Introduction - Creating the exhibition


The history of Jamaica, this Caribbean island is quite a fascinating one – beginning with the fact that it was originally inhabited by the Tainos/Arawaks since circa 1,000 BC right up until 1494. The island was called "Xaymaca". It is believed that the Tainos originally came from mainland South America, and were known as a peaceable people. (They're credited with inventing the hammock.)

Xaymaca, was phonetically changed to Jamaica by the Spaniards who colonised the island between 1509 and 1655. It is unclear as to what actually caused the complete demise of the Tainos as part of the early history of Jamaica.

Christopher Columbus has been attributed with having "discovered" the island (for the West) on May 4, 1494. He called it Santiago (St Jago) but that name never caught on – Jamaica was imprinted in the minds of the seafarers and settlers. Jamaica history radically departed from what it had been at the arrival of the Spanish, when circumstances changed dramatically with the enslavement of the Tainos sometime between 1498 and 1509. The first Spanish settlement was called New Seville (or as the Spanish would say Sevilla Nueva).

Christopher Columbus has been attributed with having "discovered" the island (for the West) on May 4, 1494. He called it Santiago (St Jago) but that name never caught on – Jamaica was imprinted in the minds of the seafarers and settlers. Jamaica history radically departed from what it had been at the arrival of the Spanish, when circumstances changed dramatically with the enslavement of the Tainos sometime between 1498 and 1509. The first Spanish settlement was called New Seville (or as the Spanish would say Sevilla Nueva).

The history of Jamaica, this Caribbean island is quite a fascinating one – beginning with the fact that it was originally inhabited by the Tainos/Arawaks since circa 1,000 BC right up until 1494. The island was called "Xaymaca". It is believed that the Tainos originally came from mainland South America, and were known as a peaceable people. (They're credited with inventing the hammock.)



Our Sponsors:

  • Tourism Enhancement Fund

  • Institute of Jamaica


  • Montego Bay Cultural Centre

  • Chase Fund Jamaica