Remains of the Stargate Canoe
This image showcases one of the few remains of a canoe found in the Caribbean. The ‘Stargate’ canoe, found in a blue hole—a large marine cavern--on the island of South San Andros in the Bahamas, represents only the tip of the canoe. The image above shows the prow or stern of a canoe, similar to those found in Venezuela in the Upper Orinoco River basin.
Due to the environmental conditions of the Caribbean, wood crafted by human hands in earlier periods is only rarely preserved. This is particularly unfortunate for the study of pre-Columbian seafaring because it means there are very few fragments of canoes found in the archaeological record. These few examples provide a very basic view of canoe construction in the past and act as a guide to the connection between past and present canoe building practices. While this fragment may not be able to give us a holistic view of the canoe, it does showcase some important details, including a flat edge on the canoe similar to that in the canoe in the woodcut in the works of Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo. Additionally, the size of this piece may be able to indicate to us the size of at least the front or back half of the canoe.
This source is part of the Caribbean Seafaring in the Archaic Age teaching module.
Fitzpatrick, S. M. (2013a). Seafaring capabilities in the pre-Columbian Caribbean. Journal of Maritime Archaeology, 8(1), 101-138