How to do archaeology the right way


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How to do archaeology the right way
Physical Description:
xvi, 200 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
Purdy, Barbara A
Jay I. Kislak Reference Collection (Library of Congress)
University Press of Florida
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Subjects / Keywords:
Archaeology -- Methodology   ( lcsh )
Archeologie   ( gtt )
Archäologie   ( swd )
Methode   ( swd )
Florida   ( swd )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Despite field conditions that often include bug bites, bad food, and nonexistent plumbing, legions of amateur archaeologists regularly take to the field - sometimes a muddy one - to dig up ceramic pots, animal bones, and stone spearheads. This book explains how and why the professionals do it. In nontechnical language directed at the general public, conservation groups, and land developers, Barbara Purdy summarizes the prehistory of Florida and describes how responsible archaeologists excavate and analyze remains. She answers the questions "How do archaeologists know where to dig?" and "Why do they excavate a particular site?" and discusses the months of planning, surveying, mapping, testing, fund raising, and permit acquisition that precede an excavation. She also includes information on the rules and regulations governing digs, on artifact analysis, dating, and preservation, and on the ways in which excavation affects the balance of nature.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 186-191) and index.
Statement of Responsibility:
Barbara A. Purdy.

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lccn - 95038050
isbn - 0813013925 (acid-free paper)
lcc - CC75 .P87 1996
ddc - 930.1/028
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Barbara A. Purdy





Copyright 1996 by the Board of Regents of the State of Florida
Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper
All rights reserved
00 99 98 97 96 6 5 4 3 2 I
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Purdy, Barbara A.
How to do archaeology the right way / Barbara A. Purdy.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index.
ISBN 0-8130-1392-5
i. Archaeology-Methodology. I. Title.
CC75.P87 1996
93o.I'028-dc20 95-38050

The University Press of Florida is the scholarly publishing agency for the State University
System of Florida, comprised of Florida A & M University, Florida Atlantic University,
Florida International University, Florida State University, University of Central Florida,
University of Florida, University of North Florida, University of South Florida, and
University of West Florida.

University Press of Florida
15 Northwest ISth Street
Gainesville, FL 32611


For always being there


List of Figures x
Preface xiii

Classification of Florida Artifacts and Cultures 2
Paleoindian Period 3
Early 3
Middle and Late 7
Archaic Period 12
Early 15
Middle 19
Late 23
Ceramic Period 28
Early 29
Middle 35
Late 37
Historic Period 56
Summary 61

Survey 75
Maps 76
Remote Sensing 79
Sampling 81

Excavation 83
Field Methods and Equipment 85
Labeling Bags and Other Containers 99
Screening and Sorting ioo
Features ioi
Stratigraphy 102
Column Samples 103
Summary Io5

Flora 107
Fauna 111
Stone II5
Ceramics 121
Shell 124
Metal 131
Other Analyses 135


Comparative Dating 137
Relative Dating 137
Chronometric Dating 138
Radiocarbon Dating 138
Dendrochronology 140
Obsidian Hydration 141
Chert Weathering 144
Thermoluminescence 144
Other Chronometric Dating Techniques 146

Organic Materials 147
Degradation 147
Preservation 148
Curation 150
Stone 151
Degradation Isi
Preservation 152
Curation 152

Ceramics 152
Degradation 152
Preservation 153
Curation 153
Metals 153
Degradation, Preservation, and Curation I53
Summary 154

National Legislation 155
National Historic Preservation Act 156
National Environmental Policy Act 157
Archaeological Resources Protection Act 157
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act 157
Other Legislation 158
Cultural Resource Management 158
Society of Professional Archaeologists 158
State of Florida Historic Preservation 160
Abandoned Shipwreck Act 164
Florida Site File 167
Other Florida Rules and Regulations 168
Conclusion 168

Afterword 177

Glossary of Terms 179

Bibliography 186

Index 192



Frontispiece. Screening in the rain at Hontoon Island, 1984.
1.1 Florida Clovis points. 3
1.2 Mammoth and mastodon. 4
1.3 Elephant tusk artifact. 4
1.4 Extinct Bison antiques skull from Wacissa River,
with chert point fragment. 5
1.5 Bola stones. 6
1.6 Bola stones thrown to bring down an animal. 7
1.7 Suwannee and Simpson points. 8
1.8 Stone points of the Late Paleoindian period. 8
1.9 Little Salt Spring, showing location of excavations. 9
1.10 Paleoindian tool kit. io
I.I1 Atlatl, or spearthrower. 13
1.12 Atlatl hooks. 13
1.13 Experimental specimens showing color change when Florida chert is
heated slowly. 14
1.14 Examples of heat-altered Early and Middle Archaic chert bifaces
(spearheads or lanceheads). 14
I.I5 Kirk Serrated and other point types of the Early Archaic in Florida. 16
1.16 Excavations in progress at the Windover site. 16
1.17 Wood artifact from the Windover site. 17
1.18 Heavy twined fabric from the Windover site. 17
1.19 Human burials at the Windover site. 18

