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  • Writer's pictureS. Yoshi Maezumi

Jamaica Frontiers: Archaeologists Don't Dig Dinosaurs!

Before I found my way to the wonderful world of Palaeoecology, I spent a considerable amount of time studying Archaeology, obtaining both my Bachelors and Masters degrees in Archaeology. I have participated in archaeological excavations in Jordan, Spain, Italy, Guatemala, Brazil, Bolivia, and America. Although many people have heard of Archaeology, it is always surprising to me the misconceptions that surround the discipline.

One of the most ingrained notions is that Archaeologists dig Dinosaurs. Despite my avid love of dinosaurs (see The Adventures of Isadora Rex ), I, nor do other Archaeologists, study or excavate dinosaur remains. That is a Paleontologists job. Archaeologists study human remains. Young stuff, old stuff, pre-modern human stuff. If it has to do with humans that's the Archaeologists bag.

Bearing that in mind, it is also important to note that, despite Hollywood's best attempts to convince you otherwise, the Top 10 Things Archaeologists Rarely Ever Find include:

10. Dinosaur bones

9. Mummies

8. Precious Jewelry

7. Alien Artifacts

6. Treasure Chests

5. The Lost Tribes of Israel

4. Whole Pots

3. Secret Tunnels

2. Gold

1. A steady-job

- Canyon De Chelly

Although we may not find Treasure Chests full of gold, archaeological sites can be full of hidden treasures that provide clues to the past, if you know where to look. Archaeobotany (the study of plant remains in archaeological sites) is an important component of our Jamaica Frontiers project. In collaboration with Dr Sarah Elliot and Dr Mark Robinson from the United Kingdom and Dr Zach Beier, Archaeologist from UWI Mona Jamaica, we are examining pre-Columbian (Taino) land-use and subsistence practices. We can do this by looking at microscopic plant remains in the soil know as phytoliths. These remains give us an idea of what kind of vegetation was growing on the landscape and what people were eating at the site. Samples were collected during our summer field season 2019. Stay tuned for upcoming results 2019-2020!

Dr Sarah Elliott discussing the importance of Environmental Archaeology.

Our Archaeology Team visiting the Taino site of White Marl with resident archaeologist Dr Zach Beier.

Dr Sarah Elliott examining soil archives in the UWI Mona Archaeology Museum.

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