|UFDC Home||myUFDC Home | Help|
This item has the following downloads:
SAVANNE SUAZEY REVISED
MARK C. DONOP
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTERS OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Mark C. Donop
I dedicate this thesis to my family.
I thank Dr. William Keegan at the Florida Museum of Natural History for use of
the Caribbean collections, Dr. Kenneth Sassaman for his class in archaeological ceramics,
and Ann Cordell for answering my questions about ceramics.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv
LIST O F TA BLE S ............................... ............ ... ............ .. vii
LIST OF FIGURES ............................... ... ...... ... ................. .8
ABSTRACT .............. ......................................... ix
1 IN TRODU CTION ................................................. ...... .................
2 THE AMERINDIAN CARIBBEAN..................................................4
The Preceram ic A ge ....................... .... ............................................. .6
The Early Ceram ic A ge ...................... .............. .......... .................. .7
The L ate C eram ic A ge .................... .... .. .......... ............................. ...... ..... 10
The Greater Antilles And Leeward Islands....................................................... 10
The Lesser Antilles ................... ............. ......... .. ...... ................. 13
The Ethnohistoric Amerindians and Their Descendants ........................................15
T h e T a in o ....................................................................................................... 1 5
The Island C aribs.................................................. 17
The Black Caribs And Garinagu................... ....... ......................... 22
3 T H E SU A Z O ID S ............ .... .............................................................. ........ ....... 25
Previous A archaeological R research ........................................ ......... ............... 25
M cK usick's D discovery ..................................................... .......................................25
The Bullens and the Suazey Series.................................... .......................... .........28
L ouis A llaire on M artinique ............................................... ............................ 37
Peter L D rew ett on B arbados.......................................................... ............... 43
Ann Cody Holdren on Grenada ..... .................... ............... 47
What Do We Know About the Suazoid?...................... .................. .............50
4 C E R A M IC A N A L Y SIS ..................................................................... ..................52
M methodology ........................ ...........................................................52
W hy Study W hole V essels? .......................................................................... 52
C aribbean A archaeology ............................................. ..... ....................... 54
C om m on Problem s ...................... ........ ............ ................... .. .... .. 55
Pre-Reanalysis ................................. ........................... .... ........ 56
Sorting and R fitting ..................................................... ............................. 57
Vessel Unit Of Analysis And M easurements................... ....................................58
R e su lts ................................ ................................................................6 0
Sam pling and Inv entory ........................................................... .....................60
Orifice D iam eters and Profiling ........................................ ....... ............... 61
Thickness .......... .. ............. ....................66
V essel W eights ..............................................................66
R im T re atm en t............................................................................................... 6 7
L ip M o rp h o lo g y ............................................................................................. 6 8
Forming Techniques ............... ......... ................68
F in ish in g T ech n iqu es..................................................................................... 6 8
Use-Wear ............... ......... .......................71
Paste and Inclusions ................................................ ............... 71
Repair Evidence...... ...................... .......... ........72
P ro v e n ie n c e ................................................................................................... 7 2
5 COMPARISONS, CONCLUSIONS, AND SUGGESTIONS ..............................74
U se an d F u n ctio n .............. .................. ... .............. ............................................... 7 4
Comparison with Experimental Data ............................ ........... 75
Technofunctional Characteristics ........................................... 75
Inclusions and Tem per ................................................. ........ 78
Surface Treatments ........... ............................ ........80
A ttachm ents ................................. .............. .......................81
Use-W ear ................. ..... ................................. 81
Combining Vessel Characteristics....................... ............... 82
Comparison with Previous W ork ................. ........ ....... ...................86
Com prison w ith Bullen.................................................. 86
Comparison with Other Suazoid Archaeology ................................................ 88
C o n c lu sio n s........................................................................................................... 9 0
S u g g e stio n s ........................................................................................................... 9 5
APPENDIX SAMPLE VESSEL PROFILES ........................................................ 98
LIST OF REFERENCES .......................... ......... .........103
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............ .... ........ ................110
LIST OF TABLES
4-1 Savanne Suazey Ceramic Artifact Inventories.................... ................................ 61
4-2 Descriptive Statistics of Orifice Diameters (cm) for All Profiled Vessels. ............63
4-3 Descriptive Statistics of Orifice Diameter (cm) for Profiled, Excurvate Bowls......63
4-4 G riddle Characteristics. ................................................. ................................ 65
4-5 Mean Thickness for Excurvate Bowls and Griddles.............................................66
4-6 W eights for Profiled, Excurvate Bowls .............. ............. ............ ..... ............. 67
4-7 Proveniences................... .................73
5-1 Comparison of Bullen (1964) and Donop (2005)* ..................... .............. 87
5-2 Comparison of Sherd Unit of Analyses............................. .............88
5-3 Comparison of Vessel Unit of Analyses .......................................................... 89
LIST OF FIGURES
3-1 Archaeological sites on Grenada......... ......................... ...... ... ............... 29
3-2 Southern area of the Savanne Suazey site ..................... .................... ........... 31
3-3 Southern area of the Savanne Suazey site ................... ..................... ......... 49
4-1 Frequency distributions of vessel types for 65 profiled vessels............. ...............62
4-2 Frequency distributions of orifice diameters for 50 excurvate bowls....................63
4-3 Excurvate bow l vessel reconstructions ........................................ .....................64
4-4 Frequency distribution of finger-indented rims for 50 profiled, excurvate bowls...67
4-5 Frequency distributions of smoothing for 65 profiled vessels. ............................69
4-6 Frequency distributions of red-slipping for 65 profiled vessels.............................70
4-7 Frequency distributions of red-slipping for profiled, excurvate bowls ..................70
A-i Griddle profiles .................................. ..... .... .. .. .. ..... ...... 98
A-2 Plate profiles..................... ............. ........................ ......... 98
A -3 Incurvate bow l profiles.................................................. ............................... 99
A -4 Straight bow l profiles. ...................................................................... ...................99
A -5 Sm all bow l profiles. ........................................................................ ...................98
A -6 L large bow l profiles. ........................................................................ ...................98
A -7 M medium bow l profiles. ..................................................................... ..................98
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
SAVANNE SUAZEY REVISITED
Mark C. Donop
Chair: Professor Michael J. Heckenberger
Major Department: Anthropology
My reanalysis of the ceramic assemblage excavated by Ripley P. Bullen from the
Savanne Suazey type site on Grenada in 1962 has revealed new information about the
Suazoid or Suazan Troumassoid series (A.D. 1000-1500). Bullen (1964) based his
ceramic typology for the region on the data he obtained from the analysis of the
individual sherds in the collection. I found patterning in both technofunctional and
decorative vessel characteristics by using a vessel unit methodology to analyze the
partially reconstructed vessels of the Savanne Suazey assemblage. Technofunctional
characteristics with properties that affect the suitability of particular vessel types and size
modes for general functions were identified and compared with experimental data.
Decorations often considered diagnostic traits of the Suazoid series were found to be
associated with particular vessel forms and sizes. Comparison of my results with the
research of other archaeologists seems to demonstrate continuity in technological style
with significant variation in decoration distributions and frequencies. The Suazoid
ceramic series may represent prehistoric Amerindian groups that maintained individual
identities within an overall culture or interaction sphere.
The Suazoid or Suazan Troumassoid series (A.D. 1000-1500) of the Caribbean
Lesser Antilles is a poorly defined ceramic series named after the Savanne Suazey site on
Grenada excavated by Ripley P. Bullen in 1962. The identification of Suazoid
occupations has been based almost entirely upon ceramic analyses that rely upon
decorative characteristics and broad typologies. It has yet to be proven whether the
Suazans were related to known ethnic groups such as Arawak and Carib-speaking
Amerindian groups. Adequate explanations for questions about the Suazey culture have
been hindered by the common opinion that the Suazoid culture, represented by its
ceramics, is the pinnacle of the decline of indigenous Caribbean cultures in the Lesser
I became interested in studying Suazoid ceramics as a means to investigate
prehistoric, cassava-based subsistence economies in the Cirum-Caribbean. I looked
through the Caribbean section of the collections stored at the Florida Museum of Natural
History (FLMNH) and found many griddle sherds, indirect indicators of cassava
processing. I was taking an archaeological ceramics class at the time that focused on the
technofunctional analysis of ceramics and discovered the Savanne Suazey assemblage for
which no vessel unit of analysis had ever been performed. After a quick perusal of the
pertinent literature, what little there was, I became interested in the Suazoid culture for
several reasons. The general opinion seemed to be that the relatively simple Suazey
ceramics represented a general decline in Lesser Antillean material culture. Ceramics
from earlier time periods in the same region were distinctly more aesthetically pleasing to
our modern sensibilities and are generally considered "better" than later Suazey ceramics.
I thought what better to use a technofunctional, vessel unit of analysis than on an
assemblage that lacked abundant decorative variation.
I addressed one major question about the Savanne Suazey collection; what patterns
and characteristics, both technofunctional and decorative, are frequently found associated
with the Suazoid ceramics from the Savanne Suazey type site? The secondary focus of
my analysis is to compare these patterns with other archaeological assemblages and
ethnohistoric accounts. I approach these questions through the analysis of the original
type site assemblage of Savanne Suazey stored at the FLMNH in Gainesville, Florida.
The utilization of a ceramic vessel unit of analysis, a method never before applied to this
particular assemblage, may yield new data regarding the Suazoid culture. My intention is
to provide a solid foundation for the comparison of Savanne Suazey ceramics with other
archaeological assemblages in an effort to better understand the prehistory of the
The methodology used in this analysis was based upon the belief that
archaeological ceramics, the most commonly preserved type of artifacts found in a
prehistoric Caribbean context, were once functional and should be analyzed as tools
(Braun 1983). Analyses focused upon decorative characteristics are informative but they
describe only one characteristic of the artifacts. Decorations are often used to identify
and categorize "archaeological cultures" and associate them with ethnic groups, often
with the intention of strengthening inferences between archaeological material and
ethnohistoric accounts. The archaeological artifact assemblage excavated from the
Savanne Suazey site exhibits few obvious stylistic "markers"; the pottery is generally
plain with little decoration. This lack of decoration has made Suazoid ceramics difficult
to analyze by either a sherd unit of analysis in which individual sherds are examined or a
stylistic analysis in which decoration is emphasized. Certain characteristics, such as
"scratching" and finger-indented rims, have been associated with Suazoid ceramics,
largely as a result of the Savanne Suazey excavation. I intend to test the current standard
by which Suazoid ceramics are identified and provide a useful resource for the study of
This thesis is organized into six chapters with appropriate maps, charts, and graphs
provided throughout the text. Chapter one describes the purpose of my analysis and its
value in Caribbean archaeology. Chapters two and three describe the Amerindians of the
Caribbean with a focus upon ceramics, the prehistoric Lesser Antilles, and the Suazoid
culture. Chapter four describes my analysis and my results. Chapter five deals with the
comparison of my results with existing literature,my conclusions, and suggestions for
THE AMERINDIAN CARIBBEAN
An overview of the Amerindian people of the Caribbean is a necessary beginning
to my thesis as it serves as the context for my analysis. I refrained from calling this
chapter "The History of the Caribbean" because a multidisciplinary approach is necessary
to adequately outline such a broad spatial and temporal scale, not just history. In fact,
only a relatively small portion of the total scale of indigenous occupation in the
Caribbean can be studied through written history. I use the term Amerindian to refer to
the people more commonly referred to as "Indians" or "Native Americans". I will
attempt to synthesize the major sources of information regarding the Amerindian
Caribbean into a useful framework from which to discuss the archaeological ceramics of
the Suazoid people.
A multidisciplinary approach should be used to study the indigenous people of the
Caribbean. Archaeology, ethnoarchaeology, ethnohistory, history, and many sub-
disciplines such as zooarchaeology and ceramic analysis must be used to address
questions about the Amerindian past of the Caribbean. Archaeological analysis plays the
most important role in the investigation of Suazoid archaeological materials because they
were deposited before European contact and the introduction of written records into the
Ceramics are focused upon in prehistoric Caribbean archaeology because they
comprise the vast majority of recovered artifacts. Conducting appropriate and
comprehensive studies of archaeological ceramics is a fundamental aspect of Caribbean
archaeology for several reasons. Ceramics in general are a particularly important type of
artifact because they are commonly preserved in the archaeological record. In fact,
traditional Caribbean archaeology could be seen as the study of archaeological ceramics
due to biased preservation with over 90% of all West Indian artifacts recovered having
been ceramic. However, it must be stressed that this preservation bias has created an
atmosphere in which ceramics are generally considered primary diagnostic tools for
identifying and classifying prehistoric cultures, a method that undoubtedly overlooks
other important factors. Another important aspect of archaeological ceramics is that they
are the products of entirely cultural activities, pottery is not found "naturally" but is the
direct result of human behavior and decision-making.
Although a considerable amount of effort has been made to associate Suazoid
material remains with Amerindian ethnic groups, no definitive association has been
made. Information can be obtained from modern groups of people that have genetic and
cultural connections with the Amerindian people of the Lesser Antilles known as Island
Caribs. The Garifuna people of Central America are the ancestors of the Island Caribs of
St. Vincent but their culture has changed considerably since their forced removal from
the island by the British in 1797 (Cayetano 1993:16). A direct historical approach to
Caribbean archaeology is problematic because modem Caribbean people have a
relatively weak connection with their predecessors. Once again, multiple lines of inquiry
must be combined in an effort to construct the past.
I use terminology familiar to Caribbean archaeologists throughout my thesis in an
effort to provide a comparable framework for my research. Much of the terminology and
typologies I use have been borrowed from Irving Rouse. Although I believe more
heterogeneity existed in the prehistoric Caribbean than Rouse's typology indicates, his
influential work is useful as a framework for comparison of archaeological research.
Rouse uses the suffix -oid to refer to a series or culture that share a common ancestor and
the suffix -an for local ceramic styles that were often named after sites where the artifacts
were first found, such as Cedrosan Saladoid (Rouse 1992:175, 183-184). The Suazoid
series has been referred to as the Suazan Troumassoid subseries by people who consider
the Suazey material as a style within the Troumassoid series (Boomert 2000:245). I refer
to the ceramics from the Savanne Suazey site as "Savanne Suazey" specifically because I
am not convinced that it represents a "typical" series or style found throughout the Lesser
Antilles. I refer to the entire series as "Suazoid."
I have provided a general outline of the Amerindian Caribbean in an effort to
provide a framework for the comparison of Savanne Suazey artifacts with other
archaeological assemblages. I have concentrated upon what are often considered the
"diagnostic" traits and patterns of recognized archaeological ceramic series throughout
the Circum-Caribbean because I wanted to compare them with my findings from the
Savanne Suazey site analysis.
The Preceramic Age
The first movement or "peopling" of Amerindian peoples into the Caribbean can be
traced archaeologically to Central and South America. The Casimiroid, Ortoiroid and
Manicuaroid artifact series represent the Preceramic Age in the Caribbean (Petersen et al.
2004:23). The people represented by these series were probably mobile band groups that
exploited a diverse range of resources. The Casimiroid people were the first people to
cross into the Caribbean from the Yucatan during the Archaic Age that began about 4000
B.C. Casimiroid artifacts, identified by largely by flake-stone tools, were found only on
Cuba and Hispaniola. The Spaniards recorded the presence of ceramic, lithic-using
peoples in Western Cuba called Guanhatabeys, possibly the descendants of the
Casimiroid peoples. Ground-stone technology represents the Ortoiroid peoples (2000-
400 B.C.), another ceramic group, that moved into the Caribbean from the Orinoco
Delta region of South America (Rouse 1992:62).
The Early Ceramic Age
The peoples who produced the Saladoid and Barrancoid series that represent the
early Ceramic Age in the Caribbean and adjacent South American coast are much better
understood than the previous migrants into the Caribbean because they produced
abundant and well-preserved ceramics. The Barrancoid and Corozal series were
restricted to the mainland, although the former series had a significant influence on the
Saladoid series. The Saladoid series was the first and most widespread ceramic series to
be found in the Caribbean.
The Saladoid series (2000 B.C.-A.D. 600) from South America, named after the
Saldero site in Venezuela, is divided into four subseries. The Ronquinan and Sombran
subseries have been found only on the South American mainland, the Cedrosan subseries
throughout much of the South American coast and Caribbean, and the Huecan on the
northern islands of the Lesser Antilles up to Puerto Rico.
The producers of the Ronquinan Saladoid ceramic subseries lived in the Orinoco
Valley from between 2140-620 B.C., a group identified primarily by its bell-shaped
ceramic vessels, considerable decorative variation, and ceramic griddles (Rouse 1992:75-
77). At around 800 B.C., the Barrancoid people from the Orinoco Valley seemed to have
pushed the Ronquinan Saladoid people to the South American coast. This forced
migration displaced the Ortoiroid people from the Orinoco Delta and Trinidad and seems
to have triggered the enigmatic change from the Ronquinan to the Cedrosan Saladoid
subseries by at least 530 B.C. (Rouse 1992:77-78).
Cedrosan Saladoid ceramics (500 B.C.-A.D. 600), named after a site on Trinidad,
are "among the finest quality and most elaborately decorated pottery in the Americas"
(Keegan 2000:143). Cedrosan Saladoid ceramics are characterized by the development
of a varied assemblage of pottery forms decorated with white-on-red, all-red, or
polychrome painting, curvilinear and linear incision, and zone-incised crosshatched (zic)
incision only found on hemispherical bowls. The painted ware seems to have developed
from the previous Ronquinan Saladoid subseries but the less numerous "zic" design
appears to have been copied from elsewhere, possibly Amazonia (Rouse 1992:83). The
Cedrosan potters began to elaborate their ceramic forms while still in the Guiana region
before they migrated into the Caribbean Islands. The Cedrosan Saladoid series has been
divided into various phases and styles most of which I will not elaborate upon.
