties of different socio-political complexity
and the role played by the sharing of ideas
in the realm of cosmovision in the wider
region through time remain to be eluci-
dated" (Hofman and Bright 2008). Our
sense is that their description of potential
for cross-regional study in a field where the
specificity of the data sets at times still
leaves to be desired, is probably a good
judgment on the current situation. To be
sure, lamenting the fragmented nature of
the archaeological field is a commonplace,
and should not discourage from seeking


broad spatio-temporal analyses on the basis
of local contextualized projects.
The reflections on discussions of Central
American data sets, and certainly the find-
ings presented for Central Nicaragua, only
represent a fraction of the Greater-
Caribbean area. This surely requires further
testing and comparison to other regions.
Whilst the currently available data may still
be too limited to properly tackle some of
the mentioned issues, our present findings
may be used to problematize research sub-
jects relevant to the Greater-Caribbean the-
sis. We recognize here that "the generalist
is always in danger of being criticized by
the specialist because of the exceptions to
the rule" as Jeffrey Quilter recently put it
(Quilter and Miller 2006:10), but at the
same time we acknowledge the irony that
criticism is indeed also what brings re-
searchers together.
In the majority of the sub-regions of the
pan-Caribbean it has become increasingly
apparent that the analysis of social interac-
tion, be it mobility of material or immate-
rial things, must include, as an integral
part, an appreciation of localized processes
of development at the level of technology,
material procurement and semiotic patterns
before the regional system can be eluci-
dated. In this regard, Hofman et al. (this
volume) convincingly argue for the neces-
sity to move away from non-explanatory
understandings of exchange of material
culture as somehow resulting from migra-
tory movements as argued in the past
(Rouse 1986), and instead adjust the ana-
lytical lens to focus on the movement of
material things, however thereby not deper-
sonalizing the process. This indeed seems a
more fruitful way to generate insights in
the ambitiously vast area under scrutiny for
this symposium and is in tune with current
evolutionist convictions from linguistic and
genetic research, both of which favor a sce-


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


nario of relatively little population move-
ment, at least for the Isthmo-Colombian
area (Constenla 1991; Barrantes et al.
1990).
The emphasis on discrete data sets,
which is an integral tenet in any archaeo-
logical project and certainly for investigat-
ing the Greater-Caribbean, will inevitably
entail the de-emphasizing of others. Once
the material mobility analyses are begin-
ning to show patterns, the questions as to
how this is to be understood must also be
posed. What does the sharing of icono-
graphic themes mean? To paraphrase Mary
Helms (2006), are we firm on why the
homological comparison of differences in
similarity, takes precedence over the ana-
logical comparison of similarities in differ-
ence? Does this sharing, from the archae-
ologists' perspective, confirm some form
of closer ties between two communities or
groups? How will we address the question
of meaning in these objects? Certainly one
of the principal social questions to be in-
vestigated should be how these moving ob-
jects were perceived and valued, and
thereby not stopping at equating semiotic
similarity with understanding, and dissimi-
larity with strangeness. Our goal here was
to provide archaeologists with a tool in the
project of answering some of these ques-
tions and advancing our understanding of
uniformity and difference of spatially
widespread iconographic expressions in the
Greater-Caribbean.
In sum, we see the evidence of interac-
tion not as an end in itself. The goals
should not be to establish outmoded trait-
lists that would prohibit a diachronic per-
spective. Rather, the Greater-Caribbean
thesis is best understood as a spatial model
perhaps most resembling that of the old
favorite interaction sphere (e.g., Abdel-
Vidor 1981; Freidel 1979). This model al-
lows for thinking about a geographic area


where exchange processes are studied for
singular time periods. It is a truism that the
culture area concept is a much castigated
product of our discipline. But contemplat-
ing the Greater-Caribbean requires this
type of generalization, and as long as the
theoretical emphasis is on constructing it
and not on 'finding' it there is little theo-
retical concern needed. Therefore we
should not look with too much comparative
concern to Mesoamerica (cf. Hoopes and
Fonseca 2003); Mesoamerican scholars
overwhelmingly use the culture area as
heuristic shorthand, and it is never intro-
duced to serve as the ultimate base to
which material things can be reduced. In
this regard we can follow Clifford's opin-
ion for whom culture is "a deeply compro-
mised idea I cannot yet do with-
out" (1988:10). A Greater-Caribbean per-
spective can continue to utilize proven suc-
cessful subheadings of culture area studies,
such as social organization and ecological
settings. When combined with studies of
materiality of the objects we encounter, a
study of meaning construction in space and
material culture emerges that will shed
light on how different peoples in the
Greater-Caribbean represented themselves
through objects in social interactions.

Acknowledgements
The following institutions and individu-
als are gratefully acknowledged for thelir
contributions to this research: the Nicara-
guan Institute of Culture, the Archaeologi-
cal M~useum Gregorio Aguilar BareaB~~~~BBBBB~~~~BBBB in
Juigalpa, Jorge ZamZZZZZZZZ~~~~~~~~~brana Carlos and
Gustavo Villanueva~~ll1~~~~111~~~ as well as their family.
A Leiden University Fund Research Grant
enabled the 2007 jield season. We thank
Carla Jones and Arthur Joyce for Jfruitful
discussions on material culture.


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010











The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


1. Regarding the latter category it is problematic to
merely involve designs and other morphological
characteristics as the only aspects of material cul-
ture that are able to inform the archaeologist. Tech-
nological features are similarly culturally specific,
and technological pottery studies have neglected
this finding in favor of viewing the procurement and
manufacturing of ceramics a 'technique', seemingly
devoid of cultural value, and determined by envi-
ronmental constraints and functional requirements.
This critique has been voiced for other regions (Van
der Leeuw 1991), and we propose to follow it for
the Greater-Caribbean.
2. The Pacific side of Nicaragua has seen many
relations being drawn between archaeological se-
quencing and ethnohistorical accounts. The specific
data by itself as well as how these sources can be
fitted together, has been the focus of some interest
in the recent past (e.g., Fowler 1989). These
sources, speaking of two primary migrations of eth-
nic groups, the Chorotega around the 8th century
AD and the Nicarao around the 12th century AD,
have frequently been regarded as being related to
changes in the ceramic sequence (Coe 1962; Healy
1980, but see Baudez 1976 for a differing analysis).
Recent advances in verifying the sequence through
C14 dating, have problematized this correlation of
ethnohistoric mention of social groups and decora-
tive patterns (MlcCafferty and Steinbrenner 2005).
3. In terms of geographical diversity, Central Amer-
ica demonstrates considerable variability. Whereas
it is marked by volcanic activity on the Pacific lat-
eral side, the regions beyond the mountainous area
of the central watershed area, and outlining the Car-
ibbean coast are largely flat, and humid, defined by
dendritic systems of rivers that cross-cut these flats
before discharging into the Caribbean Sea. The ter-
ritory of Nicaragua is no exception to this: topog-
raphic and climatic diversity seems the rule rather
than the exception and this makes archaeological
reflections on a geographical unit of this kind par-
ticularly challenging.
4. Other than the journals Vinculos and ancient
Alesoanzica, publications reporting on archaeo-
logical research in Nicaragua are extremely rare in
any of the major journals. For example, 4nzerican
antiquity's most recent article is a one-page report
by Matthew Stirling dating back 44 years (Stirling
1964:500-501). Now in its 19th volume, Latin
4nzerican antiquity is still looking for its first con-
tribution from archaeology conducted in Nicaragua.
Partly as a consequence of this, a significant part of
published data consists of grey literature, at best in
the form of circulating conference papers, and in the


worst case by means of technical reports leading
phantom lives at local institutions in Nicaragua.
5. This is not to mention the Northwestemn and
Northern parts of Nicaragua, which are largely left
out of the regional boundary discussions. The great
majority of the area is still lacking extensive re-
gional and site-specific investigation to establish
ceramic sequences, or minimally gain insights into
the characteristics of local material culture.
6. In this setting, diffuse unity is rather comparable
to the concept of 'common difference' proposed by
Richard Wilk (21 *4). Common difference describes
practices that delimit the expressions of an icono-
graphic style through agreed upon standards and
rules. As such, it also echoes Hoopes and Fonseca's
concern with power, in asking who the agents are
that steer these systems of common difference.
7. As mentioned, particular care should be adminis-
tered in equating style that is, the way and form in
which material culture is made and decorated- with
ethnic identity. Although style has been an attrac-
tive signifier for archaeological interpretations of
interaction on a regional scale for many decades
(Plog 1983), a clear definition of what constitute the
extremities of such interaction is often lacking.
8. The statuary of the central Nicaraguan watershed
receives similarly ambiguous interpretations as to
their form. Samuel Lothrop in the synthesis on the
archaeology of Central America for the Handbook
of Middle American Indians, points to the slight
"South-American" bas-relief style carvings, but also
emphasizes the presence of animal companions on
this statuary as being indicative of Mesoamerican
traits (Lothrop 1966).
9. Magnus ascertains that Luna Polychrome does
not originate on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua
(judging by the fact that he does not recover ceram-
ics of the Luna type), but mamy other problems re-
main unresolved to this day: The Preceramic is un-
known for the Caribbean side: on subsistence pat-
temns we only have scanty data, and burial practices
await detailed study.
10. Findspots were designated as such, based on
low quantities of surface materials (< 10 artifact
fragments per square meter).
11. Several of the petroglyph complexes at San
Isidro appear to have suffered extensive damaging
in recent years due to looting activities. Looters
have apparently intended to remove, to varying lev-
els of success, the upper layers of the protruding
bedrock, destroying the petroglyph when they failed
in their attempts.
12. Materials collected at sites were selected based
on potential diagnostic features; representative sam-


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


ple collections were not established due to the low
densities that were many times encountered at sites.
The still insufficient grip on site lay-out characteris-
tics in the region and therefore population size, may
well be an important factor in this matter. The re-
covered materials, analyzed by Geurds and Zam-
brana are stored at the Museo Gregorio Aguilar
Barea in Juigalpa. Apart from ceramics and lithics,
surface collections yielded some evidence of typical
household appliances, such as corn grindings
stones, but by and large the quantities are rather
limited.
13. Calls of this kind, for more attention to time
related issues such as development and scales of
change, should be particularly well received by ar-
chaeology, considering its needed grasp on the tem-
poral, as recently has been argued once more (Lucas
2005).


