Ceramic Age/Pre Columbian
By 200 BC, seafaring people from the lowland region of the Orinoco River, South America migrated into and established settlements as far north as Puerto Rico. As a horticultural people, they innitially occupied wetter and more fertile islands that best accomodated their needs. These Amerindians were an Arawak speaking culture. They brought with them many traditions including pottery making. Their unique and highly decorated pottery has enabled archaeologist to recognise their sites and to determine their places of origin.
The origins of the Island Arawaks have been traced to the lower Orinoco River near the modern settlements of Saladero and Barrancas in Venezuela. As we do not know what they called themselves, they have been given the name of the sites where their unique pottery styles were first recognised. The suffix "oid" has been in this cultural classification. Hence, the name Saladoid is used by archaeologists, to identify the peoples of the early ceramic age.
Pre-Columbian Trade and Exchange
Over the years, archaeological excavations at Saladoid sites on Antigua have uncovered a number of ornaments including beads and pendants that were made from a variety of local and imported minerals and stones. Among these exotic artifacts were fragments from broken axes that were made from jadeite. While we have sourced the raw materials for the ornamental items, such as carnelian, barites, calcite and diorite to Antigua and nearby islands, the source and origins of the jade axes remained a mystery. Fortunately, jadeite is unique in its composition for jade from each source differs considerably from each other. This meant that the jadeite from Antigua could be sourced by minerologists to its area of origin. Analysis by Dr. George Harlow of the American Museum of Natural History, on samples recovered from Antiguan Saladoid sites by Dr. Murphy indicate that the source of the Antiguan jadeite is likely south of the Montagua Fault Zone in Guatemala. This result presents several issues for investigation, including the route of exchange and interaction between the diversity of cultures between Central America and the Eastern Caribbean.