Cedrosan artifacts are considerably varied and distinctive. Ceramic hollow
figurines, masks, three-pointed objects, effigy vessels, incense burners, snuff bowls, and
griddles were produced in addition to more obvious and numerous utilitarian ware. Non-
ceramic artifacts include lapidary, pendants of human teeth, and a variety of wood, shell,
and bone objects such as axes, adzes, and celts. Many Cedrosan artifacts are similar to
those of the later Taino peoples encountered by Europeans.
Some of the Cedrosan people moved from the Guiana region into the Caribbean,
presumably through Trinidad, Tobago, and the Lesser Antilles. Available radiocarbon
dates from Cedrosan Saladoid archaeological sites throughout the Caribbean seem to
indicate that the Cedrosans may have initially bypassed most of the Windward Islands
and settled the Leeward Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, and eastern Puerto Rico (Keegan
2000:136-138). However, Cedrosan Saladoid sites have been found on many Windward
Islands, including Grenada. The Pearls series on Grenada contained an Early Cedrosan
Saladoid component. The subseries has the widest geographical distribution of any in the
Caribbean, extending six hundred miles along the northern coast of South America and
another thousand miles northward to Hispaniola (Rouse 1992:77).
The Cedrosans seem to have settled near forests and fresh water sources close to
the shore (Rouse 1992:79). Settlements were relatively large and occupied for hundreds
of years (Watters 1994). The Cedrosan diet seems to have initially been quite diverse
until a reduction in terrestrial animals led to the increased exploitation of marine
resources through time.
The controversial Huecan Saladoid subseries has been found in the Lesser Antilles,
Vieques Island, and eastern Puerto Rico seems to represent a group of people strongly
related to the Cedrosan Saladoids yet somewhat different. Rouse (1992) believes the
Huecans probably diverged from the Cedrosans in South America and traveled northerly
through the Leeward Islands via the western chain of islands, instead of the easterly route
probably taken by the "mainstream" relatives (Rouse 1995:85). Huecan ceramic
assemblages are not painted and have significant number of curvilinear incised zoning
and zoomorphic rim adornos, but otherwise are almost identical to the Cedrosan Saladoid
The people of the Barrancoid series (800 B.C.-A.D. 500-800), also known as the
Modeled and Incised tradition in Amazonia, seem to have had a significant effect on the
Saladoid series. Developed in around 800 B.C., the Barrancoid series replaced the
Ronquinan Saladoid subseries in the Orinoco and catalyzed the development of the
Cedrosan Saladoid subseries. In the second phase of the Cedrosan Saladoid subseries
(A.D. 300-500) in the Windward Islands, Barrancoid influences become evident in the
form of zoned painting, curvilinear incisions, diverse modeled-incised hollow-backed
anthropomorphic and zoomorphic adornos, and thicker, softer, and heavier pottery
(Petersen et al. 2004:25). Cedrosan pottery has been found at Barrancoid sites in the
Orinoco and Barrancoid pottery has been found on Trinidad and Tobago. The Barrancoid
series was replaced by the Amazonian Polychrome tradition by A.D. 500-800, possibly
by Arauquinoid people pushing into northern South America (Holdren 1998:13). Donald
Lathrap (1970) suggested that Maipuran, the Arawakan language branch to which the
Island Carib language belongs, might be connected with Barrancoid ceramics from
Venezuela. If this is true, Maipuran may have been brought to the Lesser Antilles when
Barrancoid influences become evident in Cedrosan Saladoid ceramics around A.D. 500.
The relatively homogenous and widespread Cedrosan Saladoid subseries was
eventually replaced by other ceramic series in different regions of the Caribbean. The
Ostionoid series (A.D. 600-1500) was developed in Puerto Rico and was spread
throughout the Greater Antilles and Leeward Islands while the Troumassoid series (A.D.
600-1000) was developed in the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.
The Late Ceramic Age
The Greater Antilles And Leeward Islands
The Ostionoid series was developed from the earlier Cedrosan Saladoid subseries
in the Greater Antilles and the Virgin Islands by around A.D. 600-800 and was spread
onto Hispaniola, Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos
Islands in various localized forms. The Ostionoid series is divided into the Ostionan,
Meillacan, Elenan, and Chican subseries.
Changes in material culture separate the Ostionoid series from the previous
Saladoid series. A supposed decline in aesthetics and craftsmanship of ceramic ware
during the Late Ceramic Age began gradually during the Late Cedrosan Saladoid period
and led to the abandonment of polychrome painted ware and "zic" ware in preference for
monochrome pink, lilac, or red slipping. Vessel forms became simpler and the
production of ritual artifacts declined, at least ones that were preserved archaeologically.
Both red-slipped and plain ware became thicker and coarser through time (Keegan
2000:148). However, non-ceramic artifacts and features such as zemis and artificial ball-
courts were elaborated through the Ostionoid and into the Classic Taino period.
Ostionan diet is marked by an intensification and diversification of horticultural
products. The first evidence of corn cultivation has been associated with this time period.
The distribution of the Ostionan Ostionoid subseries seems to indicate that
Ostionans people "invaded" Hispaniola and displaced the Casimiroids living there (Rouse
1992:96). Ostionan red-slipped vessels and thin, hard, smooth-surfaced open bowl forms
with loop handles are found along proposed migration routes into southern Jamaica and
eastern Cuba by A.D. 860 and A.D. 930 respectively (Rouse 1992:95-96).
The Meillacan Ostionoid series seems to have developed in the Cibao Valley on
Hispaniola around A.D. 825 or earlier and spread into Cuba and Jamaica by A.D. 880
(Rouse 1992:96-97) Meillacan pottery is similar to Ostionan pottery but painting was
replaced by surface roughening and rectilinear designs produced by incision, applique,
and punctation. This change in pottery decoration may indicate an exchange between
incoming Ostionoids and indigenous Casimiroids. Scant evidence, one partial stone
Casimiroid vessel from Haiti and the association of flint blades in Meillac assemblages,
may indicate that interaction between the two groups could have facilitated the change in
The Meillacan Ostionoid people seem to have migrated into the Turks and Caicos
Islands and the Bahamas from Hispaniola where they developed the Palmettan Ostionoid
series (A.D. 1110-1560) (Keegan 1985:297-299). Palmetto pottery is "thick, crude, and
mostly shell-tempered" with little decoration, probably resulting from the poor, local clay
sources. Pottery decorations are similar to the Meillacan Ostionoid series.
The Elenan Ostionoid series arose from the Ostionan Ostionoid series in Puerto
Rico at around A.D. 600, eventually occupying eastern Puerto Rico until A.D. 1200, the
Virgin Island, and the Leeward Islands all the way to Guadeloupe in the Lesser Antilles.
Population pressure resulting from an inability to expand westward from eastern Puerto
Rico may have caused the Elenans to improve agriculture and develop additional
maritime strategies such as deep-sea fishing (Rouse 1992:124). Pottery decoration was
limited to crude, rectilinear white-on-red designs on simple pottery forms that later
developed into red and smudged designs. Scratched designs and other southern
influences can be identified on ceramics in Antigua. Pottery gradually became coarser
and thicker with more simplified shapes and less use of paint.
The Chican Ostionoid subseries (A.D. 1200-1400 or later) developed in the
Dominican Republic and spread into Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and Cuba and
influenced pottery styles in the Virgin Islands and the Leeward Islands. Curvilinear,
rectilinear, and modeled incised pottery designs and head lugs are common features of
Chican pottery, but not painting other than red-slipped. The Chicans are usually
considered either the direct ancestors of the Classic Tainos or the Classic Tainos
The Lesser Antilles
At around A.D. 500, pottery in the Lesser Antilles began to diverge from the
Saladoid series into the Troumassoid series (A.D. 500/600-1000/1500) named after the
Troumassee type site on St. Lucia. The Mamoran Troumassoid subseries (A.D. 500/600-
1500) developed in the Leeward Islands and the Troumassan Troumassoid (A.D.
500/600-1000) and Suazan Troumassoid (A.D. 1000-1500) in the Windward Islands.
Ceramic evidence suggests continuity with the previous Saladoid series and the change in
ceramics seems to correlate temporally with the shift from the Saladoid to Ostionoid
series in the Greater Antilles. However, some archaeologists believe that the Barrancoid
influences evident in the Cedrosan Saladoid ceramics around A.D. 300-500 suggest that a
South American people, perhaps Arawakan, induced the ceramic change indirectly
through trade (Rouse 1992:85, 127). Troumassoid pottery is considered poorer and
plainer than its predecessor with decorations primarily consisting of curvilinear incision
lines, lugs, and red, black, and white painting. Footed griddles were developed
presumably to allow the baking of cassava bread directly over a fire instead of using
ceramic or lithic "dogs" to support the vessel. The use of white paint was eliminated
while attachments to ceramic vessels became common. Ceramic spindle whorls most
likely used for cotton processing were more commonly produced during the Troumassoid
than the earlier Saladoid (Rouse 1992:129). A general shift from wetter areas to more
arid ones seems to occur during this time, perhaps to facilitate cotton or salt production
The Mamoran Troumassoid subseries represents a gradual simplification of pottery
in the Leeward Islands from the previous Cedrosan Saladoid subseries. White-on-red
painting persisted in some areas as well as curvilinear incision but linear and zic incision
disappeared and handles became vestigal. Legged griddles developed in Antigua and
scratched pottery made its first appearance as vessels became thicker and less well
finished and less commonly decorated.
The Troumassan Troumassoid subseries is found throughout the southern Lesser
Antilles. This subseries is characterized by boat and kidney-shaped, round bottomless,
double, and hemispherical and inverted bell-shaped bowls, cylindrical pot stands, jars,
effigy bowls, and polychrome painting with curvilinear incisions (Petersen et al.
2004:27). The "Caliviny" or "Calivinoid" pottery defined by Bullen and Bullen (1972) is
included under the Troumassan Troumassoid subseries. They believed that the Santa
Elena or Elanan Ostionoid subseries influenced the Caliviny style or series and the later
Suazoid series (Bullen and Bullen 1975:5-7).
The Suazan Troumassoid subseries, or Suazoid series, is also found throughout the
southern Lesser Antilles. Previously considered a separate ceramic series, the Suazan
Troumassoid subseries has more recently been considered a style of Troumassoid
ceramics particular to the Late Ceramic Age of the southern Lesser Antilles (Boomert
2000:245). Early Suazan Troumassoid ceramics (A.D. 1000-1200) are thick, coarse, and
soft with scratched or scraped surface treatments, inward thickened rims, legs, pedestal or
annular bases, incisions, red-slipping, modeled-incised zoomorphic head lug adornos, and
unrestricted or restricted bowls and jar forms (Petersen et al. 2004:28). Originally named
"Micoid" by Marshall McKusick based on his work on St. Lucia in the 1950s, late
Suazan Troumassoid ceramics (A.D. 1200-1500) are found from Tobago to Guadeloupe.
Suazan Troumassoid ceramics are often considered the crudest and least finished
Amerindian pottery in the Caribbean. Scratched surfaces, finger-indented rims, and
legged vessels and griddles are considered typical traits of the subseries with some
minority of the pottery decorated with red paint, simple line, circle or scroll incisions on
rim or walls, and flat anthropomorphic head adornos (Petersen et al. 2004:29). Further
discussion of the Suazoid series or Suazan Troumassoid subseries will be addressed in
The Ethnohistoric Amerindians and Their Descendants
Several Ostionoid series have been associated with the indigenous chiefdoms
encountered by the Spaniards in A.D. 1492. The Meillacans are associated with the
Western Tainos, the Elenans with the Eastern Tainos, and the Chicans with the Classic
Tainos. Few thorough ethnohistoric accounts of the Tainos exist because they did not
survive as sociopolitical entities long after their contact with the Spaniards, only until
around A.D. 1525.
Ethnohistoric sources describe some aspects of the Taino material culture. These
accounts not only provide insight about a virtually extinct ethnic group, they provide
information about artifacts manufactured from perishable materials that were not
preserved in the archaeological record. With pottery already having been discussed
under the Ostionoids, I have focused upon a few categories of Taino material culture that
are relevant to my analysis.
Taino subsistence technology reflected the diverse resources they exploited. The
importance of cassava cultivation in these subsistence economies is supported by indirect
archaeological evidence in the form of ceramic griddles and ethnohistoric and
ethnographic accounts of Circum-Caribbean ethnic groups. According to the Spaniards,
the Taino used a relatively simple tool assemblage to cultivate and process cassava, sweet
potatoes, maize, squash, beans, arrowroot, peppers, peanuts, tobacco, calabashes, cotton,
various fruits, and many other plants (Highfield 1997:162-163; Petersen 1997:128-129).
Stone axes were used to clear agricultural areas and a coa, or digging stick, was used to
plant crops. Slash-and burn horticulture was practiced as well as more sophisticated
techniques, such as conuco mound farming, terracing, and irrigation. Cassava was
processed with a variety of basketry and made into cassava bread on clay griddles
supported by round clay cylinders (Olazagasti 1997:131).
Cotton seems to have been of particular importance to the Taino for the
manufacture of various products. Cotton was both cultivated and collected from the wild
and weaved into items such as hammocks, nets, headbands, skirts, and ornamental bands
and belts (Olazagasti 1997:135-137). Cotton may have also been an important trade item
The Tainos used bows, harpoons, atlatls, textile nets, weirs, wooden traps, fishbone
fish hooks, stone fishing weights, canoes and a variety of other tools to exploit animal
resources such as hutias, iguanas, birds, fish, manatees, shellfish, and turtles (Ogazagasti
1997:132-133; Peteresen 1997:128). Some animals, such as the aon or small barkless
dog were at least semi-domesticated (Highfield 1997:163).
The Taino material culture consisted of a wide variety of artifacts and features.
Religious items included three-pointed zemis made from a variety of materials, idols,
snuff powder, and vomiting sticks. Musical instruments included wooden drums, flutes,
maracas, rattlers and drumsticks. Villages were composed of round, wood and fiber
structures with artificial earthworks and stone construction that included ball-courts and
ceremonial areas. The ballgame seems to have been similar to the one played in Central
America. The diverse material culture of the Tainos gives archaeologists some idea of
the range of artifacts that may have been used by prehistoric Amerindians and a source
from which to infer past human behavior.
The Island Caribs
The term Island Carib refers to the Amerindian groups that lived on the Windward
or Eastern Islands of the Lesser Antilles at the time of European contact. The use of a
single denomination to refer to an entire region is almost assuredly a simplification of the
ethnic situation largely encountered by Europeans. Although Europeans knew of the
existence of the Island Caribs as early as Columbus' first voyage in A.D. 1493, it was not
until the mid-seventeenth century that French missionaries recorded detailed, first-hand
accounts of their culturess. Based largely upon Taino accounts from Cuba and
Hispaniola that were often fanciful and contradictory, the Island Caribs were stereotyped
as violent cannibals and savages that mercilessly raided their "peaceful" Taino
neighbors. Queen Isabella of Spain authorized the enslavement of Caribs/cannibals in
A.D. 1503, a convenient method for procuring slaves (Boucher 1992:16). The Island
Caribs fiercely resisted enslavement and European colonization efforts during the
Dominican Father Raymond Breton provided considerable insight into Island Carib
culture on Dominica, including a detailed description of their language in his Dictionaire
Caraibe-Francais (1665). Breton found that the Island Carib language was linguistically
dimorphic with women speaking an Arawakan dialect and men a Cariban one. This
situation is not unique with the Karifia (Carib), Palikur and Lokono (Arawak), and at least
one Tupian group exhibiting gender polarity in their languages (Whitehead 2002:54).
Subsequent study seems to indicate that the Island Carib language is essentially an
Arawakan language of the Lokono linguistic branch found in northern South America
(Allaire 1996:43). The Cariban speech of the men, possibly a trade language, was
strongly patterned after the Cariban language of the Galibis of Guiana with whom the
Island Caribs frequently interacted (Allaire 1996:43). According to Breton, both the
Island Caribs and mainland Cariban-speaking people referred to themselves as Kalinago
(male) and Kalipuna (female) or the general name ofKalina. Breton also mentioned the
use of a separate language spoken between the Island Caribs and the Galibis, possibly a
trade language (Allaire 1977:41). Davis and Goodwin (1990) suggested that the Island
Carib words for self-designation could be used to strengthen a mainland Arawakan
connection. The debate continues as to the Arawakan or Cariban nature of the Island
The origin of the Island Caribs is a controversial issue because it is based upon
unreliable ethnohistoric accounts. The earliest and most often cited Island Carib origin
tradition is the account recorded by Father Breton on Dominica in A.D. 1635-1636. The
Island Caribs of Dominica reported that they descended from people that lived on the
closest mainland with which they still maintained relations. Breton (1665) later recorded
that the ancestors of the Island Caribs were Galibis from South America who left their
homeland to conquer the Caribbean Islands. Jean-Baptiste Du Tertre, a priest on
Guadeloupe and Martinique in the mid-seventeenth century, published an extensive
account of Island Carib origins that was almost totally derived from Breton's reports. Du
Tertre (1671) mentions by name the island people defeated by the invading Caribs, the
Igneri, and stated that the Caribs had exterminated the Igneri men and captured the
women who "kept something of their language." Considering the Carib-Arawak gender
division in the Island Carib language, it was commonly assumed that the Igneri had been
Arawakan, an idea that heavily influenced the archaeology of the Lesser Antilles. Louis
Allaire believes there is "no truly acceptable historical evidence" for the Carib migration
(Allaire 1980:239). One of the only consistent themes in these traditions is the
movement of Caribs from the mainland to the Caribbean Islands. Although the oral
traditions of the Island Caribs did not record when the migration or invasion occurred, it
has been largely accepted that it happened in the late prehistoric period shortly before the
arrival of the Spaniards. This belief is based upon ethnohistoric accounts of the
depopulation of Montserrat by Caribs shortly before the arrival of Columbus, the gender-
based bilinguilism of the Island Carib language, and rumors that Arawak survivors still
lived in the interior of Guadeloupe in the seventeenth century.
