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Current Perspectives in the Precolonial Archaeology of Puerto Rico

Summary and Keywords

During the past two decades, many of the traditional conceptions about the configuration of the cultural landscape of precolonial Puerto Rico have been critically addressed from both political and disciplinary perspectives. Colonialist undercurrents embedded in the traditional models used to structure the indigenous history of the island have come into question and some of the fundamental ideas about the social and cultural makeup of the human collectivities that inhabited Puerto Rico have been drastically altered. The timing of the initial occupation of the island has been pushed back to more than five thousand years ago and the potential origin of some of these societies has also been reconsidered, including the possibility that some of groups moved across the Caribbean Sea from the Isthmo-Colombian region from where they brought phytocultural traditions that included the cultivation of a wide array of important economic plants. The cultural landscape of the island later expanded with the arrival of migrants from the surrounding continents who participated in long-distance interaction networks, as demonstrated by the trade of exotic goods mainly used for making personal adornments. The cultural plurality that existed on the island led to the development of distinct traditions that were not only forged by the diverse interactions that took place within Puerto Rico, but also by engagements that continued to take place with the inhabitants of other islands of the Antilles and surrounding continental regions. This all led to the articulation of a mosaic of cultural traditions that were diffusely united through the intersocietal negotiation of a set of codes that allowed the different collectivities to engage with one another while retaining their differences.

Keywords: Puerto Rico, archaeology, precolonial, Tainoness, early agriculture, pre-Arawak, Huecoid, colonialism, long-distance interactions

Historically, the praxis of archaeology in Puerto Rico has been intimately tied to the political contexts upon which it has been situated. This stems from the fact that Puerto Rico has been inserted in relations of coloniality since the transatlantic invasion of the island in the early sixteenth century, first under the power of Spain and then the United States. This colonial situation led to the articulation of a diverse and often contested archaeological arena in which different external and internal voices have intersected and interacted in myriad ways. While in some instances this has resulted in the uncritical adoption of interpretive and methodological frameworks from their central contexts of production, in others it has incited the development of alternative perspectives, many of which have emanated from within the island through the use of novel techniques and ex-centric reconsiderations of the data used to generate previous narratives about Puerto Rico’s ancient past. This aim to rewrite indigenous Puerto Rican history from within has originated from archaeological practitioners and by actors outside the discipline, most notably those who form part of modern indigenous movements who have loudly questioned many of the precepts of Puerto Rico’s ancient history, placing particular attention on what has recently been termed the “myth of indigenous extinction” shortly after the Spanish occupation of the island.1

At present, the main format of archaeological work being conducted in Puerto Rico is what has variably been termed contract, rescue, or commercial archaeology. A large amount of so-called gray literature has been produced because of the archaeological interventions that are required by both state and federal laws when a project has the potential to adversely impact a historical resource.2 Although this has led to the production of important works and has served as a mainstay for jobs in Puerto Rico’s archaeological community, the impact that this type of archaeological undertaking has had on the construction of the ancient history of the island is completely disproportional to the amount of funds that have been invested in it. On the bright side, the presence of a comparatively healthy job market in this line of archaeological work has incited the formal education of professionals in the discipline, resulting in Puerto Rico having the largest number of archaeologists with doctoral degrees and the only graduate archaeology program in the Antilles.3

Thus far, most of the archaeological research that has been conducted in Puerto Rico has focused on its precolonial period. The archaeological assessment of contexts related to its afrodescendant inhabitants and those associated with the Spanish and US invasions have paled in comparison to the work done in indigenous contexts, perhaps because of the traditional view that the reconstruction of the colonial dynamics that took place on the island should be based on the evidence provided by the written documents, the raw material of “history,” while material culture is that which serves as the mainstay of “prehistory.” However, the disciplinary lines that establish the divide between “history” and “prehistory” have started to blur and more emphasis is now being placed on the study of other important chapters in the colonial history of Puerto Rico from an archaeological perspective.

Of Models and Periods

Despite the emphasis on the archaeological study of Puerto Rican indigenous history, there are still many unresolved issues, including the models used to historiographically construct a past that spans more than five millennia. The main model used to provide a sequential structure to the precolonial history of Puerto Rico, as proposed by the late Irving Rouse, defined periods on the basis of normatively configured cultural entities and their ensuing transformations through time as primarily seen through shifts in the formats of artifact decoration, which was assumed as a reflection of the different cultures that migrated to and developed on the island (figure 1).4

Current Perspectives in the Precolonial Archaeology of Puerto Rico

Figure 1. Rouse’s chronocultural model for Puerto Rico.

Source: Based on information in I. Rouse, The Taínos. Figure 14, pp. 52.

Furthermore, this model was based on several premises, many of which have been intensely debated, including: (1) the pre-agricultural and preceramic nature of the initial inhabitants of Puerto Rico; (2) the assumption that later ceramic-making agriculturalists migrated to Puerto Rico from a single ancestral region located in northeastern Venezuela; (3) that these later migrants completely displaced or eliminated the earlier inhabitants of the island shortly after their arrival; (4) that these latter groups developed in cultural isolation into the Taíno of Puerto Rico and the Greater Antilles, “the people who greeted Columbus,” and; (5) that the ancient inhabitants of the island did not sustain any significant contacts with those who inhabited continental areas facing the Caribbean Sea beyond northeastern Venezuela.5

Although Rouse’s model has been pivotal in providing a framework to define the cultural traditions and pottery styles of the indigenous societies, its attendant periodization has not been integrated into the official historical narrative of the island, following the assumption that the indigenous past supposedly falls outside the realm of “history” given the supposed lack of writing in precolonial Puerto Rico. This has resulted in the widely consumed narrative of the “five centuries of history” of Puerto Ricans, a perspective that precludes the more than five millennia of history forged by the societies that inhabited Boriquén prior to the European invasion.6 This is clearly reflected in the history books used in the schools of the country, which pay limited attention to that indigenous portion of the island’s history, although it temporarily comprises more than a 90 percent of its human occupation. This historical seclusion of the indigenous past has also resulted from the construction of precolonial periods defined mainly by changes in the decorative modes of ceramics over time, which constitutes a heuristic proxy that is not employed in historical periodization. This is further complicated by the fact that the available chronological data indicates that such documented pottery changes do not necessarily coincide with other important economic, social, and cultural processes observed on the island, which are usually used in history as a basis for defining relative temporal units. Given the social and cultural plurality in existence in Puerto Rico over time, it has been considered unproductive to continue building periodizations on the basis of the sequence of cultures that inhabited the island defined exclusively by the stylistic changes reflected in pottery production as has been the case so far, or on the basis of stages or modes of structural development as has been proposed for other islands such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic.7

To address these shortcomings, following the approaches of historians of the Annales school and proposals from the “interaction paradigm” in archaeology, an alternative framework has recently been proposed to schematize historical periodization in Puerto Rico based on the processes of intersocietal interaction that resulted in the changes observed in its archaeological record over time.8 The diachronic rhythms of these complex and heterogeneous engagements, which included processes such as changes in trade relationships, shifts in subsistence practices, and patterns of landscape modification, as well as the articulation of iconographic traditions among others, is what is used to define each of the historical periods for the indigenous past of the island. As has been discussed in other contexts, this perspective has questioned the distinction between “historical” and “prehistoric” archaeologies because of the artificial frontiers that have been established in their respective approximations to the cultural heritage of the island.9

