Rescue recovery of the earliest known burials from Barbuda, West Indies (ca. 3560–3220 cal years BP)

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Department or Administrative Unit

Anthropology and Museum Studies

Publication Date



The majority of archaeological sites in the Caribbean are under threat from various natural and cultural processes. This is particularly true for the smaller and more vulnerable islands in the Lesser Antilles. Here we report on the 2001 rescue recovery of human skeletal remains that were observed to be actively eroding into the sea at Boiling Rock, an Archaic Age site along the southeast coast of Barbuda. Analysis of the remains, representing three individuals, included an osteological inventory, stable isotope analysis to infer paleodiet, and direct radiocarbon dating. While excavation and recording were expedited due to the need for salvaging the skeletal remains and associated archaeological material, the results are an important contribution to the early stages of settlement on the island. This includes adding to the inventory of known Archaic Age sites on Barbuda (from six to seven), providing the only directly dated Archaic individual on the island going back to 3560–3220 cal years BP, isotopic analysis revealing a reliance on endemic marine protein and terrestrial C3 carbohydrates, and the description of grave goods, which is generally rare for burials of this age.


This article was originally published in The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology


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