Ethnohistoric accounts provide useful descriptions of Island Carib material culture.
Warfare technology consisted of the longbow and poisoned arrows, blowgun, an
enigmatic hot pepper weapon, war club or boutou, and canoe (Allaire 1997:183). A red,
vegetable pigment called roucou was applied to the body in designs for special occasions.
Women wore woven garments below the knee in an apparent effort to cause swelling of
the calf (Allaire 1996:42, 1997:179). Additional items included calabash containers,
small wooden stools, cotton hammocks, and a wide range of basketry, crescent-shaped
gold-copper or guanin ornaments called caracoli, greenstone pendants, and parrot feather
decorations. Island Carib houses were divided into round huts for females built around a
larger rectangular mens' house (Allaire 1997:182).
Island Carib settlement and subsistence patterns indicate a broad-based
horticultural subsistence economy. Settlements seem to be associated with more humid
and fertile areas suitable for the cultivation of their manioc, maize, tobacco, cotton, sweet
potatoes, pineapple, papaya, bananas, plantains, beans, and hot peppers in protected
gardens (Allaire 1997:182; Petersen 1997:129). The "pepper pot" was a common meal
that consisted of pieces of meat and fish stewed in cassava juice and hot peppers.
Cassava beer was processed in large ceramic vessels. Exploited animal resources include
land crabs, agouti, rice rats, birds, and iguanas, birds, fish, shellfish, manatees, and sea
Island Carib social and political organization was relatively simple. No chiefs
ruled more than one village although war leaders were chosen to organize warriors from
various islands and the mainland, usually to raid the Lokono Arawaks or Europeans.
Evidence suggests that separate groups of Island Caribs and Galibis "confederated" in an
effort to resist European expansion and diseases (Holdren 1998:2).
Island Carib trade has been described in the ethnohistoric records. Inter-island
exchange for food resources was a common practice among the Island Caribs (Petersen
1997:129). The use of a trade jargon fasciliated the exchange of turtles, salt bricks,
pearls, and dried fish between the Island Caribs and Galibis (Bouton 1640:23). Allaire
notes that the Island Caribs shared Grenada with the Galibi and Tobago was supposedly
an entirely Galibi-inhabited island (Allaire 1977:32-33).
Ethnohistoric accounts of Island Carib pottery have been used to support and
criticize arguments regarding ethnicity, origin, and archaeology. Allaire (1977) provided
a thorough analysis of the documents relating to Island Carib pottery in his comparison of
ethnohistoric accounts and archaeological evidence from Martinique. Descriptions
include the indigenous classification of Island Carib pottery into male/ceremonial and
female/utilitarian associations (Boomert 1995:25). Distinctive characteristics of Island
Carib pottery include the use of very large cassava beer vessels, pointed or rounded
vessel bases, smudged surface treatments, and all-over red painting with occasional black
designs. Boomert does not agree with Allaire that the Island Carib vessel categories were
identical to those of the Carib-speaking mainlanders, although he does agree that surface
treatments and decoration are strongly associated (Boomert 1995:26-27). According to
Allaire (1977) and Boomert (1995), Island Carib pottery shows no association with
Tainos or the late prehistoric Suazoid pottery.
The identification of an archaeological complex that represents the ethnic Island
Caribs is a major issue in the archaeology of the Lesser Antilles. Initially, the Suazoid
series was thought to have represented a Carib invasion and occupation of several islands
(Bullen 1964; McKusick 1960). Louis Allaire (1977) has shown that this assumption is
probably incorrect. However, Allaire has supported Boomert's belief that the Cayoid
series may represent the Island Caribs. Earle Kirby was the first archaeologist to
discover the Cayoid series in the early 1970's on St. Vincent, the last recorded holdout of
the Island Caribs (Kirby 1975:15, 17-19). Kirby attributed the pottery to "the most
important [migrants] in the Antilles", Arawaks that arrived in about A.D. 700 before the
Calivinoid and formed the basis for the "Tainan" culture of the Greater Antilles (Kirby
1975:17, 19). Although no Cayo sites have been excavated, Cayo ceramics have since
been found on Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, the Grenadines, Grenada, and Tobago.
Contrary to Kirby's belief that Cayoid ceramics were of prehistoric date, it is believed
that the series or complex was of protohistoric date and similar to the Koriabo ceramic
complex of the Guianas. Boomert now considers the Cayo complex as "the only
protohistoric pottery tradition from the Windward Islands meeting all requirements
needed to classify it as the Island Carib ceramic assemblage" (Boomert 1995:28). He
believes that the "Savanne Plain" and Peasant Ware" ceramic types identified from St.
Vincent by Bullen and Bullen (1972:148) are also Cayo (Boomert 1995:29). Boomert
believes that Koriaban pottery-using people from the mainland may have introduced the
Cayo ceramic complex into the Windward Islands around A.D. 1250 and gradually
replaced the Suazan Troumassoid (Boomert 1986, 1995:29-31). Considering that no
Cayo sites have ever been excavated, it would seem that much work is needed to support
The Black Caribs And Garinagu
The modern Garinagu of Central America has been shown to have a strong cultural
and genetic connection with the Island Caribs. Descendants of shipwrecked African
slaves and Island Caribs on St. Vincent, the Garinagu are the only group that still
maintain a significant number of Island Carib or Black Carib traditions since their forced
deportation to Central America by the British in A.D. 1797. Although blood type
analyses have indicated only a 25% Island Carib genetic heritage, the traditions of the
Garinagu indicate a strong cultural continuity with their island ancestors (Cayetano
1993:92). Note that the term Black Carib refers to the ancestors of the Garinagu that
lived on St. Vincent before the British deported them to Honduras and other parts of the
The modern Garifuna language of the Central American Garinagu still displays the
dual nature of the Island Carib language. Comparisons between the Island Carib
language recorded by Breton and the modern Garifuna language revealed a considerable
decrease in Cariban elements through time. It has been suggested that the lack of contact
with the Carib-speaking South Americans may have diminished the need to maintain the
Cariban elements of the Garifuna language. The historic Island Caribs may have been a
group of people that were becoming more "Carib" through time as part of a larger Kalina
ethnic unit, a change that was cut short by the arrival of Europeans (Allaire 1977:44).
The Garinagu consider cassava an important part of their diet and traditions.
Although many components of their island diet changed as a result of their removal, the
Garinagu diet emphasizes cassava and marine resources much like the Island Caribs
(Gonzalez 1988:102). The basic techniques for cultivating and processing cassava have
changed relatively little with the exception of grating and baking technological
improvements (Gonzalez 1988:107). Areba or cassava bread is an important food source
and symbol of ethnic solidarity used in rituals (Cayetano 1993:173; Gonzalez 1988:107).
The material culture of the Garinagu has changed considerably from their Island
Carib ancestors on St. Vincent. Traditional cassava-processing technology such as the
wooden and stone-teethed grater and the reguma, a long cylindrical basketry used for
grated cassava straining, and basketry sifters continue to be used today, although
mechanized graters have become common. Although maritime technology has been
largely replaced, the occasional dugout canoe can still be seen. Although Island Carib
pottery production has been documented, no evidence for a Black Caribs or Garinagu
ceramic tradition exists. Clay griddles and other tools were replaced by iron ones from
trade with Europeans before the Black Caribs were deported in 1797 and native pottery
was most likely replaced with European wares. No archaeological assemblage type has
conclusively been associated with either the Black Caribs of St. Vincent or the Central
The Suazoid series or Suazan Troumassoid subseries (A.D. 1000-1500) represents
an enigmatic group of people or peoples that lived in the Windward Islands of the Lesser
Antilles in the late prehistoric and possibly early historic period. Suazoid pottery is
recognized for its relatively crude manufacture and its "scratched" surface treatment and
finger-indented rims. Other than their distinctive pottery, little is known about the
Suazan peoples) that inhabited the Windward Islands from Tobago to Martinique. The
series was initially believed to represent the invasion of Island Caribs into the Windward
Islands from South America shortly before the arrival of Europeans. This hypothesis has
been both challenged and supported through subsequent archaeological investigation.
Previous Archaeological Research
I have organized this chapter in a chronological order by major archaeological
excavations involving Suazoid remains. I believe that it is necessary to provide an
overview of Suazoid archaeology as context for my analysis. I have placed particular
emphasis upon archaeological ceramics and the Savanne Suazey site on Grenada because
it is the type site for the Suazoid ceramic series and the focus of my analysis.
Marshall B. McKusick first identified the Micoid series, later known as the Suazoid
series, in the 1950's on Dominica and St. Lucia. McKusick (1960) conducted
archaeological research on Dominica and St. Lucia in 1956 and 1957 for the purpose of
studying Lesser Antillean archaeology. McKusick, a student of Rouse at Yale, hoped to
create a better typology for the Lesser Antilles from ceramic traits and make connections
between the archaeological materials and the historic Island Caribs and the modern
Creole Caribs. He identified three pottery "styles" named Troumassee (Troumassoid),
Choc and Fannis, the latter two styles having been placed under the Micoid series named
for the Micoud Beach site on St. Lucia.
The Choc type site is located on a flat field slightly above sea-level on the leeward
side of St. Lucia, named after its proximity to the Choc River. Over 5,000 sherds were
recovered from a shallow cultural deposit within two excavation areas, although
approximately 4,051 plain body sherds were discarded and the remainder organized into
948 "pottery groups" (McKusick 1960:71, 176). Undecorated rims associated with large,
wide-mouthed pots made up 80% of the assemblage, the other 20% of the rims
represented decorated, shallow, hemispherical bowls. Red-painting was found on 19% of
the total rim sherds (McKusick 1960:178). Decorated rims were often (93%) all-red
painted, unthickened (52%), and/or incised (39%) (McKusick 1960:72). One finger-
indented rim sherd was recovered 30 yards from one of the excavation areas in a test
square (McKusick 1960:72). McKusick described the Choc pottery style as coarse and
simple with a grit tempering, evidence of coiling, and occasional (around 6%) all-over
red painting on smoothed, inward-thickened rims often associated with incision with dots
(McKusick 1960:72). The 560 undecorated, coarse or brushed rims represented 60% of
the total analyzed sherd groups. Seventeen lugs and handles and 42 (4% of total sherd
groups) legs on unpainted bowls and tripodal griddles were recovered (McKusick
1960:73. 176). McKusick believed that the Choc style represented an intrusion from
another island because no evidence of local development was discovered, only the
completely-Choc type site (McKusick 1960:116).
The Fannis ceramic style, named after a local St. Lucian man in the town of
Micoud, is very similar to the Choc style with an increase in coarseness, unevenness,
thickness, and weight as well as the frequency of legged vessels present. McKusick
described the pottery as the "heaviest and crudest found in the Antilles" (McKusick
1960:117). Definition of the Fannis style was based on the assemblage recovered from
Excavation Four at Micoud Beach, a 50 x 5 feet trench dug into a shallow archaeological
deposit located in a disturbed sand dune near a historic cemetery on the windward side of
St. Lucia (McKusick 1960:74-75, 88). Locals had confirmed that the sandy, near-sea
level area has suffered from considerable erosion. Approximately 1,400 plain body
sherds were discarded in the field and a sample of 449 rims, attachments, and
miscellaneous ceramic artifacts were analyzed (McKusick 1960:90). Sherds were large
and 21 partial pots, six almost complete pots, and one nearly complete griddle were
recovered. Vessel types included; griddles (20%), containers (78%), and miscellaneous
clay artifacts (2%) (McKusick 1960:119). Fannis paste was grit tempered and black.
(McKusick 1960:117) Wall thickness ranged from 1/4" to 1" (6-25 mm) thick
(McKusick 1960: 117). Red painting was found on 20% of the total analyzed rims
(McKusick 1960:176). The Fannis style seemed to show considerable continuity with the
Choc style with the exceptions of crude spouts, elbow-shaped legs, legged ring stands,
globular pots, and finger-notched rims (McKusick 1960:116-117). Sixty-seven ceramic
legs represented 15% of the total sherd sample (McKusick 1960:118). Finger-notching,
absent at Choc, occurred on 35-40% of the Fannis rim sherds (McKusick 1960:118, 178).
Even though it turned out that the Creole Caribs did not originate on St. Lucia,
McKusick used their modern pottery with "finger-notched" rims as evidence for the
continuation of the Fannis style into the present (McKusick 1960:35-36). The author
suggests an Eastern Venezuelan/Island Carib origin for the Micoid series based upon the
seemingly intrusive nature of the Fannis style and Island Carib accounts of their origins
in Surinam (McKusick 1960:154-158).
The Bullens and the Suazey Series
The Suazey series was named after Ripley and Adelaide Bullens' excavation of the
Savanne Suazey type site on Grenada. (Figure 3-1, #3) Although McKusick had already
identified the series on St. Lucia, he had failed to follow up on his research and we now
refer to the Micoid series as the Suazoid (Allaire 1977:1). An amateur archaeologist on
Grenada named Alister Hughes appealed to Clifford Evans of the United States National
Museum for help in salvaging the Savanne Suazey site from construction. Evans
contacted Ripley P. Bullen at the then Florida State Museum in Gainesville, a grant was
obtained from the American Philisophical Society, and excavations were begun on
Grenada in 1962. The Bullens' stratigraphically tested five sites and conducted several
surface collections in which over 32,000 ceramic sherds were collected. Bullen (1964)
primarily used paste characteristics to create several series of ceramics that including
Pearls, Simon, Saline, Airport, Caliviny, Westerhall, and Suazey (Suazoid). Bullen
(1965:237) later condensed his typology to the Pearls-Simon-Saline, Caliviny, and the
prehistoric and historic Suazey series.
U I 2 3 4
r : ',. Lt i
I ii .- --*"
Figure 3-1. Archaeological sites on Grenada.
The Savanne Suazey site is situated on the northeast shore on the Atlantic side of
Grenada (Figure 3-1 #3). Bullen identified a northern area about 40 feet above sea level
separated from the ocean by a nearly vertical cliff and a southern area about 10-15 feet
above sea level situated near the water. The northern and southern areas were separated
by a low, grassy valley about 200 yards wide that yielded no evidence of archaeological
deposits. Both the northern and southern areas suffered considerably from erosion that
exposed the rock shelf beneath the clayey soil and an abundance of ceramic sherds. The
lower rock shelf around the southern area contains many tidepools with abundant crabs,
small fish, and whelks and the sandy beaches on either sides are the nesting areas for
; ,' ^ ^ "<'
J..-, h,^ ,
Figure 3-1. Archaeological sites on Grenada.
The Savanne Suazey site is situated on the northeast shore on the Atlantic side of
Grenada (Figure 3-1 #3). Bullen identified a northern area about 40 feet above sea level
separated from the ocean by a nearly vertical cliff and a southern area about 10-15 feet
above seand leatherback turtles (Holdren 1997:206). Then aRivd southern area lies were separated
south by a low, grassy valley at its mout 200 yards wide that yielded o evidence o archaeological
deposits. Both the northern and southern areas suffered considerably from erosion that
exposed the rock shelf beneath the clayey soil and an abundance of ceramic sherds. The
lower rock shelf around the southern area contains many tidepools with abundant crabs,
small fish, and whelks and the sandy beaches on either sides are the nesting areas for
green and leatherback turtles (Holdren 1997:206). The River Sallee lies nearby to the
south with mangroves at its mouth.
The Bullens excavated two test units in the northern area. Test A was a 5x16 feet
unit and test B a 5x8 feet unit not mapped out by Bullen (1964). Both tests yielded 905
sherds at depths from between four and nine inches, indicating a relatively shallow
occupation. An additional 107 sherds were collected from the eroded cliff edge. 83% of
the recovered sherds were of the Suazey series, 11.6% of the Caliviny, 4.3% of the
Simon, and a few Westerhall and non-designated series (Bullen 1964:7). Red-painted
sherds of all types represented less than 5% of the total sherd sample, griddles
represented under 12% (Bullen 1964:7). Total decoration, including painting, scratching,
finger-indention, and incision, represented under 14% of the total number of sherds from
the northern area. Only two sherds were finger-indented. Bullen speculated that the
sherd distribution indicated a shift from Caliviny to the Suazey series (Bullen 1964:7).
The artifacts included a fragment of cut bone, a possible loom weight made of pecked
rock, and a complete ceramic vessel with two "pipe stems" that most likely was a snuff
bowl. Bullen noted that this complete "nostril bowl" was similar to ones found in Puerto
Rico and the Dominican Republic (Bullen and Bullen 1972:29).
The Bullens excavated four, five-feet wide trenches in the southern area of the
Savanne Suazey site. (Figure 3-2) Trenches A-C were excavated on the western side of a
path that divided the southern area, trench D was placed on the eroded eastern point.
