Mona Island caves shed light on dialogue between Europeans and Native Americans

Mona Island caves shed light on dialogue between Europeans and Native Americans

Archaeologists have discovered evidence as to how the first generations of Europeans in the Americas have mingled with indigenous population. Researchers from the British Museum and the University of Leicester have come to know through inscriptions found in the caves of a remote Caribbean island.

The research paper published in Antiquity is based on the finding of a large collection of early colonial inscriptions and commentaries being written by named individuals within a cave system provide an insight into dialogue between Europeans and Native Americans.

The island of Mona being recorded by Christopher Columbus was a quiet place during the 16th century Spanish colonial projects. During the time of transformation and of forging of new identities, the Europeans were exposed with communities on the island.

Researchers being led by Dr Jago Cooper from the British Museum and Dr Alice Samson from the University of Leicester have been studying the island. Since 2013, they have carried out survey of around 70 cave systems.

From the exploration, it has been found that Mona Island’s caves were having the best diversity of preserved indigenous iconography in the Caribbean. The cave being discussed in the paper was having more than 30 historic inscriptions including named individuals, phrases in languages including Latin and Spanish, dates and Christian symbols.

All these aspects provided a rare, personalized insight into what was the situation in the early Americas. “Increasing use of interdisciplinary approaches and archaeometric analyses have provided new understandings of colonial processes that are more nuanced than mere oppression, domination and, in the case of the Caribbean, indigenous extinction”, affirmed Dr. Alice Samson from the University of Leicester School of Archaeology and Ancient History.

Dr. Jago Cooper from the British Museum said that the finding has helped them have better understanding of cultural identity in the Americas.

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