The Archipelago and the Arc of Time: Continuities across 2,000 Years of Pre-Columbian Caribbean Art

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The Pre-Columbian Society of New York presents a lecture by Lawrence Waldron (CUNY), “The Archipelago and the Arc of Time: Continuities across 2,000 Years of Pre-Columbian Caribbean Art” on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, at 6:00 in the Lecture Hall, The Institute of Fine Arts (located at 1 East 78th Street, New York, New York). The lecture will be followed by a reception with wine and cheese in the Loeb Room. [To ensure seating, please respond HERE.]

Description: As archaeological information about the ancient Antilles has become increasingly fine-grained, Caribbean pre-Columbianists have begun moving away from the grand culture histories and stylistic classifications of the region that were first proposed by early twentieth-century archaeologists such as Irving Rouse and José María Cruxent. Among North American pre-Columbianists, only the last five hundred years of Caribbean pre-Conquest art—that of the people known as Taíno—is even vaguely familiar. However, the Taíno were but the final manifestation of a millennia-long arc of Arawakan culture and art in the Antilles. And while the first Arawakan settlers to reach these islands were of a socially and artistically distinct type from the Taíno, the retention of key motifs, classes of art objects unique to the Caribbean, and mythic elements, too, link the very first Arawakan Antilleans to the ones that greeted Columbus 2,000 years later. While noting important artistic and cultural differences, this presentation discusses the major continuities between the pioneering Saladoid-era Arawakans (circa 500 BCE–CE 600), their Taíno descendants, and the cultural forces that might have effected this long memory among the ancient Antilleans.

[Photo above by Lawrence Waldron: Trigonal cemí/zemí (trigonolito) with twin anthropomorphic heads, Florida Adentro, Puerto Rico, Taíno.]

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