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Camáhogne’s Chronology: How long have people lived in Grenada?

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by Jonathan Hanna

Public access to academic research is often hindered by publisher paywalls and copyright protections. To share his research with the wider public, Jonathan Hanna has offered a summary of his recent paper in The Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, entitled, “Camáhogne’s chronology: The radiocarbon settlement sequence on Grenada, West Indies.”

Most Caribbean schoolchildren learn at least two things about Amerindians: 1) the first people were Arawaks who came from the Orinoco Delta and settled each island successively northward (in a “stepping-stone” pattern), and 2) shortly before Columbus arrived, the “peaceful” Arawaks were wiped out (or pushed farther north) by cannibalistic invaders called the “Caribs.” Sometimes, it is also taught that Archaic hunter-gatherers lived here before the Arawaks.

Many people may be surprised to learn that this narrative is not only erroneous but based solely on European accounts and limited archaeological evidence strictly from the northern Caribbean. Not one word is based on anything from the Windward Islands, much less Grenada.

Since Grenada is the first step in the “stepping-stones” hypothesis, we’ve always assumed people were in Grenada as early as anywhere else, despite lacking evidence. So what is going on here? Numerous Archaic sites have been documented in the northern Caribbean, especially small Leeward Islands like St. Martin and Barbuda. This is true of both the Archaic and the Ceramic (“Arawak”) Ages. Thus, beginning in the 1980s, archaeologists proposed a new model for Caribbean colonisation where Grenada and the Windward Islands were skipped for thousands of years in the Archaic and hundreds of years in the Ceramic periods – settling the northern islands first and then moving southward. A recent paper in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology offers new evidence (and some refinements) for this “southward route” pattern based on a multi-year survey of Grenada’s pre-Columbian sites.

The earliest direct evidence of humans in Grenada are several cut lambie shells found near the Maurice Bishop airport that date between 1700 –1400 BC. This is later than evidence in the northern islands, but it does suggest some human presence during the Archaic Age (though we have no idea from what direction). That said, these shells have been pushed up by storms and rising seas, so they are not near their original location. Stronger evidence is still needed, though it may be underwater.

Despite this early glimpse, there is no evidence for humans beyond Grenada’s coastline until roughly AD 300, when the first permanent villages appeared. They belonged to the group commonly called “Arawaks” (although we don’t know what they called themselves), but again, they are hundreds of years later than similar sites in the northern islands. There are also only a few of these sites in Grenada, where most of the 87 Amerindian sites documented originate after AD 750 (see previous post here).

Map of Grenada’s Pre-Columbian Sites

Interestingly, evidence for the “Carib Invasion” has also been wanting. Analysis of early historical records and archaeological sites dating to the early French period indicate there were actually two separate Amerindian groups in Grenada: one whom the French called “Caraibe” (Caribs) and another they called “Galibis.” Counterintuitively, the Galibis seem a better match for whom we might label “Caribs” today, based on their pottery and the late timing of their settlements (e.g. Galby Bay was settled after AD 1250), although there is still no evidence of violence or cannibalism.

The “Caraibe” on the other hand were living at sites like Beausejour, Sauteurs Bay, and Pearls – some of the earliest settlements on the island. Thus, the people the French called “Caribs” in Grenada were not recent invaders but descendants of the first settlers! Moreover, there is little evidence for violence among the Caraibe and Galibis—rather, the Galibis were intermarrying and integrating, just as many migrating groups before them. Thus, it would seem that “Carib” was a European label for a highly heterogeneous mix of peoples living in the colonial-era Caribbean, some of whom were descendants of the first human settlers.

So, the story taught in our schools is due for an update (including questions on the CXC!). The southern islands were settled later than the north, and at best, “Carib” is a colonial label for a mix of different peoples (at worst, it’s pure mythology).

But so much remains unknown. We know almost nothing about half of Grenada’s Amerindian sites and only the basic character and chronology for the other half. Many discoveries remain to be made by future (hopefully Grenadian-born) scientists. It is our duty, then, to preserve those things that have survived until now, so that future generations can continue to advance our knowledge of Grenada’s past.

For those interested, you can visit some of Grenada’s Amerindian sites along the Petroglyph Path, which ends at the spectacular Mt. Rich “Carib Stone” Interpretation Centre. And please remember that it is illegal to remove artefacts from an archaeological site without explicit permission from the Ministry of Culture. If you find artefacts, please leave them in place and alert the National Museum so they can properly document the site.

For those who wish to read the original paper, the author can be emailed at jah1147@psu.edu for a copy; there are also 50 free downloads available via this link: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1ZIeL_6L9Zn6tF

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Caribbean & World

Werley Zeus: Haiti And African Countries Should Become One

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The 26 years old, Werley Zeus is a musician, author, entrepreneur, and politician from Haiti. He owns a mass media company operating under the name of Ceraphin Corporation that owns different types of businesses including publishing companies and radio stations.