1.20 Newnans point and chipped stone tool kit of the Middle Archaic. 20
1.21 Map of Florida showing water-saturated archaeological sites. 21
1.22 Incised antler artifacts from the Republic Groves site. 22
1.23 Shell tools from the Key Marco site. 25
1.24 Ornaments of shell from the Key Marco site. 26
1.25 Decorated bone artifacts from Groves Orange Midden. 27
1.26 Pottery sherds from several time periods. 30
1.27 Weaving patterns from pot bottoms. 31
1.28 Orange period sherds. 32
1.29 Design on pottery sherd from Florida compared to design on bone
artifact from Georgia. 32
1.30 Basally and corner-notched stone points of the Early Ceramic. 33
1.31 Steatite bead. 35
1.32 Map of Florida culture areas. 38
1.33 Wood carvings of animals. 40
1.34 Deptford period ceramic vessel with tetrapod base. 42
1.35 Charnel house. 44
1.36 Effigy vessel. 46
1.37 Florida stone points from Paleoindian to Late Ceramic periods. 49
1.38 Ceremonial area at the Fort Center site. 50
1.39 Wood carving of eagle from the Fort Center site. 51
1.40 Copper breast plate from the Lake Jackson site. 53
1.41 St. Johns Check Stamped sherds. 55
1.42 LeMoyne drawing of a Timucuan Indian village; St. Mary's Wattle
Chapel at Glastonbury. 58
1.43 LeMoyne drawing of a Timucuan chief and Spaniards. 59
1.44 Front and back views of owl totem. 67
1.45 Early sixteenth-century glass beads. 69
2.1 Index to topographic maps of Florida, showing
Alachua County quadrangles. 77
2.2 Gainesville East Quadrangle map. 78
2.3 Section 6 of a township. 78
2.4 Air photo of excavations in submerged deposits
at Groves Orange Midden. 83
2.5. Students being instructed in the use of the transit. 86
2.6. Stadia rod; illustration of the use of the transit and stadia rod to
measure elevation. 87
2.7. Vernier scale. 88

2.8 Contour map with superimposed grid. 90
2.9 Measuring the three-dimensional location of an artifact. 91
2.10 How to establish a right angle (90o). 92
2.11 Contour map of the McKeithen site. 93
2.12 Transect line and excavated trench at Hontoon Island. 96
2.13 Balks. 97
2.14 Excavation unit, Hontoon Island. 97
2.15 Three-tiered screen set-up. ioo
2.16 Stratigraphy at Hontoon Island, 1988. 103
2.17 Locations of column samples at Hontoon Island. 104
3.1 Gourd and pumpkin seeds recovered at Hontoon Island. 1o8
3.2 Prehistoric canoe made of pine; same canoe, degraded. 109
3.3 Microscopic cross-sections of pine and cypress. iio
3.4 Jaws of a variety of animals from Groves Orange Midden;
fish vertebra and other bones from Hontoon Island. 113
3.5 The author attempting to fracture a large chert boulder; stone flake
showing typical fracture characteristics. 117
3.6 Weathered stone artifacts from the Suwannee River. 119
3.7 Weathered chert specimen from the Container Corporation
of America site. 120
3.8 Southwest Florida shell midden. 125
3.9 Triangular piece cut from the body of a large whelk;
drilled bead blanks. 128
4.1 Calibration of radiocarbon age to calendar years. 142-43
6.1 Permit to conduct archaeological research on state-owned and
state-controlled lands and sovereignty submerged lands. 162
6.2 Florida Site File Guidelines for Users. 169-70
6.3 Survey Log Sheet. 171
6.4 Archaeological Site Form. 172-73
6.5 Historical Structure Form. 174-75
6.6 Supplement for Historical Structure and
Archaeological Site forms. 176


When people learn that I am an archaeologist, many of them say, "How excit-
ing! I always wanted to be an archaeologist." Why do they say that? Most of
the time, archaeology is not exciting at all. It is tedious, time-consuming,
underfunded work often carried out under field conditions where there is no
way to stay clean or to become clean after you get dirty (see frontispiece).
There is danger of bug bites, snakes bites, bad weather, bad food, and, some-
times, bad company. You long for an indoor bathroom, a hot shower, a good
book, and a sturdy roof over your head. After the fieldwork come weeks,
months, or years of sorting, analyzing, and interpreting in order to write an
article for publication that often gets turned down. In addition-though sav-
ing the world's heritage is a worthwhile and often difficult task--archaeolo-
gists are usually not paid as well as some other professionals.
What then is the attraction of archaeology? It is learning something new
about something old. For example, there is nothing quite like holding a 1o,ooo-
year-old stone spearhead in your hand and trying to recreate how and why it
was made and how it was used. Today, some people still hunt and go to war,
but they use different kinds of weapons that are usually made of metal. Metals
suitable for tool making were virtually unknown in this part of the world (the
Western Hemisphere) until Europeans arrived a few hundred years ago. Even
in the Old World the technology associated with metallurgy had not been in
common use for very long. As soon as metals, particularly iron, became known
to the Native Americans, they began to abandon the use of stone and began
to use metal that they obtained through trade or by stripping metal from

