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Volume 53 / Social Sciences


Caribbean Area

W. JERALD KENNEDY, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Florida Atlantic University


IN THE PREVIOUS VOLUME I noted an explosion of archaeological research in the Caribbean spanning the years 1987-89 and attributed it to the forthcoming Columbus Quincentennial celebration. As expected, during the years 1990-92, this trend continued.

Many of the publications annotated below (items bi 93003022, bi 93003116, and bi 93012628) are region-wide in their orientation. Vol. 2 of Columbian consequences: archaeological and historical perspectives on the Spanish Borderlands East, part of the highly recommended three-volume Smithsonian Institution publication, is a major contribution, with a number of important articles for those interested in the Caribbean (items bi 93003015, bi 93003116, bi 93003122, and bi 93003010). Other basic reference works include an updated synthesis of Caribbean prehistory by Irving Rouse (item bi 92007019) and William Keegan's overview of Bahamian prehistory and early ethnohistory (item bi 92017957).

Most articles focus on more island-specific archaeology. The Bahamas, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Netherlands Antilles, and Puerto Rico are all the focus of multiple articles, reflecting ongoing major research projects in these areas. Other articles and monographs focus on the islands of Nevis, Bonaire, Cuba, Anguilla, Martinique, St. Martin, and Barbuda.

Publications dealing with the prehistoric period are common, but there is also an interest in topics spanning the Spanish/Indian contact period (item bi 93003015), the colonial period (item bi 93003010), and plantation period (item bi 93003014).

It is exciting to see new approaches being incorporated in Caribbean research. Several articles deal extensively with sociocultural interpretations based on zooarchaeological (items bi 93012627, bi 93012637, and bi 93012646), paleobotanical (item bi 93003132), thin section petrography (item bi 93003117) and geomorphological data (items bi 93012554, bi 93012646, and bi 93012680). Some articles are more regional in scope (items bi 93012644, bi 93012629, bi 93012650), while others are more theoretical (item bi 93003144).

A popular exhibition entitled "First Encounters: Spanish Explorations of the Caribbean and United States, 1492-1570", prepared by the Museum of Natural History, Univ. of Florida, was widely acclaimed during its year-long tour throughout the US.

Several scholarly conferences are also worthy of note. The 1992 annual meeting of the Society of American Archaeology (SAA) in Pittsburgh provided the opportunity to present two sessions, a general session on the Caribbean and a sponsored symposium focusing on "The Late Preceramic Age in the Northeast Caribbean." Another meeting, "The New World Conference on Rescue Archaeology: Environment and Archaeology," was held in San Juan, P.R., in Dec. 1992. This international meeting reflects the recognition of the continuing and increasing destruction of cultural resources throughout the Caribbean and elsewhere in this hemisphere.

A 1500 item reference work on floppy disc entitled A Bibliography of Caribbean Archaeology (vol. 1, 1990) is available from its author, William Keegan, Associate Curator of the Florida Museum of Natural History and Director of the Ripley Bullen Research Library. Samuel L. Wilson, Dept. of Anthropology, Univ. of Texas, replaced Charles Hoffman and Thomas Lynch as Assistant Editor of the "Current Research" Caribbean section of American Antiquity in 1990; a perusal of two recent sections (see American Antiquity, vol. 55, no. 1, 1990, p. 166-169 and vol. 57, no. 1, 1992, p. 146-150) will testify to the extent of research being conducted throughout the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and Lesser Antilles.


The number of works have increased significantly from the previous volume. A major reference work on the archaeology of Pacific coastal Nicaragua is a welcome and important contribution (item bi 93012703). Costa Rican and Panamanian prehistory are the focus of several articles reviewed.

An important trend is the incorporation and further refinement of remote sensing techniques using satellite imagery in prehistoric studies (item bi 93012748). Detailed geoarchaeological studies on lithic sources and volcanism continue to provide insights on prehispanic cultures (items bi 93012705 and bi 93012707). Studies more regional in scope stress interregional exchange patterns (item bi 93012698) and societal complexity (items bi 93012699 and bi 92010135).

Frederick W. Lange, Assistant Editor for the "Current Research" section of American Antiquity, comments on the breadth of research being conducted in Lower Central America despite earthquakes, economic crisis, and political unrest (see American Antiquity, Vol. 56, No. 4, 1991 and Vol. 57. No. 1, 1992).

In Aug. 1990, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Panama, sponsored "Non-Imperial Polities in the Lands Visited by Columbus on His Four Voyages to the New World;" 55 scholars from nine countries attended this important conference.


Karen Anderson-Cordova. Hispaniola and Puerto Rico: Indian acculturation and heterogeneity, 1492-1550. Yale University, 1990.

Richard Thomas Caglahan. Mainland origins of the preceramic cultures of the Greater Antilles. Univ. of Calgary, 1990.

Emily R. Lundberg. Preceramic procurement patterns at Krum Bay, Virgin Islands. Univ. of Illinois, 1989.

Lynette Carol Norr. Nutritional consequences of prehistoric subsistence strategies in Lower Central America. Univ. of Illinois, 1990.

James M. Parrent. Management of historic ship archaeological sites in the Caribbean. Texas A&M Univ., 1990.

Eugenia J. Robinson. The prehistoric communities of the Sula Valley, Honduras: regional interaction in the southeast Mesoamerican frontier. Tulane Univ., 1989.

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