The Aborigines of Puerto Rico and Neighboring Islands / Edition 2

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A valuable recounting of the first formal archaeological excavations in Puerto Rico.

Originally published as the Twenty-Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 1907, this book was praised in an article in American Anthropologist as doing "more than any other to give a comprehensive idea of the archaeology of the West Indies."

Until that time, for mainly political reasons, little scientific research had been conducted by Americans on any of the Caribbean islands. Dr. Fewkes' unique skills of observation and experience served him well in the quest to understand Caribbean prehistory and culture. This volume, the result of his careful fieldwork in Puerto Rico in 1902-04, is magnificently illustrated by 93 plates and 43 line drawings of specimens from both public and private collections of the islands.

A 1907 article in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland described the volume as "a most valuable contribution to ethnographical science."


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780817355746
  • Publisher: University of Alabama Press
  • Publication date: 5/3/2009
  • Series: Caribbean Archaeology and Ethnohistory Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jesse Walter Fewkes (1850–1930), referred to as the “dean of American archaeology” by John R. Swanton, was Director of the Bureau of American Ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution.

L. Antonio Curet is Associate Curator of Archaeology at The Field Museum.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 17

Physical features of Porto Rico 21

Precolumbian population 23

Present descendants of the Porto Rican Indians 24

Race and kinship 26

Bodily characteristics 28

Mental and moral characteristics 31

Government 33

Political divisions 35

Houses 41

Thatched with grasses 43

Thatched with palm leaves 44

With palm leaves on walls, and straw-thatched roofs 45

With slabs of palm wood on walls 45

Secular customs 47

Naming children; marriage customs 47

Hunting and fishing 48

Agriculture 50

Religion 53

Zemiism 54

Zemis of wood 57

Zemis of stone 58

Zemis of cotton cloth inclosing bones 58

Zemis painted on their bodies and faces 58

Priesthood 59

Divination 60

Medicine practices 61

Narcotics 63

Rites and ceremonies 64

Ceremony to bring crops 66

Survival of ceremony in modern dances 68

Burial ceremonies 69

Myths 72

Traditions of origin 74

A modern legend 75

The name Borinquen 76

Archeological sites 78

Dance plazas 79

Shell heaps 85

Caves 87

Archeological objects 89

Celts 92

Enigmatical stones 97

Pestles 99

Mortars 105

Beads and pendants 108

Stone balls 110

Three-pointed stones 111

Type with head on anterior and legs on posterior projection 111

Type with face between anterior and conoid projection 121

Type with conoid projection modified into a head 125

Smooth stones 127

Interpretation 128

Semicircular stones 132

Stone heads 133

Disks with human faces 135

Stone amulets 138

Pictographs 148

River pictographs 150

Cave pictographs 155

Stone collars 159

Massive collars 162

Slender collars 163

Theories of the use of stone collars 167

Elbow stones 172

Knobbed heads174

Pillar stones 175

Large stone idols 178

Pottery 179

Shell and bone carvings 192

Wooden objects 194

Cassava graters 194

Dance object 194

Swallowing-sticks 195

Ceremonial baton 195

Idols 196

Stools 202

Canoes 207

Other objects 209

Gold objects 211

Basketry and textiles 212

Conclusions 214

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