In 2013 structural assessments associated with ongoing renovations of the Red House, Trinidad and Tobago's Parliament building, revealed human remains buried beneath the foundation. Excavations and radiocarbon dating indicate the remains are pre-Columbian with 14C dates ranging between approximately AD 125 and AD 1395. Due to the small overall sample size and the inability to attribute all individuals to a specific Amerindian period, the skeletal sample was considered as an aggregate. A bioarchaeological assessment of excavated graves and associated human skeletal material was conducted to determine the demographic profile and the pathological conditions exhibited by the collective skeletal 'population.' Osteological analyses included determining the minimum number of individuals (MNI), assessing the biological profile (e.g. sex, age, ancestry and stature), evaluating pathological conditions, antemortem and perimortem trauma and describing the overall taphonomic modifications. In addition, dental wear patterns, artificial cranial modifications and musculoskeletal stress markers were noted. Finally, the mortuary treatment and context was compared to the limited information published on contemporary skeletal samples from islands in the Lesser Antilles and nearby coastal regions of South America. The sample consisted of an MNI of 60 individuals including 47 adults and 13 juveniles. The skeletal completeness of these individuals ranged from a single skeletal element to more than 90% complete. Sex assessment was possible for 23 individuals with 11 females (23%) and 17 males (35%). Multiple antemortem conditions indicate a total of 35 individuals (58%) who exhibited one or more pathological condition including dental pathology (e.g. LEHs, carious lesions, antemortem tooth loss, dental wear, abscesses and a possible apical cyst), healed antemortem trauma, non-specific generalized infections, osteoarthritis, spinal osteophystosis and Schmorl's nodes. Additional antemortem conditions include examples of artificial cranial modification in both sexes, and activity related humeral bilateral asymmetry. While not a representative population, the reconstruction of health, lifestyle and disease for these ancient peoples makes a significant contribution to the limited osteological research published on the Caribbean's pre-contact period.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Meyers, Patrisha, "Bioarchaeological Investigations of The Red House Archaeological Site, Port of Spain, Trinidad: A Pre-Columbian, Mid-Late Ceramic Age Caribbean Population." (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4979.