Puerto Rico Fundraising Lecture: “Archaeological Investigations at Jácana, Puerto Rico”

Posted on 10/3/2017 1:53:02 PM

A flag image over a photo of Puerto RicoArchaeologist Chris Espenshade will discuss the study of the Jácana site (in south-central Puerto Rico) on Monday, October 9, 6:00–7:00 p.m. in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building, room B11. Donations will be accepted to support hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. 

“This is by far the best site I ever worked on in my 33 years as a professional archaeologist, in terms of contexts, integrity, pure diversity of great data sets, intriguing material culture, and inter-disciplinary team,” Espenshade said.

Cash donations will be collected and sent to United for Puerto Rico

The archaeological investigations of the Jácana site occurred in 2007. This inter-disciplinary study documented two key components from AD 600–900 and AD 1300–1500. In the earlier period, the site is interpreted as a hamlet of 4–6 houses, with a small midden mound, canucos (mounded gardens) and possibly a small ball court. In the later period, the site served as a regional ceremonial center for the Taíno Indians.

In this period, the site featured a large batey (40 × 50 meters), which is a settlement around a sugar mill, lined on four sides with stone slabs, some with petroglyphs. The midden mound, a refuge heap, was significantly expanded, and there seems to have only been a single house. The site in this later period is interpreted as a location visited by occasional pilgrims throughout the year and visited by large crowds on specific holy days. The only occupant was a caretaker shaman. The site is seen as part of a larger ritual landscape of key significance to Taíno identity.

Department of Anthropology