The People Who Discovered Columbus: The Prehistory of the Bahamas (Florida Museum of Natural History: Ripley P. Bullen Series)

The People Who Discovered Columbus: The Prehistory of the Bahamas (Florida Museum of Natural History: Ripley P. Bullen Series)

William F. Keegan

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 081301137X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

For the Lucayan Arawaks of the Caribbean, the year 1492 marked the beginning of the end: the first people contacted by Christopher Columbus were the first extinguished. Within thirty years, a population of perhaps 80,000 had declined to, at most, a few refugees. Clearing new ground in the study of prehistoric societies, Keegan argues that a different perspective on the past provides an accurate portrait of a culture that became extinct almost 500 years ago.
Keegan terms his approach paleoethnography, developing a portrait of the past by linking archaeological field data and historical documents. The result, the first overview of the prehistory of the Bahamas, explains how and why the Bahamas were colonized by the Tainos almost 1,400 years ago. The portrait includes characteristics of the islands themselves, descriptions of how the Lucayans made their settlements, what they ate, how they organized in social groups, and how their population spread throughout the archipelago.
Keegan reconstructs Columbus’s voyage through the West Indies, raising questions about the explorer’s motivations and presenting a controversial theory about where, exactly, Columbus landed. Offering new perspectives on Caribbean prehistory to both scholars and general readers, the book ends with the Spaniards’ arrival and the Lucayans’ demise.

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1509–1512. The Empty Islands: Juan Ponce de León, 1513. 206   10. After the End: Reflections on a Paleoethnography What is Real?. A Processual Methodology. Creating the Lucayans. 224   Bibliography 231 Index 271        Page ix Figures 2.1. Bucket Model of a Bahamian Atoll 25 2.2. Wind Roses for Nassau Airport, January–December 1964–1970 28 2.3. Salinas along the South Coast of North Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands 41 2.4. The Marine Environment from Beach to Deep Water 42

Perfectly regular spacing is identified when LRn equals two. The level of confidence for nonrandom patterns depends on the number of points per pattern. When only 10–20 points are used, LRn must exceed 1±0.5 to achieve a  95 percent probability that the pattern is nonrandom (Pinder and Witherick 1975: figure 3). The number of Lucayan sites per island falls within this range of potential  random matching.

dimensions. The traditional outline of Caribbean prehistory reads as follows: The Ciboney were the last in a line of people who lived by hunting, gathering, and fishing whose  ancestors arrived in the Greater Antilles at least 9,000 years ago (Veloz and Vega 1982). By the time of Spanish contact they had been pushed into peripheral

assemblages at Lucayan sites in the Bahama Islands, and about 10 percent of the assemblages at sites in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Such heightened participation in  long­distance exchange is consistent with Columbus's report (Dunn and Kelley 1989) that a "King" (paramount chief) who held hegemony over all of the central  Bahamas resided on Acklins Island (Keegan 1984a; Keegan and Mitchell 1986).

They certainly did not suffer from the nutritional and diet­related disorders of other prehistoric horticulturalists in the West Indies (Budinoff 1987) or elsewhere (Cohen  and Armelagos 1984). Yet the Lucayans' selectiveness in their food choices proves that they were careful consumers who based their subsistence practices on the  cost­efficient capture of nutritional currencies. Appendix

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