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Cave discoveries shed new light on Native and European religious encounters in the Americas

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Recent fieldwork by a collaborative Anglo-Puerto Rican team has uncovered new evidence in the Caribbean of an early religious dialogue between Europeans and Native Americans. 

A large collection of early colonial inscriptions and commentaries written by named individuals within a cave system of pre-existing indigenous spiritual iconography provides dramatic new insights into the tone and personal context of this momentous time of encounter.

In a paper, published in Antiquity, researchers have provided new understandings about the formation of emergent cultural identities in the Caribbean that challenge historic accounts of indigenous extinction. 

The island of Mona, on a key Atlantic route from Europe to the Americas, was at the heart of sixteenth-century Spanish colonial projects and was recorded by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in AD 1494. 

A cave on Mona Island. Credit: University of Leicester

Communities on the island were exposed to the earliest waves of European impact during a critical period of transformation and the forging of new identities.

A team of researchers led by Dr Jago Cooper (British Museum) and Dr Alice Samson (University of Leicester) has been studying the island – which is one of the most cavernous regions, per square kilometre, in the world.

The team, which has just completed its 2016 season, includes students from Puerto Rico and the UK carrying out dissertations in Climate Science, Archaeology, and History. 

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Source: http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/cave-discoveries-shed-new-light-native-and-european-religious-encounters-020907


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