Study: Bahamas were settled earlier than believed

Individuals have been current in Florida by 14,000 decades back, and until not long ago, it was believed the Bahamas – found only a number of miles absent – were not colonized right until about 1,000 several years back. But new conclusions from a staff which includes a Texas A&M University at Galveston researcher confirm that the region was colonized earlier, and the new settlers substantially modified the landscape.

Peter van Hengstum, associate professor in the Department of Maritime and Coastal Ecosystem Science at Texas A&M-Galveston, and colleagues have had their conclusions published in PNAS (Proceedings of the Countrywide Academy of Sciences).

Researchers created a new environmental file from the Blackwood Sinkhole, which is flooded with 120 toes of groundwater with no dissolved oxygen. This is vital due to the fact it has pristinely preserved organic and natural substance for the very last 3,000 years. Working with main samples and radiocarbon dating, the workforce examined charcoal deposits from human fires 1000’s of decades in the past, indicating that the initial settlers arrived in the Bahamas quicker than beforehand imagined.

“The Bahamas have been the past location colonized by people in the Caribbean area, and earlier physical evidence indicated that it may possibly have taken hundreds of many years for indigenous men and women of the Bahamas – referred to as the Lucayans – to shift as a result of the Bahamian archipelago that spans about 500 miles,” van Hengstum stated.

Although folks were being current in Florida extra than 14,000 years back at the finish of the previous ice age, he claimed, these people today under no circumstances crossed the Florida Straits to close by Bahamian islands, only 50 to 65 miles absent. In the meantime, the Caribbean islands have been populated by men and women migrating from South American northward. Van Hengstum explained the oldest archaeological web-sites in the southernmost Bahamian archipelago from the Turks and Caicos Islands reveal human arrival probable by 700 A.D.

“But in the northern Bahamian Great Abaco Island, the earliest bodily proof of human profession are skeletons preserved in sinkholes and blueholes,” he reported. “These two skeletons from Abaco date from 1200 to 1300 A.D. Our new file of landscape disturbance from people indicates that slash-and-burn up agriculture possible began all around 830 A.D., meaning the Lucayans quickly migrated through the Bahamian archipelago in likely a century, or spanning just a several human generations.”

The team’s other conclusions show how the Lucayans modified the new land.

When the Lucayans arrived, Fantastic Abaco Island was typically protected with pine and palm forests, and had a distinctive reptile-dominated ecosystem of large tortoises and crocodiles. Elevated deforestation and burning permitted pine trees to colonize and out-compete indigenous palms and hardwoods.

Significant land reptiles commenced to vanish after 1000 A.D. A major maximize in powerful regional hurricane action all over 1500 Advertisement is imagined to have prompted appreciable destruction to the new pine tree forests, as indicated by a minimize in pine pollen in the sediment main.

“The pollen history implies that the pre-make contact with forest was not noticeably impacted before in the history during known instances when rigorous hurricane strike gatherings were being a lot more repeated,” van Hengstum said. “In our existing planet in which the depth of the major hurricanes is expected to boost above the coming decades, the current pine trees in the northern Bahamas may not be as resilient to environmental impacts of these variations in hurricane activity.”


The review was funded by the National Science Foundation.&#13

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