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Archeological Investigations in the Bay Islands, Spanish Honduras

Table of Contents Environmental History Explorations Roatan References

SMITHSONIAN MISCELLANEOUS COLLECTIONS

VOLUME 92, NUMBER 14

(End of Volume)

ARCHEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS IN

THE BAY ISLANDS, SPANISH HONDURAS

(WITH 33 PLATES)

BY

WILLIAM DUNCAN STRONG

Anthropologist, Bureau of American Ethnology

Smithsonian Logo

(PUBLICATION 3290)

CITY OF WASHINGTON

PUBLISHED BY THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION

FEBRUARY 12, 1935

The Lord Baltimore Press, Baltimore, M.D. USA

Plate 1 - Bay Island Polychrome I Vase
Plate 1 - From a painting by E. G. Cassedy
Bay Island Polychrome I Vase which contained Central Votive Cache, Dixon Site, Roatan.

CONTENTS

Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Environmental background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Historical and ethnological background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

Explorations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Utila Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Black Rock Basin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Site 1, urn and skull burials . . . . . . . . .. . . . . .. .20

Site 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Brandon Hill Cave . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

Byron Cave . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

Big Bight Cave . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

"Eighty Acre" and other sites. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

Roatan Island. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  36

Port Royal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36

Literature Cited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .172

[Page 40 - 167 inclusive have not been transcribed, since they do not directly relate to Utila]

Page 1

ARCHEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS IN THE BAY
ISLANDS, SPANISH HONDURAS

BY WILLIAM DUNCAN STRONG

Anthropologist, Bureau of American Ethnology

(WITH 33 PLATES)

INTRODUCTION

The following report is based primarily on an archeological reconnaissance of the Bay Islands carried out by the Smithsonian Institution during the months of April and May 1933. In June and July, 1931, the Boekelman Shell Heap Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History had made a similar survey of the islands. Through the courtesy of the latter institution and of Junius Bird, archeologist of the Boekelman Shell Heap Expedition, I have been permitted to include their data with ours - a happy combination, since the results of both expeditions overlap and supplement one another in many ways. Prior to either of the above investigations, in 1930, and again in 1931, Mr Mitchell-Hedges, working under the auspices of the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, spent several months on the Bay Islands and gathered together a very large number of fine specimens. Through the courtesy of the Museum of the American Indian, I have briefly studied this collection, which is assigned to the various islands but is without data as to sites or exact provenience. On this account, and because adequate description would require a separate report, I have used the Mitchell-Hedges material mainly for general comparative purposes.

The itinerary of the Boekelman Shell Heap Expedition was as follows: June 30, 1931, the schooner Clodia arrived at Utila Island; July 10, left Utila Island for Roatan Island; July 17, left Roatan for Bonacca Island; and July 22, left Bonacca for the mainland. The Smithsonian Expedition on the motorboat Amigo arrived Roatan Island April 25, 1933; reached Helena Island May 6; left Helena for Barburata Island May 7; visited Morat Island May 11; arrived Bonacca Island May 12 and left May 17; arrived at Utila Island May 18 and left May 21 for Roatan. From Roatan we returned to the mainland on May 23. Thus, together, the two expeditions spent only 48 days on the islands.

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SMITHSONIAN MISCELLANEOUS COLLECTIONS VOL. 92

Both lack of time and the circumstances of each expedition made exhaustive researches impossible. However, the results attained and the problems defined seem worthy of publication. From the archeological standpoint not only the Bay Islands but also the major portion of the Spanish Honduras mainland form an important and little-known field.

The Bay Island survey of the Smithsonian Institution was an extension of a plan conceived and organized by A. W. Payne, research associate of John Hopkins University, to conduct an archeological investigation of the Patuca River region of northeastern Honduras. The work of the expedition was financed throughout by Norman A Haskell, a student in geology at Harvard University. Mr Payne, Mr Haskell, and the writer comprised the expedition, which was in the field from February to July, 1933. I am especially indebted to Mr Haskell for sketch maps of Bay Island sites used in this paper. Dr L.S. Rowe and other officials of the Pan American Union furnished maps, advice and other valuable assistance. To Junius Bird I am indebted for the use of his excellent notes, photographs, and collections now in the American Museum of Natural History. At the latter institution Dr Clark Wissler, N.C. Nelson, Dr George Vaillant, and Miss Bella Weitzner were all extremely helpful in my work. For much comparative data, manuscript material, and advice I am especially grateful to both Dr Vaillant and Dr Samuel K. Lothrop. At the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, Charles Turbyfill aided me greatly.

In Honduras the officials of the Government at Tegucigalpa and the Governor of the Bay Islands, Se?r Charles Osgood, made our work possible and extended us many courtesies. Similarly the officials of the United Fruit Company, and of the Truxillo Railroad Company at Puerto Castilla, assisted us throughout the entire expedition in every conceivable manner. For this, and for the very many personal courtesies we are extremely grateful. Thanks are also due to Captain Boynton, of Oak Ridge, Gerald Borden, Joe Saba, and other members of the crew of the Amigo, who were willing workers and good companions.

At the National Museum E.P. Henderson made numerous mineral identifications, H.A. Rehder identified molluscan remains, Gerrit S. Miller, Jr., identified mammal remains, and Dr George S. Myers identified fish and reptile bones. For this assistance I am extremely grateful. Dr Dale Stewart has examined our small and fragmentary collection of human skeletal remains, but this, as well as Mr Bird?s more extensive collection of crania, will be reported on by others at a later time.

The frontispiece and the text figures in the present report are the work of E. G. Cassedy, artist of the Bureau of Amercian Ethnology. Finally, I am very grateful to my wife, Jean Stevens Strong, for numerous translations and other technical and critical assistance.

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