Bill Keegan

Small islands given short shrift in assembling archaeological record

Small Islands

From Science Daily

Small islands dwarf large ones in archaeological importance, says a University of Florida researcher, who found that people who settled the Caribbean before Christopher Columbus preferred more minute pieces of land because they relied heavily on the sea.

“We've written history based on the bigger islands,” said Bill Keegan, a University of Florida archaeologist whose study is published on line in the journal Human Ecology. “Yet not only are we now seeing people earlier on smaller islands, but we're seeing them move into territories where we didn't expect them to at the time that they arrived.”

Early Ceramic Age settlements have been found in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Montserrat, for example, but are absent from all of the larger islands in the Lesser Antilles, Keegan said.

And all of the small islands along the windward east coast of St. Lucia have substantial ceramic artifacts — evidence of settlement — despite being less than one kilometer, or .62 mile, long, said Keegan, who is curator of Caribbean archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.