Post-Saladoid Age Pottery in the Northern Lesser Antilles: Lessons Learned from Thin Section Photography

Martin Todd Fuess

Master of Fine Arts Thesis. 2001

This study is a synthesis of thin section petrographic investigations of 91 Post-Saladoid ceramic materials representing 26 sites from five geologically distinct islands within the northern Lesser Antilles (i.e., Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Martin, and Anguilla). Petrographic analysis of inclusions in Post-Saladoid sherd thin sections allows a number of conclusions to be drawn. Volcanic bedrock islands (Montserrat), or islands that are composed almost entirely of volcanic bedrock (St. Martin), consistently have ceramics exhibiting volcanic inclusions. In contrast, carbonate or limestone islands (e.g., Anguilla and Barbuda) have pottery with either volcanic or grog and carbonate inclusions. The former were likely brought from other islands while the latter were probably produced on the island. Pottery from Antigua, a composite volcanic and limestone island, also contains both inclusion categories, with an emphasis on volcanic-dominated tempering. Research further reveals that Post-Saladoid pottery of the Lesser Antilles may have been trending toward standardization in technology, production and form. A ternary diagram detailing the compositional ratio of ceramics from Antigua supports this supposition. Possible socio-cultural mechanisms relating to organization and economy during the Post-Saladoid period in the northern Lesser Antilles are presented and discussed with regard to the perceived trends noted in ceramic technology.