References cited
Abdel-Vidor, S.
1981 Ethnohistorical approaches to the
archaeology of Greater Nicoya. In
Between Continents / Between seas:
Pre-Columbian art of Costa Rica,
edited by E. Benson, pp. 85-92.
New York: Harry Abrams.
Barrantes, R., P. Smouse, H. Mohren-
weiser, H. Gershowitz, J. Azofeifa, T.
Arias and J. Neel
1990 Microevolution in lower Central
America: Genetic characterization
of the Chibcha speaking groups of
Costa Rica and Panama, and a tax-
onomy based on genetics, linguis-
tics, and geography. American
Journal of Human Genetics 46: 63-
84.
Barth, R.
1972 [1957] M~ythologies. Translated
by A. Lavers. London: Paladin.
Baudez, C. F.
1970 Amdrique Centrale. Collections Ar-
chaeologia Mundi. Geneva: Nagel
editions.
1976 Recherches archdologiques dansddddd~~~~~~~dddddd la
vallie de Tempisque, Guanacaste,


Costa Rica. Travaux et memoires
18. Paris: L'Institut des Hautes Etu-
des de l'Amerique Latine.
Boast, R.
1997 A small company of actors: a cri-
tique of style. Journal of Material
Culture 2: 173-198.
Bomilla L., M. Calvo, J. V. Guerrero, S.
Salgado and F. W. Lange
1990 La Ceramica de la Gran Nicoya.
Vinculos 13(1-2): 1-327.
Boomert, A.
2000 Trouidad, Tobago and the lower
Orinoco interaction sphere: an ar-
chaeological /ethnohistorical
study. Ph.D. dissertation, Faculty of
Archaeology, Leiden University.
Alkmaar: Cairi.
Bourdieu, P.
1977 Outline of a theory of practice.
Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.
Bray, W.
2003 Gold, stone, and ideology: symbols
of power in the Tairona tradition of
Northern Colombia. In Gold and
power in ancient Costa Rica, Pa-
nama, and Colombia, edited by J.
Quilter and J. Hoopes, pp. 301-344.
Washington D.C.: Dumbarton
Oaks.
Carmack, R.M., and S. Salgado Gonzalez
2006 A world systems perspective on the
archaeology and ethnohistory of the
Mesoamerican/Lower Central
American border. Ancient M~eso-
america 17(2): 219-229.
Clifford, J.
1988 The predicament of culture. Twenti-
eth-century ethnography, literature
andart. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press.


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


Coe, M. D.
1962 Costa Rican archaeology and Meso-
america. Slambo ex tei nl Journal of
Anthropology 18: 170-183.
Constenla Umana, A.
1991 Las lenguas del Area hIternzedia:
hItroduccion a su studio areal.
San Jose: Editorial de la
Universidad de Costa Rica..
Cooke, R.
1998 The felidae in pre-Columbian Pa-
nama: a thematic approach to their
imagery and symbolism. In Icons of
Power: feline synabolisn; in the
Americas, edited by N. Saunders,
pp. 77-121. New York: Routledge.
2005 Prehistory of Native Americans on
the Central American Land Bridge:
Colonization, Dispersal, and Diver-
gence. Journal of Archaeological
Research 13(2): 129-187.
Cooke, R. G., I. A. Isaza, J. Griggs, B.
Desjardins and L. A. Sanchez
2003 Who Crafted, Exchanged, and Dis-
played Gold in Pre-Columbian Pa-
nama? In Gold and Power in An-
cient Costa Rica, Panama,~PPP~~~~PPP~~~PPP and Co-
lonabia, edited by J. Quilter and J.
Hoopes, pp. 91-158. Washington
D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research
Library and Collection.
Drennan, R.
1996 Betwixt and between in the Inter-
mediate Area. In Journal of Ar-
chaeological Research 4(2): 95-
132.
Espinosa Perez, E., and D. Rigat
1994 Gran Nicoya y la region de
Chontales, Nicaragua. Vinculos 18-
19(1-2): 139-156.
Fletcher, L., R. Salgado Galeano, and E.
Espinosa P.
1994 Gran Nicoya y el norte de
Nicaragua. Vinculos 18-19(1-
2):173-190.


Freidel, D.
1979 Culture areas and interaction
spheres: Contrasting approaches to
the emergence of civilization in the
Maya lowlands. American Antiquity
44(1): 36-54.
Fowler, B.
1989 The cultural evohition of ancient
NahuaN~~~~NNNNN~~~~NNNN civilizations: The Pipil-
Nicarao of Central America.
Norman: University of Oklahoma
Press.
Gassiot, B., and C. Clemente
2007 Asentanziento~~ttt~~ttt~~tt y sociedaddddddddddddddddd durante el
periodo en la costa atlantl~lt~lt~ica~l~lt~t~ de
Nicaragua. Website accessed on
November 18, 2007. Http ://
seneca.uab.es/arqueologia-
nicaragua/. Universidad Autonoma
de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
Gell, A.
1998 Art and agency: an anthropological
theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Gerstle, A.
1976 An analysis of the artifacts fions
Sabana Grande, Nicaragua. Un-
published MA thesis. University of
Colorado, Boulder.
Geurds, A
2008 Proyecto Arqueologico Rio
Mayales: hIfornze Tecnico Final.
Manuscript on file, Instituto de
Cultura, Managua, Nicaragua.
Gorin, F.
1990 Archeologie de Chontales, Nicara-
gua. 3 volumes. Unpublished Ph.D.
dissertation, University of Paris I,
Paris.
Graham, M. (ed.)
1993 Displacing the center: constructing
prehistory in Central America. In
Reinterpreting prehistory of Cen-
tral America, edited by M. Miller
Graham, pp 1-38. Niwot: Universi-
ty Press of Colorado.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


Haberland, W.
1957 Zentral Amerika: Begriff, Grenzen
und Probleme. Amerikanistische ~kk~~kk~~kk~
M~iszellen 1959: 53-59.
Healy, P.
1980 Archaeology of the Rivas region,
Nicaragua. Ontari o: Wilfrid
Laurier University Press.
Helms, M. W.
1979 Ancient Panama: Chiefs in Search
of Power. Austin: University of
Texas Press.
1995 Creations of the Rainbow serpent:
Polychrome ceramic designs fr~om
ancient Panama. Albuquerque:
University of New Mexico Press.
2000 The curassow 's crest: Myths and
symbols in the ceramics of ancient
Panama. Gainesville: University
Press of Florida.
2006 A brief look south and north of Pa-
nama. In A Pre-Columbian World,
edited by J. Quilter and M. Miller,
pp. 107-131. Washington D.C.:
Dumbarton Oaks.
Hofman, C. L., A. J. Bright and R.
Rodriguez Ramos
2010 Crossing the Caribbean Sea. To-
wards a holistic view of precolonial
mobility and exchange. Journal of
Caribbean Archaeology, Special
Publication Number 3: M~obility
and Exchange fCrom a panZ-
Caribbean perspective, edited by C.
L. Hofman and A. J. Bright.
Hoopes, J. W.
2004 Atravesando fronteras y explorando
la icongrafia sagrada de los
antiguos chibchas en Centroamerica
meridional y Colombia
septentrional. Revista del Area In-
termedia 6: 129-166.
Hoopes, J. W., and O. Fonseca
2003 Goldwork and Chibchan identity:
endogenous change and diffuse


unity in the Isthmo-Colombian
area. In Gold and Power in ancient
Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia,
edited by J. Quilter and J. W.
Hoopes, pp. 49-90. Washington
D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks.
Ibarra Rojas, E.
2001 Fronteras etnicas en la conquista
de Nicaragua y Nicoya. Entre el
conflicto 800 dC-1544. San Jose:
Editorial de la Universidad de
Costa Rica.
Incer, J.
1985 Toponimias indigenas de
Nicaragua. San Jose: Associacion
Libro Libre.
1990 Nicaragua: viajes, rutas y
encuentros 1502-1838. Historia de
las ex ploraciones y
descubrimientos antes de ser
independiente, con observaciones
sobre su geografia, etnia y
naturaleza. Coleccion Centenario.
San Jose: Associacion Libro Libre.
Kuhl, E.
2010 Raices del Centro-Norte de
Nicaragua. Managua: Editorial
Hispamer.
Lange, F., and D. Stone (eds)
1984 The archaeology of Lower Central
America. Albuquerque: University
of New Mexico Press.
Lange, F., P. D. Sheets, A. Martinez, and
S. Abdel-Vidor (eds)
1993 The archaeology ofPacific Nicara-
gua. Albuquerque: University of
New Mexico Press.
Lothrop, S. K.
1966 Archaeology of Lower Central
America. In Handbook of Middle
American Indian2s, volume 4, edited
by G. Ekholm and G. Willey,
pp.180-208. Austin: University of
Texas Press.


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


Lucas, G.
2005 The archaeology of time. London:
Routl edge.
McCafferty, G., and L. Steinbrenner
2005 Chronol ogi cal implications for
greater Nicoya from the Santa Isa-
bel Proj ect, Nicaragua. Ancient
M~esoamnerica 16(1): 131-146.
Magnus, R.
1974 The prehistory of the M~iskito Coast
of Nicaragua: A study in cultural
relationships. Unpublished Ph.D.
dissertation, Yale University, New
Haven.
1975 Present archaeological research in
Chontales, Nicaragua: its implica-
tions for the prehistory of Lower
Central America. Manuscript on
Eile, Banco Central, Managua.
1977 Current research. American Antiq-
uity 42(2): 281.
McKee, B. R., T. L. Sever and P. D. Sheets
1994 Prehistoric footpaths in Costa Rica:
Remote sensing and fielding verii-
cation. In Archaeology, volcanism,
and remote sensing in the Arenal
region, Costa Rica, edited by P. D.
Sheets and B. R. McKee, pp. 142-
157. Austin: University of Texas
Press.
Newson, L.
1987 Indian Survival in colonial
Nicaragua. Norman: University of
Oklahoma Press.
Plog, S.
1983 The analysis of style in artifacts.
Annual Review of Anthropology 12:
125-142.
Preucel, R.
2006 Archaeological Semiotics. Maiden:
Blackwell.
Redmond, E. M.
1994 External Warfare and the Internal
Politics of Northern South Ameri-
can Tribes and Chiefdoms. In Fac-


tional Competition and Political
Development in the New World,
edited by E. Brmmfel and J. Fox,
pp. 44-54. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Rigat, D.
1992 Prdhistoire au Nicaragua: Rdgion
de Juigalpa, Ddpartement de Chon-
tales. 3 vols. Unpublished Ph.D.
dissertation. University of Paris I,
Paris.
Rouse, I.
1986 M~igrations in prehistory: inferring
population movement fr~om cultural
remains. New Haven: Yale Univer-
sity Press.
Sal gado Gonzalez, S.
1996 Social Change in a Region of Gra-
nada, Pacific Nicaragua (1000
B.C.-1522 A.D.). Ph.D. disserta-
tion, State University of New York,
Albany. Ann Arbor: University Mi-
croHilms.
Sheets, P. D.
1992 The pervasive pejorative in Inter-
mediate Area studies. In Wealth
and H~ierarchy in the Intermediate
Area, edited by F. Lange, pp. 15-
42. Washington D.C.: Dumbarton
Oaks.
Smith, M. E., and F. Berdan (eds)
2003 The Postclassic M~esoamerican
world. Salt Lake City: University of
Utah Press.
Squier, E. G.
1853 Observations on the archaeology
and ethnology of Nicaragua. Trans-
actions of the American Ethnologi-
cal Society 3: 83-158.
Steward, J. H.
1948 The Circum-Caribbean tribes: An
Introduction. In H~andbook of Embrl
America Indians. Volume 4. The
Circum-Caribbean Tribes, edited
by J. H. Steward, pp. 1-41. Wash-