shipwrecks off their coasts. Today, there are very few individuals who know
how to knap flint material and shape it into tools. And that is also why people
are fascinated with chipped stone implements. They learn that people in the
past solved problems similar to ours but in different ways. They learn some-
thing new about something old.
My reasons for writing this book, however, are not to interest you in spear-
heads alone but to make you aware of the information that the past holds if
the proper techniques are used to recover it. Too often people collect only
stone spearheads or vandalize Native American burial mounds for ceremo-
nial pottery (hence the term pothunters). They do not notice what else was
present, such as small flint flakes, pottery sherds, animal bones, and plant
remains, or the type of soil, the depth of the find, and much more. Without
these observations, our view of the way of life of ancient societies remains
very narrow.
Many answers about the past are "blowing in the wind," and some will
remain that way, but by asking the right questions and using the right meth-
ods, archaeologists come close to repeopling the ancient landscapes. That is
why archaeologists do archaeology.
After first examining Florida artifacts and the lifestyles of people who made
them, I will attempt to answer a question that is often asked: How does the
archaeologist know where to dig? You will be surprised at how complicated
the answer is to that question as well as to others, such as, Why does the
archaeologist wish to excavate this particular site? In between these two ques-
tions- that is, from the time a site is discovered until excavation actually takes
place-there are usually months of planning, surveying, mapping, testing,
raising money, obtaining permits, and, most important of all, justifying the
time and expense involved in conducting a formal investigation. The respon-
sible archaeologist, but not the pothunter, also considers the possibility that
the balance of nature will be upset by excavating an extensive area. These
matters are taken up in chapter 2. Other chapters include discussion of analy-
sis, dating, preservation, and rules and regulations.
The do's and do not's of archaeology that will be discussed in this book
Notify and work with a professional archaeologist if you find a site.
Excavate systematically.
Collect everything.


Record everything.
Take pictures.
Learn the age of the artifacts you have excavated.
Learn how your site fits into what is already known.
Do not:
Collect objects without the property owner's permission.
Just dig holes.
Collect only spearheads, pottery bowls, and ornaments.
Dig unmarked burial sites, such as Indian burial mounds.
Separate objects from their context without good records.
Collect objects for your pleasure alone. (Archaeology belongs to the citizens of
the state, the country, and the world. Keeping these things yourself would
be like a scientist finding a cure for cancer but not publicizing his discovery.
Everyone loses.)

Most of the sites and artifacts discussed and illustrated in this book come
from Florida, but the excavation techniques and analyses described can be
applied worldwide. Boldfaced terms in the text are defined in a glossary at the
back of the volume.


I have been "doing" and/or teaching Florida archaeology since 1967, but I
was amazed at how much I did not know when I began to write various
sections of this book. I am particularly grateful to Brent R. Weisman for his
advice on numerous occasions. He always called me back when I needed to
ask him a question. I thank Lani K. Friend for excellent editorial suggestions.
Various individuals in the Division of Historical Resources, Florida Depart-
ment of State, were very cooperative in supplying me with the latest publica-
tions about rules and regulations governing Florida antiquities: James J. Miller,
Marion Smith, Roger C. Smith, and Louis D. Tesar. I thank Glen H. Doran
for his generosity in permitting me to use data and pictures from the Widover
site; Marion S. Gilliland for photographs of Key Marco artifacts; and Alvin
Hendrix of McIntosh for allowing me to photograph specimens from his
collections. Pictures and illustrations not credited following the caption were
produced or reproduced specifically for this volume. As always, I am deeply
appreciative of the continuing assistance of the Florida Museum of Natural
History staff and curators. I thank Ann S. Cordell, Elise LeCompte Baer, J. T.


Milanich, and Elizabeth S. Wing for their efforts on my behalf. I owe a debt
to all those colleagues and associates who have influenced my thinking
throughout the years, in direct communication and through their works. Al-
though many of these people are not included in my list of works cited, all
deserve credit for the contribution this book may make. I accept full respon-
sibility for its deficiencies.




