Archaeology: Before Columbus

Destroyed almost overnight by Spanish invaders, the culture of the gentle Taino is finally coming to light

It took no time at all for the native Americans who first greeted Christopher Columbus to be all but erased from the face of the earth. For about a thousand years the peaceful people known as the Taino had thrived in modern-day Cuba, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and many other islands in the Lesser and Greater Antilles. But less than 30 years after Columbus' three ocean-crossing ships dropped anchor off the island of Hispaniola, the Taino would be destroyed by Spanish weaponry, forced labor and European diseases. Unlike their distant cousins, the Inca, Aztecs and Maya, the Taino left no...

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