Thursday, August 13, 2009

Well-Preserved Taino Site Found in Puerto Rico

U.S. and Puerto Rican archaeologists have found what may be the best-preserved pre-Columbian site in the Caribbean. They say the discovery could shed light on every aspect of Indian life in the region, from sacred rituals to eating habits.

The site in southern Puerto Rico may have belonged to the Taino or pre-Taino people that inhabited the island before European colonization, although other tribes are a possibility. It contains stones etched with ancient petroglyphs that form a large plaza measuring 130 feet by 160 feet, which could have been used for ball games or ceremonial rites, said Aida Belen Rivera, director of the Puerto Rican Historic Conservation office.

The petroglyphs include the carving of a human figure with masculine features and frog legs.
Archaeologists also uncovered several graves with bodies buried face-down with the legs bent at the knees - a style never seen before in the region.

The plaza may contain other artifacts dating from 600 A.D. to 1500 A.D., including piles of refuse from daily life, Rivera said.

"I have visited many sites and have never seen a plaza of that magnitude and of those dimensions and with such elaborate petroglyphs," said Miguel Rodriguez, member of the government's archaeological council and director of a graduate school in Puerto Rico that specializes in history and humanities.

Click here for the complete Sun Journal article.

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