The possible influence of astronomy on the culture of ceramic-age, pre-Columbian inhabitants of Greencastle Hill in Antigua



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Department of History, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus


When Columbus arrived in the West Indies in 1492, it is reported that the Antillean Islands were inhabited by an Amerindian culture referred to as Taíno by Caribbean archaeologists. The Taíno culture was extensively chronicled by Spanish historians but little or no information was available about their astronomical knowledge. Archaeological and mythological evidence has shown that this was extensive. Sebastian Robiou-Lamarche, who has intensively researched Taíno astronomy, has shown that there is a relationship between the Taíno and Mesoamerican cultures embodying certain deities and related cultural practices. An archaeological excavation of the summit of Greencastle Hill on the island of Antigua indicated that Greencastle Hill was inhabited by a Ceramic-age Amerindian presence during the period A.D. 900-1200. Artifacts recovered during this excavation were typical of the Terminal to post-Saladoid culture affiliation, classified as Mamorean Troumassoids by Caribbean archaeologists. This group evolved into the Eastern Taíno by A.D. 1200. An array of stones on the summit of Greencastle Hill has recently been investigated to determine whether it could have been an astronomical calendar. When the bearings of the stones in the array were compared with the azimuths of stars known to have been of importance in Amerindian cultures, the correlations strongly suggested that the array was used to determine time. The results of this investigation suggested a parallel investigation of how astronomy affected the lifeways of the cultural group that inhabited Greencastle Hill, including their social life, religious ceremonies, navigation, agricultural activities, and their time reckoning of important seasonal events. The results of this investigation are presented in this paper.


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Taino Indians--History--Antigua


Imbert, Maura P."The Possible Influence of Astronomy on the Culture of Ceramic-age, Pre-Columbian Inhabitants of Greencastle Hill in Antigua." History in Action Online-Only Journal 1.1 (2010): n.pag.Web.