Macorix de Arriba Archaeological Project

Macorix de Arriba Archaeological Project

Punta Rucia coastal area of the northern Dominican Republic

The Macorix de Arriba Archaeological Project is a five year field archaeological research program (2010-2014) conducted by Jose Oliver and colleagues in the Punta Rucia coastal area of northern Dominican Republic, some 30 Km west of La Isabela, the first settlement founded by Christopher Columbus in January 1493. This multi-cultural (Taino, Macorix and others) area is ideally suited to explore the nature of inter-ethnic relationships, the construction of identities and the first large-scale impact of Europeans in the New World. The Macorix Project is currently funded by the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology-UCLA and the Albert Reckitt Archaeology Fund of the British Academy.

Fig 3: Excavations at the site of Edilio Cruz-1

The Macorix Project has the collaboration of the Museo del Hombre Dominicano, Secretaría de Cultura of the Dominican Republic and the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology-UCLA-Archaeology Field Program, which also runs a formal archaeology field school. Student from the MA’Archaeology Program of the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y El Caribe participate as volunteers in the Project.

Fig 2: Mapping the site of Edilio Cruz-1

The Macorix aborigines encountered by Christopher Columbus (1494) comprised large group of non-Taíno speaking societies living in the midst of Taínos (Arawakan speakers) in northern Hispaniola (Haiti-Dominican Republic). Despite their importance during the Spanish-native battles (1494-1500), the Macorix have been marginalized or ignored by scholars. Their origins are enigmatic; their ways of life and community organization are poorly understood. Surveys in the Punta Rucia area (Figure 1) and excavations in selected sites are intended to give a ‘voice’ to the Macorix peoples and their pre-Columbian ancestors in scholarly research; rescue their cultural memory from current historical amnesia; and, restore them to their proper place in world history through archaeological research.

Likewise, we wish to explore issues of ethnic and cultural identities (and personhood constructions though material culture) in this multi-lingual and multi-cultural yet poorly researched region. The first field season (July 2010) was devoted to mapping (figure 2) and excavations (figure 3) at the site of Edilio Cruz-1.

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