Agricultural Societies in the Caribbean: The Lesser Antilles

  • Louis Allaire


One may wonder whether a population centre could have been allowed to develop in the Lesser Antilles without agriculture,1 and this, despite the wealth of marine resources of all kinds derived especially from mangrove and coastal reef formations. There are, for instance, in all the luxuriant tropical vegetation of the islands, few wild plants which are today eaten or part of the traditional cooking,2 and the fewer land animals are only typical of the impoverished fauna that characterizes the West Indies and which is limited, essentially, to the agouti, the rice rat (as the only mammals), the iguana, and the land crab. This situation may explain the sparsity of Archaic occupations in the Lesser Antilles, especially in the larger Windward Islands. Indeed, the survival of the few endemic edible animal species into the early agricultural period may further reinforce the impression that the islands had largely been uninhabited. These meagre resources would otherwise probably have been depleted.3


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc. 2003

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  • Louis Allaire

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