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From TAINO-L@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU Fri Jul 13 05:27:37 2001
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 00:39:00 -0500
Sender: Taino-L Taino interest forum <TAINO-L@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU>
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Subject: TAINO-L Digest - 11 Jul 2001 to 12 Jul 2001 (#2001-120)

Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2001 13:32:25 -0400
From: Mr. Ramon Rivera <cultural-affairs@TAINO-TRIBE.ORG>
Subject: Fw: Taino Indian Settlement Found---fantastic find

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From: <ShngSprt@aol.com>
To: <ShngSprt@aol.com>
Sent: Friday, June 29, 2001 11:03 AM
Subject: Taino Indian Settlement Found---fantastic find

Archaeologists Find Biggest Taino Settlement

IPS, 27 June 2001 :12:11 PM Eastern Standard Time

HAVANA, Jun 22, 2001 (Inter Press Service via COMTEX)—A team of Cuban and Canadian archaeologists have found more than 1,000 artifacts at a site located 460 kms east of Havana, presumed to be one of the biggest Caribbean settlements of the Taino, an Amerindian people who had attained a relatively advanced level of development at the time of the Spanish conquest.

The Taino, a sub-group of the Arawak, who lived in the northern part of South America, were found mainly in what today are Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba.

The joint Cuban-Canadian team that has been working here since 1994 also found the well-preserved remains of houses at the Los Buchillones dig. The settlement is partially covered by the waters of the Caribbean Sea and a lagoon.

Analyses of the artifacts carried out with the most advanced laboratory techniques confirm that a pottery-making farming people lived in that area for around 400 years, from approximately 1220 to 1620.

The most prominent piece is a wooden petaloid ax, the first of its kind found in the Antilles, which probably had a ceremonial value, said Jorge Calvera, a researcher with Cuba's Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment.

Calvera also stressed that no house remains from that era had been found anywhere else in Cuba, nor in northern Brazil or Venezuela, Haiti and the Dominican Republic—the areas where the Taino lived before reaching the island that is today Cuba.

The ancient settlement at Los Buchillones, located on the northern coast of the province of Ciego de Avila, was discovered in 1940 by a group of amateur archaeologists, although rigorous scientific research did not get underway in the area until the mid-1990s.

The dig is taking place partly underwater and in the nearby coastal sand dunes.

Among the latest findings are a chief's baton, pottery shards, and well-preserved houses, as well as a small ceremonial wooden stool used by tribal chiefs.

Los Buchillones has been proposed as a national monument, and a museum is being planned to preserve and exhibit the finds.

The team plans to begin a new phase of research in 2002, to carry out a more comprehensive analysis of the lifestyle of the island's original inhabitants.

The Taino were the most advanced indigenous group living on this Caribbean island at the time of Christopher Columbus' arrival in 1492.

The Taino were not only farmers and potters, but also expert navigators. They fished with hooks made of fishbones and built their homes around a central open space, which they called the batey—the name still given to courtyards in Cuba today.

Experts believe Taino expansion to the rest of Cuba was frustrated by the Spaniards' arrival and their attempts to use indigenous people as cheap slave labor.

Before the latest finds were discovered in Los Buchillones, the eastern province of Guantanamo, 970 kms from Havana, was believed to be the only area previously inhabited by the Taino in Cuba, the largest of the Caribbean islands.

By April 2000, some 300 archaeological sites had been found in Guantanamo, which is one of the few places in Cuba where many local residents continue to preserve physical features of their indigenous ancestors.

An extraordinary Taino find was discovered last year in Managua, a beach located at the extreme eastern tip of Cuba—a statuette of a crouching man carved in stone.

Diego Bosh Ferrer, director of the Guantanamo Provincial Heritage Center, reported that that institution was working to recover Taino pieces removed from the area.

The best-known case was that of U.S. archaeologist Mark Harrington, who in the first half of the 20th century carried out excavations on behalf of the National Museum of the American Indian in New York.

Harrington carried away 36 boxes full of objects of great archaeological value, including the one-meter tall, 400-kg Cueva de la Patana petroglyph—a stone containing cave drawings that was broken off and removed from a site in eastern Cuba.

Experts say that in Harrington's wake came a horde of amateurs who made clandestine excavations in search of objects to sell to private collectors in Cuba and abroad, and who destroyed important archaeological sites.