Macorix de Arriba Archaeological Project

Punta Rucia coastal area, northern Dominican Republic

Exploration of ethnic and cultural identities and the first large-scale impact of Europeans in the New World

Excavations at Edilio-Cruz


This project was conducted in collaboration with the Museo del Hombre Dominicano and, in 2012 it was also supported by the Institute for Field Archaeology (IMF), an independent academic organization in California that will be dedicated to the support of archaeology field schools on a global scale.

This project arose as a result of the research problems and questions raised in Jose Oliver’s recent publications. The Macorix region witnessed the first encounter between Europeans and aborigines in the New World. At the time of Spanish contact the native population was multi-ethnic and multi-lingual, roughly matching the presence of two distinct archaeological traditions. Both traditions persist into the early colonial period and are found at settlements within sight of each other. A third archaeological complex has been identified as either a product of syncretism between the other two traditions or as transitional between them. Apart from Columbus's settlement at La Isabella, archaeological research in the region is nearly non-existent.

The project intended to

  • conduct site surveys to establish a reliable cultural chronology
  • define the archaeological material of the presumed different 'ethnic' groups
  • explore how such plural groups contested, negotiated, expressed or suppressed their identities in the region over time and across space
  • assess the impact of Spanish domination in the daily life of the aborigines in their settlements

The multi-cultural character of the Macorix region is ideal for the study of the forging of new ethnic identities (syncretism, Creolization) through analysis of material culture. Finally, while the Spanish conquest resulted in large scale death (genocide), there are indications that a significant portion of the aborigines managed to survive, but by redefining their identities as 'Indios.'

Related outputs

  • A Public Lecture was given at the Museo del Hombre Dominicano in July 2010 on the significance of the Macroix Project and on the current problems of conservation and protection of the cultural and archaeological patrimony of the Dominican Republic which was attended by the authorities of the Secretariat of Culture of the Republic.
  • A lecture on the results of the 2010 excavation season was given at the ‘VIth Leiden in the Caribbean Conference’ (University of Leiden, Holland).


  • Cotsen Institute of Archaeology-UCLA (2010)
  • British Academy Small Grant (2010-2011)
  • Institute for Field Archaeology (2012-)

Project Leader:

Project Partners:

  • Jorge Ulloa Hung and Renato Rimoli, archaeologist and zooarchaeologist of the Museo del Hombre Dominicano, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
  • Jaime Pagan Jimenez, palaeobotany and ethnobotany, Department of Natural Sicences, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras.
  • Miguel Rodriguez Lopez, Director of the Center for Advanced Studies of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, San Juan, Puerto Rico (for the concurrent field-school programme).
  • Ran Boytner, Director of the Institute of Field Archaeology (IMF), Los Angeles, California.


Further information:

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