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Oxford University Press
01 March 2017
History; History of the Americas; Early history: c 500 to c 1450&1500; Archaeology by period & region; Social & cultural anthropology
The islands of the Caribbean are remarkably diverse, environmentally and culturally. They range from low limestone islands barely above sea level to volcanic islands with mountainous peaks; from large islands to small cays; from islands with tropical rainforests to those with desert habitats. Today's inhabitants have equally diverse culture histories. The islands are home to a mosaic of indigenous communities and to the descendants of Spanish, French, Dutch, English, Swedish, Danish, Irish, African, East Indian, Chinese, Syrian, Seminole and other nationalities who settled there during historic times. The islands are now being homogenized, all to create a standard experience for the Caribbean tourist. There is a similar attempt to homogenize the Caribbean's pre-Columbian past. It was assumed that every new prehistoric culture had developed out of the culture that preceded it. We now know that far more complicated processes of migration, acculturation, and accommodation occurred. Furthermore, the overly simplistic distinction between the peaceful Arawak and the cannibal Carib, which forms the structure for James Michener's Caribbean, still dominates popular notions of precolonial Caribbean societies. This book documents the diversity and complexity that existed in the Caribbean prior to the arrival of Europeans, and immediately thereafter. The diversity results from different origins, different histories, different contacts between the islands and the mainland, different environmental conditions, and shifting social alliances. Organized chronologically, from the arrival of the first humans-the paleo-Indians-in the sixth millennium BC to early contact with Europeans, The Caribbean before Columbus presents a new history of the region based on the latest archaeological evidence. The authors also consider cultural developments on the surrounding mainland, since the islands' history is a story of mobility and exchange across the Caribbean Sea, and possibly the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Straits. The result is the most up-to-date and comprehensive survey of the richly complex cultures who once inhabited the six archipelagoes of the Caribbean.
By:   William F. Keegan (Curator of Caribbean Archaeology Curator of Caribbean Archaeology Florida Museum of Natural History), Corinne L. Hofman (Professor of Caribbean Archaeology, Professor of Caribbean Archaeology, Leiden University)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 156mm,  Spine: 20mm
Weight:   500g
ISBN:   9780190605254
ISBN 10:   0190605251
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   01 March 2017
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

William F. Keegan is Curator of Caribbean Archaeology (FLMNH) and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida. He also serves as Associate Director for Research and Collections. He co-edited The Oxford Handbook of Caribbean Archaeology (OUP, 2013). Corinne L. Hofman is Professor of Caribbean Archaeology and Dean Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University, as well as a co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Caribbean Archaeology (OUP, 2013).

Reviews for The Caribbean before Columbus

The most current and comprehensive survey of the pre-colonial archaeology of the region, this book presents for the first time the complete histories of the major islands and island groups. It is thorough yet accessible, an immersive intellectual exploration of a world before its 'discovery'. * Current World Archaeology * This is a very significant contribution to Caribbean archaeology. Currently there is not a book out there that deals with as many new interpretations and frameworks or that clearly explains where things have gone wrong in the past. I consider this book to be essential for understanding Caribbean archaeology at any level from undergraduate to professional. ... I find the volume well written in a clear style and with good organisation. There are a lot of complex issues discussed but it is not by any means a difficult read. This is the best work I have found for teaching a senior level undergraduate seminar. * Richard T. Callaghan, International Journal of Maritime History *

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