Much of Jamaican prehistoric research—like that in the rest of the Caribbean basin—has been guided by at least a subconscious attempt to allow prehistoric native peoples to find their places within the charts established by Irving Rouse, who guided Caribbean research for much of the last half-century. The pre-Columbian peoples of Jamaica, and not merely their material culture, are beginning to take form, revealing their lifestyles and rituals, and taking their rightful place among the cultures of the New World.
Pre-Columbian Jamaica represents the first substantial attempt to summarize the prehistoric evidence from the island in a single published account since J. E. Duerden’s invaluable 1897 article on the subject, which is also reprinted within this volume. The book is designed to provide general commentary that can stand alone and be read as a continuous narrative; and as an additional and valuable resource is the accompanying CD-ROM that furnishes a great range of further illustrations, data, calculations, measurements, and comparisons. This data is curated at the Archaeology Laboratory at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, in Kingston, and was presented to the university by Dr. James Lee in 2000. His gift, and the comprehensive study that followed, provide the impetus for both the book and the CD-ROM.