In any scientific endeavor, interpretations are modified when new data are
collected. The story that follows is as accurate as the information available at
this time. It represents a synopsis of the evidence about the state's ancient
inhabitants compiled from thousands of archaeological sites for more than
150 years. The presentation of this accumulated knowledge should convince
the reader of the richness of Florida's cultural heritage.
Classification, or typology, is absolutely essential to describe the universe
as an orderly place. Classification is a convenience tool that can be as simple
or as complex as is necessary to reduce phenomena of any kind to categories
that make sense and can be understood. For instance, we classify dogs into
the animal kingdom and distinguish them from other animals based on vari-
ous characteristics that we recognize when we see them again. Some taxono-
mists are lumperss" and others are splitterss." "Lumpers" would place all dogs
in a single category no matter how different one dog looks from another, and
they would be basically correct in doing so. "Splitters" would separate poodles
from Great Danes, bulldogs from Dobermans, etc., and they also would be
basically correct in doing so.


Artifacts are objects made or used by people for a multitude of reasons. The
more complex a society becomes, the more items are needed to do all of the
things required for the culture to function correctly. In Florida, before the
coming of Europeans, the native peoples made artifacts from stone, bone,
wood, shell, clays (ceramics), and plant fibers (textiles). No metals are native
to Florida, but a few artifacts made of copper have been recovered at Florida
sites. These items were imported from elsewhere in the Southeast. Gold, sil-
ver, iron, glass, and nonnative ceramics occur at sites that date more recently
than A.D. 1492. They were probably obtained from shipwrecks or through
trade and distributed by the Indians throughout the state.
Artifacts usually can be classified by shape, design, function, and material.
Obviously, if you can classify an artifact using all four of these characteristics,
your interpretation about where it fits into the archaeology of an area is more
secure. Stone spearheads can be described by shape, material, and assumed
function (hunting or warfare). Some artifacts must be classified using fewer
characteristics. For example, we know that the function of a stone hammer is
to pound, but we can only guess at what it pounded. Since its shape or style
does not change much through time, it is difficult to assign it to a specific
time period unless other information is available, such as associated diagnos-
tic artifacts or organic material that can be dated by radiocarbon analysis.
Another example is the ulna awl made from one of the bones of the foreleg
of a deer or other animal. This artifact type was made for thousands of years.
When reading the following pages, keep in mind that classification is im-
posed on the objects being described to create order. This categorization does
not always reflect reality; that is, it does not necessarily reflect what the mak-
er had in mind when the artifact was manufactured or used thousands of
years ago.
In this chapter, I describe and picture the artifacts created and/or used by
native Floridians from the very earliest evidence until after the Contact pe-
riod. These stages or periods of occupation in Florida can also be classified.
They are called Paleoindian (before 10,000 to about 9000 B.P.), Archaic
(9000-4000 B.P.), Ceramic, sometimes called Formative (4000-500 B.P.),
and Early Historic (500-300 B.P.). B.P. stands for "before present" and is
defined in chapter 4. By about A.D. 1700 the original Florida Indians had
been virtually wiped out, and Indians from the North, known later as the
Seminoles, moved into the void created by their absence.


The word stage to archaeologists implies a way of life, while the word pe-
riod usually refers to time. The Paleoindian period, for example, is considered
a big-game-hunting stage, and the Archaic period is usually thought of as a
stage when rapid adjustments to new ecological conditions took place fol-
lowing the retreat of the glaciers after the last ice age. Actually, most archae-
ologists use the terms period and stage interchangeably.


The Paleoindian period can be divided into three phases: Early, Middle, and
Late. These divisions are probably significant, as I will try to demonstrate,
but a great deal more work needs to be done. Practically no chronometric
dates exist for the Early Paleoindian period in Florida, and nearly all surviv-
ing diagnostic artifacts from this period are made of stone. The evidence for
antiquity, therefore, is based on the comparative method as described in chap-
ter 4; that is, we assume that certain artifacts in Florida are contemporaneous
with those from other areas that have been securely dated because their shapes
are nearly identical. It should be noted that nearly all of the choice specimens
are in the possession of amateur collectors, whose cooperation was essential
in compiling the story that follows.

Early Paleoindian
The Clovis point (fig. 1.1) is a characteristic stone artifact from the Early
Paleoindian phase. In the western United States this type of point has been
found in association with extinct elephants (mammoths and mastodons) (fig.

0 1 2

1.1. Florida Clovis points. (From the
Alvin Hendrix collection.)


1.2. (a) Mammoth; (b) mastodon. (Courtesy of S. David Webb.)

