The Earliest Inhabitants aims to promote Jamaican Taínan archaeology and highlight the diverse research conducted on the island’s prehistoric sites and artefacts. Of the fourteen papers in this volume, six are reprints of seminal articles that are not widely available and eight are based on recent archaeological research. The chapters are organized by thematic divisions that reflect the most important areas of research: Assessment and Excavations of Taíno Sites looks at the various archaeological investigations across the island; Taíno Exploitation of the Natural Resources examines how the Taínos took advantage of the natural environment to fulfil their needs; Analysis of Taíno Archaeological Data highlights research conducted on various artefacts; and Taíno Art Forms focuses specifically on evidence of Taíno cave art and its impact on the interpretation of the Jamaican Taíno livelihood.
In her introduction, Lesley-Gail Atkinson explains, “Jamaican prehistory is regarded as one of the least studied Caribbean disciplines. That is not necessarily the case; the fact is that published Jamaican archaeological research has not had sufficient international circulation. This has resulted in misconceptions about lack of scope, research activities and information on the Jamaican Taíno.” This volume seeks to redress this lack: invaluable in its own right as a collection of distinguished scholarship, The Earliest Inhabitants is remarkable, too, for being the first compilation on the Jamaican Taínos since 1897. This collection will appeal to a wide audience of archaeologists, historians, students of archaeology and anyone interested in Jamaica’s history and archaeology
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