Beyond the Blockade: New Currents in Cuban Archaeology (Caribbean Archaeology and Ethnohistory)

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Traditionally, this shift in material culture has been interpreted to be an indicator of migrations by horticultural Arawak groups from Hispaniola to Cuba. Although originally the societies that produced these wares were seen as carbon copies of their counterparts in Hispaniola, now it seems that these new populations emerged through social and cultural processes that resulted in diverse types of social formations, including social hierarchy and inequality.

Besides domestic units and remains, this site contained a cemetery from which a large number of burials were excavated, many having a variety of funerary offerings made of ceramic, stone, shell, and metal including gold, gold alloys, and copper, some of them possibly exotic in nature.

Using archaeological, ethnohistoric, and ethnographic evidence, he conducts a structural analysis of various repetitive themes by relating them to mythological stories recorded in the early chronicles. The last two articles in this section represent two important papers on historical archaeology in Cuba.


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The diet and health of maroons appears to have been much better than that of slaves still held in bondage. Her research indicates that slaves in Cuba were engaged in many of the same activities as enslaved Africans in other parts of the. However, the walled enclosure was a constraining device not as common in other slave communities that restricted their use of space and interaction with people from the outside, including cimarrones.

In translating and editing the papers presented in this volume, we felt it was our moral and professional duty to maintain the accuracy of the meanings and connotations of the texts as much as possible. We strove to respect the style and publication tradition of the respective Cuban and American authors, but at the same time we tried to weave some common threads into the format of the articles. We hope that publishing this volume will encourage further exchange, debate, and communication between American and Cuban archaeologists.

It is through such interaction and direct cooperation that American and Cuban archaeologists can best make strides toward the main goal of archaeology as a discipline—to describe, explain, and understand the variability and commonality of past human behavior. We feel proud and honored that we had the opportunity to include in this volume a contribution of such a distinguished Cuban archaeologist.

The periodization used in this work, as in any other, is a somewhat arbitrary form of analysis, in this case employed to bring out elements important for contextualizing Cuban archaeology. The chronicles of the Indies were the main source of information, and the accounts of aboriginal peoples they contain were used to extend Cuban history back prior to the Spanish conquest. The discoveries of John L. Stephens in the Mayan area in October spurred dreams of greatness about the pre-Hispanic past on the part of Cubans.

Both writers praised the virtues of the Cuban natives as part of the Movimiento Siboneyista. It provided a forum where topics of Antillean and world archaeology were debated.


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  • He had a broad knowledge of European archaeology and had been a curator of a museum in Vitoria, Spain. For the most part, the early projects consisted of exploration and excavation of archaeological sites on the island from three different perspectives.

    Beyond the Blockade: New Currents in Cuban Archaeology by Susan Kepecs, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

    They had in common an enthusiasm to dig deeper into the indigenous past, and they shared a lack of training in excavation techniques. It has a philosophical sensibility and an objective base; it is, however, among the most forgotten. In two of its titles, the code stipulated that hidden treasures and portable objects abandoned on private property belonged to the owner of the land where they were found. But if the discovered objects were of interest to the sciences or the arts, the state had the authority to acquire them.

    None of the earlier Spanish or Republican codes addressed archaeological issues. Culin Culin and W. Holmes Holmes , who came in search of Moundbuilders, were interested in etiological issues issues of origin and had a perspective akin to Historical Particularism.

    Broca, founder of French anthropology. His work, which adhered to high methodological and theoretical standards of the time, was. Academically trained individuals in various organizations throughout the country created an increasingly greater degree of professionalism in archaeology, often working in concert with local avocational archaeologists.

    During this period, several North American institutions sent outstanding archaeologists to the island. Harrington, who eventually published Cuba Before Columbus in The former outlined a detailed methodology for work on the island while the latter created an analytical system for the study of Antillean ceramics that he developed during his work in Haiti in the summers of and ; it is still relied on today in Caribbean archaeology. It published twenty volumes of its journal from August to December Archaeology was being professionalized, but the process was evolving slowly.

    As happened throughout the world, Cuban objects ended up in North American museums. Harrington, in particular, removed a great deal of material. The government eventually placed some restraints on him by appointing a professor of the Universidad de La Habana to accompany him on occasion. Cuban collections acquired by other North American archaeologists also turn up in North American museums.

    Weeks and P. Ferbel reported in Naciente Caribbean the presence in a North American museum of a previously unknown collection of aboriginal materials from western Cuba that had been taken out of the island in , which came as a surprise to many Cuban scholars. Antiquities Law during the Second Stage In the late s and early s, a number of legal and regulatory initiatives were enacted to provide better protection for Cuban antiquities. On August 7, , it was decided that cave or land exploration undertaken with the purpose of creating archaeological collections to be taken out of the country would require executive authorization.