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










The similarity trap


Geurds and Van Broekhoven


ington D.C.: Smithsonian Institu-
tion.
Stone, D. Z.
1962 The Talanzancan Tribes of Costa
Rica. Papers of the Peabody Mu-
seum of Archaeology and Ethnol-
ogy, Vol. 43, No. 2. Cambridge:
Harvard University.
1966 Synthesis of Lower Central Ameri-
can ethnohistory. In Handbook of
Middle American hidians, Vohuene
4, edited by G. Ekholm and G.
Willey, pp. 109-133. Austin: Uni-
versity of Texas Press.
Strong, W. M. S.
1948 The Archaeology of Costa Rica and
Nicaragua. In Handbook of .Sonlub
America hidians. Vohinte 4. The
Circunt-Caribbean Tribes, edited
by J. H. Steward, pp. 121-142.
Washington D.C.: Smithsonian
Institution.
Tous Mata, M.
2002 De la Gran Nicoya precolonabina a
la provincia de Nicaragua, s. XVyy
XVI. Unpublished Ph.D.
dissertation, University of
Barcelona, Barcelona.
Van Broekhoven, L. N. K.
2002 Conquistando lo invencible.
Fuentes historical sobre las
cultures indigenas de la region
central de Nicaragua. Leiden:
CNWS Publications.
Van der Leeuw, S.
1991 Variation, Variability and Explana-
tion in Pottery Studies. In Ceramic
Ethnoarchaeology, edited by W.A.
Longacre, pp. 3-39. Tucson: Uni-
versity of Arizona Press.
Willey, G. R.
1959 The intermediate area of nuclear
America: its prehistoric relation-
ships to Middle America and Peru.
In Proceedings of the 33rd hIterna-


tional Congress of Anzericanists,
pp. 184-194. San Jose, Costa Rica.
1984 A summary of the archaeology of
Lower Central America. In The ar-
chaeology of Lower Central Anzer-
ica, edited by F. Lange and D.
Stone, pp. 341-378. Albuquerque:
University of New Mexico Press.
Wobst, M.
1977 Stylistic behavior and information
exchange. In Papers for the direc-
tor: Research essaysssssssssssss in honor of
JamJJJJJJJJ~~~~~~~~~es B. Griffin, edited by C. Cle-
land, pp. 317-342. Papers of the
Museum of Anthropology No. 61.
Ann Arbor: University of Michi-
gan.
1999 Style in archaeology or archaeolo-
gists in style. In Material M~ean-
ings. Critical approaches to the in-
terpretation of material culture,
edited by E. Chilton, pp. 118-132.
Salt Lake City: University of Utah
Press.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Journal of Caribbean Archaeology
Copynght 2010
ISSN 1524-477o

SOMETHING FOR NOTHING: EXPLORING THE IMPORTANCE OF STRONG
RECIPROCITY IN THE GREATER CARIBBEAN

Angus A. A. Mol1
Faculty ofArchaeology
Leiden thriversity
P. O. Box 9515
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands
a.nrol~arch. leidenuniv. n!


Abstract
When discussing exchange in the archaeological record, this often entails a prehistory of
exchange that is focused on the economic or the political aspect of exchanges. These par-
ticular views very often suppose a direct quid-pro-quo attitude to exchanges. Although direct
reciprocity was no doubt important for the constitution of pre-Cohenabian sociality, many
other social strategies are available that were at least as important. This article focuses on
the possible role of strong reciprocity in pan-Caribbean interactions. This entails that ob-
jects and concepts should not be only considered for their value as exchange valuables in an
economic or ideological sense, but also f on; their ability to create material manifestations
of social strategies and thelir resulting relations. This position will be illuminated by a ca~se-
study takent~~~~ttttt~~~~tttt 2 m elan2esian ethnography and Caribbean archaeology.

Rdsunad
Lorsque l'on traite des changes dansddddd~~~~~~~dddddd les travaux archdologiques, il est gindraleentetfait
reference da une prdhistoire des changes centre sur les seuls aspects dconontiques ou poli-
tiques. Ce point de vue insplique tres souvent une attitude de contrepartie directed dansddddd~~~~~~~dddddd les
changes. Bien que la rdciprocitd directed occupdt sans doute une place insportante dansddddd~~~~~~~dddddd la
constitution de la sociabilitd pricolonabienne, beaucoup d'autres strategies sociales, au
nzoins aussi insportantes, itaient envisageables. Cet article se concentre sur le possible rdle
de la rdciprocitd strict dansddddd~~~~~~~dddddd les interactions pan-caribdenne. Cela insplique que les objets et
les concepts ne doivent pas 4tre seulentent considers pour leur valeur conane objets prd-
cieux d'dchange, au sens dconontique ou iddologique, nzais doivent l'dtre aussi pour leur
capacit d a crier des manifestations nzatirielles des strata gies sociales et des relations rdsul-
tantes. Cette reflexion sera illustrate d'une itude de cas tirds de l 'ethnographie ntilandsienne
et de l'archdologie caribdenne.

Resunten
Cuando se habla sobre interca~nbio en el registro arqueoldgico, esto insplica a nzenudo la
a~suncian de una prehistoria centradart~r~rt~rtrt~rt~ en los aspects econdnzicos o politicos de los
interca~nbios. Estos puntos de vista, fCecuentenzente suponen una disposicidn direct quid-
pro-quo, a los interca~nbios. Aunque la reciprocidaddddddddddddddd directafue, sin dudas, insportante para
la constitucidn de la sociabilidad pre-colonabina,~d~~d~ hay nauchas otras estrategias sociales que
tuvieron al nzenos, tanta insportancia conto esta. El present articulo se centra en el possible


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010













papel jugado por una "reciprocidaddddd fuertedd~dd~ ", en la~s interacciones pan-caribeha~s. Esto
insplica que objetos y concepts no deben ser solo considerados por su valor conto bienes de
ca~nbio, en un sentido econdmico o ideoldgico sino tanattt~~~~~ttttt~~~bien por su habilidadddddd~dddddddddd de crear
nzanifestaciones nzateriales de estrategia~s sociales y de sus relaciones resultant~~~tttes.t~~~ttt~ Esta
posicidn sera~ ilustrada por ca~sos de studio tonzados de la Etnografia de M~elanesia y de la
Arqueologia del Calribe.


Introduction
A theory of a pan-Caribbean sphere of
interaction i.e., the notion of the "Greater
Caribbean" (Rodriguez Ramos 2007) -
states that the pan-Caribbean has to be en-
visaged as "one landscape whose inhabi-
tants played an active and significant role
in the establishment and maintenance of
local and regional circuits of mobility and
exchange as they navigated its waters and
trekked across its (is)1ands, without down-
playing their cultural, social, biological, or
linguistic particularities" (Hofman, per-
sonal communication 2007).1 Accordingly,
one of the many challenges that this theory
has to meet is to come to an understanding
of how the precolonial Greater Caribbean
world was affected by a greater number of
much further-reaching social interactions
that were far more complicated in practice
than Caribbean archaeologists could previ-
ously have envisioned. Ironically, this di-
lemma must also have been one of the
greatest challenges for the individuals and
communities operating within a pan-
Caribbean interaction sphere: they would
have had to mediate and integrate many
more extra-local, extra-cultural and, thus,
extra-social elements in the form of cultur-
ally and linguistically distinct groups of the
region in order for them to successfully
transform Greater Caribbean value systems
into local systems of value. Here, I will fol-
low this line of thought in a discussion of a
pan-Caribbean theory for precolonial ex-
change. By using and expanding on the
concept of the "social valuable" and the


social narratives that would have been an
integral part of them I will concentrate in
particular on the overrated significance of
direct reciprocity as a social strategy
among precolonial communities and indi-
viduals.

Social Valuables
"Social valuables" (Spielmann 2002) are
often Einely manufactured items that in
some cases take months to create, never-
theless they are valued even more than
their production costs. These valuables can
be material in nature, but also function on
the level of what is nowadays termed
"intellectual property", for instance knowl-
edge of a certain ritual, a dance, or how to
cure a certain disease. In addition to their
production cost these items derive their
value from a distinct uniqueness: a per-
sonal character (Appadurai 1986; Kopytoff
1986). When a social valuable is ex-
changed it is not only the item that is ex-
changed, but also the narrative around it:
its life trajectory (Weiner 1976). This nar-
rative can be given context in a variety of
manners: by acquiring items through spe-
cial means, e.g., over long distances
(Helms 1988); making an item with excep-
tionally exquisite craftsmanship (Helms
1993); associating an item with the ances-
tors (Helms 1998); and/or other means.
The transfer of these objects between ex-
change partners serves to (re)produce the
reputation of communal structures and in-
dividual agents within that structure and
thereby doubly reaffirms its social value


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010





(Munn 1986).
It would seem that the most closely cor-
related concept in anthropology is that of
the 'gift,' as first put forward by Mauss
(1925). This is true in the way that social
valuables are best understood as the physi-
cal manifestation of the "personal relations
between people that the exchange of things
in certain social contexts creates" (Gregory
1982: 8). Indeed, a social valuable should
be seen as a gift in the way that it is para-
doxically personal and interpersonal in na-
ture and that as a rule a social relation is
hardly ever valued without it. Yet, by using
the term social valuables rather than gift I
would like to shift the focus away from
what is inextricably attached to the Maus-
sian gift: its reciprocal nature.
Marcel Mauss' seminal essay "the Gift"
starts by asking (1990: 4, his italics) "[w]
hat rule of legality and self-interest, in so-
cieties ofa baclarard or archaic tyipe, com-
pels the gift that has been received to be
obligatorily reciprocated? What power re-
sides in the object given that causes its re-
cipient to pay it back? Mauss established
and cross-culturally discussed the obliga-
tion to give, receive and give back; this has
led many scholars to view "the Gift" as one
of the first substantive anthropological in-
quiries into "archaic" economy (Sykes
2005). It is undeniably one of the most im-
portant anthropological texts of the 20th
century. However, the application of
Mauss' ideas in practice often comes down
to a quid-pro-quo formalist version of re-
ciprocity, i.e., a prehistory of market ex-
change (Godbout and Caille 1998).2 The
problem is that these kinds of models ig-
nore opposite views on the foundation of
exchange as it is understood through a
large and still growing cross-disciplinary
corpus of scholarly work. Using theories
from Evolutionary Psychology I wish to
expand the horizon on gift exchange by


considering reasons, tactics and benefits of
a model of exchange that does not work
from a formalist type of reciprocity. First I
will present and explain the model. Then I
will present two short case-studies and dis-
cuss why this model is also integral to a
pan-Caribbean theory of exchange.