Discovery and Humanization of Puerto Rico (3300 bce–500/200 bce)

Some of the most important, yet understudied, historical aspects of the indigenous past of Puerto Rico are the temporality and the origins of the societies that discovered the island. The dates for the initial arrival of these groups have been the subject of debate, given that the oldest date available for the island, which goes back to between the fifth and fourth millennium before the common era recovered from Angostura, is the only one at present that goes back to such an early period while also presenting a very low resolution because of its high level of statistical error.10 Although it is quite possible that older contexts might be found either submerged given changes in sea level or buried by intense sedimentation processes, as is the case documented in sites such as Paso del Indio in northern Puerto Rico, the oldest reliable assays that have been generated for human arrival to the island date back to 3300 bce. The island has been occupied uninterruptedly since then.11

It has been commonly assumed that these primeval societies arrived in waves projecting into the island from the Yucatán Peninsula via Cuba and Hispaniola, as reflected by a blade tradition observed in the western part of the island, and from Venezuela via the Lesser Antilles, as indicated by a flake tradition and the production of a coarse assortment of ground tools observed in the rest of Puerto Rico. However, it has been recently postulated that the occupation of the island was multivectorial and also included the early arrival of groups that moved across the Caribbean Sea from northern South America and the Isthmo-Colombian region.12 This has been proposed on the basis of the presence of a phytocultural tradition artifactually characterized by the presence of the edge-ground cobble/millingstone complex, which is yet to be clearly identified in the rest of the Greater Antilles and the southern Lesser Antilles and northeastern Venezuela, while being a conspicuous element in early contexts from north-central Venezuela up into Panama (figure 2).

Current Perspectives in the Precolonial Archaeology of Puerto Rico

Figure 2. Edge-ground cobble from Maurca, Puerto Rico. Photograph by Reniel Rodríguez Ramos.

Despite previous considerations that these primeval societies were fisher-hunter-gatherers, the aforementioned phytocultural tradition also included the creation of niches as a result of cultivation practices. Almost all the paleobotanical studies conducted on the island in early contexts have produced clear evidence of the cultivation of a varied botanical repertoire that includes tubers such as manioc and sweet potatoes, grains such as maize and beans, and important economic trees that produced yellow zapote and avocado.13 The presence of these cultigens on the island since the earliest contexts has led to the argument that a pre-agricultural period never existed in Puerto Rico. Moreover, it has been suggested that it was indeed the presence of these botanical traditions in tandem with the obvious capacities for open-sea navigation what propitiated the early humanization of the island by these societies.14 The presence of increased charcoal particulates by 3300 bce in northern Puerto Rico likely reflects land-clearing activities associated with practices such as the slash-and-burn technique, a form of itinerant cultivation documented in various tropical contexts of the Americas.15

Evidence of ceramics during this period has also been observed in the island, although not necessarily in concomitance with agriculture. Evidence of this early pottery has been recovered in sites such as Cueva Clara, Angostura, Paso del Indio, and Cueva la Tembladera, among others, associated with what has been labeled the “pre-Arawak pottery Horizon” that is reflected not only in Puerto Rico but also in other islands of the Greater and Lesser Antilles.16 It has been argued that the introduction of this element of material culture was not initially recorded for subsistence purposes but rather for activities related to the superstructural realm. In any case, the presence of both agriculture and pottery in these early societies drastically alters previous notions about the social configuration of the earliest inhabitants of Puerto Rico.

Initially, these groups occupied the coastal plains and active alluvial valleys, as are respectively the cases of Maruca in southern Puerto Rico as well as Angostura and Paso del Indio in the north part of the island. Most open-air archaeological sites of this period were located in ecotonal areas, with access to variable exploitable resources, which limited the amount of mobility required for these groups. Early settlements such as Angostura, Maruca, and Paso del Indio were situated in spaces with access to mangroves, maritime, and riverine areas, which provided them with a wide range of protein food sources.17 Despite the long-held assumption that the island interior was not humanly occupied until 600 ce, recent research has clearly demonstrated the early human intrusion into that part of Puerto Rico. Dates that go back to the third and second millennia before common era have been documented in archaeological contexts in caves in the northern region in sites such as Cueva del Abono, Cueva Ventana, Cueva Tembladera, and Cueva Matos.18

Burial practices during this period seem to be quite variable. Although the most commonly observed mortuary position in early contexts is the extended dorsal decubitus, also flexed, secondary, and multiple burials have been identified at different sites.19 These interments have been recovered from open communal spaces associated with villages, as observed in Maruca and Angostura, as well as in caves as is the case of Cueva Matos in Arecibo and Cueva María de la Cruz in Loíza.

This period also reflects the beginnings of a ritual grammar reflected in rock art and other elements of material culture. The earliest directly dated evidence of rock art in Puerto Rico comes from a pictograph from Cueva Ventana Intermedia, in the northern part of the island, dated to between 600 and 400 bce (Figure 3).20 This early evidence of rock art is not only reflected by the presence of pictographs, but also of petroglyphs, particularly of a type that have been labeled the “segmented face” identified in various caves north of the island including Cueva la Tembladera, Cueva Soto, Cueva Gemelos, and Cueva Clara.

Current Perspectives in the Precolonial Archaeology of Puerto Rico

Figure 3. Reticulate pictograph, Cueva Ventana Intermedia, Puerto Rico. Photograph by Reniel Rodríguez Ramos.

It is also worth noting the presence, albeit limited, of three-pointed objects that seem to denote an early articulation of the notion of cemí during this period, as has been observed in Puerto Ferro.21 Another notable type of sumptuary ground artifact is the stone sphere, which has been found at several locations not only in midden deposits but also in association to burials, as was the case of the Ortiz site in southwestern Puerto Rico. Additional ideotechnic artifacts include dagoliths, heart-shaped stones, and the production of body ornaments, among which the most salient are the “bobitos.” In addition, biconvex axes have been identified as well as butterfly and necked celts (figure 4). The presence of a wide variety of grinding implements is also notable, particularly to the south of the island. Among these, the conical manos are the most conspicuous, some of which have three-pointed morphologies that show stylistic (and possibly symbolic) concomitance with later three-pointed cemís.

Current Perspectives in the Precolonial Archaeology of Puerto Rico

Figure 4. Necked celts, Angostura, Puerto Rico. Photograph by Reniel Rodríguez Ramos.

The inhabitants of the island during this early period also started to transform its faunal landscape by importing a variety of hutia (Isolodobon portoricencis) from the Dominican Republic.22 Moreover, this period highlights the long-distance movement of flint flakes and blades from the northwest and southwest of the island as far east as the island of Vieques, as well as the import of lithics from the island of Antigua in the Lesser Antilles. In fact, the presence of early occupations, not only in Puerto Rico but also in other islands with high quality flint sources (e.g., Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Antigua), seems to suggest that the availability of this raw material was one of the elements that led to their early settlement.

Macroregional Exchange Networks and New Migrations into Puerto Rico (500/200 bce–450/500 ce)

Starting around 500 bce, new spheres of interaction that emphasized the circulation of semiprecious raw materials for their use in the production of shiny body ornaments were registered in Puerto Rico, the Lesser Antilles, and other areas of the Circum-Caribbean, particularly from northwestern Venezuela to Costa Rica within what is known as the Isthmo-Colombian area.23 The search for sources of raw material suitable for the active participation in these interaction circuits was likely one of the main pull factors that led to the new migrations of agroceramic groups to Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands around this time. It has been argued that the vectors through which some of these exchange networks transpired were established by groups that had arrived at the islands much earlier.

