A holistic provenance and microwear study of pre-colonial jade objects from the Virgin Islands: Unravelling mobility networks in the wider Caribbean

Alice C.S. Knaf*, Catarina Guzzo Falci, Habiba, Casper J. Toftgaard, Janne M. Koornneef, Annelou van Gijn, Ulrik Brandes, Corinne L. Hofman, Gareth R. Davies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Pre-colonial Caribbean jade objects from the National Museum of Denmark Hatt Collection were subjected to a provenance and microwear analysis. Thirty-nine jade celts and bodily ornaments from the US Virgin Islands, i.e., St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John, and five celts from the West Indies of unknown location, St. Vincent, Cuba and the Dominican Republic were analysed. A comprehensive in-depth examination of jade adornments from St. Croix, combining typo-technological and microwear analysis, is compared to other lithologies used for pre-colonial ornaments. A portable laser ablation system was used to sample jade celts and bodily ornaments on site in a quasi-non-destructive manner. Low-blank trace element and Sr-Nd isotope ratio data were evaluated with a multiclass regression provenance prediction model. This study demonstrates that the pan-Caribbean exchange of jade raw materials, pre-forms or finished objects during the Ceramic Age (400 BC to AD 1492) occurred on a more complex scale than previously thought involving jade sources in Guatemala, eastern Cuba and the northern Dominican Republic. In addition, the study of ornaments recovered from St. Croix reveals use of specific lithologies suggesting stronger ties to Indigenous communities on Puerto Rico than other Lesser Antillean Islands.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103223
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Volume41
Early online date7 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ACSK, CGF, H, UB, CLH, GRD received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement n? 319209 (ERC-Synergy NEXUS 1492). CGF also received funding by NWO Spinoza Prize awarded to Prof. Hofman. CT was funded by the National Museum of Denmark and the Research Council of the Ministry of Cultural Affaires Denmark. JMK received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 654208 (Europlanet 2020 RI). We are grateful to the National Museum of Denmark and Lasse S?rensen for providing access to the samples from the Hatt Collection, as well as to Suzan Mefail and Anja Blok Jespersen for their assistance during sampling in the NMD storage facility in Brede. We would further like to acknowledge the Material Culture Lab at the Leiden University for providing the microscopes. Thanks to Richard Smeets and Kirsten van Zuilen for analytical assistance at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Funding Information:
ACSK, CGF, H, UB, CLH, GRD received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement n° 319209 (ERC-Synergy NEXUS 1492). CGF also received funding by NWO Spinoza Prize awarded to Prof. Hofman. CT was funded by the National Museum of Denmark and the Research Council of the Ministry of Cultural Affaires Denmark. JMK received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 654208 (Europlanet 2020 RI).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors

Keywords

  • Microwear analysis
  • Mobility networks
  • Portable laser ablation sampling
  • Pre-colonial jade artefacts
  • Provenance analyses
  • Virgin Islands

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