Tracking exchange
It is my hypothesis that in its social foun-
dation the exchange of a social valuable is
precisely not about reciprocity, but about
showing more dedication than you would
strictly need in order to have a balanced
equation (Mol 2007; cf. Ssorin-Chaikov
2006). The direct consequence for archae-
ologists is that we should not always take
for granted that when we "find" exchange,
reciprocal action is to be expected. This
would certainly be a normal reaction when
an elite valuable is found at a location that
is exotic to the obj ect, but in fact the expec-
tations of reciprocal modes of exchange are
far more widespread in Caribbean archae-
ology than only models of elite interaction.
For instance, when evidence is found for
the import of all sorts of obj ects from other
islands by communities from one particular
region or island, one side of the story
would invariably focus on what the receiv-
ing community would have been exporting.
If it is not clear what the recipient could
have exported we postulate that it must
have been dependent on and thus subordi-
nate to the donor community. In other
words when talking about archaeologically
established exchange from one region to
another, we often seem to feel that we are
missing one end of the spectrum. It seems
that the receiving party has not recipro-
cated and has gained something for noth-
ing. Sometimes this can be explained by
the incompleteness of the archaeological
representation of the exchange system, be-
cause it is to be expected that a considerate


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010





part of the objects that were exchanged are
of a perishable nature. Nevertheless, it is a
fact that among sedentary peoples across
the globe one of the most valued qualities
of successful social valuables is their dura-
bility (Clark 1986; Jacobson 1987; Weiner
1992). Therefore I would argue that the
lack of visibility of perishable materials in
the archaeological record cannot be the
whole story.
The norm of direct reciprocal gain is so
ingrained in our system that it almost
seems naive to postulate the existence of
indirect reciprocal patterns of exchange.
Because of its perceived irrational eco-
nomic inefficiency philosophers, evolution-
ists and economists have been puzzled by
altruism, i.e., indirect reciprocal behavior,
to such an extent that it was even not sup-
posed to exist (Alexander 1987). Yet, there
is a growing community of scholars who
posit that human beings can act in a way
that, on the face of it, is altruistic. Research
in primarily the area of the evolution of
human social behavior, suggests that there
are those who do not expect to be recipro-
cated as a necessity for being social (Sober
and Wilson 1998). Through various in-
depth and cross-cultural studies it has been
shown that non-reciprocal action may be
undertaken because humans as highly so-
cial beings are continuously checking on
the social acts of others (Henrich, et al.
2006; Henrich, et al. 2004). This universal
process that is called "tracking" is vital to
our survival in an environment that consists
primarily of non-kin (Goodnight 2005;
Richerson and Boyd 2004; Sober and Wil-
son 1998).
Tracking is done by "strong reciproca-
tors". Strong reciprocation, also called
gerenalized reciprocity or altruistic punish-
ment, is a type of behavior that is engaged
when a "freerider" engages in anti-social
behavior.3 As a reaction to this anti-social


behavior a strong reciprocator will punish a
freerider. Conversely, a strong reciprocator
also rewards social behavior. Punishing or
rewarding is altruistic, because it is costly
to the one who is meting out the reward or
punishment (Fehr and Fischbacher 2003,
2004; Fehr and Gachter 2000; Gintis 2000;
Gintis, et al. 2001; Gintis, et al. 2005;
Gintis, et al. 2008).
This behavior has been tested in a num-
ber of games. A clarifying example of one
of these games is a variant of the so-called
"dictator game" (Figure 1).
In this variant a certain amount of money
is divided between two players by only one
of the players, without the consent of the
other. After this division a third player can
decide to reward or punish the other two
players by paying the amount with which
he or she wants to punish or reward. It has
to be pointed out that there will not be a
subsequent round of payments. If the third
player chooses to pay to reward or punish
he/she solely acts on his/her sense of what
is socially desirable. It appears that cross-
culturally and in almost all the cases the
third player chooses to punish or reward,
although this comes at a cost to him or her
and he or she cannot gain anything by it
(Fehr, et al. 2002; Flesch 2007: 33).
Actually, strong reciprocation can only
remain a guiding element in human interac-
tion if we actually punish those who fail to
punish. And punish those who fail to pun-
ish someone who fails to punish, and so on
(Henrich and Boyd 2001). In effect, social-
ity necessitates that a social actor has a ten-
dency to be a strong reciprocator (Boyd, et
al. 2003). To keep a record of all these
punishments and rewards humans have de-
veloped sophisticated tracking skills. These
skills are so important to navigate in hu-
man social groups that we engage in it al-
most compulsively. Think for example
about the hard-to-resist urge to gossip,


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010












Stage 1

(to Ibe divided between Dk~tator ard5~al bjc)





9/ O





Strong itecipsocato
$50
[t ****"peda snhmeniso rrrward )

Stage 2


Sir~nRcrgieipsoicso
sso-io
(Costs 1 to ponsho reward wih$54)
A ~Stage 3


which is a very effective
means of keeping up with
the patterns of social pun-
ishment and reward and
also punish and reward at
the same time by spreading
gossip (Axelrod 1997;
Flesch 2007).

Furthermore, the literature
critic William Flesch has
proposed that the universal
love for stories that are
filled with heroic punishers
and evil egoists stems di-
rectly from our interest in
tracking social interaction
(Flesch 2007). In other
words the human urge to
track is expressed in our
love for narratives. It has
been postulated that human
folk psychology is designed
to build narratives around
social interaction (Hutto
2007, 2008).4 This would
be a logical necessity since
social exchange is almost
never a simple matter of X
glVing to Y and Y recipro-
cating to X. A simple ex-
change situation might al-
ready resemble the follow-
ing: X punishes or rewards
Y, because Y has harmed or
benefited Z and Z has
harmed/benefited W in the
past with whom X also has
a social relation -e.g., the
Hunter kills the Wolf be-
cause he has eaten Little
Red Riding Hood, who did
not deserve to be eaten be-
cause she has always been
kind to animals and other


Stroq Recipsocator


Figure 1. A sample three party, two stage Dictator Game consisting of a
Dictator, Subject and Strong Reciprocator.

Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010





people of whom the Hunter is also quite
fond."

Narratinzg exchange
The above are integral aspects of the
concept of the social valuable. In the frame
of mind of a strong reciprocator, a social
valuable would be given and often recipro-
cated as a way of keeping track of the dis-
position of one's social partners to act in a
socially desirable manner. Secondly, if a
strong reciprocator gives away a social
valuable without the intent to be recipro-
cated this shows to others that he or she is
set on acting in a non-egoistic, i.e., altruis-
tic, manner. This shows him or her to be a
trustworthy and capable social actor who
has proved to also act in the interest of oth-
ers.6
Aside from the general suggestions
above I would like to focus on another
critical aspect of the tracking of social
valuables. In addition to the exchange of
services, the exchange of socially valuable
objects would be one of the ways with
which stories of the social capabilities of
social actors would have been created. The
action of giving, receiving, and reciproca-
tion of social valuables that construct a pat-
tern of social interaction is itself subject to
narration. A gift of a social valuable from
one community or person to another could
be seen as a new page in the narrative of
the social history between these persons or
communities. It is in this sense that the ex-
change of social valuables is not a matter
of quid-pro-quo reciprocity, but a process
of the narration of one's own and others'
social capabilities.
For archaeologists it is imperative to re-
alize that the narrative contained in ex-
change also has a material reflection. One
of the main reasons for the social value of
a social valuable lies in the fact that it is
ideally suited to hold a narrative.' It is not a


new thought that what separates commod-
ity from gift is that the latter holds a biog-
raphy, while the former does not
(Appadurai 1986; Kopytoff 1986). What
makes a gift even more valuable is an ex-
tended pedigree that consists of a history of
what has happened to the object (Gosden
and Marshall 1999; Graeber 2001; Thomas
1991).8 This is framed in terms of where,
when and, most importantly, by whom it
has been held and exchanged (Thomas
1991: 100). So, if the act of exchange
stands for the creation of a new page in the
narrative, the exchanged object itself em-
bodies the possibility for that narrative to
be remembered and retold. To interact with
an object in the present rekindles the mem-
ory of past social action and its rewards
and punishments: the social valuable acts
as a mnemonic tool for social exchange.9
The above suggests that on a proximal
level we should not expect exchange to al-
ways be a reciprocal affair, because valu-
ables can move back and forth between
social partners. On an ultimate level strong
reciprocity is reciprocal, because strong
reciprocators get to enj oy the profit of con-
tinued or new social relations. So, on an
archaeological level sometimes things will
be given but nothing will be reciprocated
due to the human tendency to be a strong
reciprocator. Other objects will be re-
ceived, yet will not be reciprocated, be-
cause they were a reward/punishment for
social action. In even other cases objects
might be given out of sheer interest for the
narrative of a certain object and the oppor-
tunity to be part of that particular objects'
narrative. I will now shortly explore two
case-studies that will provide some back-
ground for the model outlined above.

Kula valuables
The Trobriand Islands are part of the
Massim, an archipelago that trails of to the


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010





south and east of the main island of New
Guinea. It is on these islands that Mali-
nowski conducted fieldwork from 1915
until 1918 and the subj ect of the most well-
known ethnographic account of exchange,
the Argonauts of the Western Pacific
(Malinowski 1922). In this work Ma-
linoswki describes in a most elaborate
manner the practice of kula that was later
used by Mauss in his cross-cultural discus-
sion of gift giving (Mauss 1925). The kula
is an exchange in which vaygu'a, kula valu-
ables necklaces of red shell, called sou-
lava, and white shell bracelets, called
mwali are exchanged along "kula paths"
between players from communities from
different islands. A kula exchange consists
of A giving to a desired exchange partner B
an opening gift. This is done with the idea
in mind that when B gets his hand on either
a desirable soulava or mwali A will receive
this as a return gift. In this manner a sou-
lava social valuable travels in a clockwise
manner through the area known as the
'kula ring', while a mwali social valuable
makes this journey in a counter clockwise
motion (Leach and Leach 1983; Mali-
nowski 1922: 81-104).
The kula is the favourite example of
'quid-pro-quo' reciprocity among anthro-
pologists (Sykes 2005). When it is quoted
by non-Melanesian specialists it is often
remarked how important kula is as an ac-
tivity for males to increase their political
power through prestige driven exchanges.
Less often these non-specialists draw atten-
tion to the fact that the exchange of shell
valuables is only a minor part of the totality
of exchanges in the kula ring, among which
a huge number of intra-island and interis-
land perishable and non-perishable materi-
als that function as the constituents of this
exchange system (Weiner 1987). It is even
less often acknowledged that, although
kula is unmistakably connected to power,


the foundation of kula is that of an ex-
change game that is geared towards social
standing and not power accumulation
(Munn 1986).
When playing kula the central purpose is
to gain "fame", both at the level of the indi-
vidual and at the level of the community
(Damon 2002; Munn 1986). It appears that
only a minor part of the measure of success
of a kula player is ascribed by reference to
how many kula valuables they have and
what the values of the owned objects are
(Campbell 1983; Weiner 1992). Instead,
for a kula player the constitution of his suc-
cess is for a great deal dependent on his
fame, i.e., the narratives of what valuable
he exchanged why, when, where and with
whom. This spread of their fame is possible
because kula valuables are individually
recognizable artifacts to experienced play-
ers and are often named. In addition, the
value of an individual mwali or soulava is
constructed through its circulation some-
thing Malinowski already remarked upon
(Malinowski 1922: 511). Therefore, in or-
der to know the value of a mwali or sou-
lava those who participate in kula must
also know the entire exchange history of
the kula path that the object "travelled on."
For instance, for the documented case of
the mwali "Nonowan" the recorded history
runs from 1938 to 1976 and comprised a
list of 24 different exchange partners who
were divided among fourteen different
communities (Damon 1980).
It is easy to recognize the skill in track-
ing which advanced kula players, partaking
in several kula paths, should have in order
to be successful and gain fame. I would
also like to point out that fame in the kula
ring depends largely on how strong recip-
rocal acts are remembered with the func-
tion of the kula valuable as focal point for
the collective social memory. Additionally,
it is important to stress that being social


