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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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The Role of the Nicaraguan Rise in the Early Peopling of the Greater Antilles

The Role of the Nicaraguan Rise in the Early Peopling of the Greater Antilles

1 The Role of the Nicaraguan Rise in the Early Peopling of the Greater Antilles
Cuban Archaeology in the Caribbean

van Roksandic

University Press of Florida

Chapter 1 resurrects the hypothesis, supported by several studies conducted in different spheres of academic research (archaeology; ancient DNA study; toponomastics; physical anthropology), about the possible population movements through the mid-Caribbean island chain and the early connections between the region of Nicaragua/Honduras in Lower Central America and the Greater Antilles. It examines non-Arawak toponyms from Western Cuba and tentatively links them to the Chibchan language family spoken in Lower Central America and in the Isthmo-Columbian region. The question of explaining the developments that made possible such long distance direct maritime links, and population movements, is answered with bathymetric studies by Milne and Perros which indicate that between 8000 BP and 4000 BP the sea level was 4–5 m lower. More islands in the Nicaraguan Rise were exposed and habitable than there are today. Such situation could provide early fishing communities not only with an easy island-hopping highway towards the Greater Antilles, but also with fishing grounds. This hypothesis agrees with views on island archaeology, which analyze island colonization as two main phases: occupation and utilization. The first begins with discovery, and progresses through exploration and visitation to year-round utilization. The second comprises first seasonal settlement and establishment, or permanent settlement.

Keywords:   Toponomastics, Caribbean, Nicaragua, Honduras, Greater Antilles, Bathymetric

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