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Title: The origins of Tradescant’s ‘India Occidentali’ wooden clubs: 14C dating, material identification and strontium isotope studies

Source: The Antiquaries Journal. 00: 1-32.

Author(s)Ostapkowicz, Joanna ; Roberts, Alison ; Thistlewood, Jevon ; Brock, Fiona ; Wiedenhoeft, Alex C.; Snoeck, Chrostophe ; Schulting, Rick ; Bray, Warwick

Publication Year: 2018  View PDF »

Category: Journal Articles
Associated Research Project(s):   FPL-4715-1

Abstract: This paper focuses on the material study (radiocarbon dating, wood identification and strontium isotope analyses) of four large ‘India occidentali’ clubs, part of the founding collections of the Ashmolean Museum, in Oxford, and originally part of John Tradescant’s ‘Ark’,in Lambeth (1656). During the seventeenth century, the term ‘India occidentali/occidentales’ referred not only to the ‘West Indies’ (its literal translation), but to the Americas as a whole; hence, the Ashmolean clubs and, indeed, the c forty examples of similarly large, decorated clubs known in international museum collections had no firm provenance and lacked even the most basic information. Previous attempts at attribution, based on stylistic comparisons with nineteenth-to twentieth-century Brazilian and Guyanese clubs, have proved inconclusive given the unique features of this club style, raising the intriguing possibility that these may be exceptionally rare examples of ‘Island Carib’ (Kalinago) material culture, particularly as images of such clubs appear in seventeenth-century ethnographic accounts from the LesserAntilles. This paper provides new data for these poorly known objects fromearly collections, revealing not only the type of wood from which they were carved (Platymiscium sp. and Brosimum cf guianense) and their probable dates of manufacture (c AD 1300–1640), but also their possible provenance (strontium results are consistent with a possible range from Trinidad south to French Guiana).

Keywords: Taino; radiocarbon dating; strontium isotopes; wood identification

Publication Review Process: Formally Refereed

File size: 6,144 kb(s)

Date posted: 09/27/2018

This publication is also viewable on Treesearch:  view
RITS Product ID: 92618
Current FPL Scientist associated with this product
Wiedenhoeft, Alex C.
Research Botanist

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