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010





Gulf of Mexico


I '?" T '
Chican Ostionoid Heartland
Spread of Shell Face
Distribution


Hispaniola
Greater Antiless


Lee~4
/",

C9. '~
a,


ro


C Jemeica
PB~


Cari'o'oean Sea


Figure 2. Map of The Late Ceramic Age Caribbean indicating the spread of shell faces and the Chican
Ostionoid heartland.


and open-handed are highly valued quali-
ties in the communities that make up the
kula ring (Munn 1986). Kula would be one
of many ways in which these qualities
would be made visible and traceable.

Guaizas
Guaizas are a class of face-depicting ob-
jects from the latter part of the Late Ce-
ramic Age (+/- AD 1000-1492) and are al-
most all made of parts of the Strombus gi-
gas and (more rarely) Srombus costatus
shell. They are far from a common find in
the archaeological record, but they do oc-
cur in almost the whole of the Antillean
archipelago with reported findings from
central Cuba all the way to the Grenadines
in the southern Lesser Antilles (Figures 2,
3 and 4).10
Additionally, they all have iconographic
elements that are strongly reminiscent of
the Chican or Meillacan Ostionoid style
that is connected to the Taino, yet they are
in a sense all unique (Mol 2007). Through


analogy with contemporary Arawakan lan-
guages it is known that guaiza probably
means "our face" (Brinton 1871; Oliver
2009). The shell face guaiza would have
been worn in a configuration with other
materials around the neck or around the
waste as part of a girdle. It is very likely
that it would have been further adorned
with gold or tumbaga inlays (Alegria
1981). Together with statements in Spanish
historical sources of the early contact pe-
riod and other sources of information on
Taino worldview we can postulate that
these shell faces are the materialization of
the faces of superhuman beings and ances-
tors. They are also intimately linked with
personhood and the lineage of the individ-
ual who is wearing the guaiza (Las Casas
1875, 1992; Mol 2007; Oliver 1997, 2000;
Pane 1999 [1571]; Siegel 1998). Addition-
ally, it is stated in one ethnohistorical
source and further postulated through evi-
dence from a petroglyph at the ball court
site of Caguana in Puerto Rico that the


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010


~Bahamas
~~i~b~o1 tT ~










































































Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010


Isla nd Qua nt ity
Eastern Cuba 19
Ja ma ica 1
Hispaniola 28
Puerto Rico 4
Vieq ues 1
Saint Croix 1
Anguilla 2
Antigua 3
Montserrat 1
La Dksirade 2
Ma rie Ga la nte 1
Saint Lucia 1
Grenadines
(fle de Ronde) 1
Total 65


Southern Lesser
Antilles
3%


Northern Lesser
Antilles
15%



Puerto Rico and ..:..
Vieques
8%
Jamaica
2% :::


Hispaniola
43%


Eastern Cuba
29%


...
-
:- :-:-:-:-:-:-:- -:


Figure 3. Table with absolute numbers of guaizas per island and pie chart with percentual distribution of
guaizas per region.


guaiza was part of the "regalia" of Taino
caciques (Las Casas 1992: Chapter 59;
Oliver 1998).
The above suggests that a guaiza would
have probably been an important object for
the establishment and symbolic expression
of political power relations among the
Taino. However, the ethnohistorical record
tells us that guaizas were also favoured as a
gift by the Taino to the Spaniards. From
1495 to 1497 Christopher Columbus re-
ceived 45 guaizas and 6 girdles with faces
at the settlement of La Isabela (Alegria
1980; Mol 2008). In a later shipping list
from 1506, guaizas are still named as one
of the few objects among shipments of
gold (Mira Caballos 2000). We have sev-
eral specific descriptions of the gift of a
guaiza to ColC~n (Fernandez de Navarete
1922: 129, 154 & 229). The gift of a guaiza
seems to have been aimed at drawing Co-
lumbus and other Europeans into the social
sphere of the donor."


Ethnohistorical evidence might not be
enough to definitely prove that these ob-
jects would have been exchanged in the
pre-Columbian period or whether it is
merely the idea of a shell face that was dif-
fused through a larger area. It could be said
that the archaeometric impossibility of
Ending a detailed provenance of seashell
debilitates my argument for those who de-
lude themselves that archaeology can ever
Eind "proof of exchange." Therefore, at-
tractive as it might be, I am not out to show
that certain guaizas were transported from
certain islands to other specific islands.
One could make a case against the notion
that guaiza distribution is caused by the
diffusal of an idea. First there is the stylis-
tic similarity, balanced with the individual-
ity of every artefact, which shows that the
unique nature of a guaiza was more impor-
tant than the idea behind it. Also, the small
number of guaizas in the Lesser Antilles
makes it less parsimonious to posit that the





idea of a guaiza spread through some or
other means but was only put into material
form once or twice for the islands in which
they occur. In the end it is not the argument
if they were exchanged or not that interests
me, but how they functioned as social valu-
ables in local social strategies and (re)


production of communal and individual
reputations.
So, I would say that, analogously to the
Trobriand kula system and many other ex-
change systems across the globe, the ex-
change of these guaizas was part of a
strong reciprocal tactic. This tactic was


L
a
i~Li


-.-pQ.

.~EP-

~~C `~:
~r~acj


ii_


.I_


Figure 4. Greater and Lesser Antillean guaizas: a. guaiza from Potrero de El Mango, located at Museo Indocu-
bano Bani, Banes, Cuba; b. guaiza with an unknown context, located at the Fundaci6n Garcia Ar~valo, Santo
Domingo, Republica Dominicana; c. guaiza from Sandy Hill, Anguilla; d. Guaiza from Morne Cybble-1, La
D~sirade, Guadeloupe; e. Guaiza from Potrero de El Mango, located at the Gabineta de Arqueologia, Havana,
Cuba (a, b& e photographed by author, c & d courtesy of Menno L.P. Hoogland).


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010


Ilan Ilnnl





used by the indigenous people of the
Greater Antilles to influence and keep track
of the disposition of extra-social others to
engage in social behavior.12 It would not be
necessary for such an exchange to be recip-
rocal in nature. Indeed, a guaiza is an ideal
artefact to have an object narrative. All
guaizas share a similar style, but are unique
individuals and therefore easily recogniz-
able. Also, the fact that the guaiza seems to
be connected to personhood gives it an
identity that would have been retraceable in
an exchange network. Although the spe-
cific histories are lost to us, a specific
guaiza could have represented memories of
past exchanges and could have held the
names and biographies of previous owners.
The biggest incentive for the gift of a
guaiza might have been that it would add a
new part of the donor' s social narrative and
that of the donor's lineage by spreading
his/her social nature, name and "fame".13

Implications for a pan-Caribbean theory
of exchange
Although the two case-studies above are
not meant to be exhaustive, I hope they
show that strong reciprocal interaction de-
serves a place as an alternative explanation
alongside formalist models of exchange.
Provided the cognitive foundations for the
social system are not vastly different for
contemporary human groups than for the
indigenous groups of the pre-Columbian
Caribbean we should expect distribution
patterns and emic valuation of social valu-
ables to be partly influenced by strong re-
ciprocity instead of only direct gain
through reciprocity. This would entail that
less focus should be put on exchange as it
is operated in conventional models of
socio-political evolution (e.g., Earle 1981,
1997). When vesting the exchange of so-
cial valuables within this framework it
politicizes exchange on a different level: in


the wider context of the politics of general
human social interaction (cf. "practice of
exchange": Bourdieu 1977; Bourdieu 1990,
1997). The exchange of social valuables is
something that every member of society
will engage in, not only aggrandizing elite
men.
Furthermore, strong reciprocity and
tracking would be especially important in
situations in which the disposition of social
partners is something that should be care-
fully moderated or situations in which non-
kin social networks take an especially im-
portant place among social relations. These
would have been situations that would have
been prevalent in the pan-Caribbean
spheres of intensive and extensive interac-
tion: e.g., exogamous marriage patterns
(Keegan and Machlachlan 1989), network-
type strategies for gaining political power
(Blanton, et al. 1996), a combination of the
above (Keegan, et al. 1998; Siegel 2004),
intergroup contact (Hofman, et al. 2007;
Hofman and Bright 2008), the problem of
social distance and lifelines for migrants
(Keegan 2004; cf. Kirch 1988), but also the
interactions with superhuman beings and
ancestors (Oliver 1997). In these and other
situations the strong reciprocal giving of
social valuables would be an important
strategy to draw in extra-social others into
one's sphere of familiarity and from
thereon keep track of and influence their
social behavior (cf. Mol 2007; compare
Santos-Granero 2007).
What I hope this shows is that Caribbean
archaeologists would do well to take ac-
count of exchange tactics other than direct
reciprocity or chiefly redistribution. For
future work I will continue to map and
model various social strategies that can be
retraced using ethnoarchaeological, ethno-
historical and archaeological resources and
present these in conjunction with new ideas
on social networks in the Greater Carib-


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010














bean (Mol and Mans in prep.). The exam-
ples of strong reciprocity given here is just
one out of many available social strategies
in the Caribbean Late Ceramic Age, but it
would have been important to cement so-
cial relations along Greater Caribbean local
and long-distance lines of exchange. So,
although on a proximal level strong recip-
rocity entails that something could have
been given away for nothing or next to
nothing, on an ultimate level it would still
have been a profitable exchange tactic in
an interconnected pan-Caribbean exchange
landscape.



