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Taíno Finds Volume 51 Number 5, September/October 1998
by Gretchen Collazo

[image] Cofferdam and rafters (David Pendergast) [LARGER IMAGE]

The well-preserved remains of a Taíno house have been found at Los Buchillones in Cuba's Ciego de Avila Province. The oval dwelling, more than 60 feet in diameter, was discovered in the seabed under two and one-half feet of water. The site consisted of 20-foot-long main posts, beams, rafters, roof timber, portions of thatch, pottery fragments, wooden bowls and figurines, charcoal from a hearth, and food remains. The excavation, made possible by use of a cofferdam, was "a bit like the game of pick-up sticks, only the sticks are much longer, and they're tangled in with a whole lot of other stuff," says Royal Ontario Museum archaeologist David Pendergast, who discovered the site. "What we found will add tremendously to our knowledge of Taíno techniques in woodworking and the selection and harvesting of wood." Pendergast noted that "artifacts found during the past decade have shown that the Taínos were very advanced wood carvers."

Previously found homes of the Taíno, a Caribbean people decimated by disease and warfare following the arrival of the Spanish, consisted only of scattered house posts. The latest discovery comes on the heels of the investigation of La Aleta, a Taíno settlement in the Dominican Republic, where cave paintings dating from the time of the Spanish conquest were found (see "Images of Conquest," July/August 1997).

© 1998 by the Archaeological Institute of America