Master of Arts (M.A.)
Degree Granting Department
Robert H. Tykot, Ph.D.
Thomas J. Pluckhahn, Ph.D.
Nancy Marie White, Ph.D.
Archaeology, Caribbean, Coastal Erosion, GIS, Site Formation, Spatial Distribution
The present study utilizes a geographic information system (GIS) to examine the spatial relationships between the assemblages of major artifact and ecofact categories at the Late Ceramic Age (AD 400-1400) site of Grand Bay, Carriacou. In addition, the study examines how these assemblages formed through various cultural and natural formation processes and have been affected by recent episodes of coastal erosion. Previous archaeological research for this region of the Caribbean is lacking, but with the determined efforts of the Carriacou Archaeological Field Project, Grand Bay's role has been brought to the forefront of current investigations answering questions about pre-Columbian migration and colonization of the Lesser Antilles, inter-island exchange systems, maritime adaptations, and subsistence economies. With the rapid destruction of Grand Bay's archaeological resources through coastal erosion exacerbated by illegal sand mining, the site also has the potential to provide information on site management and preservation practices of coastal and island archaeological and historical sites that has created open and continuous discourse between archaeologists, lawmakers, landowners, and other key stakeholders. As Grand Bay is one of the most intensively occupied sites in the southern Lesser Antilles, its value to Caribbean archaeology is undeniable. Thus, its immediate study and preservation are imperative before what information can be gleaned from the site is lost forever.
Using data gathered from four field seasons at Grand Bay and spatial autocorrelation and cluster analysis, the present study aims to identify spatial patterns within the distributions of major archaeological materials categories. These two forms of spatial analysis focus on identifying clusters and individual outliers within the assemblages that are then used to examine site formation processes, identify potential activity areas, and interpret the overall spatial organization and distribution of archaeological materials at Grand Bay.
Analysis of Grand Bay's archaeological assemblage shows that three main material categories - ceramics, vertebrate remains, and shell - are, in general, spatially correlated and form the majority of the midden deposits at Grand Bay. Clustering of these materials shows that different areas of the site were used more intensively over time resulting in patterns of higher artifact concentration in these areas. The possible clustering of coral artifacts can likely be explained by the storage of this resource for use in tool manufacture. Areas of clustering and outliers among shell and vertebrate assemblages can be explained by differing excavation techniques and the effectiveness of wet-screening to recover smaller constituents vital to understanding Grand Bay's subsistence economies.
Within the assemblages recovered in the habitation area at Grand Bay, clustering of the three main material categories may indicate the primary deposition of refuse or the spread of the midden deposits into this space. Further analysis of diagnostic ceramics is required to fully understand this clustering pattern. The separate cluster of stone artifacts may represent a lapidary and or tool manufacture activity area.
Although some inconsistencies were revealed in the data, and a lack of data for deeper midden deposits did not allow for further analysis, overall this study provides evidence to support basic inferences about the formation of the midden deposits at Grand Bay through cultural processes and the effect coastal erosion has on these interpretations. A final purpose of the study is to demonstrate how spatial analysis of the data supports and/or refutes these interpretations. Results from the analyses in this study should not be viewed as definitive, but as a stepping stone for future research at Grand Bay.
Scholar Commons Citation
Casto, Kara I., "Spatial Analysis of Archaeological Assemblages from the Late Ceramic Age (AD 400-1400) Site of Grand Bay, Carriacou, West Indies" (2015). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.