Proceedings of the XXI Congress of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology

Article excerpt

Basil Reid, Henri Petitjean Roget, and Antonio Curet (Eds.): Proceedings of the XXI Congress of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology. St. Augustine, Trinidad: School of Continuing Studies, University of the West Indies, 2007. Two volumes, 840 pp.

The International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA) has met every other year since the Second Congress in 1967 (the First was held in 1961). Each biennial Congress is held on a different Caribbean island and they provide an excellent opportunity for professionals, students, amateurs, and even the general public to meet and discuss archaeological investigations from across the region. What is truly remarkable is that the Proceedings of all 21 Congresses have been published, typically within two years so they are available for distribution at the next Congress. The biggest problem is that IACA lacks an adequate distribution system so it is almost impossible to get copies if you do not attend the meetings. Fortunately, IACA now has a CD for sale containing all of Congress papers from numbers I through XXI (contact

The Proceedings of the XXI Congress contains 85 articles published in two volumes. Two volumes are necessary to counter publishing constraints (perfect-bound, paperback). There are ten topical subheadings used to organize the papers, but these provide only general guidelines to content. The subheadings are symposia titles used primarily to organize the oral presentations at the Congress. Many of the papers cover multiple topics and could be placed under a different subheading. The individual articles are published in English, Spanish or French, depending on the author's preference. Finally, all of the articles have abstracts in all three languages.

Volume 1 begins with seven articles under the heading 'New Approaches in Caribbean Archaeology.' This is a rather eclectic mix with papers covering graffiti on the walls of San Juan's forts, the sites on Montserrat buried by volcanic eruptions, ceramic analysis, authenticating rock art, and environments and subsistence practices. Next, 'Archaeology and the Digital Age' includes four articles that discuss GIS and digital mapping in prehistoric (Carriacou and Venezuela) and historical (St. John and Jamaica) contexts. The next section, 'Cultural Resource Management,' reflects both an increase in efforts by Caribbean nations to protect and preserve their cultural heritage, as well as growing threats to this heritage due to large-scale development projects. The lead article addresses ethics and responsibilities for archaeologists (Kelley Scudder), with the nine that follow covering issues on French Guyane, St. Lucia, Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire, Trinidad and Tobago, Guadeloupe, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The final two sections are 'The Pre-Ceramic Age and The Ceramic Age.' The five papers in the former are particularly concerned with the redefinition of "Archaic" peoples in the Caribbean and their interactions with Ceramic Age peoples who migrated to the islands at a later date. …


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