1. This characterization of a pan-Caribbean sphere
of interaction is taken from a 2007 NWO
(Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research)
project proposal of Corinne L. Hofman.
2. This particular version of the Maussian gift be-
came institutionalized for archaeologists in the
works of another founding father of economic an-
thropology: Polanyi (1944; and for archaeologists
especially 1957).
3. A freerider is someone who is not bearing the
cost for communal efforts or who consumes more
than his or her fair share.
4. In a recent book the cognitive psychologist and
philosopher Daniel D. Hutto places narratives at the
core of a child's development of its folk psychol-
ogy, i.e., how one deduces how other people reason
(Hutto 2008).
5. Or consider other variants: Christopher Colum-
bus captures the cacique Caonabo, because the ca-
cique Guacanagari reports that Caonabo was re-
sponsible for the destruction of La Navidad, the first
Spanish settlement on Hispaniola. Columbus be-
lieves Guacanagari because he has helped Col6n
when he was shipwrecked during his first journey.
Conversely it is possible to put into narrative form
that Scholar A writes a damning review of a grant
application by B, since scholar B did not support a
major article by C, who was the mentor of D who is
a collaborator on a research project with A.
6. It is reasonable to suspect that this trustworthi-
ness may be a deciding quality in a struggle for
leadership positions. In this sense being a leader is
not about controlling wealth, but about being a
clever social actor.


7. I would argue that certain objects are better
equipped to hold narrative than others, although
appearances can be deceiving. I think that this qual-
ity would be detectable by archaeologists because
certain objects are more easily recognizable and
memorable than others -, e.g., through the use of
particular iconographic patterns. It certainly is the
case that the more durable an object is, the more
likely it will be that its narrative will be remem-
bered (Helms 1998: Chapter 11).
8. Of course, it is impossible for archaeologists to
reconstruct that narrative. Even if it were possible to
compose such a narrative it would exist of a long
list of names and in itself would not be that interest-
ing (Graeber 2001: 33). However, for the under-
standing of exchange it is crucial to realize that nar-
rative plays an integral part to the constitution of a
social valuable.
9. Of course this focus on exchange valuables as
mnemonic devices for social interaction is in line
with the recent upsurge of memory studies in ar-
chaeology (Mills and Walker 2008: Van Dyke
2009; Van Dyke and Alcock 2003).
10. See Mol (2007) for an extended overview of
theoretical, socio-cultural, ethnohistorical and ar-
chaeological contexts of guaizas and their ex-
change.
11. It has to be noted that in some cases Col6n actu-
ally directly gives back object to the donors of a
guaiza. However the initiation of gift giving comes
from the side of the indigenous inhabitants of His-
paniola. Additionally, the gift of a guaiza often di-
rectly follows a precarious social situation, e.g., the
shipwreck of Col6n' s flagship the Santa Maria
(Femnandez de Navarete 1922: 129), the battle of the
Bay of Arrows (Femnandez de Navarete 1922: 154),
and the return of Col6n on his second voyage at La
Navidad, only to find the settlement deserted and
burned to the ground (Femnandez de Navarete 1922:
229).
12. See Santos-Granero (2007) for an excellent dis-
cussion for motives and media of similar types of
strong reciprocal exchange in Amazonia.
13. For an analogous argument concerning the ex-
change of Greater Antillean zemi objects and a simi-
lar discussion of guaiza exchange, see Oliver' s
thought provoking new monograph (Oliver 2009).



References cited
Alegria, R.E.
1980 Cristobal Colon y el Tesoro de los
Indios Tainos de Espaiola. Santo


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010





Domingo: Ediciones Fundaci6n
Garcia Arevalo.
198 1 El Uso de la hIcrustacion en la
Escultura de los hIdios Antillanos. ~ll11~~~111~~~
Santo Domingo: Fundaci6n Garcia
Arevalo.
Alexander, R.D.
1987 The Biology of M~oral Systems.,
New York: Aldine de Gruyter,
Hawthorne.
Appadurai, A.
1986 Commodities and the Politics of
Value. In The Social Life of things:
Conanodities in Cultural Perspec-
tive, edited by A. Appadurai, pp. 3-
63. Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-
sity Press.
Axelrod, R. M.
1997 The Complexity of Cooperation:
Agent-Based M~odels of Conspeti-
tion and Collaboration. Princeton:
Princeton University Press.
Blanton, R. E., G. M. Feinman, S. A.
Kowalewski and P. N. Peregrine
1996 A Dual-Processual Theory for the
Evolution of Mesoamerican Civili-
zation. Current Anthropology 37

Bourdieu, P.
1977 Outline of a Theory of Practice.
Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.
1990 The Logic of Practice. Translated by
Translation by R. Nice. Cambridge: Polity
Press.
1997 Marginalia: Some Additional Notes
on the Gift. In The Logic of the
Gift : Toward an Ethic of Generos-
ity, edited by A. D. Schrift, pp. 231-
245. London/New York: Routledge.
Boyd, R., H. Gintis, S. Bowles, and P. J.
Richerson
2003 The evolution of altruistic punish-
ment. Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences of the thrited


States of America 100(6): 3531-
3535.
Brinton, D. G.
1871 The Arawack Language of Guyana
in its Linguistic and' Ethnological
Relations., Philadelphia: McCalla
and Stavely Printers.
Campbell, S. F.
1983 Kula in Vakuta: the mechanics of
Keda. In The Kula: New perspec-
tives on M~assint exchange, edited
by J. W. Leach and E. R. Leach, pp.
201-227. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Clark, G.
1986 Symbols of Excellence. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Damon, F. H.
1980 The Kula and Generalised Ex-
change: Considering Some Uncon-
sidered Aspects of the Elementary
Structures of Kinship. Man 15(2):
267-292.
2002 Kula Valuables: The Problem of
Value and the Production of Names.
L'Honane 162(2): 107-136.
Earle, T.
1981 The Ecology and Politics of Primi-
tive Valuables. In Culture and'
Ecology: Eclectic Perspectives, ed-
ited by J. G. Kennedy and R. G.
Edgerton, pp. 65-83. Special Publi-
cations of the American Anthropo-
logical Association. vol. 15. Wash-
ington D.C.: American Anthropo-
logical Association.
1997 How Chiefs Conse to Power: The
Political Economy in Prehistory.
Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Fehr, E. and U. Fischbacher
2003 The Nature of Human Altruism.
Nature 425: 785-791.
2004 Third-party punishment and social
norms. Evohition and' Human Be-
havior 25(2): 63-87.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010





Fehr, E., U. Fischbacher, and S. Gachter
2002 Strong reciprocity, human coopera-
tion, and the enforcement of social
norms. Human Nature 13(1): 1-25.
Fehr, E., and S. Gachter
2000 Cooperation and Punishment in
Public Goods Experiments. The
American Economic Review 90(4):
980-994.
Fernandez de Navarete, M.
1922 Viajes de Cristobal Colon. Madrid:
Calpe.
Flesch, W.
2007 Comeuppance: Costly Signalling,
Altruistic Punishment and Other
Biological Components of Fiction.
Cambridge/London: Harvard Uni-
versity Press.
Gintis, H.
2000 Strong Reciprocity and Human So-
ciality. Journal of Theoretical Biol-
ogy 206(2): 169-179.
Gintis, H., E. Alden Smith and S. Bowles
2001 Costly Signaling and Cooperation.
Journal of Theoretical Biology 213:
103-119.
Gintis, H. S. Bowles, R. Boyd and E. Fehr


Population Ecology 47(1): 3-12.
Gosden, C., and Y. Marshall
1999 The Cultural Biography of Objects.
World Archaeology 3 1(2): 169-178.
Graeber, D.
2001 Toward an Anthropological Theory
of Vahte: The False Coin of Our
Own Dreants. New York: Palgrave.
Gregory, C. A.
1982 Gifts and Conanodities. London:
Academic Press.
Helms, M. W.
1988 Ulysses' sail: an ethnographic Od-
yssey of power, Imowledge, and
geographical distance. Princeton:
Princeton University Press.
1993 Craft and the Kingly Ideal. Austin:
University of Texas Press.
1998 Access to Origins: Affi-
nes, Ancestors and Aristocrats.
Austin: University of Texas Press.
Henrich, J. and R. Boyd
200 1 Why People Puni sh Defectors:
Weak Conformist Transmission can
Stabilize Costly Enforcement of
Norms in Cooperative Dilemmas.
Journal of Theoretical Biology 208
(1): 79-89.
Henrich, J., R. McElreath, A. Barr, J.
Ensminger, C. Barrett, A. Bolyanatz, J.
Camilo Cardenas, M. Gurven, E. Gwako,
N. Henrich, C. Lesorogol, F. Marlowe, D.
Tracer and J. Ziker
2006 Costly Punishment Across Human
Societies. Science 312(5781): 1767-
1770.
Henrich, J. P., R. Boyd, S. Bowles, C.
Camerer, E. Fehr and H. Gintis
2004 Foundations of Human Sociality:
Economic Experiments and Ethno-
graphic Evidence fions Fifteen
Snzall-Scale Societies. Oxford: Ox-
ford University Press.


(eds)
2005


Moral Sentiments and Material In-
terests: The Founda~tions of Coop-
eration in Economic Life. Cam-
bridge: The MIT Press.
H., J. Henrich, S. Bowles, R. Boyd


Gintis,


and E. Fehr
2008 Strong Reciprocity and the Roots of
Human Morality. Social Justice Re-
search 21(2): 241-253.
Godbout, J. T., and A. Caille
1998 The World of the Gift. Translated
by D. Winkler. Montreal & King-
ston: McGill-Queen's University
Press.
Goodnight, C. J.
2005 Multilevel selection: the evolution
of cooperation in non-kin groups.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010





Hofman, C. L., A. J. Bright, A. Boomert
and S. Knippenberg
2007 Island Rhythms: The web of social
relationships and interaction net-
works in the Lesser Antillean archi-
pelago between 400 BC and AD
1492. Latin American Antiquity 18
(3): 243-268.
Hofman, C. L., and A. J. Bright
2008 Ideas Atractivas, Bienes Deseables:
influencias tainas en las Antillas
Menores. Caribe Arqueologico 10:
31-42.
Hutto, D. (ed)
2007 Narrative and Understanding Per-
sons. Cambrigde: Cambridge Uni-
versity Press.
2008 Folk Psychological Narratives: The
socio-cultural basis of understand-
ing reasons., Cambridge: The MIT
Press.
Jacobson, S. E.
1987 The Art of Giving. New York:
Harry N. Abrams Publishers.
Keegan, W. F.
2004 Islands of Chaos. In Late Ceramic
Age Societies in the Eastern Carib-
bean, edited by A. Delpuech and C.
L. Hofman, pp. 33-44. Paris Mono-
graphs in American Archaeology
14/BAR International Series. vol.
1273. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Keegan, W. F., and M. D. Machlachlan
1989 The Evolution of Avuncolocal
Chiefdoms: A Reconstruction of
Taino Kinship and Politics. Anzeri-
can Anthropologist 9 1: 613-63 0.
Keegan, W. F., M. D. Maclachlan, and B.
Byrne
1998 Social foundations of Taino Ca-
ciques. In Chiefdonts and chief-
taincy in the Americas, edited by
Elsa M. Redmond, pp. 215-244.
Gainesville: University Press of
Florida.