Trench D yielded a "thicker and richer" archaeological deposit than the other trenches but
I was unable to locate these artifacts, including a crescent-shaped ground stone. 1,937
sherds were recovered from all trenches with 1,231 sherds from trenches A-C, and 789
sherds from trench D. Bullen reported that 86.5% of the sherds were Suazey, 11.9%
S--- / OCEAN
Figure 3-2. Southern area of the Savanne Suazey site.
as Caliviny, and the remaining 0.6% to the Simon and Pearls series (Bullen 1964:11-12).
Decorations were found on almost 15% of the total sherds. Red-painted sherds
represented around 4% of the total sample and griddles represented almost 14% (Bullen
1964:12). The thirty-one finger-indented sherds represented less than 2% of the total.
The slightly higher percentage of Suazey sherds from the southern area was interpreted
by Bullen to represent a more recent occupation than the northern area (Bullen 1964:11).
Distinctive artifacts include a ceramic agouti attachment from trench C, a crescent-shaped
artifact of ground stone from trench D, a fragment of a stone celt from trench B, three
"smoothing stones" from trenches A and B, numerous iron fragments from the upper
level of trench A, three Spanish olive jar sherds, and many Savanne plain sherds (Bullen
1964:11). The presence of iron fragments, historic olive jar sherds, and Savanne plain
sherds led Bullen to believe that the site was occupied by Amerindian people during the
historic period. However, it must be noted that these artifacts were recovered from the
top six inches of the stratigraphy where a disturbance of the site would be most likely
(Allaire 1977:359-361). Also, Bullen did not have radiocarbon dates run on any material
recovered from the Savanne Suazey site until ten years after excavations were completed
on one Strombus gigas shell that dated to 550 +/- 110 years b.p. (Bullen and Bullen
Adelaide K. Bullen analyzed the five burials that were uncovered in the southern
area, one in trench A, one in trench B, one in between trenches B and C, and two in
trench D. All of the poorly-preserved human remains were flexed and interred in pits dug
into the sterile clay. Three stone beads were found in the "neck region" of two
individuals (Bullen 1964:14-15). The presence of dental caries or cavities led the Bullens
to believe that the consumption of sugar cane during the historic period may have caused
the tooth decay (Bullen 1964:16-17).
The zooarchaeological remains from the site were analyzed by Elizabeth S. Wing
of the then Florida State Museum, now the Florida Museum of Natural History. Eight
agouti (Dasyprocta aguti), four opossum (didelphis marsupialis), one dog (Canis
familiaris), one porcupine fish (Diodontidae), and 40 green turtles (Cheloniidae) were
identified (Bullen 1964:10). A few fragments of Strombus gigas shells were also
recovered. However, Bullen did not record the excavation techniques used to excavate
the Savanne Suazey site. It is possible that smaller animal bones and artifacts such as
stone grater chips were sifted through a screen too large to extract small material remains,
if in fact a screen was used at all.
Bullen believed that the Suazey or Suazoid ceramic series consists of the "worst"
pottery present in the Lesser Antilles (Bullen 1964:50). Bullen organized his ceramic
assemblages into series based primarily upon paste characteristics followed by
decorations (Bullen 1964:37) Typical features cited by Bullen include a "contorted, not
very compact, and not especially well fired" paste, very thick walls constructed by the
coiling method, and an "extremely poor" surface finish of the "sloppy, easily made,
artistically destitute Suazey ceramics" (Bullen 1964:51, 56). Grit tempering was clearly
evident with vessel wall thickness ranged from 4-18 mm with an 8-12 mm average
(Bullen 1964:51). Bullen organized his Suazey series into plain, finger indented,
scratched, rim modified, and griddle vessel types (Bullen 1964:51-52). The rim modified
category included what was later referred to as a "double horned handle" design similar
to ones found on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (Bullen and Bullen 1972:30).
Although Bullen did not perform a vessel-unit analysis, he inferred vessel forms from
individual sherds and he would later state that restored vessels were useful in refining the
ceramic typology of the Lesser Antilles (Bullen 1964:51; Bullen and Bullen 1972:129).
Scratched sherds and finger-indented rims were of particular interest to Bullen as
diagnostic traits of the Suazey series, although neither characteristic is commonly found.
Scratching was defined by Bullen as "coarse striations or brush marks applied, in general,
parallel to rims" as part of a finishing process often applied over scraping marks (Bullen
1964:51). Finger-indention is exhibited by a "row of large, shallow intentions along the
lips" probably made by fingers (Bullen 1964:51).
Bullen believed that scratching, finger-indention, and several other characteristics
of Suazey artifacts and sites indicated an association with the Island Caribs. Bullen was
well aware that McKusick (1960) had associated both of these characteristics with the
Choc and Fannis styles respectively and indirectly with the Island Caribs (Bullen
1964:56). The increase in scratched pottery through time was considered part of a gradual
change from the Caliviny series to the Suazey series as invading "prehistoric Caribs"
slowly took over the island (Bullen 1964:64). Having associated finger-indented rims
with the upper levels of the southern area and the historic artifacts he had excavated,
Bullen suggested that invading "historic Caribs" brought finger-indented pottery-using
female Caribs to Grenada (Bullen 1964:12-13, 56-58). At the time, he was not aware that
historic documents indicate that men made the pottery in Island Carib society. The
crescent-shaped ground stone artifact from trench D was also cited as evidence of Carib
occupation because Island Carib ornaments similar in description called caracoli were
described by Europeans. Bullen also cites the historic records of the British and English
of the early and mid 1600's that record the presence of Caribs specifically in the Savanne
Suazey area. Bullen believed the known distribution of Suazey ceramics in the 1960's
that included St. Lucia, St. Maartin, Grenada, and Antigua correlated well with the
historically known distribution of Island Caribs (Bullen 1964:62). No South American
source of scratched or finger-indented pottery has been found.
The Pearls series is the earliest ceramic series represented on Grenada. It is
characterized by a fine-grained, well-mixed, compact paste that is well-fired, an excellent
surface treatment that hides coiling and scrape marks, and handles, lugs, adornos, zone
incised crosshatching, incision, and red, white, and black painting (Bullen 1964:39-44).
Bullen believed that pre-Arawaks made Pearls pottery but today it is included in the
Saladoid ceramic series.
Bullen believed that the Caliviny series represented a ceramic tradition that was
probably brought to Grenada by the Arawaks (Bullen 1964:55). Named after the site on
Caliviny Island off the southern end of Grenada, Caliviny pottery was characterized by a
well mixed paste, coiling manufacture, fairly thick walls, frequent red painting,
infrequent red and black painting, and burnishing that covered up a "shoddy" surface
treatment (Bullen 1964:48-49). Bullen associated Caliviny sherds with the lower levels
of the Savanne Suazey site, although his tables indicate that this type was located more
frequently at the surface and upper levels with the exception of trench D (Bullen 1964:7,
12). Even though he never discovered a "pure" Caliviny site, Bullen believed that the
Caliviny series was so radically different from either the previous Pearls series (pre-
Arawaks) or the following Suazey series (Caribs) that it probably represented Arawaks
that arrived around A.D. 700 (Bullen 1964:62). However, Bullen suggested an
alternative hypothesis in which a change in climate forced the largely agricultural Pearls
people to exploit more marine resources and adopt the Caliviny ceramic series (Bullen
1964:54). The Bullens refined their ideas about the Caliviny series in subsequent
The Bullens continued their research started on Grenada by conducting excavations
on nearby St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Beginning in 1969, the Bullens excavated and
collected from at least 19 major sites in an effort to support the typology they presented
in 1964. St. Vincent seemed a likely place to find Suazey/Carib sites because the island
is thought to have been the last refuge of the Island Caribs. The Grenadines form a 60-
mile bridge of islands between Grenada and St. Vincent and are therefore another likely
source of Suazey/Carib sites.
The Bullens' recovered a variety of artifacts from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Artifacts included adornos, spindle whorls, coral "manioc shredders", Liviniapica
pottery scrapers, jasper chips, Strombus gigas tools, one large stone flake, petroglyphs,
metates, and ceramics from the Saladoid, Caliviny, and Suazey series.
The Bullens collected many Suazey and Caliviny sherds from their excavations.
Suazey and Caliviny sherds were often found intermixed and several assemblages, such
those recovered from the Fitz-Hughs and Mt. Pleasant sites on St. Vincent, consisted
entirely of these two ceramic series. The Bullens offered two general explanations for
the close association of Caliviny and Suazey sherds.
The Bullens suggested that the Caliviny series might actually represent a better-
made "ceremonial component" of the Suazey series and not a completely separate people
(Bullen and Bullen 1972:142). They refer to this single series as the Suazey-Caliviny
ceramic complex (Bullen and Bullen 1972:63).
Although the Bullens offer the idea that Caliviny sherds may actually be a
component of the Suazey series, they support the belief that it actually represents an
earlier and separate Arawakan people. Based largely on the belief that Caliviny sherds
were generally found lower in the stratigraphy, the Bullens restated the idea that the
Caliviny series was produced by an Arawakan people that are represented in
Suazey/Carib pottery through holdovers in ceremonial ware (Bullen and Bullen
Similarities between Caliviny ware and Ostionoid pottery from Puerto Rico also
seemed to support an Arawakan connection. The Bullens believed that the smooth, plain
or red-painted, burnished Caliviny pottery with distinct rims could be traced back to
Puerto Rico (Bullen and Bullen 1972:161; Bullen and Bullen 1975:5). The Bullens
offered three possible reasons for the "Ostionoid-Caliviny" ceramic traits; 1) a northern,
Ostionoid influence from the Greater Antilles, a hypothesis they firmly supported, 2) a
southern, Ostionoid influence from the Orinoco region, and 3) a local development from
a Saladoid-Barrancoid tradition independent of either northern or southern influences, an
explanation they believed to be the least likely (Bullen and Bullen 1972:163-164).
The Bullens supported their claim that Caribs from Guiana introduced the Suazey
series with several lines of evidence. They believed finger indented and punctuated
ceramic lips from Suriname seen in 1966 provided a connection between South America
and the Suazey series (Bullen and Bullen 1972:167). Based upon the Guiana origin oral
traditions of some Island Caribs, connections between the Suazey series and the Island
Caribs were investigated. The Bullens believed that Suazey pottery was found on high,
windward coastal locations where Island Caribs had historically lived (Bullen and Bullen
1972:166). A radiocarbon date of approximately A.D. 1580 was obtained from the
Caliviny-Suazey component of the Indian Bay site on St. Vincent that seems to indicate
occupation into the historic period (Bullen and Bullen 1972:73). Proof of a historic
occupation would support the connection between Suazey ceramics and the Island Carib
ethnic group known to have occupied the Lesser Antilles during the early historic period.
Louis Allaire on Martinique
Not everyone agreed with the interpretations the Bullens had offered regarding
Suazoid artifacts. William G. Haag (1965) was the first to publicly suggest that "little if
any of the archaeological remains found in the Lesser Antilles may be attributed to the
Caribs" and that crudely made pottery in the Lesser Antilles seems to be a "direct
deterioration" of Arawak pottery. However, no serious challenge to the Bullens'
interpretation of Suazoid remains existed until the work of Louis Allaire on Martinique in
Louis Allaire set out to study the "Carib problem" of associating prehistoric
archaeological remains with the historic Island Carib ethnic group. (Allaire 1977:5) He
questioned the use of Island Carib historical accounts of their migration from the
Guianas, the accepted migration models out of the tropical forests of South America, and
the validity of associating prehistoric people with a historic or ethnographic ethnic group
(Allaire 1977:6). A student of Rouse at Yale University, Allaire adopted many of his
advisor's research strategies and terminology. Both archaeologists believed that because
different units are being analyzed, a prehistoric series versus a historic ethnic group,
comparisons must be made only after separate investigations of archaeological and
ethnohistoric evidence were completed.
Allaire analyzed the numerous European accounts regarding the Island Caribs of
the Lesser Antilles. I will not attempt to discuss in detail Allaire's exhaustive analysis of
the ethnohistorical Island Carib accounts except to highlight information that may be
useful in my own analysis of the Savanne Suazey site.
Allaire used ethnohistoric documentation of pottery to establish a basis for
comparison between the prehistoric archaeological assemblages and the material culture
of the Island Caribs (Allaire 1977:45). Although ethnohistoric accounts vary and often
conflict, certain consistencies led Allaire to conclude that Island Carib or Kalina pottery
is distinctly different than the Suazoid ceramic series (Allaire 1977:68, 355-357).
Allaire recovered over 15,000 sherds from four archaeological sites on Martinique
excavated from 1971-1974 and, for perhaps the first time in Caribbean archaeology, used
a vessel-unit analysis to study the functional characteristics of the pottery recovered
(Allaire 1977:130). Only larger sherds and rims greater than five centimeters in length
were analyzed (Allaire 1977:130). Allaire organized each pottery characteristic into
modes such as shape, surface finish, and decoration.
Allaire devotes a considerable part of his dissertation to the study of griddles.
Griddles exhibit the general characteristics of having an abundantly tempered paste,
smooth baking surface, and a rough exterior surface finish (Allaire 1977:234). Six
griddle modes were classified according to rim shape. Griddle legs were found at all sites
except one, the L'Esperance site (Allaire 1977:248). Allaire compared the ratios of pots
to griddles for each site and level excavated and found that there seems to have been a
trend toward a higher pot to griddle ratio later in the sequence (Allaire 1977:250-252).
Of the three post-Saladoid ceramic complexes developed by Allaire, the Macabou
complex displays the most similarities with McKusick's Fannis style and Bullen's
Suazey series (Allaire 1977:326-327). The other two complexes, L'Esperance and
Paquemar, belong to the Troumassoid series defined by McKusick (Allaire 1977:30).
Contrary to Bullen (1964), Allaire believed the Macabou complex or Suazoid should
include "Caliviny" ware and archaeological assemblages and sites lacking finger-
indented rims. Allaire proposed that the "Caliviny" intrusion was actually a type of
pottery decoration within the Suazoid series, an idea Bullen (1972) had offered as a
Allaire believed that the Macabou site on Martinique, specifically the Macabou III
level, represented what Bullen called the Suazey ceramic series. The Macabou site is
located on the southern point of Paquemar Bay on Martinique, an arid area between the
sea and marshes (Allaire 1977:114-115). Finger indented rims are found only at the A-
Tout-Risque site (33.3% of decoration modes) and the Macabou III level of the Macabou
site (23%), the type sites for the Macabou complex. (Allaire 1977:190) Charcoal from
the stratigraphically intact Macabou III level was radiocarbon dated to around A.D. 600,
but it seems that the small sample size probably led to an erroneous date (Allaire
1977:319-320). A total of 87 ceramic vessels were analyzed from the Macabou III level;
35 plain vessels, 38 decorated vessels, and 14 griddles (Allaire 1977:251).
Thirty-five plain, undecorated vessels from the Macabou III level were analyzed
(Allaire 1977:215-218). Temper included both fine sand and crushed shell (Allaire
1977:215). Large and medium "tronconical" vessels make up 80% of the total
assemblage (Allaire 1977:215). Vessel forms derived from rim profiles consist of small
cups (13%), kettles or serving dishes (34%), and large cooking or brewing vessels (53%).
Orifice diameters range between 18 and 40 cm (mean 31.8 cm) and wall thicknesses from
3 to 19 mm (11.2 mm) (Allaire 1977:215). Predominant characteristics include excurvate
rims, rounded lips (60%), and a smoothed interior. A finely scratched surface treatment
was found on 40% of the non-griddle vessels, the highest percentage for any of the
excavations (Allaire 1977:215, 218). Only two ceramic legs were found (Allaire
Thirty-eight decorated vessels from the Macabou III level were analyzed and
placed into seven classes (Allaire 1977:172-177). Decorated vessels seem to have been a
finer, more varied Plain Ware with red painting (46.1%), linear painting (2.5%), areal
painting (10.2%), incision (10.2%), modified rims (7.6%), and finger indention (23%)
(Allaire 1977: 173, 190). Decoration modes were exclusive of each other (Allaire
1977:189). Red-painting was found on 18 of 73 (25%) total non-griddle vessels and 21%
of the total analyzed vessels. Finger-indention was found on nine vessels, 12% of the
total non-griddle vessels or 10% of the entire assemblage. At Macabou, finger-indention
seems to have been abandoned before the contact period (Allaire 1977:362).
Allaire concluded that the Suazoid ceramic series was not made by the Island
Caribs. The overall "devolution" of pottery in the Windward Islands, culminating in the
Suazoid series, is not the product of invading Caribs but the end result of a long trend
dating back to the Troumassoid (Allaire 1977:333-334; 1980:241-242; 1996:44). This in
situ development is shown archaeologically without dependence upon the often
contradictory oral traditions of the Island Caribs. No Suazoid ceramics have been
discovered in South America, the supposed origin of the Island Caribs. Non-pottery
Suazoid artifacts display few similarities with known Island Carib artifacts (Allaire
1977:361). Allaire did not find a strong correlation between Suazoid sites and historic
Island Carib occupations, unlike Bullen (Allaire 1977:357-359; Bullen 1964:62).
However, Allaire suggested that a limited, stylistic Greater Antillean influence is evident
in certain Suazoid artifacts probably associated with ideology and ceremony (Allaire
1977:343; 1996: 44). Allaire questioned the comparison of "folk" pottery produced by
people of African and Carib Indian descent with the Island Carib material culture (Allaire
Allaire (1991) has stated that Suazoid sites should be studied within an Amazonian
ecological perspective. Considering the environmental similarities between the
Caribbean Islands and lowland South America, comparable subsistence strategies within
the two regions, and a distant Amazonian origin, Allaire believes that a study of the
Suazoids must address issues of Amazonian adaptation (Allaire 1991:463-465).