The timing and the source areas of the aforementioned migrations of agroceramic groups, framed within what have been defined as the Saladoid and Huecoid traditions, have also been the subject of intense debate. The main disagreement has been whether these two manifestations form part of a single migration that diversified in the Lesser Antilles, as suggested by Irving Rouse, or if they represent two distinct migrations originating in different areas of South America, as was argued by Luis Chanlatte Baik, who originally identified this tradition.24 After a couple of decades of debate, the available evidence seems to point to the fact that these indeed reflect two distinct cultural entities, as is indicated by the differences noted not only in the types of artifact decoration and iconography, but also in technological practices and even in some biological aspects. For instance, it has been established that the practitioners of these two traditions inhabited the same ecological spaces but followed different lithic protocols to produce utilitarian tools to extract energy from the environment, emphasized the consumption of some distinct faunal elements, and produced white pigments using drastically different recipes. In addition, their coprolites reflected the presence of different microbial profiles associated with their diets and origins.25 Thus, at present the available evidence seems to favor Chanlatte Baik’s argument of the Saladoid and the Huecoid representing distinct migrations from the surrounding continents.

Although the two earliest dates that have been obtained for these traditions in Puerto Rico go back to between 660 bce (Sorcé) and 500 bce (Tecla 1), the vast majority of early assays for both of these traditions start around 200 bce. The earliest dates for both manifestations tend to be quite similar. However, at the Maisabel site in northern Puerto Rico, the only context in which these were found segregated stratigraphically, the Huecoid tradition underlies the Saladoid, which reflects its greater antiquity at least in this location.26

Interestingly, the types of raw materials, technological styles, and iconographic themes depicted in the body ornaments in the Huecoid cultural tradition suggest interactive links with the inhabitants of the Isthmo-Colombia area. This includes the production of vulture pendants, curly-tailed and batrachian representations, among many others that have clear stylistic affinities with those noted in northwestern South America and Lower Central America (figure 5).27 Furthermore, recent isotopic research on a jaguar tooth from the Huecoid context of La Hueca-Sorcé indicated that its potential area of origin should be sought between Colombia and lower Central America.28 The presence of most of the elements that characterize the Huecoid tradition in contexts of Puerto Rico that are earlier in the island than those noted in the Lesser Antilles indicates the possibility of the trans-Caribbean movements of peoples, traditions, and information related to this manifestation through vectors delineated by the societies that had arrived to the island much earlier. In the case of the Saladoid, although it has been commonly assumed that the presence of this tradition in Puerto Rico resulted from a migration of groups from Venezuela via the Lesser Antilles, the available radiocarbon dates provide little support to this scenario as the oldest ones obtained for this manifestation in the insular Caribbean come from Puerto Rico and the northern Lesser Antilles. This leads some to suggest the possibility of direct movements to these islands from the northern portion of South America.29

Current Perspectives in the Precolonial Archaeology of Puerto Rico

Figure 5. Avian pendants, La Hueca-Sorcé, Vieques. Photograph by Reniel Rodríguez Ramos.

The practitioners of the Saladoid and the Huecoid traditions were active participants in both the intra-Antillean maritime movement of goods and information between the islands as well as from the surrounding continents. One of the key materials imported to both contexts in Puerto Rico is radiolarian limestone, which was brought from the island of St. Martin for the production of green axes.30 Another major raw material is flint, which was imported to Puerto Rico from the island of Antigua. Nodules of this raw material were also procured from sources in northwestern and southwestern Puerto Rico. The main emphasis in the movement of flint nodules was on their reduction using the bipolar technique to produce microliths for their insertion into composite tools. These multiscalar trade networks also involved the movement of raw materials such as serpentinite from the western part of Puerto Rico into the Lesser Antilles and the import to the island of materials such as nephrite, turquoise, and paragonite, which seem to have been obtained from as yet unknown continental sources.31 It is during this period that the oldest evidence of dogs is recorded in Puerto Rico, which dates back to 50 bce.32 The origin of dogs is still uncertain, but the evidence indicates that Puerto Rico has the oldest and densest evidence of this domesticated animal recorded in the Antilles thus far.

A noticeable aspect during this period is the presence of circular communal houses of considerable size whose associated refuse was deposited in mounded middens.33 Most of the villages have a horseshoe morphology, although linear mound arrays have also been identified in the case of the Huecoid.34 Traditionally, it has been assumed that tribal social organizations dominated during this period, but the possibility of social asymmetry has been argued on the basis of the differential disposition of prestige goods in the mounds, as was observed at La Hueca-Sorcé.35

So far, there is limited evidence of human burials for this period in association with the Saladoid tradition. In fact, only four burials have been dated during the latter part of this period, two from the Rio site Tanamá, one from Maisabel, and another from Tibes. These were interred both in the central areas of the villages and under the refuse mounds.36 So far, the settlements associated with the Huecoid cultural manifestation do not present evidence of burials, which indicates the existence of diverse mortuary traditions during this period. This same diversity is noticeable in the use of trigonoliths as fundamental elements of the ritual paraphernalia of the Saladoid tradition. These are completely absent in Huecoid deposits.

It has traditionally been argued that the arrival of Saladoid and Huecoid societies led to the quick disappearance, displacement, or acculturation of the earlier groups that inhabited Puerto Rico. However, the available radiocarbon evidence points to the continued presence of these earlier societies for centuries after the arrival of Saladoid and Huecoid migrants. The interactions between these groups gave rise to the cultural diversification that was recorded during the next period.

Horizontal Diversification in Puerto Rico (450/500 ce–1000/1100 ce)

The beginning of this period is marked by an almost horizontal rupture of the exchange networks that emphasized the movement of semiprecious stones between Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles in 450–500 ce. The emphasis shifted toward the trade of other types of raw materials, most notably jadeitite for the production of celts and adzes.37 The studies carried out so far indicate that this material initially arrived in Puerto Rico and other islands of the Lesser Antilles (e.g., Antigua, St. Eustatius) through exchange routes that were initially projected from the valley of Motagua in Guatemala, which were later nurtured by the obtainment of jadeitites from Hispaniola. This type of material was exclusively used in Puerto Rico for the production of bifacial ground tools employed in wood processing. In fact, wood seems to have been an emphasized raw material during this period, as is reflected by the production of flakes of increasing sizes and the high incidence of wedges and other types of lithic tools for woodworking (e.g., buriles, biconvex adzes). This indicates the possibility that wooden commodities began to serve as items of trade of increasing significance during this time. The noted changes in these trade networks seems to have also entailed an alteration in the negotiation of the cultural codes that guided the decoration of the ceramics and the techniques and materials associated with their representation. In this sense, the drastic decrease in the use of white paint on Saladoid vessels that is registered at around 500 ce not only demonstrates a change in the symbolic systems that dictated these decorative patterns and changes in technological styles, but also involved an interruption in the movement over long distances of the kaolin-based pigments that were used to produce such paint.

