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Island Rhythms: The Web of Social Relationships and Interaction Networks in the Lesser Antillean Archipelago between 400 B.C. and A.D. 1492

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Corinne L. Hofman
Affiliation:
Leiden University, Reuvensplaats 4, Postbox 9515, 2300 RA, Leiden (c.l.hofman@arch.leidenuniv.nl)
Alistair J. Bright
Affiliation:
Leiden University, Reuvensplaats 4, Postbox 9515, 2300 RA, Leiden (c.l.hofman@arch.leidenuniv.nl)
Arie Boomert
Affiliation:
Leiden University, Reuvensplaats 4, Postbox 9515, 2300 RA, Leiden (c.l.hofman@arch.leidenuniv.nl)
Sebastiaan Knippenberg
Affiliation:
Archeologisch Onderzoek Leiden bv (Archol), Reuvensplaats 3, Postbox 9515, 2300 RA Leiden (S.Knippenberg@archol.nl)

Abstract

The precolonial communities of the Caribbean archipelago were not insular. The discontinuous natural resource distribution, the maritime orientation of the Caribbean Amerindians, and the complexities of regional social interaction ensured that the precolonial Caribbean islandscape was dynamic and highly interconnected. This report explores the socicultural behavior and intercommunity exchange relationships of the inhabitants of the Lesser Antilles. It combines related archaeological case studies encompassing the procurement and exchange of: (1) raw materials and utilitarian goods with a wide spatial and social distribution, (2) goods with high stylistic visibility and presumed social function as markers of identity or status, and (3) prestige goods with profound ceremonial value. The study of these objects reveals overarching social and ideological dimensions to Caribbean life. Data suggest that social relationships manifest themselves at different levels and through distinct rhythms while taking on various material guises during the Ceramic age Amerindian occupation of the Caribbean islands (400 B.C. to A.D. 1492). While there is great potential in unraveling interaction networks through the careful study of distribution patterns, the incorporation of ethnohistoric and ethnographic information is imperative to elucidate the web of social relationships underlying these material manifestations.

Resumen

Resumen

Las comunidades precolombinas del archipiélago caribeño no eran insulares. La distribución discontinua de recursos naturales, el enfoque marítimo de los amerindios caribeños junto con la complejidad de los patrones regionales de interacción aseguraban el carácter dinámico y interconectado de las diversas comunidades insulares pre-coloniales. En este papel se exploran las conductas socio-culturales y las relaciones de intercambio entre comunidades en las Antillas Menores. Se exploran casos arqueológicos relacionados de la adquisición e intercambio de 1) materias primas y bienes utilitarios, 2) bienes con una alta visibilidad estilística y función social como indices de identidad o status y 3) bienes de prestigio. Su estudio revela el rol fundamental de las dimensiones sociales e ideológicas en la vida caribeña. Los datos sugieren que las relaciones sociales se manifiestan a diferentes niveles y en ritmos distintos, a la vez que se expresan de diversas maneras durante la ocupación amerindia de las islas en la Época Cerámica (400 a.C.-1492 d.C.). Si bien existe un enorme potencial en desenredar las interconexiones en las Antillas Menores precolombinas a través del estudio de los patrones de distribución, la incorporación de información etnohistórica y etnográfica resulta imperativa para dilucidar la red de relaciones sociales subyacentes a estas manifestaciones materiales.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Society for American Archaeology 2007

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