1.2). The sites from which they have been recovered are approximately II,ooo
to 11,400 years old. In Florida, dozens of Clovis points have been recovered
from rivers and springs, but none has been found in association with extinct
animals or in association with materials that can be dated by radiocarbon
analysis. But here is where the archaeologist plays detective and begins to
build a logical case for their contemporaneity with the western finds.
I. The Clovis point is very distinctive stylistically, and this style is not found
anywhere in the Western Hemisphere during any time other than the Early
Paleoindian phase.
2. In Florida, elephant ivory was fashioned into tools (fig. 1.3). About 40
of these tools have been found (Webb 1994). Since the ivory can be worked
only when it is fresh, it is logical to conclude that people and elephants were
living in Florida at the same time. Limited evidence (at present) suggests that

1.3. Elephant tusk artifact and close-up of zigzag lines.
(Courtesy of C. Vance Haynes, Jr.)


the Pleistocene megafauna of Florida became extinct about Io,ooo B.P.; there-
fore, the ivory tools must be older than io,ooo years.
3. In addition to the ivory tools, bones of several extinct animals, including
mammoths and mastodons, ancient bison (Bison antiquus), and a giant land
tortoise (Geochelone crassiscutata) have been found that appear to have been
killed by humans, and some of these bones bear traces of butchering marks.
An i,0ooo-year-old bison from the Wacissa River was found with a fragment
of an unidentifiable stone spearhead embedded in its skull (fig. 1.4). A butch-
ered mastodon tusk from the Aucilla River was dated at more than 12,000
years old; organic materials found in association were used for the radiocar-
bon analysis. A giant land tortoise with a burned carapace, recovered from a
ledge now 26 meters underwater at Little Salt Spring, apparently was im-
paled by a wooden spear that was dated at 12,030 B.P. The butchered mast-
odon tusk and the tortoise are both older than the oldest western Clovis finds,
but they are missing the diagnostic Clovis point. Technically, then, they could
be considered pre-Clovis or pre-Early Paleoindian, but this topic has not been


1.5. Bola stones. (From the Alvin Hendrix collection.)

4. The styles of the Middle and Late Paleoindian spearheads in Florida
differ quite significantly from Clovis points.
5. At the present time Clovis points have not been found at any of Florida's
stone quarries used by early Floridians. This fact suggests that Clovis people
in Florida were not permanent residents (they were "tourists," or the first
"snow birds") and that they brought with them an already fashioned tool kit
made of nonlocal materials. This theory can be proved only by using complex
instruments and trained technicians to conduct compositional analysis of the
suspected imports and comparing the results of these analyses against a "fin-
gerprint" of Florida cherts (see chapter 3). There is some support for the above
statement. The bola stone (fig. 1.5) is an artifact that has been found in some
of Florida's rivers in locations where Paleoindian materials also occur. To my
knowledge, it has not been found at terrestrial sites along with more recent
materials. The bola stone is usually made from a river-rounded cobble that
has been modified. It looks like a hen's egg that has a shallow indentation in
the smaller end. It closely resembles specimens used by the Eskimos and na-
tive peoples of Patagonia that are tied with thongs, knotted at the indenta-
tion, and thrown to ensnare the legs of running animals or flying birds (fig.
1.6). The important aspect is that the bola stone is usually made of stone ma-
terial that is not native to Florida. It follows, then, that many of the Paleoindian
points could be made of nonlocal material also.


1.6. Bola stones thrown to bring down an animal
(based on pictures of Gauchos and Eskimos using a
similar technique).

To summarize, the Early Paleoindian period in Florida is tantalizing to think
about, but absolute proof of its presence still lies just beyond our reach.

Middle and Late Paleoindian
There is no question about the existence of the Middle and Late phases of the
Paleoindian period in Florida. Hundreds of Middle and Late Paleoindian
spearheads have been found. These phases will be considered together since
it is impossible to separate them chronologically at present, and there is some
limited evidence that they may have coexisted.
The major styles of spearheads from the Middle Paleoindian phase are the
Suwannee and Simpson (fig. 1.7). From the Late Paleoindian phase the pri-
mary stone point is the Bolen (fig. 1.8). There are numerous other types that
can be assigned to each of these phases but they are not common.
As mentioned above, chronometric dates are scarce for the entire Paleo-
indian period in Florida, but there is some indication that only modern fauna
survived in Florida by the Late Paleoindian phase and probably even earlier
during the Middle Paleoindian phase, i.e., about io,ooo years ago. The best
clues for this claim come from the Little Salt Spring site in Sarasota County
and the Page-Ladson site in Jefferson County. At Little Salt Spring, dates of
9900-9600 B.P. were obtained from artifacts (wooden stakes) and botanical
remains, all in association with modern fauna, recovered from the 12-meter
sloping basin surrounding the opening to the lower cavern (fig. 1.9). Unfor-
tunately, no diagnostic stone implements were found, but at the Page-Ladson
site a Bolen point was recovered from a stratum that was dated at 9730 120



1.7. (a) Suwannee points; (b) Simpson points. (From the Alvin Hendrix collection.)

1.8. Stone points of the Late Paleoindian
period. The Bolen point shown in the bottom
row is the style most commonly found in
Florida and is often beveled (inset).


