The Caribbean People

Saladoid culture is a pre-columbian indigenous culture of Venezuela and the Caribbean that flourished from 500 BCE to 545 CE. [1] This culture is thought to have originated at the lower Orinoco River near the modern settlements of Saladero and Barrancas in Venezuela. Seafaring people from the lowland region of the Orinoco River of South America migrated into and established settlements in the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, and Hipiola. [1] They displaced the pre-ceramic Ortoiroid culture. As a horticultural people, they initially occupied wetter and more fertile islands that best accommodated their needs.

These Indigenous peoples of the Americas were an Arawak-speaking culture. Between 500-280 BCE, they immigrated into Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles, eventually making up a large portion of what was to become a single Caribbean culture. [edit]Culture Saladoid people are characterized by agriculture, ceramic production, and sedentary settlements. [1] Their unique and highly decorated pottery has enabled archaeologists to recognize their sites and to determine their places of origin. Saladoid ceramics include zoomorphic effigy vessels, incense burners, platters, trays, jars, bowls with strap handles, and bell-shaped containers.

The red pottery was painted with white, orange, and black slips. [1] Distinctive Saladoid artifacts are stone pendants, shaped like raptors from South America. These were made from a range of exotic materials, including such as carnelian, turquoise, lapis lazuli, amethyst, crystal quartz, jasper-chalcedony, and fossilized wood. These were traded through the Great and Lesser Antilles and the South American mainland, until 600 CE. [1] The Taino of the Greater Antilles represented the last stage of the Ostionoid cultural tradition.

By about AD 1100-1200, the Ostionoid people of Hipiola lived in a wider and more diverse geographic area than did their predecessors; their villages were larger and more formally arranged, farming was intensified, and a distinctive material culture developed. They developed rich and vibrant ritual and artistic traditions that are revealed in Taino craftsmanship in using bone, shell, stone wood and other media. Social stratification is thought to have become more pronounced and rigid during this period as well. This stage of intensification and elaboration after AD 1100 is known as “Taino”.

The Taino people, as characterized by archaeologists, were not a unified society, and have been categorized into subdivisions according to the degree of elaboration in their artistic and social expression. The Central or “Classic” Tainos are identified with the most complex and intensive traditions, and are represented archaeologically by “Chican-Ostionoid” material culture. They occupied much of Hipiola, including En Bas Saline. The “Western” Taino occupied central Cuba, Jamaica, and parts of Hipiola, and , are also associated archaeologically with the “Ostionoid-Meillacan” material tradition.

The Lucayan Taino lived in the Bahamas, and the “Eastern” Taino are thought to have lived in regions of the Virgin Islands and the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. As many archaeologists have emphasized, however, the Taino were but one of the recognizable cultural groups in the Caribbean at the time of contact. They co-existed and interacted with other Ostionan peoples and perhaps even Saladoid-influenced Archaic peoples, such as the Guanahatabey of Cuba and the Caribs of the Lesser Antilles.

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