Although protein availability is a common source of discussion in Amazonian
archaeology, Allaire suggests that meat acquisition was not a problem for the Suazoids
who occupied sites rich in marine resources (Allaire 1991:465). He instead focuses upon
the agricultural potential of Suazoid sites.
Allaire uses his knowledge of Martinique to describe an example of an Amazonian
adaptation to an arid region of a Caribbean Island. Allaire addresses the apparent shift in
settlement patterns from fertile, coastal northeastern Saladoid sites to barren, coastal
southeastern Troumassoid and Suazoid sites on Martinique (Allaire 1977:346-347). The
shallow, clayey, marginally fertile soils at several Suazoid sites are inadequate for the
cultivation of many food crops, except cassava (Allaire 1991:467-468). The arid regions
may have fascilitated fish and shellfish drying and smoking, the cultivation of cotton, and
salt processing (Allaire 1991:468-469). All three of these products may have been
exchanged in a trade network that could have included the entire Caribbean and northern
South America. The settlement change may represent a shift from an agricultural
subsistence economy to a maritime one, possibly caused by climatic changes, which may
have led to a "regression" in pottery (Allaire 1977:347-348). Allaire does not assume
that this "artistic decline" is associated with an economic decline (Allaire 1991:472).
Allaire discusses several hypotheses regarding the sudden disappearance of the
Suazoid series from the archaeological record (Allaire 1977:363-367). A rapid
acculturation shortly before European contact would probably have left more Suazoid
"survival" traits evident in Kalina material culture. A recent migration of Caribs into the
Windward Islands is a more plausible explanation archaeologically because it would
explain the sudden disappearance of the Suazoid series. However, there is little
archaeological evidence to suggest that an already fully-developed Island Carib material
culture arrived in the Windward Islands to replace the Suazoid series. Allaire critically
assessed the Europeans accounts that are often used to substantiate a Carib invasion and
found no truly acceptable historical evidence (Allaire 1980:239).
Peter L. Drewett on Barbados
Peter L. Drewett of the University College London has led the Barbados
Archaeological Survey since its establishment in 1984. Prehistoric Barbados (1991)
summarizes his findings with significant contributions from other experts. The Saladoid,
Saladoid/Barrancoid, Troumassoid, and Suazoid series were identified on Barbados
according to the generally accepted typology assigned to the prehistoric Lesser Antilles.
Mary Hill Harris from the University of Cambridge analyzed the majority of the
archaeological ceramic recovered from Barbados. Harris conducted a sherd unit of
analysis of the excavated ceramics and used the complete vessels from the Barbados
Museum as referents. Categories of ceramic ware were initially divided into 18 rather
narrow types based on surface treatment but were later combined and reduced in number.
Although few sherds were large enough to demonstrate vessel forms, bowls seemed the
most common. Harris subdivided the rare scratched ware into Type F, SS, and PS and
"finger-marked" decoration into fingertip and fingernail marked categories (Drewett
1991:39, 41). Decoration was given priority in the classification of the ceramic types
followed by thickness, rim types, and vessel form (Drewett 1991:85, 87, 89). The
relatively homogenous fabric or paste exhibited quartz and calcareous inclusions but no
distinct patterning (Drewett 1991:41, 43, 45). A total of 31,670 sherds were collected
from 28 of the 64 sites identified with four sites having been excavated (Drewett
The sites of Chancery Lane and Silver Sands were of particular importance because
they exhibited stratigraphy used to develop a ceramic chronology for Barbados (Drewett
1991:39). Both the Chancery Lane and Silver Sands sites are located on low sand dunes
in natural marine inlets near marshes, the former is located in Long Bay on the southern
coast and the latter 2-3 km south (Drewett 1991:17-19). A movement of people from the
earlier Chancery Lane site to nearby Silver Sands due to environmental reasons was
suggested (Drewett 1991:95).
Chancery Lane yielded over 6,000 sherds with good stratigraphy and several
features, including two prehistoric postholes, a pit, and several burials. The ceramics
from the site seem to represent a long occupation at Chancery Lane from Saladoid to
Suazoid (Drewett 1991:59). An interesting "slipped-and-scratched" sherd exhibiting
Caliviny Polychrome paint over scratching was recovered (Drewett 1991:39).
The Silver Sands site was excavated in 1988 and 1989 with separate analyses
having been conducted by different archaeologists. Harris analyzed over 7,000 sherds
from the 1988 excavation and graduate student Sandy Rogers of the University College
London analyzed nearly 10,000 additional sherds in 1989. Some differences in technique
and findings are evident between the two analyses (Drewett 1991:77). The Suazoid
ceramics from Silver Sands, especially Trench 2 (120 cm deep), seem to correlate well
with the Bullens' definition of the series (Drewett 1991:61, 77).
The 1988 Silver Sands ceramic assemblage demonstrates a stratified development
between the Troumassoid and Suazoid series. Trench 2 (6,405 sherds), Context 2 (20-60
cm) yielded the richest deposit of "classic" Suazoid sherds as it was cut through a midden
(Drewett 1991:23, 61). One shell was dated to A.D. 960 +/- 80 (Drewett 1991:24).
Around 50% of the sherds were thick (>15 mm) and finger-marking comprised 75% or
more of the total decoration found on 4%-8% of the sherds (Drewett 1991:61).
Underlying Contexts 4 and 5 yielded a decreased amount of finger-marking (10% or less
of decorated sherds) and thickness as well as an increase in Caliviny Polychrome
decoration (up to 50%) with grooving evident at approximately 110-120 cm depth
(Drewett 1991:61). Scratched ware is very rare at Silver Sands. Rim forms become
more elaborate at higher levels. Vessel forms did not present clear patterns although
excurvate bowls, often finger-marked and footed, occurred frequently at upper layers.
These changes in ceramic characteristics seem to occur around the 50 cm depth in
Context 2. Ceramic feet were found frequently, as much as 7.5% of all sherds in the 30-
40 cm layer. Griddle sherds were found throughout the trench and all were footed except
one at the 90-100 cm depth. Other noteworthy ceramics included unusually-decorated
sherds, possible spindle whorls, a partial body stamp, a large incense burner, and two
The 1989 excavation at Silver Sands exhibited a poorly-defined stratigraphy but a
dense deposit of Suazoid pottery. Rogers performed a sherd unit of analysis on the 9,866
sherds recovered from trenches 5-11 at Silver Sands. She had "no doubt" that the pottery
found at the site belonged to the Bullens' Suazey series (Drewett 1991:67). Sherds in
trenches 5-11 reached a depth of approximately 60 cm with little intra-site variation in
pottery. Only 54 sherds, or 0.6% of the entire assemblage, exhibited decoration (Drewett
1991:69). Rogers suggests that the eleven striated sherds, representing 0.1% of the total
sherd count, may have resulted from the brushing of a slip or paint onto the pottery which
subsequently eroded during deposition (Drewett 1991:69). Rogers believed that the
striations evident on Silver Sands sherds did not appear decorative and were unlikely to
be the same phenomenon described by the Bullens (Drewett 1991:73). The 21 painted
sherds represented 0.2% of the entire sherd assemblage. Fingernail-decoration accounted
for 64% of the decorated rim sherds, 7% of the total rim count, and only 1% of the total
sherds (Drewett 1991:71, 73). Griddles were identified by flatness and thickness using
C.N.C. Roach (1938c) as a guide. No evidence of footed griddles was found although
477 pot "legs" were recovered. The 1,421 samples were dominated by rounded (42%)
and flattened (29%) lip forms (Drewett 1991:71). Twenty-three adornos may have been
attached to effigy vessels, but little attempt was made to reconstruct them (Drewett
1991:73, 75, 77). A radiocarbon date of A.D. 1300 +/- 100 years was obtained from a
human long bone from Burial 3 in Trench 6.
The analyses of the ceramic assemblages from Chancery Lane and Silver Sands
yielded some patterns. Thicker sherds were found more toward the top layers. Cream
slipped surfaces were more frequent in layers postdating Saladoid/Barrancoid sherds and
predating finger-marking. Red slipping was found on Saladoid/Barrancoid sherds as well
as Troumassoid. Although scratched ware was infrequent, it seemed to correlate with
Caliviny Polychrome, not finger-marking. This evidence seems to support the hypothesis
that Caliviny and Suazey ceramics were produced by the same group of people (Drewett
1991:87). The increase in sites during Suazoid times on Barbados and the increased use
of calcareous tempers may indicate adaptation to formerly marginal areas infrequently
used by the Saladoid (Drewett 2004:219). There was no evidence of Cayo or Cayoid
pottery loosely associated with the Island Caribs. Harris suggested that the elaborately
decorated archaeological material at Silver Sands, much of which included imported non-
ceramic artifacts I have not discussed, may represent a "late florescence" of the Suazoid
people that was left undisturbed by migrating Island Caribs (Drewett 1991:95, 97).
Ann Cody Holdren on Grenada
A considerably different approach to late prehistoric archaeology and ethnohistory
in the Lesser Antilles or Eastern Caribbean is that of Ann Cody Holdren. Holdren
hypothesized that the term Island Carib or Caraibe is used to represent a multi-ethnic
polity that left different ceramic assemblages on each island they inhabited (Holdren
1998: xxi, xxii). She supports her argument with ethnohistoric and archaeological
evidence from Grenada.
Holdren used European ethnohistoric and historic documents referring to the
Caraibe to suggest a greater archaeological heterogeneity in the Amerindian Eastern
Caribbean than was previously believed by many archaeologists (Holdren 1998:38).
Through the use of a direct historical approach and a reticulate model, Holdren suggests
that historical documents indicate that the Caraibe were not a single ethnic unit but a
confederation of multiple ethnic groups with separate origins (Holdren 1998:32-35, 38).
European accounts indicate that both Caraibe and South American Galibi lived on
Grenada, the latter group having arrived by at least the mid-seventeenth century (Holdren
1998:6, 38). The Caraibe seem to be associated with the northern half of Grenada and
the Galibi with the southern half (Holdren 1998:72). The Savanne Suazey site,
designated P3 by Holdren, was loosely associated with the Caraibe half of the island
Holdren compared the ethnohistoric data with the archaeological evidence from
Grenada in an attempt to find groups and the relationships between them and support the
prediction that "multiple and varied pottery complexes will be associated with Caraibe
archaeological sites" (Holdren 1998:8, 74). A multivariate ceramic vessel unit of
analysis not associated with previous typologies was used to examine 766 vessels
recovered in 1994 from Grenada (Holdren 1998:76). Five sites were chosen for
subsurface excavation, including two "Caraibe" and two "Galibi" sites and the Savanne
Suazey type site for Suazey pottery previously excavated by Bullen in 1962 (Holdren
1998:73). Although Holdren stated that she did not emphasize particular attributes, she
selected 40 vessel attributes as units of analysis (Holdren 1998:74, 76). The majority of
the attributes compared were stylistic, Holdren did not include metric measurements such
as vessel diameter and thickness (Holdren 1998:225). Holdren believed it would have
been inappropriate to use relative percentages of vessel types because variables are not
mutually exclusive, only the presence or absence of particular attributes was recorded
Holdren recovered artifacts similar to the ones recovered by Bullen from the four
units she excavated at the Savanne Suazey site (Holdren 1998:207, Figure 3-3). Unit
8.5N/21W yielded unidentified linear iron fragments, a hand-wrought nail head, abundant
faunal remains, two diorite beads, and charcoal AMS dated to around A.D. 1245
(Holdren 1998:207-208). Unit 5N/17W contained iron fragments, a diorite bead blank,
three unidentified worked-shell artifacts, and a posthole feature with charcoal that dated
to approximately A.D. 970 (Holdren 1998:209). Unit 3.5N/19.5W contained two iron
fragments and three historic ceramic sherds "composed of orange-yellow clay with very
coarse quartz temper" (Holdren 1998:210). A pit burial containing two individuals was
excavated in Unit 1.5S/17W and the associated charcoal was dated to about A.D. 1170
(Holdren 1998:210-212). Holdren published several historic period radiometric dates
from the "NE LOCUS" of the Savanne Suazey site but failed to discuss them in her
dissertation (Holdren 1998:246). These historic dates would have helped to support
Figure 3-3. Southern area of the Savanne Suazey site.
Holdren's hypothesis regarding the connection between Suazey pottery and historic
indigenous ethnic groups.
Holdren analyzed several pottery attributes that can be compared with my own
analysis. The 162 vessels recovered from the Savanne Suazey site were separated into 55
"display only vessels", 63 "utilitarian only vessels", and 44 plain vessels without
functional indicators (Holdren 1998:108-109). Nine griddles, 6% of the total number of
vessels, were identified. Only one griddle "foot" was recovered. (Holdren 1998:109, 83-
84) Temper appeared to consist of local rhyolite (Holdren 1998:89). Striations were
found on 20% of the vessels and finger/fingernail-indented rims from only two vessels or
1% of the total assemblage (Holdren 1998:81-82). Little data was offered about red-
slipping except that it was present on vessels from unit 5N/17W and absent from those
from unit 8.5N/21W (Holdren 1998:232). Of the 98 rims excavated from the site, a mean
diameter of 28.5 cm was calculated (Holdren 1998:88).
Holdren could not definitely associate the indigenous pottery from the Savanne
Suazey site with either "Caraibe" or "Galibi" attributes. Depending upon the variables
used, the Savanne Suazey site exhibits characteristics associated with both ethnic groups
(Holdren 1998:99). Although predicated on rather unconvincing results, Holdren
suggested that "at least two distinct groups resided in Grenada" (Holdren 1998:100).
Holdren supports Allaire's belief that Suazoid pottery evolved in situ but insists that it
exhibits "Galibi" influence (Holdren 1998:102, 112). She suggests that the use of
stylistic attributes in her analysis and the unclear results she obtained may indicate that
differences between groups may not have been emphasized (Holdren 1998:112).
What Do We Know About the Suazoid?
What do we know about the people who made Suazoid pottery? Generally, they
lived at coastal sites on the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles around A.D. 1000-
1500. Suazan people ate cassava, terrestrial and marine animals, and probably a lot of
foods we haven't found preserved yet. Posthole evidence leads us to believe that they
lived in round houses in villages of unknown size and orientation. In contrast to the
ballcourts and built ceremonial areas of the Taino, obvious monumental construction is
not evident in the Windward Islands. Suazoid material remains consist mostly of
ceramics with some lithic and shell artifacts. It seems clear from the archaeological
literature that the Suazoid series demonstrates considerable heterogeneity within an
overall trend of ceramic simplification from earlier times. Did these ceramic changes
occur as a result of invasion(s) from South America, as Marshall B. McKusick and
Ripley P. Bullen believed, or do they suggest an indigenous development from either the
Troumassoid or Saladoid series?
What happened to the Suazan people? McKusick and Bullen supported the
hypothesis that the indigenous people of the Windward Islands were invaded and
replaced by Suazoid-making Caribs from the South American coast. Allaire rejected this
version of the "Carib invasion" hypothesis based on the fact that the pottery of the Island
Caribs of the 1600's on Martinique did not resemble the archaeological Suazoid series.
Louis Allaire discussed both an acculturation and a migration hypothesis to explain the
sudden disappearance of the Suazoid series from the archaeological record (Allaire
1977:363-367). Peter L. Drewett suggested that, at least on Barbados, the Suazan people
were left undisturbed by migrating Island Caribs but offers no explanation for their
disappearance. Ann Cody Holdren promoted the idea that multiple Amerindian groups
inhabited the Windward Islands contemporaneously in both the prehistoric and historic
time periods. The answer may lie in the combination of acculturation and migration
hypotheses. If the Arawakan-Cariban language had already been introduced in to the
Lesser Antilles as a trade language, acculturation and migration from South America
would have been facilitated. Prolonged contact between the Windward Islands and South
America may have influenced material and ideological production through trade, conflict,
and migration. The Island Caribs may have "conquered" a region and a people already
familiar to them through regular contact.
I predict that a vessel unit of analysis of the pottery from the Savanne Suazey site
on Grenada will reveal patterns different from previous archaeological ceramic analyses
in the Caribbean. The importance of this methodology will be demonstrated through the
comparison of my results with other archaeological analyses, including the original sherd
level of analysis performed by Ripley P. Bullen. I will briefly describe the methodology
I used and report the results of my analysis.
I have conducted a vessel unit of analysis of the ceramic assemblage excavated
from the Savanne Suazey type site on Grenada in an attempt to identify patterns that
would not otherwise be evident. Ripley P. Bullen (1964) performed a sherd unit of
analysis on the assemblage that emphasized what he believed were Suazey "diagnostic"
traits such as decorative scratching and finger-indented rims. I believe that my analysis
will provide a different perspective from that of Bullen and other archaeologists that have
studied Suazoid ceramics.
Why Study Whole Vessels?
A vessel unit of analysis of ceramics is a useful tool from which to infer human
behavior from the archaeological record. A fundamental concept in pottery analysis is
that whole pots were tools that were designed for a function or functions, whether those
were cooking, serving, storage, ideological, or any number of other uses (Braun
1983:107-108). Past peoples manufactured pots with the primary intention of using them
for some purpose as whole vessels.
