By William F. Keegan, Corinne L. Hofman

The islands of the Caribbean are remarkably assorted, environmentally and culturally. they vary from low limestone islands slightly above sea point to volcanic islands with mountainous peaks; from huge islands to small cays; from islands with tropical rainforests to these with desolate tract habitats. modern-day population have both different tradition histories. The islands are domestic to a mosaic of indigenous groups and to the descendants of Spanish, French, Dutch, English, Swedish, Danish, Irish, African, East Indian, chinese language, Syrian, Seminole and different nationalities who settled there in the course of old occasions. The islands are actually being homogenized, all to create a typical adventure for the Caribbean vacationer. there's a comparable try to homogenize the Caribbean's pre-Columbian earlier. It was once assumed that each new prehistoric tradition had built out of the tradition that preceded it. We now recognize that way more complex strategies of migration, acculturation, and lodging happened. additionally, the overly simplistic contrast among the "peaceful Arawak" and the "cannibal Carib," which kinds the constitution for James Michener's Caribbean, nonetheless dominates well known notions of precolonial Caribbean societies.

This booklet files the variety and complexity that existed within the Caribbean sooner than the arriving of Europeans, and instantly thereafter. the variety effects from assorted origins, assorted histories, varied contacts among the islands and the mainland, diverse environmental stipulations, and transferring social alliances. prepared chronologically, from the arriving of the 1st humans-the paleo-Indians-in the 6th millennium BC to early touch with Europeans, The Caribbean earlier than Columbus offers a brand new background of the zone in response to the most recent archaeological proof. The authors additionally think of cultural advancements at the surrounding mainland, because the islands' historical past is a narrative of mobility and alternate around the Caribbean Sea, and doubtless the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Straits. the result's the main up to date and complete survey of the richly complicated cultures who as soon as inhabited the six archipelagoes of the Caribbean.

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It involved using material remains to define “cultures,” which in turn defined the “peoples” who are the subject of culture-​historical inquiry. Rouse (1972) developed elaborate systems of classification and nomenclature, and expressed a feeling of kinship with similar efforts by David Clarke (1968). ” It involved a shift of attention from the individuals who produced the local cultures to the societies who used the material culture (Watters 1976:6). Rouse was uncomfortable with this change in perspective.

In addition, general portraits of modo de vida are useful in looking at different ways of life at different points in time. However, the similarities by which such groupings have been made mask significant differences between groupings, even to the level of individual sites. For these (and other) reasons, a third approach has emerged in the past decade. This third approach emphasizes differences and diversity. The goal is not to create increasingly finer boxes into which archaeological sites can be grouped, but rather to recognize that everything was in flux all of the time.

As a result, the cultures of Jamaica and central Cuba are now referred to as “Western Taíno,” the cultures of the northernmost Lesser Antilles and Virgin Islands are called “Eastern Taíno,” and the culture of the Bahama archipelago is called “Lucayan” (Taíno). ” It would seem that the naming of cultures in the northern Antilles during initial encounters was resolved. Yet again, the name “Taíno” assumes a level of homogeneity that is unwarranted (Hulme 1993). For example, Bartolomé de las Casas (1951) reported that three mutually unintelligible languages were spoken in Hispaniola.

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