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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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A Pre-Columbian Dental Modification Complex at the Site of Canímar Abajo, Matanzas, Cuba

A Pre-Columbian Dental Modification Complex at the Site of Canímar Abajo, Matanzas, Cuba

(p.106) 7 A Pre-Columbian Dental Modification Complex at the Site of Canímar Abajo, Matanzas, Cuba
Cuban Archaeology in the Caribbean

Kaitlynn Alarie

Mirjana Roksandic

University Press of Florida

In Caribbean archaeological context, dental modifications originate from post-contact African populations as a practice brought into the region through the colonial slave trade. Six individuals recovered from Canímar Abajo exhibit dental modification of the upper central incisors similar to West African styles of dental filing. The dates from those six individuals predate the African Diaspora. This type of dental modification has not been previously documented among pre-Columbian groups in the Caribbean. Although there could be no connections between the pre-Columbian Canímar Abajo individuals and West African populations, the similarity in form may be due to a convergence in methodology and materials. The fact that this practice is present on individuals from both the Older (1380–800 BC) and Younger Cemetery (AD 360–950) establishes the long duration of the practice. While the dental modification could have been more common and unrecognized due to dental attrition and tooth loss, its presence in the two distinct temporal components of Canímar Abajo signify its importance for the understanding of identity among the group(s) that buried their dead at the site. This chapter discusses the significance of this tradition, primarily the role that it may have played in concepts of group identity, beauty, and social position.

Keywords:   Canímar Abajo, Dental Modification, Identity, West Africa

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