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In Memoriam

Joseph C. Miller, University of Virginia

Series:

Martijn van den Bel and Gérard Collomb

Abstract

During the 16th century, the Amerindian population of the Guianas was already aware and in contact with the Spanish settlement at Margarita. The Aruacas, the privileged allies of the Spanish, relied on their large socio-political (trade) network to obtain victuals and commercial goods from the Guianas but also raided Caribe villages to assure red slaves for the Spanish plantations and mines in the Antilles. The first encounters between the Amerindians of the eastern Guianas and the English, Dutch and French show fear of the Spanish and their allies but this arrival is taken by the local population to wage war against the Spanish and Aruacas but this time also accompanied by a North European force. These encounters took place mainly in the embouchures of rivers along the Guiana Coast, establishing a ‘zone franche’ or socio-economical free zone populated by Europeans and Amerindians which was dominated by the latter, notably the Yao of the Oyapock estuary, who controlled this coastal area through access of interior beyond the falls. In this contribution we will focus upon the Amerindian policies and alliances in these encounters, dubbed the ‘Yao Connection.’

Series:

Marlieke Ernst and Corinne L. Hofman

Abstract

Placed within the context of the ERC-NEXUS1492 research, this paper focusses on transformations in indigenous social and material worlds in Early Colonial Hispaniola. The initial intercultural encounters in the New World have led to the creation of entirely new social identities and changing material culture repertoires in the first decennia after colonization. The incorporation of European earthenwares in the indigenous sites of El Cabo and Playa Grande will be contrasted with the presence of indigenous ceramics and new manufacturing traditions in the early Spanish colonial sites of Cotuí and Concepción de la Vega. The transformation processes in ceramic repertoires will be assessed through a multi-pronged approach using theories of gift giving, appropriation and imitation combined with archaeological and ethnoarchaeological studies of the operational sequence (chaine opératoire) of ceramic manufacture. The paper presents new insights into the dynamics of Amerindian-European-African interactions, mutual influences and resilience at the onset of colonial encounters in the Americas.

Series:

Mary Jane Berman and Perry L. Gnivecki

Abstract

During the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, the Bahama archipelago functioned as a colonial frontier impacted by Spanish policies and practices. European objects, which made their way there through numerous pathways, were easily incorporated into the indigenous (Lucayan) economic and cultural systems due to the precedents set by the Lucayan’s familiarity with non-local items and peoples through trade, exchange, and raids. Additionally, the Lucayans found European objects to be analogous to materials they knew, understood, and valued, and so they were easily assimilated into their material repertoire. The absence of direct colonial control, the sporadic and intermittent duration of direct contact experiences with the Spanish, and the manner in which the Lucayans were removed from their homeland are determined to be the reasons why we find little material evidence of Spanish encounters, minimal to no alteration of European objects, and to date, no incorporation of Spanish artifacts or elements into indigenous artifacts.

Series:

Corinne L. Hofman, Menno L.P. Hoogland, Arie Boomert, and John Angus Martin

Abstract

During the colonization processes vast webs of social relationships emerged between Amerindians, Europeans, and Africans in the Lesser Antilles. The intercultural dynamics which materialized during this period were likely contingent on local and regional networks of peoples, goods, and ideas which had developed in the Caribbean over the previous 5000 years. This paper focusses on the impacts of colonial encounters on indigenous Carib societies by studying transformations in settlement pattern and organization, material culture, and network strategies. Recent excavations at the early colonial sites of Argyle, St. Vincent and La Poterie, Grenada have revealed the remains of indigenous villages and a set of material culture evidencing the first Amerindian, European and African interactions in the southern Lesser Antilles. In this paper, we will advance novel perspectives on intercultural dynamics in colonial encounter situations and contribute to discussions of indigenous resistance, cultural transformations, and cultural diversity in an ever globalizing world.

Series:

Shea Henry and Robyn Woodward

Abstract

In June 1503, Columbus and his two battered ships were run aground in the sheltered harbor of St. Ann’s Bay Jamaica, 1.4 kilometers from the village of Maima. After spending a year marooned there, the Spanish left with the knowledge of the people and resources of the area. Six years later in 1509 the Spanish returned to found the Jamaican colonial capital of Sevilla la Nueva. By the time Sevilla la Nueva was abandoned in 1534, Maima was deserted. Historical records kept by the colonists indicate that the villagers were brought to the colony and made into laborers and wives. The material culture and dietary practices at Sevilla la Nueva reflects this through the presence of colonoware and Taíno adapted European goods. At Maima, very few European goods and domesticate animals were found. This, and the presence of traditional material culture and diet throughout the site, indicates continuity of a traditional way of life until their final act of resistance, abandoning Maima. This paper will discuss the adapted European/Taíno material culture and faunal remains found at both Sevilla la Neuva and Maima, illuminating, in some way, the ultimately devastating impact of contact and colonialism.

Series:

Roberto Valcárcel Rojas

Abstract

Northeastern Cuba, particularly the modern-day province of Holguin, is one of the areas of the Caribbean with the largest number of indigenous sites yielding European objects. In the sixteenth century, most of these sites maintained direct or indirect links with Europeans, while others were transformed into permanent colonial spaces by the Spaniards. The study of European objects found at these sites suggests that some of these items were acquired through exchange or as gifts. However, the largest collections of objects appear to have originally functioned as tools or other items used by both Europeans and Indians for mining and agricultural labor. We believe this pattern was established as a result of a process of conquest and colonization specific to Cuba, during which European colonizers rapidly managed to control the local population, thus limiting the indigenous capacity for negotiation.

Series:

Jaime J. Awe and Christophe Helmke

Abstract

Researchers who have focused attention on Maya – Spanish interaction along the Belize colonial frontier note that the relationship between these two contrasting cultures was anything but amicable. As consequence of this bellicose relationship, some authors suggest that few material goods of European origin were actually traded or integrated into frontier settlements. They also contend that whereas ethnohistoric reports describing the missionizing efforts of Spanish priests provide us with important data on Maya life during the early colonial period, the Spanish entradas provide precious little information about the material goods they gifted to the Maya, and even less about how the Maya utilized these foreign goods. In this chapter, we discuss how the ethnohistoric record actually offers us considerable information concerning the consumption of European objects by the Maya, and that archaeological discoveries in Belize, Guatemala and Yucatan provide increasing evidence to suggest that a variety of objects of European origin were integrated into Maya material culture. The archaeological record also indicates that objects of European origin were used as status symbols by the Maya elite, that they sometimes served mundane purposes, or were deposited in caches and offerings in sacred places where they were ritually decommissioned.

Series:

Russell N. Sheptak and Rosemary A. Joyce

Abstract

In this chapter, we emphasize the novel construction of defensive walls at Ticamaya, a precolumbian settlement in Caribbean Honduras that continued to be occupied into the nineteenth century, and at allied sites along the coast of the Gulf of Honduras, as likely material traces of innovations mediated by Spanish knowledge mobilized for indigenous resistance to Spanish colonization. Archaeological excavations at Ticamaya, described in 16th century Spanish documents as the seat of a leader of indigenous resistance, identified confirmed deposits from the period covering initial conflict with the Spanish, roughly 1520–1536. Yet these excavations produced no use of European goods until the late 18th c. Contemporary with Ticamaya, the site of Naco to the west hosted troops sent by Cortes, and at least one majolica vessel was discarded there. The contrast could lead to the conclusion that Ticamaya was unaffected by the Spanish encounter until it was incorporated into the colony. By considering apparently indigenous things as outcomes of tactical coping with Spanish invasion, we seek to blur line apparently firm lines between native and foreign materialities and define a third option of hybrid cultures.