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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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People and Plants in the Precontact Caribbean

People and Plants in the Precontact Caribbean

The View from Canímar Abajo, Cuba

(p.33) 3 People and Plants in the Precontact Caribbean
Cuban Archaeology in the Caribbean

David G. Smith

University Press of Florida

Research work at the site of Canímar Abajo in northern Cuba, one of the rare Cuban sites investigated through systematic, large scale excavations, has yielded exciting new data that contribute to our understanding of two major themes in circum-Caribbean archaeology: 1. the timing of first migration to the Greater Antilles as well as the origins of the first settlers; and 2. the nature and timing of the origins of resource production in the Caribbean. The discovery of starch grains of maize (Zea mays), common bean (Phaseous sp.), sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) and cassava (Manihotesculenta) in dental calculus from burials at this site have important implications for discussions on food production in the Neotropics. Research results indicate that a community of people practicing a subsistence regime of fishing, gathering, hunting and plant cultivation was already established in the area of the Canímar River estuary by 1200 BC. It is argued that the first migrants most likely crossed to the Greater Antilles from mainland Central America well before 1200 BC, and brought cultivated species originating in Mexico (maize and beans) and in Central America (sweet potato) with them.

Keywords:   Canímar Abajo, Cuba, Greater Antilles, Starch Grain, Neotropics

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