Publication Date

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)







Subject Areas

Archaeology; Biology



The Excavation and Analysis of Prehistoric Caribbean Remains: A Bioarchaeological Case Study of a Prehistoric Female from Nevis, West Indies

By Chris Keith

In the summer of 2011, the remains of a 1000 year old indigenous Caribbean woman were discovered buried on a beach near White Bay, Nevis, West Indies. The following summer, a team of excavators and osteologists, including the author, returned to Nevis to excavate and analyze the remains with the intention to learn as much as possible about the remains and, through proxy, the people to whom they belonged. We felt that through our investigations of the life of this woman, whom we dubbed Taoüa, we would be able to extrapolate this information more broadly to the people living in the Caribbean during the Ostionoid period (circa 800-1150 Common Era, or CE). The research done on these remains is important since there is little known about migration patterns of the Caribbean people during the Ostionoid era, and there is much confusion about who was living where, and when, during this large swath of time. Beyond the wider academic appeal, there is much interest in Carib life by the modern Nevisians; in fact, this research was done in conjunction with the Nevisian Historical and Conservation Society (NHCS) and current Nevisians are eager to learn about the prior inhabitants, the history of the island, and what it meant to be a prehistoric Nevisian. The following paper is a catalog of the events of that trip, including excavation and analysis. A complete and detailed background of Caribbean prehistory will also be discussed in order to understand the cultural context of this individual. An additional literature review of osteological material will be undertaken to help draw correlations to the bony features we found on Taoüa and what activities, diet, and pathologies with which she may have been affected. Finally, the paper will conclude with a discussion of the analysis and the literary research.