Distant Cousins or Next Door Neighbors? New Ideas about Pottery Styles at La Isabela, Dominican Republic

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Darryl R. Ricketts

Abstract

Archeology always uses decorative p~ttems on ceramic vessels as a means of distinguishing different cultures of different time periods. Among the Taino Indians of the Greater Antilles, two types of Ostionoid pottery designs, Chican and Meillacan, have been assumed to come from two distinct cultures; one predating the other by hundreds of years. However, recent excavations done at Taino Indian sites in the Dominican Republic are challenging this assumption. Research conducted by members of the Bahia Isabela Archeological Project (BIAP) shows evidence these two decoration styles, Chican and Meillacan, are present in the same village sites and presumably within the same time period. This paper will show that the distribution of recovered pottery fragments across the site is more consistent with the hypothesis that these separate decoration styles may reflect small scale social distinctions and not separations caused by time or geography.

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