The 26 years old CEO believes that Haiti and African countries should unite together again and become partners because Haiti and African countries belong to black brothers and sisters.

“I think Haiti and African countries should unite together and become partners.”, said Werley Zeus.

Let’s not forget that Ceraphin Corporation’s Werley Zeus launched ‘Woy Africa! Network’ and ‘Afro! PopUp’ in Africa to serve the continent.

According to Werley, the brands named ‘Woy Africa! Network’ is a publishing magazine operating by Ceraphin Network and ‘Afro! PopUp’ is an internet radio station managed by Ceraphin Radio Network. The brands are operating in Africa and Werley thinks it makes for Haitians and Africans to work together because unity is power.

According to reports and studies, Haiti has been abused by the U.S. for years and years, so the time has come for Haiti to cut off every relationship with the U.S. to join Venezuela, Africa, Russia, and others in order to grow and prosper before 2045 arrives.


Werley Zeus hopes to become a leader in the upcoming Haitian Government that the Haitian population will install soon, so the plans will succeed. Hopefully, a new Haitian Government will take power in 2020 so the right leaders can lead Haiti in the right direction.

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Prime Minister meets with executive members of Caribbean Congress of Labour

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Prime Minister, Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, and Minister of Labour, Honourable, Peter David, met Friday with executive members of the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) who were in Grenada for a meeting of the regional organisation.

In welcoming the team, headed by President Andre Lewis of Grenada, Dr Mitchell underscored the importance of the labour movement and of working together.

He noted that the current Chair of the Caribbean Community, Honourable Mia Mottley of Barbados shares that opinion, hence the invitation to labour representatives to attend the inter-sessional meeting in Barbados this week.

Dr Mitchell said, “In the new global community, unless we work together, we would not survive. We need to unify our efforts – businesses, governments and labour to meet the fundamental challenges we face today. The Government of Grenada looks forward to continued cooperation as we go forward.”

Andre Lewis, who was elected President of the CCL last November, said the organisation also favours the collaborative approach and welcomed the opportunity to work with Caribbean leaders. He said, the CCL also believes the tripartite approach is necessary.

The Prime Minister also raised the issue of productivity, which he said needs to be addressed. The CCL executive members noted that productivity must be looked at in all its dimensions.

The subject of a possible government subvention for the CCL was discussed. Dr Mitchell, who is also the Minister of Finance, said government will be willing to support efforts by the regional trade union umbrella body, especially as it endeavours to empower its membership.

This drive to empower has already started. Through the CCL’s partnership with Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies in Trinidad and Tobago, the Grenada Trades Union Council is planning a one-week training session in leadership for its affiliates.

Dr Mitchell also suggested that the trade unions get involved in business ventures that can benefit their members over time. Some unions in Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica are already engaged in such activities and Dr Mitchell suggested that this approach be encouraged in other countries, including Grenada.

Office of the Prime Minister

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CARIBEWAVE 2020 to be staged on 19 March

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The National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) continues its preparation for the hosting of CARIBEWAVE 2020, carded for Thursday, 19 March 2020.

This year’s scenario will involve a 8.9 magnitude earthquake just off the coast of Jamaica, triggering a tele-tsunami in our area.

The exercise will be held along the western corridor: Victoria, Gouyave and Grand Mal, but triggering a national response.

The 2020 exercise gives the sister isles of Carriacou and Petite Martinique a unique opportunity to test the SOP (Standard Operating Protocol) created in 2019 as part of the certification of being Tsunami Ready in November 2019.

The exercise will be conducted simultaneously in Carriacou and Petite Martinique. We therefore encourage the general public to visit the website Tsunamizone.org to register for the exercise.

CARIBEWAVE (Caribbean Tsunami Warning Exercise) is a tsunami exercise held annually in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, under the direction of UNESCO and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The purpose of the CARIBEWAVE exercise is to improve the effectiveness of the Tsunami Warning System along the Caribbean coast.  The exercise provides an opportunity for emergency management organisations throughout the region to test their operational lines of communications, review their tsunami response procedures, and to promote tsunami preparedness.

The objectives of the CARIBEWAVE Exercise are to test and evaluate the operations of the Caribbean Tsunami Warning System (Caribe EWS), to validate preparedness response to a tsunami (which are test protocols and communications systems between tsunami warning centres and the tsunami warning focal points), and the use of the PTWC (Pacific Tsunami Warning Center) enhanced tsunami products for the Caribbean, as well as assist in tsunami preparedness efforts of the emergency management agencies in those areas.

For additional information, please contact Oslyn Crosby Public Relations Officer, NaDMA on 440-8390/ 440-0838, or 533-0766 email: nadma@spiceisle.com / nadmapr@gmail.com . 

NaDMA, the official source for all disaster related information in Grenada. 

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