Volume 1, Number 1 (2010)
The Possible Influence of Astronomy on the Culture of Ceramic-Age, Pre- Columbian Inhabitants of Greencastle Hill in Antigua
When Columbus arrived in the West Indies in 1492, it is reported that the Antillean Islands were inhabited by an Amerindian culture called the Taínos. The Taíno culture was chronicled extensively by Spanish historians, but little or no information was available about their astronomical knowledge. Archaeological and mythological evidence has shown that this was extensive. Sebastian Robiou-Lamarche (1984), who has intensively researched Taíno astronomy, has shown that there is a relationship between the Taíno and Mesoamerican cultures concerning certain deities and related cultural practices. An archaeological excavation of the summit of Greencastle Hill on the island of Antigua indicated that Greencastle Hill was inhabited by a Ceramic-age Amerindian presence during the period A.D. 900-1200. Artifacts recovered during this excavation were typical of the terminal to post-Saladoid culture affiliation, classified by Caribbean archaeologists as Mamorean Troumassoids (Reid 2009). By A.D. 1200, the Mamorean culture in the Leewards had become so influenced by the Ostionoid cultures in Puerto Rico to the east that they came to be classified by some archaeologists as Eastern Taínos (Reid 2009; Rouse 1992). An array of stones on the summit of Greencastle Hill has recently been investigated to determine whether it could have been an astronomical calendar (Imbert 2007). When the bearings of the stones in the array were compared with the azimuths of stars known to have been of importance in Amerindian cultures, the correlations strongly suggested that the array was used to determine time. The results of this investigation suggested a parallel investigation of how astronomy affected the lifeways of the cultural group that inhabited Greencastle Hill, including their social life, religious ceremonies, navigation, agricultural activities, and their time reckoning of important seasonal events. The results of this investigation are presented in this paper.