Based on the archaeological evidence in the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico, the migration of a new group of people into the Caribbean in the last few centuries b.c. was very obvious. In contrast to the chipped and ground stone assemblages of the preceramic people, the elaborate ceramics of the new arrivals, with their brilliant white-and-red designs, were impossible to miss. Also in contrast with earlier occupations, the new colonists lived in large, permanent villages, grew crops, and interacted with their environments in different ways. Rouse classified their distinctive pottery as belonging to the Saladoid series, named after the site of Saladero in Venezuela (Boomert 2000:217–51; Keegan 2000; Rouse 1992:30–7).
Because of the contrast of this new archaeological evidence with the earlier sites, the arrival of Saladoid people was viewed as a major migration of South American people up the Lesser Antillean chain, overwhelming, displacing, or absorbing the previous occupants. Saladoid sites with remarkably similar archaeological characteristics have been found on most of the islands. Caribbean archaeologists have viewed this as a wave of migration creating a Saladoid horizon, which swept through the Antilles as far as eastern Dominican Republic and had a major impact on all subsequent Caribbean history.
In recent years this picture has become somewhat more complicated. It now seems likely that the migrating group was more diverse than previously thought, possibly involving multiple groups. The process of migration probably involved voyages of reconnaissance, short-lived settlements, and retreats.