The islands of the Caribbean comprise a linear arc that connects three diverse
cultural regions of North, South and Central America. Travel along these "stepping stone"
archipelagos is facilitated by the close proximity of their setting, and each island is visible,
one from the other. Long before the arrival of Europeans in 1492, various Amerindian groups were
migrating into and settling on these islands, bringing with them plants, animals and cultural traditions.
For almost five thousand years, they lived on these islands, developing island oriented cultures that
lasted until the arrival of the European explorers.
With the subsequent discovery and settlement by European Nations, the islands and the native peoples
were changed forever. In the quest to colonise and extract maximum profits, many new species of plants
and animals were introduced, as were millions of enslaved Africans who were forced to work on the newly
established plantations, mines, and estates. Ultimately, labour had to be sought in China, India, and Portugal,
and by the dawn of the 20th century, the Caribbean was a melting pot of cultures and traditions.
Throughout the seventeenth and eighteen centuries, the islands generated vast wealth for their European
colonial Nations. As such, they were heavily defended, fortified, and the source of much conflict.
On Antigua, a dockyard was established for the repairing and provisioning of ships for the Royal Navy.
This island was particularly heavily fortified and many barracks were built to house the British Regiments
Needless to say, Antigua is rich in history. However, much of what is known is
derived from the early historical accounts written by the English colonists, missionaries, and planters.
Archaeology in the Caribbean is in its infancy, yet it is already exploring and providing an alternative
perspective. A significant contribution has already been made into our understanding of the pre-Columbian
cultures of the Caribbean.