Humanizing the landscapes of the Lesser Antilles during the Archaic Age

Peter E. Siegel, John G. Jones, Deborah M. Pearsall, Nicholas P. Dunning, Pat Farrell, Neil A. Duncan, Jason H. Curtis, Sushant K. Singh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


With the first arrival of humans to new places, history and culture are inscribed into landscapes, perhaps subtly at first, and with continued and increasingly intensive occupations the imprint of humanity becomes more apparent. The discipline of historical ecology explicitly recognizes the importance of human behavior in modifying and managing landscapes through time. In this chapter, we address the first humanization of early to mid-Holocene landscapes in the Lesser Antilles through a program of environmental coring. Plant microfossils (pollen, phytoliths, charcoal particulates), characterization of sediments, watershed analysis, and radiocarbon dates enabled us to refine our understanding of early colonization patterns and survival strategies, heretofore only available from archaeological excavations. We review taphonomic processes that potentially skew our views of early human occupations when relying exclusively on archaeological data. We conclude that humans were modifying and managing landscapes in the Lesser Antilles approximately 3000–3500 cal yrs prior to currently accepted chronological assessments. It was in this context of early anthropogenic landscapes that the shift from food collection to food production transpired.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Archaeology of Caribbean and Circum-Caribbean Farmers (6000 BC - AD 1500)
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781351169196
ISBN (Print)9781351169202
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018


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