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PhD Defence

Seascape Corridors, Modeling Routes to Connect Communities Across the Caribbean Sea

Wednesday 12 September 2018
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

Connecting islands

There is little evidence of the routes connecting Amerindian communities in the Caribbean prior to and just after 1492. Uncovering possible canoe routes between these communities can help to explain the structure, capabilities, and limitations of the physical links in their social and material networks. This work evaluates how routes connecting islands indicate the structure of past inter-island networks, by using computer modeling.

Computer modeling and least-cost pathway analysis is a popular approach for analyzing the physical connection between sites in archaeology. This work adds to the discussion of seascape modeling is by focusing on inter-island voyaging, or the process of maintained connections between island sites rather than a focus on exploration, a technique rarely explored in sea-based least-cost pathways analysis.

Relying on archeological evidence, ethnographic accounts and language analysis, and computer tools developed for this work, optimal routes between indigenous sites were modeled to determine how routes in various seasons and through different regions influenced possible lines of connection. To gain a broader understanding of the feasibility this model, canoe routes were generated in three different areas in the Caribbean, stretching from the island of Hispaniola to the Leeward Islands and from the Windward Islands to Guyana. These modeled sea-based routes provide new insights into the movement of peoples and material culture between islands and past Amerindians communities in this region.


  • Prof. C.L. Hofman


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact

Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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