Discovery of Aboriginal Indian Remains in Jamaica

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Abstract

THE island of Jamaica, at the time of its discovery by Columbus in 1494, is estimated to have been inhabited by about 600,000 natives, belonging to the race of the Arawâks—a people of simple habits and of a peaceable disposition. The barbarous and cruel treatment of these Indians by their Spanish conquerors, so rapidly decreased their numbers, that in 1655, the date of the conquest of the island by the English, it is probable that not a single specimen of the original type of inhabitant remained alive. Very little was left-behind as a record that ever such a race existed here. A few pieces of earthenware showing very primitive ornamentation, and a few flint implements and beads, are practically all that remain to represent their arts and manufactures. Parts of the interior of the country are formed of Miocene limestone, and in this, many caves are to be found. Most of them have, however, yielded little of interest. In one, at Pedro Bluff, the only two aboriginal skulls hitherto known were found. These were submitted to Sir William Flower, and show a frontal compression with corresponding lateral expansion, a deformation produced artifically during infancy by the former inhabitants of the West Indian islands. A kitchen-midden at Northbrook, investigated by Lady Blake, has yielded pieces of ancient pottery, flint implements, shells, and bones of the Jamaica coney, Capromys brachyurus, Hill.

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DUERDEN, J. Discovery of Aboriginal Indian Remains in Jamaica. Nature 52, 173–174 (1895) doi:10.1038/052173d0

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