This period also reflects a marked increase in the number of archaeological sites, which seems to denote both a significant demographic increase in the island and the fission of villages into smaller-scale collectivities.38 The first evidence of the construction of bateyes (i.e., ballcourts) on the island is registered during this period. The earliest date available is 650 ce, obtained in Las Flores in the south of the island. At this time, the mountainous interior was occupied more intensely and became a key context where groups associated with different ancestral traditions arrived at the island and engaged in a variety of interactions. These engagements among groups with diverse cultural ancestries resulted in a marked diversification in cultural elements, such as the practices of corporal modification. The incorporation of tabular occipital oblique cranial deformation began in this period. The fact that this practice was present only in certain individuals seems to indicate its employment as an emblem of alterity that reflects differences of ethnic character, social status, and so on.39 This diversity is also noticeable in mortuary practices. Some settlements show the presence of burials outside the central areas of the villages, as well as inside the residences and the caves. In fact, the caves seem to have become a cultural focus of marked importance, particularly for superstructural activities. This period also marks a surge in the quantity and symbolic array of rock art, which started with the production of anthropomorphic representations and later included zoomorphic and increasingly composite forms.40

These diversification processes are also observed in the ceramic traditions, given the appearance of various styles in addition to the continuation of previously established styles. An interesting case is that of the Cuevas and Pure Ostiones styles, which were previously considered to be sequential. New chronological information indicates that they began to be produced at the same time.41 The duration of these styles varies on the island. For example, the Cuevas style was produced for more than six hundred years in the east of Puerto Rico, while in the west this style seems to have a duration of approximately four hundred years.42 In particular, the Cuevas style, which was the one in Rouse’s model that had the highest temporal resolution of all the styles defined for the island, seems to occur for a period of time at least three times greater than previously considered, as has been documented by Pestle in his dating of burials associated with this cultural component in eastern Puerto Rico, including some with ceramic offerings of this style.43

One of the elements that made the aforementioned demographic increase possible was the development of agricultural techniques that augmented the productivity of the land, among which is the aholla'o de mina and the montones.44 The use of these techniques was particularly important given the limited presence of protein resources on the island, which could have motivated the cultivation of plants such as maize and beans, which contributed this key dietary element. Zamia was purportedly also consumed in some instances in tandem with detoxifying worms. The emphasis on zamia and maize in the indigenous food repertoire seems to have been much more pronounced than previously thought.45

In this period, contacts with the surrounding continents, particularly with northern Colombia, continued to be registered. This is indicated by the import of the only other domesticated animal introduced to the Antilles in addition to the dog, the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus). Puerto Rico presents the earliest and densest evidence of this type of rodent.46 Given its finding in ritual contexts, some have argued that guinea pigs constituted high-status foods related to superstructural activities whereas others argue that they were a communally shared, non-elite food.47 Recent genetic research has indicated that “guinea pigs were introduced initially to Puerto Rico from the modern-day region of Colombia,” thus leading to “infer direct human movement between the Caribbean Antilles and northwestern South America.”48

The set of social processes recorded during this period resulted in a great degree of cultural pluralism in Puerto Rico, reflected not only between sites but also within them as evidenced by the great mix of styles that is recorded in most of the documented deposits of this period. An example of communities that might have contained inhabitants from distinct ancestral traditions is that of Salto Arriba, where different styles such as the Cuevas, Pure Ostiones, and Monserrate are found in the same stratigraphic units.49

Political and Religious Nucleation (1000/1100 ce–1493/1508 ce)

Increased political and superstructural alignment in Puerto Rico between 1000 and 1100 ce is reflected in the production of ritual paraphernalia, which is characterized by the reproduction of a set of codes that denote the articulation of a diffusely shared symbolic reservoir that has been termed “Tainoness.”50 These codes are mainly reflected in sumptuary goods, some of which were also deployed for the public display of power or prestige.51 This is indicated by the increase in size and iconographic complexity of the ideotechnic pieces produced during this period, some of which are highly elaborated. The most notable are the stone belts, elbow stones, and monolithic axes.52 The distributional data indicate that the central area of Puerto Rico was a nuclear region in which some of the most conspicuous elements of the previously mentioned symbolic reservoir were negotiated and articulated. These were structured by individuals and collectivities that seem to have retained important differences in other social and cultural aspects.

Elements of this symbolic system are also reflected in some civic-ceremonial centers, as seen in Caguana, Jacanas, and Tibes. In some cases, these cultic centers contain narratives presented in petroglyphs that have been argued to mythically legitimize the political power of lineages, collectivities, or personages of importance.53 The distribution of these ballcourts is concentrated in the central part of the island.54 The available chronological data indicate that sites with multiple ballcourts emerged around 1100 ce, as seen in Salto Arriba, Caguana, Viví, and Tibes. These three sites seem to have been functioning concomitantly, at least during a segment of their lifespan. Interestingly, the bateyes constructed in some of these sites begin to present homologous codes reflected in both their architectural layout and in the rock art that surrounds them, which reaffirms the idea of a ritual alignment during this period possibly associated with what is known as religious routinization.55 This is evident in the similarities observed in the architectural layout between Tibes and Caguana and in the iconography represented in Jácanas and Caguana. It is interesting that some of these sites with multiple bateyes and complex iconography are associated with bodies of water that seem to bind them and create potential rituals or pilgrimage routes between them (figures 6 and 7).

Current Perspectives in the Precolonial Archaeology of Puerto Rico

Figure 6. Anthropomorphic petroglyphs, Jácanas (left) and Caguana (right). Photograph by Reniel Rodríguez Ramos.

Current Perspectives in the Precolonial Archaeology of Puerto Rico

Figure 7. Caguana Batey, Utuado. Photograph by Reniel Rodríguez Ramos.

In the case of the mountainous interior, whose occupation strongly intensified during this period, the topographic diversity in the region was mirrored at the social level given the marked variety in the types of sites identified in the area. Not only is there an increase in the number of deposits with multiple bateyes, but also of other sites that contain a single enclosure and associated domestic material, which has been associated with groups or individuals of rank.56 There are also smaller sites corresponding to family units and other vacant locations that present ritual enclosures without any evidence of domestic activity. In this period the caves continued to be used, in many cases for ceremonial purposes. In addition, new practices of intensive agriculture are documented, including the presence of terraces and irrigation channels like those observed in interior sites such as Las Planadas in Cayey (figure 8).57 During this period there are also cases of pre-Hispanic engineering work such as the construction of camellones, surficial leveling of extended areas, and the creation of roads projecting from bateyes, among others.

Current Perspectives in the Precolonial Archaeology of Puerto Rico

Figure 8. Terraces, Las Planadas, Cayey. Photograph by Reniel Rodríguez Ramos.