Use of the most appropriate and comparable unit of analysis in the study of
ceramics is a fundamental issue in archaeology (Skibo et al. 1989). Traditional units of
analysis, sherds and "diagnostic" traits, are not easily comparable to the human behavior
that created them. People did not make and interact with sherds but whole pots, at least
until they were broken. The reconstruction of vessels allows archaeologists to view
individual stylistic properties within the context of the entire vessel. Analyses of
individual sherds are useful but cannot adequately describe characteristics associated with
complete vessels, such as technofunctional properties and overall decoration.
The study of technofunctional characteristics of whole ceramic vessels can provide
insight into past human behavior. Technofunctional or morphotechnological
characteristics are attributes of shape and technology closely associated with the
suitability of a vessel for a particular function (Rice 1987:207, 210; 1996:138). Plain
pots in particular were often designed to function as utilitarian tools. The study of use-
related technotechnical properties of ceramics requires the analysis of whole vessels
(Rice 1996:140). The use of experimental archaeology to assess technofunctional
properties of mechanical performance characteristics helps to support inferences about
A vessel unit of analysis provides better data than a sherd unit of analysis. Proper
refitting and sorting of ceramic vessels reduces the overestimation of the minimum
number of vessels (MNV) inherent in sherd analyses (Rice 1987:291) The frequency of
redundantlyy recorded design elements" is also reduced where sherds from vessels that
were partially decorated would likely have been sorted as separate pots with distinctly
different stylistic characteristics. (Skibo et al. 1989:388-391, 394-397). A vessel unit of
analysis does not eliminate the subjectivity and uncertainty involved in interpreting
archaeological cermics, but it does reduce them substantially.
Distinct stylistic attributes of archaeological ceramic artifacts have long been the
focus of archaeological study in the Caribbean. Archaeologists have used culture-
historical approaches to establish diagnostic traits from which to categorize assemblages
into archaeological cultures. Although this perspective has been criticized for its
disassociation from actual past human behavior, most Caribbean archaeologists continue
to conduct ceramic sherd unit of analyses focused on stylistic traits that rely upon
typologies constructed within a cultural-historical perspective. It seems that vessel unit
of analyses have been avoided because they are more costly in time and effort than sherd
unit of analyses and are considered unnecessary in the process of identifying
archaeological cultures from diagnostic traits evident on individual sherds.
Although numerous Caribbean archaeologists have suggested the use of vessel
analyses, few have actually performed them (Bullen and Bullen 1972:129; Rouse
1939:139; 157). Instead, archaeologists use the rare whole pot or unusually large sherd to
extrapolate the entire range of vessel forms for ceramic assemblages. Notable exceptions
are the vessel unit of analyses performed by Christopher T. Espenshade in Puerto Rico
and Louis Allaire, Peter O' B. Harris, and Emily R. Lundberg in the Lesser Antilles
(Allaire 1977; Espenshade 1995, 2000; Harris 1995; Lundberg 2005).
Caribbean archaeologists have long discarded or failed to collect what they
considered non-diagnostic plain body sherds with little consideration for their value in
ceramic vessel reconstruction. Plain sherds are more difficult to sort than decorated ones
and have often been typologically oversimplified and discarded. However, this bias
disregards the existence of technological styles that represent expressions of choice when
faced with more than one possibility. Technological style results from the compromise of
certain vessel attributes that affect the function of the product, in this case ceramic
vessels. Archaeologists need to realize that technological style can be just as important
as decorative style.
The use of both vessel unit and sherd unit of analyses is probably the most
appropriate course of action for archaeologists (Mills 1989:134). In comparison to a
sherd unit of analysis, a vessel unit of analysis offers a wider range of data at the expense
of greater time, money, and effort. Archaeologists must decide what method at what time
is most appropriate to use for answering particular research questions within limitations.
Certain problems affect all ceramic analyses and the interpretations of the
archaeological data. The complex behavior and meanings involved in ceramic
production and use in the past cannot be directly observed and must be inferred through
analogy. The comparisons made between the information from the static material record
and the dynamic human behavior that produced it are subject to many biases and
uncertainties. The difficulty involved in explaining past material variability necessitates
the use of all available sources of information to construct plausible ideas from which
develop our understanding of the human past.
One specific problem for any analysis of archaeological ceramics is the issue of
"use-life" and deposition rate. The lifespan of any particular vessel type dramatically
affects the rate of ceramic deposition and the number of vessels and sherds deposited in
the archaeological record (David and Hennig 1972:19; DeBoer 1974:335; Mills
1989:134). Ethnoarchaeological studies show that a variety of uses for specific
functional groups of ceramics can affect the use-life and deposition of vessels, such as the
lower "life expectancy" of serving vessels broken intentionally during feasts (DeBoer
2001:229). Factors such as the thinness or size of a vessel can affect both the rate of
breakage and the number of sherds deposited in the archaeological record (Rice
The reuse of ceramic vessels after breakage is another factor that can confuse
archaeological interpretations. Deal and Hagstrum (1994:127) suggest that the rare
occurrence of whole vessel reconstructions may be the result of the reuse of sherds for
secondary purposes. Large sherds could have been used as plates or firedogs. I have
found that Savanne Suazey vessel bases are rare finds, perhaps they were reused for other
purposes after breakage. It is also possible that a lack of complete vessels can result from
the abandonment of a site as people discarded broken pots and brought whole ones with
them (Deal and Hagstrum 1994:121).
Taphonomic processes transform material culture and often obscure patterns that
represent the behavior of those people that created, interacted with, and deposited the
artifacts we recover. Archaeologists must consider the role that differential preservation
and other taphonomic processes have altered the condition and context of archaeological
The condition of the collection before I began my analysis was the result of
unknown collection and curative procedures. I do not know if the assemblage was
thoroughly washed or rewashed upon arrival at the FLMNH. Intense scrubbing could
have removed valuable use-wear evidence. Otherwise, the sherds appeared well-
preserved with relatively clean breakages and little erosion. One significant problem was
the overall incompleteness of the collection as compared to Bullen's inventory, a problem
discussed in the results section.
I found no evidence that an archaeological vessel reconstruction was ever
attempted on the Savanne Suazey ceramic assemblage stored at the FLMNH. Not one
sherd had been glued to another. Sherds were organized into labeled boxes that identified
them according to the ceramic typology devised by Bullen (1964), not by vessel.
Sorting and Refitting
I began my analysis by sorting and labeling the sherds according to the provenience
number given by Bullen. Seven series of numbers were used to label the sherds from the
collection, from 98006 to 98012. I organized these series into groups and added
sequential numbers with B-72 and black ink in an effort to keep track of individual
My first attempt to perform a vessel unit of analysis on the Savanne Suazey
collection was cursory to say the least. I had attempted to conduct the analysis in only
one semester for Professor Kenneth Sassaman's archaeological ceramics class at the
University of Florida in the spring of 2002. Even after I had limited my study to trench
C, I found myself overwhelmed and I resorted to a sherd unit of analysis to expedite the
work. My findings encouraged me to continue analysis of the collection for my thesis.
Sorting and refitting of the sherds took a considerable amount of time. For
approximately 1.5 years, I sorted, resorted, and refitted the 1,296 sherds until I was
satisfied that the collection had been thoroughly organized. Preservation was generally
good with clean breaks often evident. Much of the difficulty I encountered resulted from
the low level of obvious variation within the assemblage. It was necessary to become
intimately familiar with the collection to the point that I could remember individual
sherds and vessels. This familiarity was one reason that I did not lump the sherds into
less stringently delineated lots at the risk of splitting the assemblage into areal vessel-
units. Although a certain amount of subjectivity will always be inherent in any ceramic
analysis, the proper refitting of sherds by vessel unit of analysis can help to limit the bias
inherent in a sherd unit of analysis. The presence of abundant fresh breaks without
matching sherds has led me to believe that Bullen had discarded many sherds before his
inventory was conducted. Sherds were refitted with pH-neutral glue and set in sand-filled
boxes until dry. Refitted and single sherds were sorted into vessel lots and placed into
Sorting was achieved through the comparison of similarities and differences in
vessel characteristics. My initial attempt to organize the assemblage focused upon more
distinct characteristics such as surface treatment and rim form, similar to previous
studies. I soon discovered that distinct surface treatments were uncommon and I
incorporated attributes such as color, thickness, and curvature. I then attempted to refit
sherds but found that numerous fresh breaks were still unmatched and that further sorting
would be required. After I had resorted the assemblage at least four times and included a
rough paste analysis, I finished refitting the sherds with glue.
Vessel Unit Of Analysis And Measurements
Having sorted and refitted the sherds into vessel lots, I conducted appropriate
measurements and recorded the data for analysis. Using the excel program from
Windows 2000, I constructed 61 columns to record the data gathered from the analysis of
the 242 vessels used. I have recorded but excluded historic vessels, sherds of
questionable provenience, and non-pottery artifacts from the vessel unit of analysis but
will include them in my conclusions.
First, I recorded vessel characteristics and conducted measurements. Using a
printed excel spreadsheet I began by recording 29 columns of data in pencil. After
conducting the first simple analysis, I found that many more categories were required and
I reanalyzed the assemblage.
Determining the orifice diameters and vessel profiles of the assemblage were
fundamental to the vessel unit of analysis. The Savanne Suazey assemblage displayed
little variability in orifice shape and it can be assumed that roughly circular orifice
diameters are present with few exceptions. An orifice diameter chart was used to
determine the diameter in centimeters of any rim measurable and the percent of the total
rim present. To avoid using rims too small to be accurately measured, I recorded but did
not include rims under 5% of the total vessel rim in the analysis. Rims used to measure
orifice diameters were used to profile the vessel units. Orientation of the vessels was
accomplished by placing the rim on top of a flat surface and rotating it until as little light
as possible could be seen between the lip and the flat surface. A protractor was used to
measure the angles at which the majority of the profiled vessels were oriented.
Vessels types were established from the orifice diameter measurements and vessel
profiles. The assemblage displayed a relatively limited variety of vessel types with
excurvate bowls making up the majority of profiled vessels. I have employed inferred
use classifications such as "bowls" and "snuff pot" throughout my analysis in an effort to
simplify my terminology and make it more easily understood by other readers. Perhaps I
should have assigned arbitrary types to vessels instead of using labels infused with
subjective meaning. Vessel form was fairly easy to determine for all vessels except
griddles because it was difficult to separate vessel bases from griddle sherds until several
rounds of thorough sorting had been performed.
Although my original analysis was designed to study griddles and cassava
processing, it proved difficult to adequately profile griddles. I have therefore adjusted
my analysis to include several characteristics collected from griddles without adequate
The results of my vessel unit of analysis of the Savanne Suazey archaeological
ceramics assemblage are organized into categories based largely upon the sequence
within which the analysis was conducted. It was necessary to perform certain analyses
before others, such as the measurement of orifice diameters before the categorization of
size modes. I will describe only those factors important for this particular study.
Sampling and Inventory
Sampling was achieved through the use a vessel unit of analysis within a set of
predetermined conditions. After deciding I would use all available artifacts from the
Savanne Suazey assemblage, it became apparent that the assemblage was incomplete.
Only artifacts from trenches A, B, and C from the "southern area" had been stored at the
FLMNH. My units of analysis, whole vessels represented by individual sherds, were
organized according to a set of criteria into a profiled subsample that was used to suggest
patterning throughout the entire assemblage.
I was unable to locate a significant portion of the excavated sherds recovered from
the Savanne Suazey site. Artifacts from trenches A, B, and C from the "southern area"
were curated in the FLMNH but not those from trench D. The entire artifact assemblage
from the "northern area" could not be located at all. I contacted Mrs. Gene Pitt, the
manager of the Grenada National Museum, in October and November of 2003 and was
told that no artifacts from the 1962 Bullen excavation were kept on Grenada. Excluding
Bullen's publication (1964), I could not find any personal notes, maps, or other
references to the 1962 excavation in the FLMNH. All ceramic sherds were labeled in
black ink from 98006 (trench A level 0-6") to 98012 (trench C level 6-12").
Although the artifacts from one entire area and one trench are missing, there are
presently more artifacts in the collection than were recorded by Bullen for the upper
levels of trenches A and B. (Table 4-1) Four sherds from four different vessels (#49,
108, 137, and 195) were damaged during analysis and I was unable to read their labels
and assign them to specific proveniences. Ceramic artifacts not included in the primary
analysis included; one finger-indented sherd # 93 that was marked with an unknown
provenience number (A-75), a roller stamp and an adorno without numbers, and the 65
sherds that Bullen (1964) probably referred to as "Savanne Plain" ware. I partially
reconstructed the latter ceramics and had them identified as quartz-rich, historic spanish
tiles and I excluded them from my analysis based on the belief they were intrusions in an
otherwise intact site.
Table 4-1. Savanne Suazey Ceramic Artifact Inventories.
Inventory A (0-6") A (6-12") B (0-6") B (6-9") B (9-12") C (0-6") C (6-12") Unidentified Total
Bullen (1964) 408 100 181 111 27 301 104 0 1232
Keegan (1991) 386 98 262 110 27 301 105 0 1289
Donop (2005) 379 92 268 106 23 296 100 7 1271
Orifice Diameters and Profiling
Having established the sample universe for my research, I constructed a useful
vessel subsample using orifice diameters of profiled vessels fulfilling the criteria
discussed in the methods section. I determined the vessel type or form for 65 of the 242
or 27% of the total number of vessels used in the analysis. Out of the total 242 vessel
lots, 91 orifice diameters were recorded but only 65 measured greater than 4% of the total
rim. Although all 91 rims were profiled, only these 65 vessel units were used to create
vessel profiles from which most of my detailed vessel-unit analysis was conducted. Of
these vessel units, 15 did not extend three centimeters from the lip toward the
hypothesized base; one griddle, one plate, one incurvate bowl, and twelve excurvate
bowls. I included them considering the overall simplicity in vessel form exhibited by the
assemblage as determined by the other 50 profiles.
Vessel form distribution showed little variation in the Savanne Suazey assemblage.
The 65 profiled vessels used in the analysis are distributed by vessel form as follows; 50
(77%) excurvate bowls, three (5%) griddles, five (8%) incurvate bowls, two (3%) plates,
four (6%) straight bowls, and one (1%) possible snuff pot (Figure 4-1).
10 3 (5) (8 ) 4 (6%)
0 2(3) 1(1%)
EB GR IB PL SB SP
Figure 4-1. Frequency distributions of vessel types for 65 profiled vessels.
The analysis of profiled vessel orifice diameters revealed significant patterning
(Table 4-2). It was possible to organize excurvate bowls into size modes using the 50
orifice diameter measurements and statistical percentiles (Table 4-3). Descriptive
statistics performed on each size mode indicates a "normal" distribution within each
mode. Dividing the sample into thirds seemed to adequately assign size modes of small,
medium, and large for the excurvate bowls in this study (Figure 4-2).
Table 4-2. Descriptive Statistics of Orifice Diameters (cm) for All Profiled Vessels.
Vessels Type Mean Count Minimum Maximum Range Median
Excurvate bowls 27.20 50 6 44 38 27
Incurvate bowls 27.20 5 12 46 34 26
Straight bowls 26.00 4 20 38 18 23
Griddles 45.33 3 36 50 14 50
Plate 22.00 2 20 24 4 22
Snuff pot 2.00 1 2 2 0 2
Table 4-3. Descriptive Statistics of Orifice Diameter (cm) for Profiled, Excurvate Bowls.
Excurvate Bowl Size Mean Count Minimum Maximum Range Median
Large 38.00 14 32 44 12 38
Medium 27.89 18 26 30 4 28
Small 18.11 18 6 24 18 20
6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44
Orifice Diameters (cm)
Figure 4-2. Frequency distributions of orifice diameters for 50 excurvate bowls.
| | | | |
I have illustrated typical excurvate bowls by size mode using profiled, partial
vessels (Figure 4-3). I based the complete vessel reconstructions upon representative
profiles chosen for their similarity to the mean orifice diameters and mean degree wall
angles for each excurvate bowl size mode. I used the profiles from vessel numbers 25,
41, and 89. Some guesswork was necessary to complete the illustration of the large
excurvate bowl because the profile lacked much of the basal portion of the vessel.
Figure 4-3. Excurvate bowl vessel reconstructions
Frequencies in griddle forming and finishing techniques, use wear, and oxidation
seem to demonstrate patterning that can be used to properly orient griddles without
adequate rims (Table 4-4). The three profiled griddles (vessel #3,9,12) all exhibited
pressing, oxidation, and some form of use wear on the exterior bases. Two griddles had
smoothed interiors or cooking surfaces, the other was too badly worn to determine
finishing technique. Familiarity with the assemblage and the patterns demonstrated by
the few profiled griddles led me to classify 21 total vessels as probable griddles,
including the three already designated as such. I calculated the griddle to pot ratio for the
entire assemblage to be approximately 1:11 with about 1:12.5 at the lower proveniences
and a 1:9 ratio at the upper proveniences.
Table 4-4. Griddle Characteristics.
Total Griddles 21
Pressed Exterior Base 9
Interior Smoothing 16
Pressed Exterior and
Interior Smoothing 6
Interior Oxidation 7
Exterior Oxidation 18
Exterior Oxidation 6
Interior Attrition 6
Interior Cracking 3
Interior Pedestalling 2
Interior Pitting 0
Any Interior Use-Wear 9
Exterior Attrition 9
Exterior Pedestalling 7
Exterior Pitting 6
Any Exterior Use-Wear 17
Thickness measurements for the lip, body, and base for each vessel type
demonstrates some variability. The three modes of excurvate bowls demonstrate
unexpected differences, such as small bowls having thicker bodies than medium bowls
and thicker bases than any other mode. (Table 4-5) Measurements for incurvate and
straight bowls, plates, and the snuff pot were not included in the table due to the low
number of adequate samples. However, when bases for profiled and non-profiled
griddles are measured and compared to excurvate bowls, a significant difference is noted.
