Some of the early Spanish chronicles make reference to the presence of cave dwellers inhabiting the westernmost section of Cuba as well as the Guacayarima Peninsula in southwestern Haiti. These people, who supposedly lived marginal to Taino society, were named the Guanahatabey or Ciboney culture. The different descriptions of those groups shared elements that were later adopted uncritically in the construction of the social and cultural aspects of the so-called archaic culture tradition of Puerto Rico. Although half a millennium later the tendency to assign every aceramic deposit to the Ciboney or Guanahatabey culture has been overcome, most of the notions implicit in these descriptions remain current in the generalized vision of these societies. In this work, I analyze the implications that these early accounts have had on the development of our perception of the archaic culture of Puerto Rico and contrast them against the archaeological data generated thus far, which tend to indicate a much more complex scenario than that originally proposed.

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