There is also a drastic decrease in the presence of Cuevas and Monserrate styles of pottery, while those of the Pure and Modified Ostiones as well as Santa Elena continue to be produced. By 1200/1300 the stylistic variability of pottery begins to decrease, giving emphasis to the production of ceramics with decorative patterns associated with the Capá and Esperanza styles. The presence of ceramics associated with the Boca Chica style is also noticeable, as has also been identified on islands of the Lesser Antilles such as Saba and Guadalupe.58 This reflects that the articulation of the ritual grammar associated with Tainoness exceeded island borders and was negotiated by extremely diverse groups of the insular Caribbean, particularly during the last three centuries before the European invasion of the archipelago. It has been argued that these codes not only had resonance at the Antillean level, but were also being negotiated with societies of surrounding continents with whom indigenous groups from Puerto Rico maintained interaction nexuses, creating the diffuse unity within the cultural mosaic that has characterized the Greater Caribbean ever since.59

Discussion of the Literature

Different approaches to the ancient history of Puerto Rico was first reflected in the archaeological literature of the island om the late 19th century. The initial scholarship on the early history of Puerto Rico was articulated by local intellectuals who developed an interest in the cultural makeup of the indigenous peoples who encountered Spaniards.60 These included Cayetano Coll y Toste, Calixto Romero, José Julián Acosta, Agustín Stahl, Eduardo Newman Gandía, and Manuel Zeno Gandía, among others, all of whom began to describe different aspects of the primeval inhabitants of the island based on two main sources of information: the early Spanish chronicles that described their ways of life and the study of some of the major artifact that had been collected. The collections of George Látimer and Pr. José María Nazario y Cancel are of great significance, and the latter included about eight hundred enigmatic artifacts that contained inscriptions deemed by the priest to represent ancient Hebrew-Chaldaic script. These continue to be a matter of debate and study.61

The emphasis on the local research of the ancient past of the island was altered with the invasion of Puerto Rico by the United States in 1898, which led some of these intellectuals to shift their attention to the political processes that were taking place at the time. The new regime brought with it researchers who were interested in generating their own panorama on the ancient history of Puerto Rico and of obtaining artifacts for their homeland institutions. J. W. Fewkes of the Bureau of American Ethnology collected a wide collection of archaeological materials that are now in the custody of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. Fewkes not only produced one of the first formal typologies of important artifacts from the island such as three-pointed stones and stone belts, but also prepared detailed contributions that used both artifactual and ethnohistoric data to articulate his ideas about the cultural configuration and origins of the indigenous people of Puerto Rico.

Other researchers from the United States followed, including J. Alden Mason, who was brought to Puerto Rico within the Porto Rico Project that was directed by Franz Boas. His best-known work was that conducted in Caguana, a major ballcourt site in central Puerto Rico.62 Samuel K. Lothrop from the Peabody Museum at Harvard University also conducted a survey of archaeological sites on the island. And Herbert Spinden from the American Museum of Natural History is notable for his work on excavations at the Punta Ostiones Site in southwestern Puerto Rico.

Local researchers also took part in important archaeological work in the third decade of the 20th century. The most notable is Adolfo de Hostos, who conducted salient research on the colonial context of Caparra and made stratigraphic excavations at other important sites such as the previously mentioned Punta Ostiones. Some of his most important contributions were later collated in his Anthropological Papers.63

The archaeological landscape of the island changed dramatically in the 1930s with the arrival of two well-known scholars in Americanist archaeology: Froelich Rainey and Irving Rouse. Rainey initially arrived as part of Yale University’s Caribbean Anthropology Program and conducted research at several sites including Canas (Ponce), Cotto (Isabela), and Monserrate (Luquillo). This research led to the production of the first dissertation written on the archaeology of the island.64 Rouse first arrived in Puerto Rico as an assistant to Rainey and later returned as a researcher with the Scientific Survey of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Rouse produced some of the most fundamental contributions to the archaeology of Puerto Rico. He developed a model for eliciting the sequence of cultures that inhabited the island through time based on his excavations and study of collections from sites throughout Puerto Rico. Rouse published the results of this work in different parts divided on the basis of geographic areas of the island, which he thought were culturally significant in ancient times.65 His work entailed the production of chronocultural charts that diagrammed the spatiotemporal distribution of the different cultural entities present on the island. This work was a major contribution not only to Puerto Rican history but also to the rise of the culture-historical approach in Americanist archaeology. Rouse’s extensive work eventually culminated in his seminal publication The Tainos: Rise and Decline of the People Who Greeted Columbus.

Rouse’s work was nurtured by the contributions of Ricardo Alegría, a leading figure in the development of Puerto Rican archaeology. Alegría’s contributions were not limited to archaeology He was also one of the creators of some of the most important cultural institutions on the island, most notably the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. His archaeological research led to the publication of several works, including research on ballcourts and plazas and excavations at the Maria de la Cruz and Hacienda Grande sites.66

After a marked decline in the number of publications registered in the 1950s and 1960s, the next decade marked a resurgence in archaeological contributions, some of which projected from a progressive perspective generated by researchers from the islands. Some of the most significant contributions were produced by a breed of researchers from the Marxist-based Arqueología Social school, as is reflected in the work of Diana López Sotomayor’s master’s thesis on her research on the island of Vieques.67 Another example of that approach in Puerto Rico was the work conducted by Dominican researcher Marcio Veloz Maggiolo and a group of Puerto Rican archaeologists at the Cayo Cofresí site in the southern part of the island.68

In the 1970s a major figure in the archaeology of Puerto Rico and the rest of the Antilles arrived from the Dominican Republic. Luis Chanlatte Baik worked at the Centro de Investigaciones Arqueológicas of the Universidad de Puerto Rico in Río Piedras, which was founded by Ricardo Alegría. He published the results of his research on the sites of Tecla and, most notably, La Hueca-Sorcé, where he reported the finding of a new cultural manifestation that he labeled the Huecoid. Chanlatte Baik’s publications, many of which he coauthored with his esteemed colleague Yvonne Narganes Storde, were significant not only because of this newfound tradition, but also because they provided the first significant challenge to Rouse’s model by proposing the cultural and social development of earlier so-called Archaic peoples into later cultural manifestations as a result of their interactions with the later Saladoid and Huecoid newcomers into the island.69

During the latter part of this decade as well as the 1980s and 1990s, an archaeological explosion was registered in Puerto Rico through two main events: the inception of processual archaeology into archaeological research and the practice of contract archaeology to comply with state and federal laws. Studies on settlement patterns and ecological approaches became more conspicuous, as they were conducted by both foreign and local archaeologists. This period also marked the increased production of theses and dissertations on the archaeology of the island that included not only detailed analyses of artifact assemblages, but also studies of intrasite patterning and other lines of research that were in vogue at the time. Importantly, some of these theses were being produced as part of the Estudios Puertorriqueños program of the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe. As part of the work done in contract archaeology, a great deal of gray literature has been generated, most of which is available at the Consejo para la Protección del Patrimonio Arqueológico Terrestre de Puerto Rico and the Oficina Estatal de Conservación Histórica.

Significant scholarship has been produced in the first decades of the 21st century that coincides with the formal preparation of a new breed of Puerto Rican archaeologists and continued interest in the island by nonnative researchers. This has included research on the analysis of botanical and faunal remains, isotope studies, studies on landscape and the formation of communities, and revisionist work on material culture and its ensuing implications on the current notions of the precolonial and colonial history of the island.

Primary Sources

Documentary evidence as well as artifact collections related to the precolonial archaeology of Puerto Rico are widely scattered on the island and in the United States and Europe. As previously noted, in Puerto Rico reports of most surveys and excavations are found at the archives of the Consejo para la Protección del Patrimonio Arqueológico Terrestre de Puerto Rico and the Oficina Estatal de Conservación Histórica, both located in Old San Juan. Published literature on Puerto Rican archaeology can also be obtained at the Colección Puertorriqueña of the Universidad de Puerto Rico in Río Piedras and the library of the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe. Archival material can also be consulted at the Archivo General de Puerto Rico.