This difference may be helpful in determining whether individual sherds are from the
base or body of a vessel that exhibits little curvature or diversity of form, such as those in
the Savanne Suazey assemblage.
Table 4-5. Mean Thickness for Excurvate Bowls and Griddles.
Mean Thickness (mm)
Vessel Type Lip Body (3cm) Body (6cm) Base
All excurvate bowls 8.52 9.42 9.61 8.56
Large excurvate bowls 8.43 11.07 11.35 6.90
Medium excurvate bowls 8.15 8.35 7.02 7.16
Small excurvate bowls 8.97 9.00 10.00 10.60
Vessel weights were determined for the most complete vessels. Although few
vessels could even be roughly approximated, I have included the average weights for
profiled excurvate bowls. (Table 4-6)
Table 4-6. Weights for Profiled, Excurvate Bowls.
Vessel n Weight (g) Weight (lb)
Large 4 2918.2 6.4
Medium 3 1491.9 3.3
Small 4 956.9 2.1
Rim treatment was limited to finger-indention, a "horned" modification,
smoothing, and burnishing. The distribution of finger-indented rims among profiled
excurvate bowls demonstrates patterning. (Figure 4-4) Nine finger-indented rims of 65
(14%) profiled vessels were found on larger profiled excurvate bowls with a mean orifice
diameter of 32 cm. Nine more non-profiled vessels with finger-indented rims brought the
total to 18 of 140 (13%) of the total number of rims and 7% of the total number of
20 18 18
10 P g
EB EBS EBM EBL
Figure 4-4. Frequency distribution of finger-indented rims for 50 profiled, excurvate
One modified or "horned" rim treatment was found on the small excurvate bowl #98.
Smoothing was found on 3 of 14 or 21% of large excurvate bowls, 6 of 18 or 33% of
medium excurvate bowls, and 8 of 18 or 44% of small excurvate bowls. Smoothed rims
correlate well with smoothed interior and/or exterior body walls. The two burnished rims
were part of vessels entirely burnished.
Vessel lip morphology consisted of flat, round, and tapered forms. Flat lips were
found on 35% of the profiled vessels, round lips on 51%, and tapered lips on 14%. Seven
finger-indented lips from profiled vessels seem to have been flattened and then indented.
Coiling and scraping are the most prominent forming techniques visible on
Savanne Suazey ceramic vessels. Most vessels exhibited some evidence of the coiling
method used to manufacture the vessels. Scraping is evident on 30 of 65 (46%) profiled
vessels and 90 vessels or 37% of the total assemblage. However, scraping is evident on
much of the profiled excurvate bowls but is totally absent on all other profiled vessels,
probably due in large part to finishing techniques such as smoothing and burnishing that
obscure evidence of the process. Scraping was found on 12 of 14 (86%) of large
excurvate bowls, 11 of 18 (61%) of medium, and 7 of 18 (39%) of small excurvate
Finishing techniques included smoothing, burnishing, red-slipping, scratching, and
incision. I used smoothing, burnishing, and red-slipping as diagnostic of the "Caliviny"
ware described by Bullen and other archaeologists. Although polychrome painting is
considered a typical characteristic of the Caliviny, I could find only one possible
example. All red-slipped vessels were also smoothed.
Evidence for smoothing and burnishing was the most abundant finishing techniques
found on Savanne Suazey ceramic vessels. I found smoothed surfaces on 32 of 65 (49%)
profiled non-griddle vessels and 95 of 177 (54%) non-profiled vessels, a total of 53% of
the entire assemblage. (Figure 4-5) Burnishing was found on only three of 65 (5%)
profiled vessels and nine of 242 (4%) total vessels with one medium excurvate bowl, one
incurvate bowl, the snuff pot, and six other non-profiled vessels. Smoothing and
burnishing did not usually totally obscure evidence of forming techniques.
h i Total
54 E Smoothed
20 18 18
10 f t -, I-1 'i -
Figure 4-5. Frequency distributions of smoothing for 65 profiled vessels.
Red-slipping was found more frequently on certain types of vessels and size modes.
(Figure 4-6) No evidence of red slip was found on any large excurvate bowl, griddle,
plate, or the single snuff pot. Red slip was found on 9 of 65 (14%) profiled vessels and
23 of 177 (13%) non-profiled vessels for a total of 13% of the entire assemblage. The
percentage of red-slipping could have theoretically been as high as 24% if all vessel
surfaces had been preserved adequately. Variation in red-slipping between size modes of
excurvate bowls shows some patterning. (Figure 4-7) All red-slipped vessels are also
fine and smoothed or burnished, except small excurvate bowl # 221 and vessel #159.
The only possible polychrome example is vessel #172 from the upper level of trench A
which exhibited cracked white or gray paint on the exterior body and base of the vessel
with an otherwise all red-slipped interior, exterior, and rim.
E Red Slip
GR PL SP
Figure 4-6. Frequency distributions of red-slipping for 65 profiled vessels.
EB EBS EBM EBL
Figure 4-7. Frequency distributions of red-slipping for profiled, excurvate bowls.
5 0 0
S4 S 1 S
1~ 10 40
o Red Slip
Scratching and incision are two finishing techniques that are found to occur rarely
in the Savanne Suazey assemblage. Scratching was not found on any profiled vessels and
only seven of the 242 (3%) of the total vessels used in the analysis. Scratching was found
on both the interior and exterior. Incisions were found on only two non-profiled vessels,
the rim of #66 (98008) and the base of #241 (98011).
For purposes of comparison, decoration includes finger-indented rims, scratching,
red-slipping, and incision. Decoration occurs on 18 of 65 (28%) of profiled vessels and
59 of 242 (24%) of the total vessels. No vessel exhibited more than one type of
Use-wear evidence on profiled vessels did not demonstrate strong patterning.
Large excurvate bowls exhibited some interior (43%) and exterior (64%) body use-wear
with exterior sooting on 2 of 14 (14%) vessels. Small excurvate bowls exhibited attrition
on the exterior rim (22%), use-wear on the exterior body (39%), and interior sooting
Paste and Inclusions
I microscopically accessed all 242 vessels for inclusions and paste characteristics. I
found that the ceramic paste of the Savanne Suazey assemblage is relatively uniform in
types and sorting of inclusions. Hydrochloric acid (HCL) testing of samples of each
profiled vessel type revealed no presence of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) inclusions. I
used the presence of black mafic, clear quartz, and white volcanic or igneous inclusions
in 230 of 242 or 95% of the total number of vessels to suggest the classification of a
common "Savanne Suazey paste". The five profiled vessels not considered "Suazey" are
one large excurvate bowl #213, one medium excurvate bowl #16, one small excurvate
bowl #218, one incurvate bowl #185, and one straight bowl #223. I could not find
patterns to explain why 5% of the total assemblage exhibited a difference in paste.
There was no evidence of repair in the assemblage. It is possible that perishable
materials that were not preserved were used to glue the sherds together.
Relative dating by arbitrary level provided a rough estimate of the chronology of
the Savanne Suazey ceramic assemblage. Considering Bullen's method of excavation, I
chose to group the trench proveniences into six-inch deep upper and lower levels in an
effort to roughly estimate vertical provenience patterns.
I used vessel proveniences to determine the occurrence of certain characteristics
relative to the overall distribution of total vessels. (Table 4-7) The majority of the
assemblage was recovered from the upper level or top six inches (0-15 cm). Vessel type
frequency distributions did not vary significantly from that of total profiled vessels with
the exception of medium excurvate bowls, which were found more often in the lower
level than other types.
Table 4-7. Proveniences.
Upper Lower Both Total
All Vessel Types n % n % n % n %
Total profiled vessels 42 65 20 31 3 4 65 100
Total non-profiled vessels 128 72 34 19 15 9 177 100
Total 170 70 54 22 18 8 242 100
Total profiled vessels 4 44 1 12 4 44 9 100
Total non-profiled vessels 5 56 3 33 1 11 9 100
Total 9 50 4 22 5 28 18 100
Total profiled vessels 5 56 3 33 1 11 9 100
Total non-profiled vessels 17 74 6 26 0 0 23 100
Total 22 69 9 28 1 3 32 100
Smoothing or Burnishing
Total profiled vessels 19 60 10 31 3 9 32 100
Total non-profiled vessels 68 78 17 20 2 2 87 100
Total 87 73 27 23 5 4 119 100
COMPARISONS, CONCLUSIONS, AND SUGGESTIONS
The results of my vessel-unit analysis must be compared with other archaeological
research to reach any plausible conclusions. My focus on technofunctional ceramic
characteristics of the Savanne Suazey assemblage demands that I use experimental
archaeological data to help me interpret my findings. My conclusions must then be
compared with other archaeological work from the Caribbean in an effort to find
similarities and differences in ceramics on a regional scale. Finally, the combined data
must be used to address larger issues pertinent to the archaeology of the Caribbean,
specifically the late prehistoric Lesser Antilles.
Use and Function
Experimental data can assist archaeologists in determining probable functions and
specific uses for archaeological ceramics. Function refers to broad roles, activities, and
capacities for ceramics while use refers to the specific way or ways ceramics were used
for a particular purpose (Rice 1996a: 139). I use the term "function" to indicate the
suitability of a ceramic vessel for generalized tasks and "use" to refer to the specific
activity a vessel was involved in.
Particular characteristics of a pot may indirectly indicate that certain vessels were
more suited technofunctionally for specific tasks, but direct use-wear evidence can better
indicate actual vessel use. However, the seemingly more informative use-wear can be
misleading. Vessels may have been used for multiple types of activities that left different
and confusing patterns of use-wear. The reuse of vessels after breakage would have
further obfuscated evidence of primary use or uses. Poor preservation of perishable use-
wear evidence can further cloud the archaeological picture. This is why functional or
more specifically technofunctional interpretations using experimental data should be used
to enhance our understanding of archaeological ceramics. Deal and Hagstrum (1994)
suggested that paste and morphological characteristics better indicate the primary use of a
vessel while use-wear, breakage, and residues indicate secondary uses (Deal and
Hagstrum 1994:122-123). Although experimental data cannot definitively tell us that a
vessel was used for a specific purpose, it can help us to determine if a pot was suited for a
Comparison with Experimental Data
The comparison of my results with the data from experimental archaeology may
help explain some of the patterns revealed in my ceramic analysis. It must be stressed
that experiments do not exactly reproduce the conditions that existed when the
archaeological material, in this case pottery, was produced, used, and discarded. What I
suggest is that archaeologists use as many possible sources of data to help interpret what
we dig up, including experimental archaeology.
The relatively simple Savanne Suazey assemblage is particularly suited for a vessel
unit of analysis of technofunctional characteristics and interpretation using experimental
archaeology. The majority of vessels, 77% of the profiled vessels, are morphologically
simple with excurvate rims and open orifices, gradually sloping walls, and flat bases.
Decorations were found to be associated with certain vessel types and size modes.
Technofunctional or morphotechnological characteristics are closely related to the
suitability for a particular function such as processing, transport, and storage. (Rice
1987:207-208) The profiled vessels, the most complete and informative examples of the
assemblage, can be used to estimate the shape of the entire vessel and its constituent
parts. I have used experimental data to suggest the functions for specific vessel forms
and the reasons they were chosen by Savanne Suazey potters. I most often refer to the
more commonly found excurvate bowls.
The shape of the mouth of most of the Savanne Suazey ceramic vessels would have
facilitated evaporation and the manipulation of food contents. The most common rim
forms were excurvate with flat, rounded, and tapered lip forms. The open mouth of these
vessels would have caused the vessel contents to evaporate more quickly than a restricted
orifice (Hally 1986:279-281; Linton 1944:370). It would also have made the
manipulation of vessel contents easier, suggesting either a cooking or serving function
(Rice 1987:225). Ralph Linton (1944) suggested that a wide-mouth vessel would have
been better suited for warming or brief cooking than prolonged direct-fire boiling.
The bodies of the Savanne Suazey vessels suggest a concern for thermal and
mechanical properties. The gradually sloping walls of most of the vessels would have
helped to reduce mechanically induced fracture and cracking and increased the heat
absorption efficiency of the vessel (Braun 1983:118; Hally 1986:280-281). Although
thickness measurements varied somewhat throughout individual vessels, the frequent
presence of scraping indicates the deliberate attempt by Savanne Suazey potters to thin
the walls to appropriate thickness for specific purposes. Thermal shock resistance and
thermal conductivity would have been improved by thinning vessel walls to a fairly
uniform thickness (Braun 1983:118-119; Rice 1987:229; Rice 1999:32). This would
have made the vessel more suitable for direct-fire cooking. Conversely, the relatively
thicker walls of the small excurvate bowls would have made them susceptible to damage
caused by sudden changes in temperature and would have been unsuitable for direct-fire
cooking. However, thicker walls increase flexural strength and resistance to mechanical
stress (Braun 1983:118; Rice 1987:227; Rice 1999:32). The thick walls of the small
excurvate vessels may indicate a serving or storage function in which a resistance to
mechanical, not thermal stress, was of primary concern. An improved resistance to
mechanical stress is important considering that heavy use as a serving vessel would have
increased the chance of mechanical impact, the most common cause of vessel failure
(Bronitsky and Hamer 1986:90).
Although few bases were recovered and even fewer attached to reconstructed
vessels, the predominant flat basal form seems to indicate limited thermal properties with
good vessel stability. It is generally accepted that round-bottomed cooking vessels
facilitate heat absorption efficiency and reduce thermal and mechanical stress associated
with direct-fire cooking (Hally 1986:280; Mills 1986:10; Rice 1999:30). Flat bottoms
increase the surface area exposed to direct fire and create a heat trap in which the bottom
of the vessel is subjected to intense, localized heat that increases thermal stress (Schiffer
and Skibo 1987: 606). Also, because sharp angles increase thermal and mechanical stress
and collect moisture, the connection between a flat base and a wall is a weak point in the
vessel (Braun 1983:125; Rice 1987:231). An open vessel with angular joints at the base
is also less impact resistance (Schiffer and Skibo 1987:606). So why would anyone
produce flat-bottomed pots? One advantage is that a vessel with a flat base is more stable
and does not require firedogs or other supports to be positioned upright (Hally 1986:
279). Considering the thermal and mechanical disadvantages associated with flat bases,
the larger Savanne Suazey excurvate vessels seem ill-suited for direct-fire cooking.
However, the thinness of the bases also would have helped to offset some of the
disadvantages by increasing thermal conductivity. Prolonged simmering (850-880C)
instead of boiling (1000C or higher) would expose the vessel to lower temperatures that
could be controlled through a variety of methods. In fact, simmering would have
preserved the nutrients, facilitated processing of small animals and plants, and thickened
starchy root byproducts into a usable gel (Reid 1989:169-170; Rice 1999:32-33).
Seafoods can be cooked at low temperatures and some manioc could have been simmered
or boiled instead of baked on a griddle.
Inclusions and Temper
I could not identify specific patterns in paste characteristics of the Savanne Suazey
ceramic assemblage but I can offer general explanations for tempering as explained by
experimental archaeology. Temper is the deliberate addition of inclusions into the clay
paste in an effort to enhance certain characteristics of the vessel before and after firing.
Temper can be used to control plasticity and workability, porosity, drying time,
shrinkage, cracking, and the flexural strength of dried vessels before firing (Arnold
1985:211; Braun 1983:122-124). Specific factors such as grain size and the clay-to-
temper ratio also significantly affect unfired pottery. After firing, temper affects the
thermal and mechanical properties of the vessel (Braun 1983:122-123). The choice to
use specific types of temper usually involves availability and a compromise between
desirable and undesirable properties that affect the vessel in different ways.
The Savanne Suazey assemblage demonstrated little variation in inclusion or
temper type, size, roundness, or sorting. I found that a medium-grain, angular, sand with
fair sorting and frequent large angular inclusions was most common. It is possible that a
significant amount of the sand inclusions were natural although the abundant amount of
angular mineral grains suggests intentional tempering.
Sand tempering affects the drying time, strength, and workability of a ceramic
vessel before it is fired. Sand temper decreases the drying time of a vessel and reduces
the chance that it will be accidentally broken before firing (Schiffer and Skibo 1987:603;
Skibo et al. 1989:134). However, mineral tempers weaken unfired vessels and make
them more difficult to handle (Schiffer and Skibo 1987:604).
Sand temper has significant affects on thermal and mechanical properties of a
ceramic vessel during and after firing. Sand temper increases the porosity and
permeability of a vessel and reduces spelling damage by allowing expanding water vapor
to escape more easily during firing. At least one experiment concluded that the amount
of temper did not significantly affect weight loss due to water vapor during firing
(Bronitsky and Hamer 1986:95; Rye 1976:117). Sand temper also increases the heating
effectiveness and impact resistance of a fired vessel (Schiffer and Skibo 1987:605-606;
Skibo et al. 1989:131). The grain size of a sand temper is an important consideration
because smaller grains increase flexural strength and resistance to crack initiation,
thermal shock, and impact but decrease resistance to crack propagation (Braun 1983:122-
123; Bronitsky and Hamer 1986:95). However, large voids or irregular inclusions or
temper help to limit the extent that cracks spread once they have begun (Bronitsky and
Hamer 1986:97). The finer sand temper with frequent large inclusions found in Savanne
Suazey ceramics may demonstrate an attempt by indigenous potters to combine the
benefits of both smaller and larger grained sand tempers. Considering that the sand
temper used by Savanne Suazey potters was probably from the nearby beach, expediency
was probably a factor in the choice of this particular temper.
