Landscape Transformation During Ceramic Age and Colonial Occupations of Barbuda, West Indies
Bain, A.; Faucher, A.-M.; Kennedy, L.M.; LeBlanc, A.R.; Burn, M.J.; Boger, R.; Perdikaris, S.
Environmental Archaeology 23(1): 36-46
ISSN/ISBN: 1461-4103 DOI: 10.1080/14614103.2017.1345115
This research documented the history of landscape transformation on the island of Barbuda in the Lesser Antilles, Caribbean through cross-disciplinary research approaches. Excavations confirmed a human presence for the seasonal exploitation of conch meat and other molluscs during the Archaic Age (c. 3000-500 BC), but more substantial impacts to terrestrial ecosystems likely began during the Ceramic Age (c. 500 BC-AD 1500). Our combined sedimentary and charcoal records revealed that human-induced environmental transformations began with Ceramic Age peoples as they cleared vegetation for settlements and gardens with intentional burning. Sedimentary charcoal indicated a dramatic decline in fire during post-Ceramic Age abandonment, continuing through the Colonial Period, as the dominant human activities shifted to herding, farming, and selective wood harvesting. Historical sources showed that during the Colonial Period (post-1492), the island was intermittently settled until the mid-seventeenth century, while the Codrington family of Antigua held the lease to the island from 1681 to 1870. They used the island for farming and stock-rearing, exporting meat and draught animals along with lime, timber, and subsistence crops. Macrocharcoal recovered from Colonial Period archaeological sites reflect the use of a variety of local species and wood imported to the island or harvested from shipwrecks.