Fieldnotes and other important documents can be located at researchers’ home institutions. For instance, the notes from J. W. Fewkes, as well as the collection of artifacts that he obtained, can be consulted at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. The manuscripts, notes, and artifacts generated by Samuel K. Lothrop can be found at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, while those of Irving Rouse are housed at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. The materials obtained by Herbert Spinden can be consulted at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, while additional artifacts obtained by a quite diverse suite of collectors are stored at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. For a description of the main collections available at US institutions, the work of Paola Schiapaccasse should be a primary source of information.70

In Europe, artifact collections from Puerto Rico are found at several museums, the most notable of which are the du Quai Branly, which houses the materials obtained by Alphonse Pinart in the 19th century, and the Museo Antropológico de Madrid, which also has an important collection from the island. Artifacts from Puerto Rico are also located in the British Museum, and as part of the Gudmund Hatt collection at the National Museum of Denmark. For more details of artifact collections from Puerto Rico and other islands of the Antilles in European museums, consult the work of Mariana de Campos Francozo and Amy Strecker.71

The main archaeology deposit of Puerto Rico is that of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, located in Old San Juan. Important collections and some of the manuscripts from Ricardo Alegría’s archaeological research are housed at Casa Margarida and the Centro de Investigaciones Arqueológicas, of the Universidad de Puerto Rico in Río Piedras.

Digital resources for the study of the archaeology of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in general are widely available. The main source of information can be found in The Proceedings of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology, which contain a suite of articles that provide an overview of archaeological research trends in the islands. Most volumes can be found at the Digital Collections of the University of Florida. The proceedings of the Encuentro de Investigadores, organized yearly by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, also include important papers on the archaeology of the island.

Cuba Arqueológica serves as a digital repository of some of the major works on Caribbean archaeology. Articles on Puerto Rican archaeology can also be found in the open-access Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, published by the University of Florida, the Caribbean Journal of Science, published by the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez, and Caribbean Studies, published by the Insitituto de Estudios del Caribe of the Universidad de Puerto Rico in Río Piedras. Manioc provides ancient maps and access to important archaeological documents such as the “Scientific Survey of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.”

A site created by Jaime Pagán Jiménez, Coalición Puertorriqueña de Arqueología, also contains useful information on the archaeology of the island and some of the major issues that have been addressed from an archaeopolitical perspective.Additional resources on Puerto Rican archaeology can also be found in the Enciclopedia de Puerto Rico en Línea, published by the Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades (Historia Precolombina de Puerto Rico and El Gran Caribe en Tiempos Precolumbinos, for example). Further information can also be found at a blog created by the Organización Puertorriqueña de Arqueólogos.

Further Readings

Alegría, Ricardo E. Historia de nuestros indios. San Juan: Colección de Estudios Puertorriqueños, 1990.Find this resource:

    Chanltatte Baik, Luis A., and Yvonne Narganes Storde. La nueva arqueología de Puerto Rico (su proyección en las Antillas). Santo Domingo: Editora Taller, 1990.Find this resource:

      Coll y Toste, Cayetano. Prehistoria de Puerto Rico. Bilbao: Editorial Vasco Americana, 1897.Find this resource:

        Crespo Torres, Edwin. “Estudio comparativo biocultural entre dos poblaciones prehistóricas de la isla de Puerto Rico: Punta Candelero y Paso del Indio.” PhD. diss., Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2000.Find this resource:

          Curet, Luis A. Caribbean Paleodemography: Population, Culture History, and Sociopolitical Processes in Ancient Puerto Rico. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2005.Find this resource:

            Curet, Luis A. Tibes: People, Power, and Ritual at the Center of the Cosmos. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2010.Find this resource:

              Dávila Dávila, Ovidio. Arqueología de la Isla de Mona. San Juan: Editorial Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, 2003.Find this resource:

                Fewkes, Jesse W.The Aborigines of Porto Rico and the Neighboring Islands. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1907.Find this resource:

                  García Goyco, Osvaldo. Influencias Mayas y Aztecas en los Tainos de las Antillas Mayores. Editorial Xibalbay: San Juan, 1984.Find this resource:

                    Gutiérrez, Madeliz and Jorge Rodríguez. “The Use of the Style Category in Puerto Rico: Moving Towards a Revaluation of the Concept.” Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 50, no. 1 (2009): 119–145.Find this resource:

                      Martínez Torres, Roberto. “El Yacimiento Arcaico La Tembladera en Morovis, Puerto Rico.” Master’s thesis, Estudios Puertorriqueños, Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe, San Juan, 1994.Find this resource:

                        Moscoso, Francisco. Sociedad y economía de los Taínos. San Juan: Editorial Edil, 1999.Find this resource:

                          Oliver, José R. Caciques and Cemí Idols: The Web Spun by Taino Rulers between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2009.Find this resource:

                            Oliver, José R. El centro ceremonial de Caguana, Puerto Rico. Simbolismo icongráfico, cosmovisión y el poderío caciquil Taíno de Boriquén. Oxford, UK: Archaeopress, 1998.Find this resource:

                              Pagán Jiménez, Jaime R. De antiguos pueblos y culturas botánicas en el Puerto Rico indígena. El archipiélago borincano y la llegada de los primeros pobladores agroceramistas. Oxford, U.K.: Archaeopress, 2007.Find this resource:

                                Pantel, Agamemon G. “Precolumbian Flaked Stone Assemblages in the West Indies.” PhD diss., Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1988.Find this resource:

                                  Pérez, Roberto. El secreto mejor perdido. Camuy, PR: Ediciones Much Ma’ Ho’l, 2017.Find this resource:

                                    Pestle, William J. “Diet and Society in Prehistoric Puerto Rico: An Isotopic Approach.” PhD diss., University of Illinois, Chicago, 2010.Find this resource:

                                      Rivera Collazo, Isabel. “Between Land and Sea in Puerto Rico: Climates, Coastal Landscapes and Human Occupations in the Mid-Holocene Caribbean.” PhD diss., University College London, 2011.Find this resource:

                                        Robiou Lamarche, Sebastián. Taínos y Caribes. San Juan: Editorial Punto y Coma, 2003.Find this resource:

                                          Rodríguez López, Miguel. “Excavations at Maruca, a Preceramic Site in Southern Puerto Rico.” In Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology. Edited by John Winter, 166–180. New York: IACA, 1999.Find this resource:

                                            Rodríguez López, Miguel. “The Zoned-Incised Crosshatched (ZIC) Ware of Early Precolumbian Ceramic Age Sites in Puerto Rico and Vieques Island.” In Early Ceramic Population Lifeways and Adaptive Strategies in the Caribbean. Edited by P. E. Siegel, 249–266. Oxford: BAR International Series, 1989.Find this resource:

                                              Rodríguez Meléndez, Yasha. “Social Life of Bateyes: Archaeology, Preservation and Heritage in Puerto Rico.” PhD diss., Cornell University, 2007.Find this resource:

                                                Rodríguez Ramos, Reniel. Rethinking Puerto Rican Precolonial History. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2010.Find this resource:

                                                  Rouse, Irving. The Tainos: Rise and Decline of the People Who Greeted Columbus. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.Find this resource:

                                                    Rouse, Irving, and Ricardo E. Alegría. Excavations at María de la Cruz Cave and Hacienda Grande Village Site, Loiza, Puerto Rico. New Haven: Yale University Publications in Anthropology, 1990.Find this resource:

                                                      Schiappacasse, Paola A. “Archaeology of Isolation: The 19th Century Lazareto de Isla de Cabras, Puerto Rico.” PhD diss., Syracuse University, 2011.Find this resource:

                                                        Siegel, Peter E., ed. Ancient Borinquen: Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Native Puerto Rico. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2005.Find this resource:

                                                          Stahl, Agustín. Los indios borinqueños. Estudios etnográficos. San Juan: Imprenta y Librería de Acosta, 1889.Find this resource:

                                                            Sued Badillo, Jalil. Agüeybaná el bravo: la recuperación de un símbolo. San Juan: Ediciones Puerto, 2008.Find this resource:

                                                              Torres, Joshua M. “The Social Construction of Community, Polity, and Place in Ancient Puerto Rico (AD 600–AD 1200).” PhD diss., University of Florida, 2010.Find this resource:

                                                                Walker, Jeffery B. “Stone Collars, Elbow Stones and Three-Pointers, and the Nature of Taíno Ritual and Myth.” PhD diss., University of Washington, 1993.Find this resource:


                                                                  (1.) T. Castanha, The Myth of Indigenous Caribbean Extinction (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); and U. Báez Santiago, H. N. Martínez Prieto, and L. R. Domínguez, Puerto Rico: la gran mentira (Camuy, PR: Movimiento Indígena Jíbaro Chib’al’o-Boricua, 2008).

                                                                  (2.) Gray literature refers to technical reports and other forms of literature that are produced to comply with government agencies, which are produced outside the common academic publication channels; and Puerto Rico State Law 112 and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

                                                                  (5.) Rouse, The Tainos.

                                                                  (6.) F. Scarano, Puerto Rico: Cinco Siglos de Historia (Ciudad México: McGraw Hill Interamericana, 2011).

                                                                  (7.) For an example, see J. M. Guarch Delmonte, Estructura para las comunidades aborígenes de Cuba (Holguín: Ediciones Holguín, 1990).

                                                                  (8.) F. Braudel, The Perspective of the World (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992); and J. H. Bentley, “Cross-Cultural Interaction and Periodization in World History,” American Historical Review 101, no. 3 (1996): 749–770; E. Schortman and P. Urban, “Culture Contact Structure and Process,” in Studies in Culture Contact: Interaction, Culture Change, and Archaeology, ed. J. G. Cusick (Occasional Paper No. 25) (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Center for Archaeological Investigations, 1998): 102–125; R. Rodríguez Ramos, Rethinking Puerto Rican Precolonial History, Caribbean Archaeology and Ethnohistory, ed. L. A. Curet (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2010); and R. Rodríguez Ramos, J. M. Torres, W. J. Pestle, J. Oliver, and M. Rodríguez López, “Hacia una periodización histórica para el Puerto Rico precolonial,” in Proceedings of the XXVth International Congress for Caribbean Archaeology, eds. L. del Olmo et al. (San Juan: Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe and Universidad de Puerto Rico, 2017), 495–521.

                                                                  (9.) D. M. Carballo and B. Fortenberry, “Bridging Prehistory and History in the Archaeology of Cities”, Journal of Field Archaeology 40, no. 5 (2015): 542–559; and K. G. Lightfoot, “Cultural Contact Studies: Redefining the Relationship between Prehistoric and Historical Archaeology,” American Antiquity 60, no. 2 (1995): 199–217.

                                                                  (10.) C. Ayes Suárez, “Evaluación arqueológica tipo Fase 2, Angostura, Florida Afuera, Barceloneta, Puerto Rico” (San Juan: Consejo para la Protección del Patrimonio Arqueológico Terrestre de Puerto Rico, 1988); and R. Rodríguez Ramos, J. M. Torres, and J. R. Oliver, “Rethinking Time in Caribbean Archaeology,” in Island Shores, Distant Pasts: Archaeological and Biological Approaches to the Pre-Columbian Settlement of the Caribbean, ed. Scott Fitzpatrick and Ann Ross (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2010), 21–53.

                                                                  (11.) I. Rivera Collazo, “Between Land and Sea in Puerto Rico: Climates, Coastal Landscapes and Human Occupations in the Mid-Holocene Caribbean” (PhD diss., University College London, 2011); J. Vega, “The Archaeology of Coastal Change” (PhD diss., University of Florida, Gainesville, 1990); and J. J. Clark, Jeffrey J., J. B. Walker, and R. Rodríguez Ramos, “Depositional History and Evolution of the Paso del Indio Site, Vega Baja, Puerto Rico,” Geoarchaeology: An International Journal 18, no. 3 (2003): 625–648.

                                                                  (12.) R. Rodríguez Ramos and J. Pagán Jiménez, “Interacciones multivectoriales en el Circun-Caribe precolonial: Un vistazo desde las Antillas,” Caribbean Studies 34, no. 2 (2006): 103–143.

                                                                  (13.) J. R. Pagán Jiménez, “Human-Plant Dynamics in the Precolonial Antilles: A Synthetic Update,” in The Oxford Handbook of Caribbean Archaeology, ed. W. F. Keegan, C. Hofman, and R. Rodríguez Ramos (New York: Oxford University Press 2013), 391–406; J. R. Pagán, M. Rodríguez López, L. A. Chanlatte Baik and Yvonne Narganes Storde, “La temprana introducción y uso de algunas plantas domésticas, silvestres y cultivos en Las Antillas precolombinas,” Diálogo Antropológico 3, no. 10 (2005): 1–27; and L. A. Newsom, “Native West Indian Plant Use” (PhD diss., University of Florida, Gainesville, 1993).

                                                                  (14.) R. Rodríguez Ramos, J. R. Pagán Jiménez, and C. Hofman, “The Humanization of the Insular Caribbean,” in The Oxford Handbook of Caribbean Archaeology, ed. W. F. Keegan, C. Hofman, and R. Rodríguez Ramos (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 126–140.

                                                                  (15.) D. A. Burney, L. P. Burney, and R. D. E. McPhee, “Holocene Charcoal Stratigraphy from Laguna Tortuguero, Puerto Rico, and the Timing of Human Arrival on the Island,” Journal of Archaeological Science 21 (1994): 273–281.

                                                                  (16.) R. Rodríguez Ramos, E. Babilonia, L. A. Curet, and J. Ulloa Hung, “The Pre-Arawak Pottery Horizon in the Antilles: A New Approximation,” Latin American Antiquity 19, no. 1. (2008): 47–63.

                                                                  (17.) A. G. Pantel, “Nuestra percepción de los grupos preagrícolas en el Caribe,” Caribe Arqueológico 1 (1996): 8–11.

                                                                  (18.) R. Rodríguez Ramos, “La ocupación temprana del Interior montañoso de Puerto Rico: Los casos de Cueva Ventana y Salto Arriba” (San Juan: Puerto Rico State Historic Preservation Office, 2014); and R. Rodríguez Ramos, “La temporalidad absoluta del arte rupestre pictográfico en Puerto Rico” (San Juan: Puerto Rico State Historic Preservation Office, 2018).

                                                                  (19.) E. F. Crespo Torres, H. L. Mickleburgh, and R. Varcárcel Rojas, “The Study of Pre-Columbian Human Remains: From Descriptive Osteology to Bioarchaeological Approach,” in The Oxford Handbook of Caribbean Archaeology, ed. W. F. Keegan, C. L. Hofman, and R. Rodriguez Ramos (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 436–451.