    Four individuals played a central role in its founding. As a meteorologist, he worked in the Organization of Civil Aviation of the United Nations in Lima, Peru, where he collected objects and visited multiple archaeological sites. Estrella Rey, a professor of history, whose work focuses on the study of indigenous societies. Although it was titled Department of Anthropology, in reality this organization was dedicated for the most part to archaeology. At the time, archaeology did not have a strong enough position within the disciplines of the Cuban sciences to occupy an independent place in the Academia de Ciencias.

    This situation changed with the publication of Prehistoria de Cuba by department members E. Rey Dacal, J. Guarch, R. Payares, and M. The original meeting grew out of the ideas published by Luis G. This approach led to a proliferation of supposedly distinct modes of productions that in reality share similar relations of production. For example, Sanoja and Vargas proposed the hunting mode of production, the marine-gathering mode of production, and the tropical mode of production.

    Meanwhile, Cuban archaeologists continued to pursue their own local research interests and seek out new collaborations. He also established zones for these features in the Cuban Archipelago. In the later part of this period, an interest in use-wear analysis led several Cuban archaeologists to conduct studies in St. Cuban archaeologists also attended Russian universities. Rey, and J. Polish specialists in chipped stone visited Cuba, leading to a mastery of Bordes school techniques Kozlowski Underwater archaeology has also developed in this period in Cuba from the efforts of multiple organizations, including the Academia de Ciencias, the Banco Nacional, and the Ministry of Finance.

    These efforts resulted in the formation of an enterprise called Carisub, Inc. Moreover, staff members have published their research and attended international congresses. Carisub has mounted a large number of their best pieces in an exhibit in the museum of the Castillo de la Punta, at the entrance of the Bay of Havana. Museology, as a complement to archaeological investigations, has led to the creation of several site museums ranging from the Laguna del Tesoro. Other efforts during this period have been directed toward an improved understanding of methodologies used in the investigation of artifacts and animal remains, ceramic analysis, and the application of chemistry to living surfaces see Davis for a more detailed discussion of this topic.

    Cuban archaeologists have published several studies and guides intended to standardize methods and systems of analysis. These individuals with degrees do not include the whole range of archaeologists working in the discipline, who either come from other disciplines or are conducting important work in national and municipal museums. It is expected that the program will address this lacuna in archaeological training.

    Recently, Cuban archaeologists have collaborated in several ways with various North American colleagues. Theresa Singleton has collaborated on historical archaeology projects Chapter 10 and Mary Jane Berman on prehistoric research Chapter 3.

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    Cuban archaeologists have become increasingly involved in archaeological projects elsewhere in the Caribbean, including Aruba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. The Social Archaeology of Latin America, represented by some of its original proponents, has also made a comeback and attained a special prominence in Cuban archaeology.

    Beyond the Blockade: New Currents in Cuban Archaeology by Susan Kepecs, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

    After the death of Dr. In February , the Constitution provided for the defense of Cuban cultural identity and its protection through conservation of its cultural heritage, a function delegated to the Ministry of Culture. Its regulations specify that the approval of the commission must be obtained to conduct excavations and archaeological investigations and that the results of such investigations have to be reported.

    In , the Penal Code was revised to state that a person who conducts archaeological explorations by excavations, removal of soils, or other means without the authorization of the pertinent state body incurs a sanction of. Finally, the Environmental Law of regulates the Sistema Nacional de Areas Protegidas, making archaeological review mandatory. First, we are sure that members of the Society for American Archaeology, whose professionalism and working conditions have seen remarkable advances in these last forty years, understand that although international collaboration is sought, Cuban archaeology cannot go back to conditions prevalent in similar relations in Although the work of past U.

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    Therefore, any scholarly collaboration and exchange will have to take a considerably different path determined by the developments achieved by professional archaeologists from each country and current national laws. Second, as Cuban society strengthens and protects its indigenous culture with an eye on tourism, it needs the discipline of archaeology and an appropriate interpretative theory to support these efforts.

    This volume may help Cubans approach this task. In this chapter we provide a brief descriptive organizational and social history of Cuban archaeology beginning with its nineteenth-century foundations and leading up to the present. We consider private and public support for archaeology, its practitioners and their backgrounds. We also touch upon the ways in which the project of archaeology has contributed to nationbuilding and how it was and is organized as a nationalist archaeology sensu Trigger This work emerges from the premise that the practice of archaeology, including its organization, can best be achieved by understanding the context in which it takes place.

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    Numerous archaeologists such as Patterson and Trigger and elsewhere have written extensively about the interconnectedness and interdependency of political ideology, cultural climate, social context, and archaeological practice.

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