Lapidary production in the eastern Caribbean: a typo-technological and microwear study of ornaments from the site of Pearls, Grenada

Catarina Guzzo Falci*, Alice C.S. Knaf, Annelou van Gijn, Gareth R. Davies, Corinne L. Hofman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The present paper examines bodily ornaments made of semiprecious lithic materials from the site of Pearls on the island of Grenada. The site was an important node in long-distance interaction networks at play between circum-Caribbean communities during the first centuries of the Common Era. Pearls was an amethyst bead-making workshop and a gateway to South America, from where certain lapidary raw materials likely originated. The importance of the site for regional archaeology and local stakeholders cannot be overstated. However, it has undergone severe destruction and looting over the decades. Here, we present a study of a private collection of ornaments from Pearls, which combines raw material identification, typo-technological analysis and microwear analysis. We identify great diversity in lithologies and in techniques adapted to their working properties. Multiple abrasive techniques for sawing, grinding, polishing and carving are identified. Furthermore, the use of ornaments is examined for the first time. Finally, we contrast our dataset to other Antillean sites and propose management patterns for each raw material. Our approach ultimately provides new insights on ornament making at Pearls and on its role in regional networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number53
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date27 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


This research has received funding from the NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) Spinoza Prize awarded to Prof. Dr. Corinne L. Hofman in 2014. This research is part of the project NEXUS1492, which has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC Grant agreement n° 319209. The authors would like to thank the Willcox family for allowing access to the collection. Angus Martin is also thanked for his help during this research. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the support of the Grenada Ministry of Culture.

FundersFunder number
Grenada Ministry of Culture
Seventh Framework Programme319209
European Research Council
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk OnderzoekNEXUS1492


    • Caribbean archaeology
    • Exchange
    • Jade
    • Microwear analysis
    • Ornaments
    • Technological analysis


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