Repository logo

Resilience in Pre-Columbian Caribbean House-Building: Dialogue Between Archaeology and Humanitarian Shelter.



Change log


Samson, AVM 
Crawford, CA 
Hoogland, MLP 
Hofman, CL 


This paper responds to questions posed by archaeologists and engineers in the humanitarian sector about relationships between shelter, disasters and resilience. Enabled by an increase in horizontal excavations combined with high-resolution settlement data from excavations in the Dominican Republic, the paper presents a synthesis of Caribbean house data spanning a millennium (1400 BP- 450 BP). An analysis of architectural traits identify the house as an institution that constitutes and catalyses change in an emergent and resilient pathway. The "Caribbean architectural mode" emerged in a period of demographic expansion and cultural transition, was geographically widespread, different from earlier and mainland traditions and endured the hazards of island and coastal ecologies. We use archaeological analysis at the house level to consider the historical, ecological and regional dimensions of resilience in humanitarian action.



Environmental hazards, House architecture, Humanitarian shelter, Pre-Columbian Caribbean, Resilience

Journal Title

Hum Ecol Interdiscip J

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Thank you to the Museo del Hombre Dominicano for collaboration on the site of El Cabo, to the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research and the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University for supporting the archaeological research. Kate Crawford’s post-doctoral post at the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at University College London was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.