This research constitutes an integrated multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary study of mobility and exchange. It considers the interactions and feedback loops of the dynamic relationship among the material, social and ideological dimensions of insular Caribbean culture during the Ceramic Age of the pre-Columbian period (400 B.C. & 8211; A.D. 1492). The Lesser Antilles, including also Trinidad and the Virgin Islands, represent the research core region. This area is considered ideal for a research of this kind because of its geographical constitution as a chain of islands between the landmasses of the South American mainland and the Greater Antilles.
The programme may be considered new and innovative as it involves the application and combination of archaeological and archaeometrical methodologies that offer the prospect of significant synergy. These methods, never employed in the region on this scale and in this combination, require the inter-institutional, multi-technique character of the present programme. To enhance the profile and multi-disciplinary character of this programme the applicant suggests to include a number of international aspects in this research proposal.
Petrographic analysis and isotopic provenance studies of raw materials and exotics as well as the study of the distribution patterns of these materials can be used to gain insight into the exchange of goods among insular societies. Ancient DNA and radiogenic isotopic analysis, palaeopathology and the study of mortuary ritual are proposed to be applied to human skeletal remains from the Antilles to target issues such as mobility, marital and residence rules and descent among the island groups. Ethnohistoric accounts from the islands and ethnographic information from the South American mainland are put forward to be used to support the archaeological data to provide an integrated view of the interaction networks evinced by the pre-Columbian inhabitants of the insular Caribbean in the light of their spiritual or cosmological experience.
Keywords: Caribbean, exchange, ancient DNA, isotope, cosmology