Kirch, P. V.
1988 Long-di stance exchange
and island colonization: The Lapita
case. Norwegian2 Archaeological
Review 21(2): 103-117.
Kopytoff, I.
1986 The Cultural Biography of Things:
Commoditization as process. In The
Social Life of Things: Conanodities
in culturalperspective, edited by A.
Appadurai, pp. 64-95. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Las Casas, B. de
1875 Historia de las Indias: Tonto I.
Madrid: Imprente de Miguel
Ginesta.
1992 Apologetica historic suntaria.
Madrid: Allianza.
Leach, J. W., and E. R. Leach
1983 Introduction. In The Kula: New per-
spectives on M~assint exchange, ed-
ited by J. W. Leach and E. R.
Leach, pp. 1-26. Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press.
Malinowski, B.
1922 Argonauts of the Western Pacific.
Prospect Heights: Waveland Press.
Mauss, M.
1925 Essai sur le don: Forme et raison de
l'echange dans les societes archai'-
ques. L 'Annee Sociologique
(nouvelle series) 1: 30-186.
Mills, B. J. and W. H. Walker (eds)
2008 M~enory Work: Archaeologies of
Material Practices. Santa Fe:
School for Advanced Research
Press.
Mira Caballos, E.
2000 Las Antillas Mayores, 1492-1550.
Ensaysss~~~~~ssssos y docuntentos., Madrid:
Ibereoamericana.
Mol, A. A. A.
2007 Costly Giving, Giving Guaizas: To-
wards an organic model of the ex-
change of social vaheables in the


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010





Late Ceramic Age Caribbean.
MPhil thesis, Faculty of Archae-
ology, Leiden University. Leiden:
Sidestone Press.
2008 Universos Socio-c6smicos en
colisi6n: descripciones
etnohist6ricas de situaciones de
intercambio en la Antillas Mayores
durante el perodo de proto-contacto
Caribe Arqueologico 10: 13-22
(translated by R. Valcarcel Rojas).
Mol, A. A. A., and J. L. Mans
in prep. Old Boys Networks in the In-
digenous Caribbean: When the
value of social relations surpasses
that of material wealth. In Regional
Network Analysis in Archaeology,
edited by C. Knappett. Oxford: Ox-
ford University Press.
Munn, N. D.
1986 The Fame of Gawa: A Symbolic
Study of Vahte Transformation in a
M~assina (Papua New Guinea) Soci-
ety. Durham and London: Duke
University Press.
Oliver, J. R.
1997 The Taino Cosmos. In The indige-
nous people of the Caribbean, ed-
ited by S. M. Wilson, pp. 140-153.
Gainesville: University Press of
Florida.
1998 El Centro Ceremonial de Caguana,
Puerto Rico: Sinabolisnzo
iconografico, cosmovision y el
poderio caciquil Taino de
Borinquen. 727. Oxford :
Archaeopress.
2000 Gold symbolism among Caribbean
chiefdoms: Of feathers, Cibas, and
guanin power among Taino elites.
In Precohenabian Gold. Technology,
style and iconoguraph, edited by
Colin McEwan, pp. 198- 219. Lon-
don: British Museum Press.
2009 Caciques and Cenri Idols: The Web


Spun by Taino Rulers between His-
paniola and Puerto Rico. Caribbean
Archaeology and Ethnohistory Se-
ries. Tuscaloosa: University of Ala-
bama Press.
Pane, Ram6n
1999 [1571] An Account of the Antiq-
uities of the hIdians. 1999 edition
with an introductory study, notes,
and appendixes by J. J. Arrom ed.
Translated by S.C. Griswold. Dur-
ham and London: Duke University
Press.
Polanyi, K.
1944 The Great Transformation: The Po-
litical and Economic Origins of
Our Time. London: Camelot Press.
1957 The Economy as Instituted Process.
In Trade and Market in the EarlyE~~~~EEEEE~~~~EEEE
Empires, edited by Karl Polanyi,
Conrad M. Arensberg and Harry W.
Pearson, pp. 243-270. Glencoe, Illi-
nois: Free Press.
Richerson, P. J. and R. Boyd
2004 Not By Genes Alone: How Culture
Transformed Human Evohition.
Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Rodriguez Ramos, R.
2007 Puerto Rican Precolonial History
Etched in Stone. Unpublished Ph.D.
dissertation, University of Florida,
Gainesville.
Santos-Granero, F.
2007 Of fear and friendship: Amazonian
sociality beyond kinship and affin-
ity. Journal of the Royal Anthropo-
logicalhInstitute 13(1): 1-18.
Siegel. P. E.


1998


Ancestor worship and cosmology
among the Taino. In Tahzno: Pre-
cohenabian Art and Culture fions the
Calribbean, edited by F. Bercht, E.
Brodsky, J. A. Farmer and D. Tay-
lor, pp. 106-111. New York: The
Monacelli Press.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010





2004 What happened after AD 600 in
Puerto Rico?: Corporate groups,
population restructuring, and Post-
Saladoid changes. In Late Ceramic
Age Societies in the Eastern Carib-
bean, edited by A. Delpuech and C.
L. Hofman, pp. 87-101. Paris
Monographs in American Archae-
ology 14/BAR International Series
1273. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Sober, E. and D. S. Wilson
1998 Thito Others: The Evohition and'
Psychology of thiselfish Behavior.
Cambridge, Massachussets/Londoon:
Harvard University Press.
Spielmann, K. A.
2002 Feasting, Craft Specialization, and
the Ritual Mode of Production in
Small-Scale Societies. American
Anthropologist 104(1): 195-207.
Ssorin-Chaikov, N.
2006 On heterochrony: birthday gifts to
Stalin, 1949. Journal of the Royal
Anthropological Institute 12(2):
355-375.
Sykes, K.
2005 Arguing aI ithr Anthropology: An in-
trod~uction to critical theatl~ ire \ of the
gift., London and New York:
Routledge.
Thomas, N.
1991 Entangled' Objects: Exchange, Ma-
terial Culture, and' Colonialism in
the Pacific. Cambridge /London:
Harvard University Press.
Van Dyke, R. M.
2009 Chaco reloaded: Discursive social
memory on the post-Chacoan land-
scape. Journal of Social Archae-
ology 9(2): 220-248.
Van Dyke, R. M., and S. E. Alcock (eds)
2003 Archaeologies of~entory. Maiden:
Blackwell Publishing.
Weiner, A.B.
1976 Women of Vahte, M~en of Renown:


New Perspectives in Trobriand' Ex-
change. Austin: University of
Texas Press.
1987 The Trobriand'ers of Papua New
Guinea. Belmont: Wadsworth
Group/Thomson Learning.
1992 hzalienable Possessions: The Para-
d'ox of Keeping- While-Giving.
Berkeley [etc.]: University of Cali-
fornia Press.


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010









Journal ofCarrbbeanArchaeology
Copynght 2010
ISSN 1524-4776

ANCIENT MA YA CANOE NAV~IGA TION AND ITS IMPLICA TIONS FOR
CLASSIC TO POSTCLASSIC MA YA ECONOMY AND SEA TRADE:
A VIEW FROM THE SOUTH COAST OF BELIZE

Heather M~cKillop
Department of Geography & Anthropology
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge LA
U.S.A. 70803-4105
hmckill~lsu. edu


Abstract
In addition to the direct evidence of ancient Maya canoe travel fr~om wooden canoe paddle
fr~om the K 'ak Naab salt works, ancient Maya settlement of offshore islands fr~om the Late
Preclassic through the Postclassic periods documents waterborne travel. The Preclassic
Butterfly Wing shell midden, the Classic Maya trading port~rtrtrtrt~t~t~ of2~oho Cay, and the Classic to
Postclassic trading port~rtrtrtrt~t~t~ of Wild Cane Cay are highlighted in this paper. A variety of trade
goods were transported along the Yucatan, linking dynastic Maya leaders fr~om distant cit-
ies. The seafaring skills of the ancient Maya, their interest in exotic tradert~t~rt~t~rt~t~rt~ goods, and the
complex organization of Maya society have parallels among Caribbean island societies.
Similarities in coastal adaptation and exploitation of marine resources ju~rther tie the an-
cient Maya to ancient peoples in the circum-Caribbean region.

Rdsumd'
A l instarr de la ddcouverte d 'une pagaie en bois dansddddd~~~~~~~dddddd les salines de K 'ak Naab', attestant la
pratique des voyages en canod par les Mayas anciens, les sites insulaires cdtiers occupis
par les Maya~s anciens, du Prdcla~ssique tardif aux pdriodes post-classiques, nous dclairent
sur leur habitude des voyages par eau. Il s 'agit notattttttttt~~~~~~~~~mmn de mettre ici en lumidre les ama~s
coquillier prdclassique de Butterfly Wing, le port de commerce maya classique de M~oho
Cay, ainsi que le port de commerce maya classique et postclassique de Wild Cane Cay. Di-
vers biens commerciaux ont dtd transpot~t~t~r~tisrt~r~rt~ le long du Yucatan, reliant ainsi les famnilles di-
rigeantes mayas de villes bloigndes. Les compdtences maritimes des anciens Mayas, leur in-
tir~t pour le commerce de products exotiques, et l'organ2isation complex de leur socidtd
prdsentent des paralldles avec les socidtis insulaires des Camibes11' Des similitudes dans l'a-d~~ddd~~~dd~~~dd
adaptation cdtidre et l'exploitation des resources marines existent entire les anciens Maya~s et
les anciennes populations de la rd gion circum-carai'be.

Resumen
Del Precldsico Tardio al Postcldsico Tardio hay evidencia de la prd~ctica de viajar por el
agua entire los Maya~s. Es evidenciado no solamnente por evidencia directa como el caso del
remo de canoa de madera de la mina de sal K'ak' Naab', sino tamtttttttt~~~~~~~~~bidn por los
a;sentamientos~~tt~~~tt~~t Maya~s en islas litorales. En este articulo se enfoca en el conchero Butterfly
Wing del Preclasico, el puerto commercial Maya Cldsico de M~oho Cay y el puerto de
comercio del Cldsico-Postcldsico de Wild Cane Cay. Una gran variedadddddd~dddddddddd de products de


Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










ancient dava canoe;,l stes e; r,.*


McKillop


conzercio fueron transport adost~~~~tttt~~~~ a lo largo de la peninsula de Yucatdn, vinculan2do lideres
dindsticos Maya~s en ciudadesdddddddd~~~~~~~~ distantes. La~s conspetencia~s nzaritina~s de los antiguos Maya~s,
su interns en el conzercio de nzercancia~s exdticas, y la conspleja organizacian de la sociedaddddddddddddddddd
Maya tienen paralelisnzos entire la~s sociedaddd esdddddd~~~~~~~ insulares del Calribe. La~s sintilitudes en la
adaptacidn a la costa y la explotacian de los recursos nzarinos auin nads vinculan los
antiguos Maya~s con los pueblos antiguos en la region del circun-~caribe.


