Research Station Carmabi
Prehistoric/ Indian Period
Curaçao has been inhabited by people for approximately 5000 years. During the earliest phase of human presence (i.e. the preceramic period) hunter-gatherers from nearby South America lived on the island. Near Rooi Rincon and the Michielsberg, one can still find artifacts that indicate the presence of these earliest Curaçaoans such as graves and piles of empty shells (“shell middens”) from which the animals were consumed. Furthermore, tools made out of corals, stone and shells can be found at these locations. It is believed that people during this period used containers made out of organic materials (e.g. calebas) to store potable water.
In the ceramic peiod starting approximately 1500 years ago, people started using pottery for this purpose which was sometimes beautifully decorated (known as “Dabajuroid aardewerk”). In addition to graves, settlements and shell middens, we also find artifacts such as beads made from empty shells or axes made from stone/ shells.
The Caquetio inhabited the island when the first Europeans (the Spanish) arrived on Curaçao in 1499. In 1515 most of Caquetio indians were transported to Hispaniola. In 1634 the Dutch took Curaçao from the Spaniish and expanded the natural harbor located near the Schottegat in Willemstad, the main city of the island. As a result, the city developed into a busy trade port and is since 1997 listed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Since 1665 the Dutch West Indian Trading Company (WIC) started bringing Africans from Western Africa that were sold as slaves on Curaçao. A small proportion of these slaves started working on the plantations of Curaçao, however the majority was transported to other islandsin the Caribbean or the Northamerican mainland. Led by Tula, the slaves started to oppose the local plantation owners in 1795 at plantation Kenepa. This uprising was suppressed not long thereafter near Fontein though the initial uprising is officially being commemorated since the 1960’s. The so-called Kunuku houses (Kas di pal’i maishi) can be seen everywhere on Curaçao and were originally built y slaves from materials that were readily available. From the same period we know the plantation houses the tranke’s, etc. The building tradition from this period is continued up to this day.
(Claudia Kraan NAAM; http://www.naam.an/)