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Archaeologists uncover millennia-old settlement in Dominican Republic

By Maria Montecelos

Santo Domingo, Apr 13 (EFE).- An excavation in the northeastern Dominican town of Samana has uncovered the remains of what is likely the oldest human settlement in Antilles, archaeologist Adolfo Lopez said Thursday.

The findings are “completely changing the vision of the first inhabitants of the Antilles,” he told EFE.

Lopez is director of research for the Guahayona Institute, which is carrying out the excavation in collaboration with the Dominican Academy of Sciences and the Garcia Arevalo Foundation.

Until recently, he said, scholars had imagined those original inhabitants of the island of Hispaniola as “less organized bands of nomad, now we are demonstrating that they were settled human groups.”

Carbon-14 dating established that the items found in the latest excavation, completed a month ago, date from 3,500 BC.

“What we are doing is spatial archaeology,” Lopez said. “It’s not do an excavation at a site and leave, it’s working in a wide area to understand the movements of these people, where they hunted, where they buried (their dead), where they lived, where they gathered food.”

“With this excavation we have found the living area of the people who buried” the bodies found last year at a nearby burial site, he said.

“They had an area where they lived and another zone where they buried their dead,” Lopez said, adding that the arrangement reflects “the social complexity these groups had, their cultural level, which was very high.”

The Samana settlers had a rich and varied diet, Lopez said, adding that the team is awaiting the arrival of experts from the University of Winnipeg who hope to learn through an analysis of plant seeds and the starches found on milling implements whether the residents engaged in agriculture. EFE mmv/dr

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