Surface treatments have significant effects on the performance of ceramic vessels.
Although Savanne Suazey ceramics exhibited a limited range of surface treatments, each
one has specific properties.
Although it is often interpreted as a lack of concern for the overall finish of
utilitarian vessel types, unfinished scraping could also represent a means to improve
vessel performance (Rice 1987:138). Only excurvate bowls, particularly larger ones,
exhibited scraping. The roughened surface may have been easier to grip and the
increased surface area may have facilitated drying (Rice 1999:30; Schiffer et al.
1994:209). Scraping, a type of texturing or roughening, may have had a considerable
effect on thermal properties. Several archaeologists suggest that surface texturing may
increase thermal shock resistance as a result of increased permeability and reduced crack
propagation and interior tensile stress (Rice 1996:141, 148; Rice 1999:30; Sassaman and
Rudolphi 2001:413; Schiffer et al. 1994:202, 204, 207, 209-210). Heating effectiveness
may or may not be improved by scraping (Hally 1986:280; Rice 1996a:141; Rice
1999:30; Schiffer et al. 1994:204). The increased surface area seems to have inhibited
spelling by allowing steam to escape more readily and may also have improved the fuel-
efficiency of initial firing large pots by allowing heat to penetrate the vessel more easily
and uniformly (Schiffer et al. 1994:208, 210). The scraping evident on larger excurvate
bowls in the Savanne Suazey assemblage may indicate an attempt to increase the chance
of successful firing and enhance the thermal shock resistance for vessels used in direct-
Scratching or shallow texturing would have provided similar benefits as scraping.
However, I found that scratching was often performed over scraping and would have
been unnecessary from a technofunctional point of view.
Smoothing and burnishing diminish the permeability of a ceramic vessel. A
decreased permeability, especially on the interior of a vessel, reduces heat absorption and
increases the likelihood of spelling (Rice 1996:141, 148; Rye 1976:205). Burnishing
further decreases permeability and accentuates the thermal stress and damage caused by
intense direct-fire cooking. A smoothed or burnished ceramic vessel with a low surface
permeability would be desirable as containers for liquids and would have made cleaning
Few ceramic vessel attachments were identified from the Savanne Suazey
assemblage. Only one agouti adorno, one anthropomorphic head adorno, and one
"double-horned handle" were recovered. The lack of legs and handles may indicate the
reliance upon flat vessel bases and non-ceramic tools for vessel stability and
manipulation. Considering the role of attachments in transferring vessels, Savanne
Suazey pottery was probably not designed for frequent movement (Rice 1987:226)
It was difficult to identify patterns in use-wear evidence. Direct evidence of
cooking, such as sooting and carbonized food remains, was very rarely preserved.
Although I found oxidation to be common, I could not differentiate between oxidation
from use and oxidation from initial firing. Considering the overall good preservation of
the ceramics, it is difficult to explain why so little evidence of use-wear was found. It is
possible that multiple uses and reuses of the vessels obscured primary use-wear evidence
and confused the overall patterning (Deal and Hagstrum 1994:122-123). In addition, it is
possible that sooting on the sherds was removed if the artifacts were thoroughly washed
or scrubbed before curation in the 1960s.
The few examples of sooting on profiled vessels hint at the possible function for
certain vessel types and size modes. I found that only 2 of 14 (14%) large excurvate
bowls exhibited sooting on the exterior body. This suggests that these vessels were used
in direct-fire cooking. Only one small excurvate bowl exhibited sooting, and this was
found on the interior of the vessel. This could mean that this vessel was used to contain
some sort of burnt material.
Combining Vessel Characteristics
Studying the combination of the technofunctional characteristics of the constituent
parts of a ceramic vessel is the most important aspect of using experimental
archaeological data to interpret findings from a vessel-unit analysis. A vessel with a flat
base or exterior decoration does not limit it to indirect fire use. Many ethnographic
examples describe the use of pottery with seemingly poor individual technofunctional
attributes having been used in ways not predicted by experimental findings. What does
the combination of technofunctional characteristics for particular vessel types and modes
of Savanne Suazey pottery indicate?
Excurvate bowls seem to have been designed for different functions according to
size modes. My suggestions regarding possible functions are based on the study of the
combinations of vessel characteristics and their technofunctional properties.
Large excurvate bowls were found to have been suited for low-level, direct-fire
cooking or simmering. The open or unrestricted mouths would have facilitated easy
manipulation of food contents but would have increased the rate of water vapor
evaporation. This orifice design would not have allowed for intense direct-fire boiling of
liquid food contents for a sustained period of time without boiling dry. However,
activities such as salt processing that rely upon boiling off water to produce a solid
product would have been made easier. I found that the gradually sloping bodies of the
profiled, large excurvate bowls had been deliberately scraped to thin and form the walls
to presumably appropriate thicknesses for certain functions. Thinner, fairly uniform
walls would have improved thermal shock resistance and thermal conductivity while the
gradual slope of the walls reduced mechanically induced damage and improved heat
absorption efficiency. The high incidence of unfinished scraping also points to a concern
for thermal properties, especially an increased thermal shock resistance, and possibly
gripability. However, the flat bases of Savanne Suazey pottery seem to indicate that
intense direct-fire cooking was not the primary function of these vessels. Flat bases
increase thermal stress and create angular weak points where the bottom meets the walls.
Flat-bottomed vessels are more stable and do not require supports, in fact, no ceramic
firedogs, stands, or legs were recovered from the Savanne Suazey site. Use of a local
sand temper would have facilitated drying of the unfired vessel and promote useful
thermal and mechanical properties. Large, excurvate bowls exhibit a compromise
between good thermal and mechanical properties and easy use. The scraping and flat
bases would have made carrying and positioning of the vessels easier. Perhaps these
vessels were used for the simmering of maritime resources that did not require prolonged
Medium, excurvate bowls demonstrate a combination of vessel characteristics
suitable for cooking and serving. I found that these vessels exhibited unrestricted mouths
similar in form to large excurvate bowls. The gradually sloping walls were thinner than
either large or small excurvate bowls and exhibited a substantial amount of scraping and
smoothing and some red-slipping. The few bases that were recovered were flat.
Medium, excurvate bowls seem to combine the technofunctional characteristics of typical
cooking and serving vessels and were perhaps used for both purposes.
Small, excurvate bowls exhibited characteristics that seem suited for serving or
storage functions. Small orifices and presumably small volumes are not conducive to
direct-fire cooking of significant amounts of food. However, the openness of the vessels
made manipulation of the contents easier. The sloping walls and flat bases of the small,
excurvate bowls were relatively thick and would have increased thermal stresses but
increased flexural strength and resistance to mechanical breakage. The incidence of
unfinished scraping is significantly less than those of large or medium excurvate bowls
while the frequency of smoothing and red-slipping is greater. Less scraping and more
smoothing would have decreased permeability and increased thermal shock resistance.
The unsuitability of small, excurvate bowls for cooking combined with the simple, easy
to use form suggests a serving and/or storage function for these small vessels in which
they were not often subjected to direct-fire but intensive handling.
Griddles are suited for the well-documented cassava processing found throughout
indigenous Caribbean, Central American, and South American communities. Frequent
evidence of unfinished exterior basal pressing, presumably onto a flat surface during
manufacture, indicates ease of production. Exterior basal oxidation represents initial
firing placement and probably direct-fire cooking orientation. Frequent exterior use-wear
may indicate that firedogs were used to elevate the griddles above the fire. The high
incidence of interior smoothing would have facilitated the manufacture of cassava cakes
or other food products. Griddles were no doubt used to prepare cassava but it is not
known whether other products were also processed on griddles as well.
Incurvate bowls, plates, straight bowls, and the single snuff pot were suited to be
primarily serving or storage vessels. Due to the infrequent occurrence of these vessel
forms in my profiled sample, I cannot confidently state the functions for each type. The
restricted orifice of the incurvate bowls suggests a storage function as it would have
limited the manipulation of the vessel contents. Plates were obviously used for serving
and the probable snuff pot for the inhalation of a tobacco product. All of these vessel
forms exhibited a high level of smoothing. I found red-slipping only on a few incurvate
and straight bowls. Incurvate and straight bowl orifice diameters were very similar to the
mean diameters of medium excurvate bowls and may have functioned in the same way.
My vessel unit of analysis demonstrated significant patterning in vessel
characteristics with specific technofunctional properties. Large, excurvate bowls and
griddles represent vessels used primarily for low-intensity, direct-fire cooking. As the
size of the excurvate vessel decreases, typical cooking characteristics decrease in
frequency in favor of ones that are more suited for serving or storage, as are the much
less frequent non-excurvate bowl forms. A concern for manipulabilityy" is demonstrated
by surface texturing, unrestricted orifices, flat bases and the fact that no very large
vessels, larger than 44cm in diameter, were recovered. Savanne Suazey pottery
demonstrates simple solutions to functional concerns.
At this point in my paper something should be said about the supposed diagnostic
traits of the Suazoid ceramic series. Finger-indented rims were found only on excurvate
bowls and most frequently on larger vessels. There is probably no technofunctional
explanation for these lip indentations and I consider these decorations. Scratching
probably imparts some technofunctional advantages similar to unfinished scraping, but it
is unclear why a potter would scratch over scrape and I therefore also include this
finishing technique as decoration. Lastly, functional ceramic legs attached to vessels and
especially griddles are often considered typical Suazoid traits. Not even one leg was
recovered by Bullen from the Savanne Suazey type site.
Comparison with Previous Work
Analyzing my data in the context of other archaeological work is the next step
toward a more complete understanding of the Suazoid ceramic series of the Lesser
Antilles. Using the information from Chapter 3, I will compare my results to those of
other archaeologists in an attempt to uncover patterning.
Comparison with Bullen
I have compared my results with those of Ripley P. Bullen, the archaeologist that
excavated the Savanne Suazey assemblage. I have used only Bullen's data regarding
prehistoric artifacts from trenches A thru C because I could not find the artifacts from
trench D and I excluded historic artifacts from my primary analysis. I have calculated
percentages for various categories using the data from Bullen's Table 2 (Bullen 1964:12).
The comparison between my vessel unit of analysis and the sherd unit of analysis
performed by Bullen on the same artifact assemblage yielded some interesting results.
(Table 5-1) Both finger-indention and red-slipping were underrepresented by Bullen in
comparison to my analysis while scratching was considerably overrepresented. In
Bullen's analysis, only 27 of 1,149 (2%) sherds exhibited finger-indention compared to
the 9 of 65 (14%) profiled vessels, 18 of 140 (13%) total rims, and 18 of 242 (7%) total
vessels identified by myself. Red-slipping was found on 59 of 1,149 (5%) of the sherds
in Bullen's analysis but 9 of 65 (14%) of the profiled vessels and 32 of 242 (13%) of the
total number of vessels in my analysis. Bullen categorized 120 of 1,149 (10%) sherds as
scratched while I found that there was no scratching on profiled vessels and only 7 of 242
(3%) total vessels.
Table 5-1. Comparison of Bullen (1964) and Donop (2005)*
Ceramic unit of analysis Sherd Vessel
Dates AD 1400 NA
Sherd count 1,149 1,219
MNV NA 242
Profiled vessel forms NA Excurvate (77%)
Temper Grit Sand
Orifice diameter mean (cm) NA 27.4
Wall thickness mean (mm) 8-12 Excurvate 9.42 (3cm), 9.61 (6cm)
Griddle % total 11 9 total, 5 profiled
Griddle legs 0 0
Legs 0 0
Decoration % total 30 24 total, 28 profiled
Finger-indented rims % total 2 7 total, 14 profiled
Red slipping % total 5 13 total, 14 profiled
Scratching % total 10 3 total, 0 profiled
Only prehistoric sherds and vessels used in comparison.
The provenience patterns in my analysis do not support Bullen's typology or his
Carib invasion hypothesis. Finger-indented rims, a supposed Suazey/Carib trait, did not
occur primarily in the upper six-inch level. Red-slipping, a trait associated with the
"Caliviny" series, was not found primarily in the lower six-inch level. Four scratched
vessels of the total seven were found in the upper level. These ceramic vessel patterns do
not support the hypothesis that Caliviny-producing Arawaks were invaded by Sauzey-
making Caribs. In fact, these patterns demonstrate that the entire assemblage seems to be
one ceramic series with varying degrees of refinement and decoration.
Comparison with Other Suazoid Archaeology
A comparison of my results with those of the archaeologists I have described in
chapter 3 revealed a lot of variation. We must keep in mind, as demonstrated above, that
results from a vessel unit of analysis can significantly differ from those of a sherd unit of
analysis. However, it seems to me that the Suazoid material evidence throughout the
Lesser Antilles demonstrates real heterogeneity within an overall trend of simplification
when compared to earlier time periods in the same region.
Similarities and differences in ceramic characteristics are evident when comparing
the archaeology of the Suazoid series on different islands and sites. (Table 5-2 and 5-3) I
believe that non-decorative vessel characteristics demonstrate significant continuity
throughout the range of the Suazoid series distribution. Much more variation is shown
among decorative characteristics that have traditionally been used as diagnostic traits.
Table 5-2. Comparison of Sherd Unit of Analyses.
McKusick McKusick Bullen Drewett
Country St. Lucia St. Lucia Grenada Barbados
Site Choc Fannis South Savanne Suazey (A-C) Silver Sands (1989)
Coast Leeward Windward Windward South
Dates NA NA AD 1400 AD 1300 +/- 100
Sherd count 5,000 1,849 1,232 10,000
MNV NA NA NA NA
Vessel forms EB Container (78%) NA ?
Temper Grit Grit Grit Quartz, calcareous
Orifice diameter mean (cm) NA NA NA NA
Wall thickness mean (mm) NA 6-25 (1/4"-1") 8-12 NA
Griddle % total ? 20 11 NA
Griddle legs Present Present 0 0
Legs 42 67 0 477
Decoration % total 20 ? 28 .6
Finger-indented rims % total 0 40 (rims) 2 1
Red slipping % total 6 (rims) 20 (rims) 5 .2
Scratching % total Frequent Present 10 .1
Table 5-3. Comparison of Vessel Unit of Analyses
Allaire Holdren Donop
Country Martinique Grenada Grenada
Site Macabou III South Savanne Suazey South Savanne Suazey (A-C)
Coast South Windward Windward
Dates ? AD 1245, 970, 1170 AD 1400 (Bullen 1972)
Sherd count ? NA 1,271
MNV 87 (14 griddles) 162 242
Major vessel form Tronconical (80%) NA EB (77% profiled)
Temper Sand and shell Rhyolite Sand/quartz
Orifice diameter mean (cm) 31.8 28.5 27.4
Wall thickness mean (mm) 11.2 NA 9.42 (3cm), 9.61 (6cm) EB
Griddle % total 16 6 9 total, 5 profiled
Griddle legs 8 1 0
Legs 2 NA 0
Decoration % total 44 NA 24
Finger-indented rims % total 10 1 13 total, 14 profiled, 7 rims
Red slipping % total 20 NA 13 total, 14 profiled
Scratching % total 33 20 3 total, 0 profiled
Morphological characteristics and temper type demonstrate considerable continuity
between islands. The three studies that recorded vessel forms seem to indicate that
around 80% of the assemblages were composed of excurvate vessels, probably bowls.
Available overall griddle percentages averaged 12.8 % with a range of 6 to 20%. Temper
type seemed consistent with sand or grit temper identified at all sites with the addition of
shell or calcareous inclusions on Martinique and Barbados. Wall thickness was similar
except for McKusick's Fannis site on St. Lucia which displayed a wider range of
approximately 6 to 25mm. Orifice diameters collected from the three vessel-unit
analyses were similar with a mean of 29.2cm. Ceramic legs are one of the few functional
characteristics to display a wide frequency range. Numerous ceramic griddle legs were
found on Martinique, St. Lucia, and Barbados but only one leg was excavated from the
Savanne Suazey site by Ann Cody Holdren.
Decorative "traits" vary widely between islands and sites. The percentages of
overall decorations, which included finger-indention, red-slipping, painting, scratching,
and incision, was highest (44%) at the Macabou site on Martinique and lowest (.6%) at
the Silver Sands site (1989) on Barbados. Finger-indented rims were most prevalent at
Fannis site on St. Lucia at 40% of the total rims and least prevalent at nearby Choc
site on St. Lucia, which had no finger-indention except one sherd from a test square.
Red-slipping also showed significant variation among sites with the highest frequency
(20%) on Martinique and the lowest (.2%) on Barbados (1989). Scratching was not
quantified as well as other decorative characteristics but it seems that Martinique
displayed the highest frequency (33%) and Barbados the lowest (. 1%).
It seems that the Suazoid traits used most often to identify the series are rather
inconsistently distributed when compared to technofunctional vessel characteristics such
as morphology and paste. Suazey potters on different islands seem to have made similar
technological choices, possibly a regional technological style. If this is true, a Suazoid
technological style may be a better, more reliable criterion than decorative style for
interpretation of the late prehistoric Lesser Antilles because technological styles are often
less subject to change (Gosselain 1992b:583). Patterns in technofunctional vessel
characteristics that can only be revealed by vessel-unit analyses may be more important
for the study of temporal continuity in material culture than more obvious but superficial
decorative traits. Differences in decoration are important and they may indicate
significant variation within an overall cultural group, but they can mislead archaeologists
into believing there are more distinct material and cultural divisions than there actually