^.1 '~ ""' r ^ <
R'M" ok
Awe l z
**^ 1 1 r"-- '"' *
C /:. .. r'~*-*^ ^ / ^ ^ 0 ., -
^^--A-^~-'*L Qf ^A '*" **'

S! i 1.9. Little Salt
SSpring, showing
S:I the location of
Adjacent to the
S-. opening to the
S-" "lower cavern. (From
Purdy 1991.)

B.P. All of the associated fauna were modern species. In addition, wherever
extinct animals occur in undisturbed contexts, they are embedded in geologi-
cal strata that differ significantly from the strata in which all modern fauna are
As mentioned above, there is some evidence that there is little or no reason
to divide the Middle and Late Paleoindian phases temporally. At the Harney
Flats site in Hillsborough County, Suwannee, Simpson (Middle Paleoindi-
an), and Bolen (Late Paleoindian) points were found together, well sealed
from more recent Archaic styles by a 20o-cm thick hardpan stratum. Unfortu-
nately, no animal bones or other organic materials were available for dating.
It is possible that there are no age differences between the Middle and Late
Paleoindian phases, but it is also possible that the points ended up in the
same stratum because of a lack of deposition of sediments that would sepa-


rate one phase from the other. In other words, erosion may have exceeded
deposition and mixed materials that were temporally distinct. Since Harney
Flats is the only site in Florida that has furnished this kind of stratigraphy, it
is impossible to draw conclusions. It should be noted, however, that from a
stone quarry site excavated in the 1970s, Bolen points were found in associa-
tion with Early-Middle Archaic points (see below), indicating that erosion
had exceeded deposition at that site, mixing the deposits. At any rate, the
combined Middle and Late Paleoindian phases probably did not last more
than 1,ooo years.
In addition to the distinctive spearhead styles described above, the rest of
the Paleoindian tool kit is also unique. It consists of exquisite unifacial blades,
knives, scrapers, and other objects of various sizes, shapes, and areas of use
(i.e., blades, side scrapers, end scrapers, gravers, etc.), always with steep edge
angles that probably resulted from resharpening (fig. These implements
are small and lightweight, reflecting a nomadic existence in which a portable,
flexible tool kit was essential. They were used to skin animals, prepare hides,
make spear shafts, and much more. For many years in North America this


1.10. Paleoindian tool kit. These specimens are all unifacial (flaked only on one side) except the
two on the top and middle left. (From Purdy 1981.)


distinctive tool kit has been recognized as being associated with the Paleoin-
dian period or a big game hunting way of life. Beautifully made blade tools in
particular are considered the hallmark of the Paleoindian period. These kinds
of stone tools are found in rivers and springs in Florida, but it was not until
the Harney Flats site was excavated that they could be connected definitely
with Florida's Middle-Late Paleoindian phases and probably also with the
Early Paleoindian phase. As we shall see, these nicely made implements con-
trast sharply with Archaic period tools. It is interesting to note also that many
of these unifacial Paleoindian tools look exactly like types that were made in
Europe more than io,ooo years ago.
In addition to the stone remains and the elephant ivory implements al-
ready mentioned, socketed bone or antler points appear to be another Paleo-
indian tool. They are found in rivers and streams often in areas where Paleo-
indian stone points are recovered. Although similar specimens have been
recovered, such as those from the Windover site, to my knowledge the typi-
cal socketed points of the Paleoindian period have not been recovered
from a terrestrial site along with more recent materials. They were presum-
ably used as weapons or tools with the socketed portions fitted onto wooden
handles or cane shafts, none of which has survived or has been recognized as
Another clue to the antiquity of certain nondiagnostic bone and stone tools
should be mentioned. The waters of some rivers, such as the Santa Fe in north-
ern Florida, have a high mineral content that gradually discolors objects de-
posited in them. The Paleoindian points that have been found in these highly
mineralized waters tend to be black, whereas points of more recent date are
either brown (Archaic period) or have hardly changed color at all, depending
on how old they are. When bones and other stone tools are found in the
same area and are also black, it probably can be concluded that they are the
same age as the Paleoindian points. It is entirely possible that scientific meth-
ods could be developed to determine the rate of mineralization or fossiliza-
tion of these remains, but this research has not been conducted.
In conclusion, the Paleoindian period was a time when nomadic big game
hunters entered Florida chasing animals, some of which are now extinct. It is
probably true that the Paleoindian people did much more than merely hunt,
but the evidence for other activities is not available. They may have come to
Florida to enjoy a milder climate at a time when glacial ice still covered a
large part of the North American continent. Florida was essentially a desert
during this time period because much of the world's water supply was tied up


in glaciers during the last ice age. The vegetation that we see around us today
did not exist. Most of the rivers did not flow. The ocean was a hundred meters
lower than it is now, which means that Florida's coasts extended much far-
ther east, west, and south. The large animals sought by the Paleoindian people
may have been attracted to the extensive grasslands that occurred in areas
now underwater or covered with pine forest.


