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Cuban Archaeology in the Caribbean$
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Ivan Roksandic

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781683400028

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683400028.001.0001

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Communities in Contact

Communities in Contact

Health and Paleodemography at El Chorro de Maíta, Cuba

Chapter:
(p.83) 6 Communities in Contact
Source:
Cuban Archaeology in the Caribbean
Author(s):

DarLene A. Weston

Roberto Valcárcel Rojas

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9781683400028.003.0007

Cuba was among the first areas in the New World where contact occurred between indigenous Amerindian populations and Europeans. As the cemetery of El Chorro de Maíta encompasses indigenous use of the site through the pre-Columbian and post-contact period, it affords an opportunity to examine the influence of European contact on the health and paleodemography of the Amerindian population. Analysis of the 133 individuals at the site has revealed a population almost free of skeletal pathology, apart from a few cases of joint degeneration and minor trauma. The high proportion of young adult and child burials, coupled with a low number of mature adult burials is highly suggestive of a catastrophic mortality profile. The mortality profile and the relative paucity of pathological skeletal lesions suggests that acute infectious disease may have been an etiological factor in the construction of the site’s demography, as it is frequently believed that pre-Columbian Amerindian communities lacked immunity to the diseases brought to the New World by the first Europeans. The dynamic nature of Amerindian and European interactions can also be seen via analysis of the site’s variable mortuary practices, emphasizing the importance of combining osteological, taphonomic, and artifactual data when analyzing cemetery sites.

Keywords:   New World, El Chorro de Maíta, Pre-Columbian, Post-contact, Paleodemography, Taphonomic

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