A tale of chert with a side of shell: the preceramic occupation of Antigua, West Indies

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Alone of the Lesser Antillean islands, Antigua has a rich Preceramic archaeological record. The goal of this dissertation has been to develop our understanding of the Antiguan Preceramic through the synthesis and interpretation of available data. The data for this dissertation came from two main sources. The first is from excavations undertaken at the site of North Crabb's Bay. The second is a dataset collected by researcher Bruce Nodine. Site location on the island is heavily biased toward the northeastern coastline that offers the best marine resources and the closest access to the main chert source. Investigation of the Preceramic subsistence remains from Antigua reveals a pattern reproduced in many of the other Preceramic sites in the Lesser Antilles. Data from Antigua confirm previous models of a marine oriented subsistence strategy focussed on shellfish. A consistently observed pattern is a high degree of species selectivity displayed in the assemblages. It is suggested that little resource stress allowed these people to be highly selective. There is a long-term pattern of living well on the island and on other neighbouring islands as well. Antigua has abundant evidence of large blade production, rare outside of the Greater Antilles. Technological analysis undertaken here indicated a regularised and consistently patterned method of producing large percussion blades. A distinctive core maintenance flake appears characteristic of Preceramic blade production. The structured lithic production is not found in the tool assemblage. Generally, the expedient nature of the identified tools indicates a strategy of tool selection/use based on usable edges, as opposed to retouch toward a specific form. The correlation of the presence of blade production in areas like Antigua and the Greater Antilles that have the raw material to support such an industry is too perfect to be coincidental. It is possible that blade technology was part of the overall Preceramic cultural repertoire and was practiced in regions that had the raw material to support blade production. The lithic technological analysis presented here forms the basis upon which future work, as well as comparisons with other islands, can be attempted.
Bibliography: p. 367-388
de Mille, C. N. (2005). A tale of chert with a side of shell: the preceramic occupation of Antigua, West Indies (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca. doi:10.11575/PRISM/20609