About o0,ooo years ago the world's climate began to change quite rapidly
from Ice Age conditions to those we recognize today. Sea level rose dramati-
cally, inundating former coastlines. Areas that had once enjoyed rather wet
conditions, such as the Sahara Desert and the American Southwest, began to
dry up. On the other hand, the interior upland of Florida changed from a
desertlike landscape with very little surface water to one of rivers, ponds, and
lush vegetation. For reasons not fully understood, many Ice Age animals be-
came extinct at this time. Extinctions occurred worldwide and included not
only animals hunted by humans but many other species as well. Human groups
who depended upon the Pleistocene megafauna for a major source of food
had to modify their lifeways to adjust to the new conditions.
Thus emerged the Archaic way of life, which lasted throughout North
America from about 9,000 years ago until at least 4,500 years ago; in some
locations it still existed when Indian groups were first contacted by Europe-
ans in the sixteenth century. The Archaic implies more than a time period; it
refers to a stage of human adaptation that began with the need for rapid ad-
justments to changing ecological conditions at the end of the last ice age.
Continued refinement of knowledge about plant and animal habitats and
development of technologies to exploit these resources efficiently led to a very
effective way of life for many human groups throughout the Americas.
The Archaic is sometimes called a stage of "total exploitation," during which
people took advantage of everything edible or usable in the environment.
This may have been true in some areas or at times of great stress, but it does
not appear to be typical. Certain foods provided greater return for the effort
needed to gather and process them. These foods became the staples that were
utilized most often while other potential products were ignored. Thus, as
time passed, the archaeological record of the Eastern Woodlands reveals that
deer, fish, shellfish, and nuts (acorn, hickory) were probably the food items
most exploited. Total exploitation may have been a traditional practice where


environmental conditions were not so lush; for example, the American South-
The introduction of the spearthrower, or atlatl (an Aztec word) (figs. i.ii
and 1.12), into the Eastern Woodlands may have been the stimulus for the
change in stone point styles that occurs. The stone points from the Early Ar-
chaic through the Middle Archaic tend to average larger than those of the
Paleoindian period. The atlatl was an important technological advance. With
it the spear could be thrown farther and with greater force and accuracy than
with the unaided arm. It was usually of "composite manufacture consisting
of a wooden shaft, often with a weight mounted toward the center of the
shaft for balance, and a handle with finger loops" (Jennings 1989).
A significant new cultural practice was initiated during either Late Paleo-
indian or Early Archaic times. Flintworkers discovered that by heating Florida
chert very carefully to 350C and allowing it to cool slowly beneficial changes
were imparted to the stone that facilitated flaking and produced a more aes-
thetically pleasing implement. The heating process reduces the point tensile
strength of the stone by nearly 50 percent, resulting in a material that is much
easier to flake and has a sharper edge. In addition, the stone often turns from


0 1 2

1.11. Atlati, or spearthrower (method of
use based on speculation).

1.12. Atlatl hooks. (From the Alvin
Hendrix collection.)


1.13. Experimental
specimens showing color
change when Florida
chert is heated slowly.


c cm
1.14. Examples of heat-
SAaltered Early and Middle
Archaic chert bifaces
(spearheads or lance-
heads). Vitreous luster
occurs when specimens
are flaked after the
material is heated.

beige/brown to various shades of pink/red depending upon its iron content
(shown left to right in fig. 1.13). A vitreous luster appears when a specimen is
flaked into its final form following the heating procedure (fig. 1.14). When
the impurities within the interstitial spaces of the randomly oriented micro-
crystals that compose the structure of chert reach a melting point during heat-
ing, the microcrystals are fitted more closely together (see chapter 3). Thus a
material is created that fractures more like glass and has a greater reflective
value upon subsequent flaking (the vitreous luster) (Purdy and Brooks 1971).
This new procedure was a bonanza to flintworkers, who had to manufac-
ture implements from Florida chert, which tends to be very tough and fossil-
iferous. At any rate, by the Early Archaic period most projectile points had
been subjected to the heat treating process and usually can be distinguished


