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Archaeology at La IsabelaAmerica's First European Town$
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Kathleen Deagan and Jose Maria Cruxent

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780300090413

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300090413.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 12 June 2021

Starvation in Paradise

Starvation in Paradise

Food and Subsistence at La Isabela

(p.139) 7 Starvation in Paradise
Archaeology at La Isabela

Kathleen Deagan

José María Cruxent

Yale University Press

This chapter describes the different aspects of food and subsistence at La Isabela. The eyewitnesses at La Isabela were lavish in their praise of the local foods they found in Hispaniola, and equally generous when describing the fertility of the land for both farm plants and livestock. Cuneo, Chanca, Coma, and Columbus himself appear to have been both well informed about and delighted by the abundant seafood, wild fruits, and cultivated manioc and potatoes. Their praise makes the retrospective comments of such later chroniclers as Las Casas and Oviedo, who recorded ceaseless hunger and fatal starvation, somewhat curious. The supplies brought with the colonists from Spain were intended to sustain them until the first crops could be planted and harvested, but shortages and spoilage took their toll, and administrative attention turned to military construction and the search for gold rather than to establishing a stable subsistence base.

Keywords:   La Isabela, local foods, seafood, wild fruits, subsistence, military construction, gold

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