Indigenous Caribbean Network

Evidence of ancient Taino importing deer into the Caribbean

I never cease to be amazed at the unexpected discoveries made everyday by archeologists working in the Caribbean which indicate extensive interactions between our Antillean island ancestors and the contemporary people living on the mainland areas of both South America and Central America. I have often presented in my blogs in the past the fact that there is growing archeological material indicating the presence of objects on the Caribbean islands that could only have been brought there by people who had been either on the Maya regions of Mexico and Guatemala or in the Rainforest regions of the South American Orinoco River basin. Now in a publication first offered by the researcher Christina M. Giovas we are confronted with indisputable evidence that the ancient Taino not only had access to mainland deer belonging to two different species (including the common white tail so prevalent where I live) but also that those Taino ancestors went as far as actually carve and sculpt the bones of those deer in their unique Taino style.   


The publication is called:

Continental connections and insular distributions: Deer bone artifacts of the precolumbian west indies a review and synthesis with new records November 2019

Christina M. Giovas of Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada)

Dr Giovas provides indisputable evidence in her publication that the ancient Caribbean people were familiar with deer parts such as leg bones and went as far as to actually carve them to create the typical incised pattern designs we are all familiar with. She speculates on the possibility that some of those deer may even have been brought alive to the islands from the mainland. I can only assume that these deer may even have been brought as pets as well as for food. The ancient Taino could not hunt deer on the islands because there were no native wild deer but they could trade with Indigenous people living on the mainland for deer meat, or live deer or deer bones to carve.

Dr Giovas offers a glimpse at a portion of a deer jaw that has been exquisitely sculpted with Taino incised designs.

Please click this LINK for the entire article in PDF format

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