                                                                  (20.) Rodríguez Ramos, “La temporalidad absoluta.”

                                                                  (21.) R. Rodríguez Ramos, Rethinking Puerto Rican Precolonial History (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2010); and J. R. Oliver, Caciques and Cemí Idols. The Web Spun by Taíno Rulers between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2009).

                                                                  (22.) Y. Narganes Storde, “Análisis de los restos faunísticos, yacimiento Maruca, Ponce, Puerto Rico,” in Excavaciones en el yacimiento Arcaico de Maruca, Ponce, Puerto Rico, ed. Miguel Rodríguez López (San Juan: Consejo para la Protección del Patrimonio Arqueológico Terrestre de Puerto Rico, 2004); and Y. Narganes Storde and Isabel Rivera Collazo, “La fauna del sitio de Angostura, Barceloneta, Puerto Rico,” in Proceedings of the XXIVth International Congress for Caribbean Archaeology, ed. B. Berard (Martinique, 2011), 296–299.

                                                                  (23.) M. Rodríguez López, “Early Trade Networks in the Caribbean,” in Proceedings of the XIVth International Congress for Caribbean Archaeology, ed. A. Cummings and P. King (Barbados Museum and Historical Society, 1993), 306–314; C. L. Hofman, A. Bright, A. Boomert, and S. Knippenberg, “Island Rhythms. The Web of Social Relationships and Interaction Networks in the pre-Columbian Lesser Antilles,” Latin American Antiquity 18, no. 3 (2007): 243–268; R. Rodríguez Ramos, “Close Encounters of the Caribbean Kind,” in Islands at the Crossroads: Migration, Seafaring, and Interaction in the Caribbean, ed. L. A. Curet (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2011), 164–192; and J. W. Hoopes and O. M. Fonseca, “Goldwork and Chibchan Identity: Endogenous Change and Diffuse Unity in the Isthmo-Colombian Area,” in Gold and Power in Ancient Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia: Proceedings of the Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks, ed. J. Quilter and J. W. Hoopes (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection., 2003), 49–89.

                                                                  (24.) Rouse, The Tainos; and L. A. Chanlatte Baik, La Hueca y Sorcé (Vieques, Puerto Rico): Primeras Migraciones Agroalfareras Antillanas (Santo Domingo: printed by the author, 1981).

                                                                  (25.) R. Rodríguez Ramos, “Lithic Reduction Trajectories at La Hueca and Punta Candelero Sites, Puerto Rico” (master’s thesis, Texas A&M University, College Station, 2001); A. Martínez, “Identificación de pigmentos en cerámicas Saladoides y Huecoides de Puerto Rico: Colores que hablan desde el pasado,” (paper presented at the Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras, 2013); and T. M. Santiago-Rodriguez, Y. M. Narganes-Storde, L. Chanlatte, E. Crespo-Torres, G. A. Toranzos, R. Jimenez-Flores, A. Hamrick, and Raul J. Cano, “Microbial Communities in Pre-Columbian Coprolites,” PLOS One 8, no. 6 (2013): e65191.

                                                                  (26.) Y. Narganes Storde, “Nueva cronología de varios sitios de Puerto Rico y Vieques,” in Proceedings of the 21st International Congress for Caribbean Archaeology, ed. B. Reid (Trinidad: University of the West Indies, 2007), 275–281; and P. E. Siegel, Ideology, Power, and Social Complexity in Prehistoric Puerto Rico (PhD diss., State University of New York, Binghamton, 1992).

                                                                  (27.) R. Rodríguez Ramos and J. W. Hoopes, “The View from the Caribbean,” in Central American and Colombian Art at Dumbarton Oaks, ed. C. McEwan, J. Hoopes, and B. Cockrell (Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, in press); and R. Rodríguez Ramos, “Isthmo-Antillean Engagements,” in The Oxford Handbook of Caribbean Archaeology, ed. W. F. Keegan, C. Hofman, and R. Rodríguez Ramos (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 155–170.

                                                                  (28.) J. Laffoon, R. Rodríguez Ramos, L. A. Chanlatte Baik, Y. Narganes Storde, M. Rodríguez Lopez, G. R. Davies, and Corinne L. Hofman, “Long-Distance Exchange in the Precolonial Circum-Caribbean: A Multi-isotope Study of Animal Tooth Pendants from Puerto Rico,” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 35 (2014): 220–233.

                                                                  (29.) S. M. Fitzpatrick, “The Southward Route Hypothesis,” in The Oxford Handbook of Caribbean Archaeology, ed. W. Keegan, C. Hofman, and R. Rodgriguez Ramos (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 198–204; and J. B. Haviser, “Settlement Strategies in Early Ceramic Age,” in Indigenous People of the Caribbean, ed. S. Wilson (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997), 57–69; and Rodríguez Ramos, Rethinking Puerto Rican Precolonial History.

                                                                  (30.) S. Knippenberg, Stone Artifact Production and Exchange among the Northern Lesser Antilles (PhD diss., University of Leiden, Utrecht, 2006).

                                                                  (31.) A. Cody, “Distribution of Exotic Stone Artifacts through the Lesser Antilles: Their Implications for Prehistoric Interaction and Exchange,” in Proceedings of the 14th International Congress for Caribbean Archaeology, ed. A. Cummings and P. King (Barbados: Barbados Museum and Historical Society, 1993), 204–226; and Rodríguez López, “Early Trade Networks.”

                                                                  (32.) W. J. Pestle, “Diet and Society in Prehistoric Puerto Rico: An Isotopic Approach” (PhD diss., University of Illinois, Chicago, 2010).

                                                                  (33.) P. E. Siegel, “Ideology and Culture Change in Puerto Rico: A View from the Community,” Journal of Field Archaeology 23, no. 3 (1996): 313–333.

                                                                  (34.) M. Rodríguez López, “Enterramientos humanos y ofrendas mortuorias en Punta Candelero, Puerto Rico,” in Proceedings of the 16th International Congress for Caribbean Archaeology, ed. Gerard Richard (Basse Terre: Conseil Regional de la Guadeloupe, 1997).

                                                                  (35.) L. A. Chanlatte Baik, “Asentamiento Agro-I, Complejo Cultural La Hueca, Vieques, Puerto Rico,” in Proceedings of the 10th International Congress for Caribbean Archaeology, ed. L. Allaire and F. M. Mayer (Montreal: University of Montreal, 1985), 225–250.

                                                                  (36.) L. A. Curet and J. R. Oliver, “Mortuary Practices, Social Development and Ideology in Precolumbian Puerto Rico,” Latin American Antiquity 9, no. 2 (1998): 277–319; M. Rodríguez López, “Religious Beliefs of the Saladoid People, in The Indigenous People of the Caribbean, ed. S. M. Wilson (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997), 80–87; Siegel, “Ideology and Culture Change”; and E. F. Crespo Torres, “Estudio comparativo biocultural entre dos poblaciones prehistóricas de la isla de Puerto Rico: Punta Candelero y Paso del Indio” (PhD diss., Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, 2000).

                                                                  (37.) R. Rodríguez Ramos, “The Circulation of Jade across the Caribbeanscape,” in Communities in Contact: Essays in Archaeology, Ethnohistory, and Ethnography of the Amerindian Circum-Caribbean, ed. C. Hofman and A. van Duijvenbode (Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2011), 114–136.

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