Island Networks: modelling inter-community social relationships in the Lesser Antilles across the historical divide (AD 1000-1800)


The focus of this programme is the inter-community social relationships and transformations of island networks in the Lesser Antilles across the historical divide. The period AD 1000-1800 represents an archaeologically understudied and turbulent era during which the archipelago?s inhabitants came under increasing influence from South America and the Greater Antilles and participated in the last phase of indigenous resistance to colonial powers. The region is ideal for this research because of 1) its geographic formation as a chain of islands between the landmasses of the South American mainland and the Greater Antilles, thus serving as a conduit for interaction and exchange; 2) its continuous Amerindian occupation from 6000 BC until the 18th century; 3) the dynamic situation of colonial encounters with Amerindian-European-African interactions.

Caribbean archaeological research has focused on patterns of regional and pan-regional mobility of peoples and the exchange of goods and ideas during the pre-colonial period (pre-1492). Recent investigations by the applicant have for the first time provided insights into early colonial period indigenous archaeology in the Lesser Antilles through the discovery of 16-18th century Amerindian settlements and associated material culture repertoires. These discoveries offer a unique opportunity to study continuity and change in inter-community social relationships, and transformations of island networks at the advent of European colonialism.

This research utilizes state-of-the-art methods and techniques and contemporary theoretical perspectives from archaeology, ethnohistory, biogeochemistry, archaeometry and social network analysis, creating significant synergy in three interlocking subprojects. The multi-disciplinary approach will advance novel perspectives to the study of intercultural dynamics in colonial encounter situations worldwide. On a local Caribbean level, this programme contributes to the historical awareness and valorisation of cultural heritage in a geopolitically diverse islandscape, with an archaeological record that is under threat from natural disasters and infrastructural development.


Scientific article

  • J.E. Laffoon, R. Rodriguez Ramos, L.A. Chanlatte Baik, Y. Narganes Storde, M. Rodriguez Lopez, G.R. Davies, C.L. Hofman(2014): Long-Distance Exchange in the Precolonial Circum-Caribbean. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology pp. 220 - 233
  • C.L. Hofman, A.A.A. Mol, M.L.P. Hoogland, R. Valcárcel Rojas(2014): Stages of encounters. World Archaeology pp. 590 - 609
  • I Hodder, A.A.A Mol(2015): Networks and Entanglements Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory pp. 1 - 29
  • A.A.A. Mol, C.L. Hofman, M.L.P. Hoogland(2015): Remotely Local: Ego networks of late pre-colonial (AD 1000-1450) Saba, Northeastern Caribbean. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory pp. 275 - 305
  • J. E. Laffoon, M.L.P. Hoogland, G.R. Davies, C.L. Hofman(2016): Human dietary assessment in the Pre-colonial Lesser Antilles. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports pp. 168 - 180
  • C.L Hofman, M.L.P. Hoogland(2016): Connecting Stakeholders: Collaborative preventive archaeology projects at sites affected by natural and/or human impacts. Caribbean Connections pp. 1 - 31

Chapter in book

  • C.L. Hofman, A.A.A. Mol, R. Rodriguez Ramos, S Knippenberg(2014): Archéologie Caraïbe pp. 119 - 132

Book or monography

  • C.L. Hofman, M.L.P. Hoogland(2016): “Saba’s First Inhabitants”
  • W.F. Keegan, C.L. Hofman(2017): The Caribbean Before Columbus , London

Publication meant for a broad audience


Project number


Main applicant

Prof. dr. C.L. Hofman

Affiliated with

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Archeologie

Team members

Drs. T.W. Breukel, Dr. J.E. Laffoon, Dr. A.A.A. Mol, N.B. Niet Bekend en Niet Gebruiken, Dr. G.L. Ramón, Drs. E. Slayton


01/09/2013 to 31/05/2018