Introduction
Although some researchers have sug-
gested there was travel and trade between
the Maya area and islands in the Caribbean
(Harlow 2006; Wilson et al. 1998), there is
no firm evidence. Morphological similari-
ties in chert tools between the two areas
(Wilson et al. 1998) may be explained by
similar uses for the tools; moreover chert is
chemically variable within outcrops and so
chert artifacts have proven difficult to
chemically characterize to particular loca-
tions, unlike obsidian, which is quite uni-
form in trace elements. The discovery of a
new jadeite locality in Cuba (Garcia-Casco
et al. 2009) provides a closer possible
source for jadeite artifacts than the Mota-
gua River valley of Guatemala, previously
known as the major source of jadeite and
other greenstones used by the ancient Maya
and others throughout Mesoamerica and
Central America (Harlow 2009).The possi-
bility of direct contact between people in
the Caribbean islands and the Maya area
remains possible, given the facility of boat
travel in both areas, but there appears to
have been no significant cultural impacts.
More important for archaeologists work-
ing in both areas, are the many similarities
in the maritime economies that might bene-
fit from more comparisons. The proximity
to the sea meant that there often were simi-
lar adaptations in throughout the circum-
Caribbean area, including the coast of the
Maya area. There was the shared practice
of negotiated political relations manifested
by feasting events, and the demand for rit-


ual and status paraphernalia--such as jade,
gold and exotic marine shell--by the dy-
nastic Maya leaders and by Caribbean is-
land chiefs. In this paper, I discuss the use
and importance of the sea to the ancient
Maya to provide a comparison for other
cultures in the circum-Caribbean region.

Maya Canoe Travel and Trade
Island communities, trade goods, and
artistic depictions of canoe paddlers docu-
ment that the ancient Maya were proficient
canoeists for travel and trade along rivers,
on the sea around the Yucatan peninsula,
and offshore (see McKillop 2006). The de-
centralized political structure of the Classic
period civilization (AD 300-900) meant
that political power was brokered more by
negotiation than by the centralized author-
ity backed by military force characteristic
of some other ancient civilizations such as
the Aztec, Inca, or Teotihuacan (McKillop
2006). Negotiated power was mediated by
movement of people and goods: Oxygen
isotopes of bone of the founder of Copan,
K'inich Yax K'uk' Mo', indicate he came
from the west, likely the Tikal area
(Buikstra et al. 2004). His depiction in
Teotihuacan regalia with typical Teotihua-
can "goggle eyes" on Altar Q at Copan un-
derscores his affiliation with central Mex-
ico (Sharer 2004). The dynamics of water
travel, particularly maritime trade, changed
over time, reflecting the rise of complexity
in the Late Preclassic (300 BC- AD 300),
the Classic Maya civilization focused on
the interior of the southern lowlands, and


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010










Ancient ~aya canoe usea g; or..* , McKillop



N Isla Cerritos e
0 100
IIIIIr
km





COZUMEL



YUCATAN
PENINSULA







Northem River
M E IX I C O 11~ Amberis
Mohot am
Cay to Q
Tikal. If Q
-- ~dBelize i
Colson P

Placencia I
Point
Na;Btional Par
Altar deNim li punit,

sunernly w Frenchman's Cay




: GUATEMALA

I ~-Y ~ iHONDURAS







EL SALVADOR
PA CIFIC OC EA N


F gure 1. Map of the Maya Area Showing Sites Mentioned in the Text (by Mary Lee Eggart, LSU).

Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, ,Special Publication #3 2010 95










ancient dava canoe uses s; or,.* ,


McKillop


the Postclassic society focused in the north-
emn Maya lowlands.
The only direct evidence of canoe travel
is the Late Classic wooden canoe paddle
from the K'ak' Naab' saltwork in southern
Belize (McKillop 2005a). However, vari-
ous other lines of evidence indicate endur-
ing water transportation by the ancient
Maya. The earliest known inhabitants of
the Maya area were Paleoindians, descen-
dants of people who migrated from Asia at
the end of the Pleistocene, and then either
skirted the glaciers by boat or followed an
ice-free corridor through the glacier and
into what is now mainland United States by
11,500 years ago. They traveled farther
south on foot, populating the Americas
within a thousand years (Lohse et al. 2006;
McKillop 2006).
The earliest firm evidence of ancient
coastal canoe travel is documented by Late
Preclassic settlement of the Maya islands
of Moho Cay and Cancun (Andrews et al.
1974; McKillop 2004). Moho Cay was a
trading port at the mouth of the Belize
River. Widespread Late Preclassic coastal
settlement on the coast of Belize and the
Yucatan peninsula of Mexico (see Eaton
1978; Freidel 1979; McKillop 1989a)
points to coastal travel and trade at this
time, although the coast may have been
settled by inland people who did not ven-
ture out to sea. Species of marine fish that
are not accessible from the shore are docu-
mented later at both coastal and inland
communities indicating boat travel (Emery
2004; McKillop 1984, 1985).
David Freidel (1979) makes a convinc-
ing argument for the rise of social com-
plexity in the Late Preclassic at the coastal
community of Cerros in northern Belize,
where coastal trade drove interregional in-
teraction and exchanges of preciosities
among elites. Late Preclassic or Proto-
classic settlement at Butterfly Wing in


southern Belize (McKillop 1996) at the
mouth of the Deep River points to canoe
travel, with obsidian linking the commu-
nity to trade with the Maya highland out-
crops of Ixtepeque and El Chayal
(McKillop 2005b). There is another Late
Preclassic shell midden on Cancun
(Andrews et al. 1974). Early Classic settle-
ment of Maya islands, including Moho
Cay, as well as Wild Cane Cay and Pelican
Cay in southern Belize, documents conti-
nuity of sea travel and trade (Figure 1).

Classic Period Maya Sea Trade
Although the geographic focus on the
Classic Maya civilization was inland with
dozens of cities and their polities, the sea
was critical to their acquisition of salt and
Other marine resources, as well as a trans-
portation avenue for goods and resources
from farther away. The Paynes Creek salt
industry in southern Belize developed to
meet the biological demand for salt by
Maya, as documented by trade goods from
inland cities in Belize and adjacent Guate-
mala (McKillop 2005a). Unit-stamped pot-
tery vessels and Eigurine whistles at the
Paynes Creek salt works share styles with
Lubaantun in southern Belize, and commu-
nities farther west in adjacent Guatemala,
notably Altar de Sacrifieios, Seibal, and the
Petexbatun (McKillop 2007a, 2008). The
salt works were abandoned at the end of
the Classic period when the market col-
lapsed with the abandonment of the inland
cities.
The coastal-inland connection of the
Classic Maya civilization extended to other
resources, including seafood. Lange's
(1971) provocative model that seafood pro-
vided a protein base for the inland Maya
has some support: tuna bones from the cen-
tral Belize coast were cut for drying or salt-
ing for storage or perhaps inland trade
(Graham 1994); Valdez and Mock (1991)


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010









ancient dava canoe uses s; or,.* ,


McKillop


regard salt production at Northern River
Lagoon in northern Belize as geared to-
ward salting meat for inland trade, on the
basis of the presence of briquetage (pottery
from boiling brine) and animal bones at the
site. Certainly isotopic evidence (White et
al. 2001a) and marine resources at inland
communities (Emery 2004; McKillop
1984, 1985, 2004, 2005b) document inland
transport, but in limited quantities.
The sea was central to the ritual ideology
of the Classic Maya. The sea was the
source of ritual paraphernalia including
stingray spines for bloodletting, hallucino-
genic secretions from the Bufo marinus
frog, and imagery equating the sea with the
underworld and creation (McKillop
2005b). The sea also was a transportation
avenue for goods and resources from far-
ther away, including obsidian, jadeite, and
pottery. Inland trails and rivers clearly
were central to the movement of goods and
people. Chemical analyses of the bones of
Yax K'uk' Mo' indicate he originated from
the west, likely Tikal (Sharer et al. 2004).
His depiction with goggles and Teotihua-
can regalia on Altar Q a carved stone with
images of dynastic leaders of Copan link
him with Teotihuacan, suggesting complex
political ties beyond the Maya area. An Al-
tun Ha pottery vessel in a Late Classic bur-
ial from Copan likely represents a gift dur-
ing a meeting between dynastic leaders or
their representatives, cementing a trade,
marriage or other alliance. Chemical analy-
sis of human bone and teeth from an Altun
Ha individual buried with green obsidian
from the Pachuca source in central Mexico
and chipped into Teotihuacan style figures
indicated the person was from Altun Ha.
He was not a foreigner. This information
suggests the gift was made during a royal
visit and was ultimately interred with the
recipient (White et al. 2001b).
The expansion of coastal Maya settle-


ment in the Late Classic period, the abun-
dance of trade goods, including obsidian, at
coastal sites, all the inland Maya demand
for coastal resources and goods from more
distant lands, point to canoe transport in the
Late Classic. The Late Classic demand for
obsidian at inland Maya sites in the south-
ern lowlands was largely met by the Maya
highland sources of El Chayal and Ixtepe-
que (Braswell 2004; Dreiss and Brown
1989; McKillop 1989b; Nelson 1980).
Much of the obsidian was transported from
the Maya highlands, down the Motagua
River, and then north along the coast of
Belize (Hammond 1972; Healy et al. 1984;
McKillop et al. 1988), passing the trading
ports of Wild Cane Cay (McKillop 2005b),
False Cay (Graham 1994), Placencia
(MacKinnon 1989), Moho Cay (McKillop
2004), Marco Gonzalez (Graham and
Pendergast 1989) and San Juan (Guderjan
and Garber 1995) on Ambergris Cay, and
Santa Rita on the mainland coast (Chase
and Chase 1989; McKillop 2005b; McKil-
lop and Healy 1989), connecting with
coastal ports around the Yucatan, such as
Isla Cerritos (Andrews et al. 1989).
The coast may have been used to acquire
goods from farther away in the Classic pe-
riod. They include a tumbaga (gold alloy)
artifact from Altun Ha (Pendergast 1970),
mercury from under a ball court marker at
Lamanai (Pendergast 1982), and jadeite
from the Motagua River outcrops, marine
shells from the Pacific (Feldman 1974),
and obsidian from central Mexico (Spence
1996).

The Classic Maya Trading Port on Moho
Cay
The island trading port on Moho Cay
was well situated to participate in coastal-
inland trade up the Belize River, sea trade
along the coast, and the exploitation of es-
tuarine resources in the coastal waters


Journal of Caribbean archaeology, Special Publication #3 2010




University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - Version 2.9.9 - mvs