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About the project

sculptures shown with a timeline 

Chronological range of four of the five selected sculptures (AD 974 - 1522)

The pre-Hispanic Caribbean sculptural arts project involved work on over sixty sculptures, each selected for their historical significance, good provenance, wide-ranging distribution (both Greater and Lesser Antilles), and artefact type. Twenty museums in eight different countries participated and the project involved an international, multidisciplinary team of researchers working collaboratively on the dating, materials and manufacture issues related to each sculpture. 

The project had four main aims:

  • to establish a clear chronology for selected examples of Taíno wooden sculpture
  • to gain understanding of their stylistic variation over time, and within and between islands
  • to understand their materiality (for example, the species of wood selected, resins used, etc) and how they were carved and finished
  • to explore the use of stable isotopes in determining the origin of the wood used to carve the pieces.

The ultimate goal has been to integrate the results into our current knowledge of the Taíno, which is largely based on ceramic and stone technologies, and enhance our understanding of how wooden material culture contributed to Caribbean lifeways.