Climate and pre-Columbian settlement at Anse à la Gourde, Guadeloupe, Northeastern Caribbean

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Abstract

The authors present a reconstruction of precipitation, seasonality, and vegetation cover over the period from 200 cal yr B.C. to 1600 cal yr A.D. for the archaeological site of Anse à la Gourde, Guadeloupe, based on the oxygen and carbon isotope composition of accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) 14C-dated aragonitic shells of the landsnail Bulimulus guadaloupensis. The results show that the Late Cedrosan Saladoid population (˜400–800 cal yr A.D.) disappeared at the beginning of a dry and stormy period lasting from 800 to 1000 cal yr A.D. The Mamoran Troumassoid started to populate the site around 1000 cal yr A.D. when the climate became wetter, and remained until ˜1300 cal yr A.D. The snail-shell carbon isotope values changed significantly around the period that the Late Cedrosan Saladoid occupation started. This indicates a vegetational response either to the wetter conditions, or because of the replacement of existing C4 plant vegetation by introduced C3 crops. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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