Anthropogenic use, modification, and preservation of coastal cave resources in Puerto Rico


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Coastal caves throughout the Caribbean basin have provided critical environmental settings for diverse human activities spanning many cultural periods and have ranged from ceremonial, mortuary or ritualistic applications to the practical uses of such shoreline structures within the context of past subsistence strategies and subsequent post-contact commercial exploitation. Coastal caves can harbor significant cultural resources, serving as repositories of archaeological and historical materials as well as providing critical physiographic components of cultural development in the Puerto Rican islands. However, anthropogenic uses of coastal cave sites of the Puerto Rico mainland have received limited attention in comparison to the numerous archeologically and geologically significant cave and karst sites located in the island interior. The comparative distribution and diversity of coastal cave rock art forms can serve as indicators of anthropogenic uses, forming an important baseline data set contributing to a more complete understanding of long-term cultural uses of littoral sites. This study integrates an overview of anthropogenic influences on Puerto Rican coastal karst landforms with their distinctive geomorphologies, correlating defined examples of cave structures with associated pre-contact and post-contact uses, contemporary human impact, and applied management/preservation strategies.


Caves, Karst, North and Central America, United States, Puerto Rico

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North and Central America; United States; Puerto Rico

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