by their color and shiny appearance. Very few other stone implements, such
as hammerstones, would benefit from heat alteration because the material
becomes brittle and shatters easily. Studies have shown that heat treatment
was applied primarily to preformed projectile points.
As with the Paleoindian period, the Florida Archaic has been divided into
three phases: Early, about 9000-7000 B.P.; Middle, about 7000-5500 B.P.;
and Late, about 5500-4000 B.P. It should be noted, however, that neither the
chronology nor the cultural differences of these three phases are well estab-
lished and that conclusions about their existence are often based on findings
from a single site.
Until the 1970s and i98os, the Archaic period in Florida was known prima-
rily for its thousands of stone spearheads. Other stone implements found with
the spearheads were not very interesting or diagnostic. The sites where these
stone remains were recovered usually consisted of about a foot (30 cm) of
sandy soil with no visual geologic or cultural differences throughout this shal-
low deposit. No organic material was preserved because the soil was well
drained and because the acid pH destroyed the bone (pH, or hydrogen power,
is a symbol for acidity or alkalinity; pH values from o to 7 indicate acid con-
ditions, and those from 7 to 14 indicate alkaline conditions). The entire 5,ooo-
year period was essentially neglected, and it almost seems as if people men-
tally collapsed this long time span into a year of human activity. Now, as a
result of modern development in Florida, a number of archaeological wet
sites have been found that date to the Archaic period. They are providing
exciting new knowledge about Archaic lifeways.
Archaeological wet sites are located in permanently saturated, oxygen-free
deposits that entomb and preserve organic objects that seldom survive else-
where. Specific Florida wet sites will be discussed in the following paragraphs.

Early Archaic
The most common stone spearhead from the Early Archaic in Florida is the
Kirk Serrated (fig. I.I5). It differs significantly from the Paleoindian styles. It
has been recovered from numerous terrestrial sites as well as from rivers and
springs. Nevertheless, until the Windover site was excavated, documentation
of its antiquity was based on the comparative method by noting similarities
to points recovered from securely dated sites throughout the rest of the south-
eastern United States. At the Windover site, Kirk Serrated points were asso-
ciated with organic materials that were dated from about 7,000 to more than
8,000 years old. The points probably arrived at the site in already finished


1.15. Kirk Serrated (on
right) and other point
types of the Early
Archaic in Florida.
(From Purdy 1981.)

form because chert material does not occur locally in that area of Florida
(Brevard County).
Windover is a landmark site (fig. 1.16). It not only has placed the Kirk Ser-
rated squarely in the time frame where it was believed to belong but it also
has revealed an abundance of information about plants and animals that were
utilized for food and fiber, human burial activities, and physical attributes
(including age at death and pathologies) of the people interred in a 7,000- to
8,000-year-old cemetery in Florida. It has provided insights about cultural

1.16. Excavations in progress at the Windover site, Brevard County, Florida. The site was totally
submerged but was kept dry by using a dewatering system and a rotary diesel pump. In other
words, the people in this picture would be underwater if the pump were turned off. (Courtesy of
Glen H. Doran.)


1.17. Wood artifact from the Windover site. Although the
function is not known, it has been called a "whistle"
because of the holes placed lengthwise and at each end
(inset). Wood species is pine. (Courtesy of Glen H. Doran.)

1.18. Heavy twined fabric from
the Windover site. (Courtesy of
Glen H. Doran.)

practices that were not known before at this time depth for the entire North
American continent. The site has been described in great detail by Doran and
Dickel (1988) and Purdy (1991) and in numerous technical articles.
The stone artifacts recovered from the Windover site were such a small
part of the total assemblage that, had they been the only specimens exca-
vated, the site would not have been considered very significant. The over-
whelming majority of all materials from the site were of organic composi-
tion. These included wooden artifacts (fig. 1.17), textiles (fig. 1.18), incised
bone objects, deer antler tools, floral and faunal remains, and 168 human
burials, 91 of which had brain tissue preserved in the crania. Textiles included


1.19. Human burials at the Windover site:
(a) 7,000-8,000-year-old child burial
accompanied by numerous grave goods,
including a turtle carapace, bone artifacts,
and a double-ended pestle made of oak;
(b) 7,000-8,000-year-old adult burial.
Note the bone and drilled antler artifacts.
The white object in the upper right of the
B picture is a stone spearhead. The thin
white object was used to prop up an
artifact. (Courtesy of Glen H. Doran.)

bags, hoods, blankets, and clothing using several types of weaving designs.
No other textiles have been found in Florida, and it is not until the introduc-
tion of pottery about 4,000 years ago that examples of textile designs reap-
pear. (Apparently the natives would place the still pliable clay on mats to shape
it into pots. At least 12 different kinds of weaving patterns have been identified
from pot bottoms throughout the state.)
Another significant aspect of the Windover site is that grave goods were
recovered from child burials. It has been generally believed that children would
not be accorded special attention in death unless they were the sons or daugh-
ters of chiefs whose status was inherited and whose offspring would eventu-
ally take over the position. The people at Windover must represent an egali-
tarian society, yet many of the children found in the cemetery were buried
with grave goods (fig. 1.19). It probably can be concluded that the parents, as


parents everywhere, grieved over the death of their young ones and sent their
prized possessions with them to the afterworld.
As mentioned above, Windover is the only site in the Americas that has
supplied detailed information about certain cultural practices, artifacts, and
human populations dating to the Early Archaic. There are, however, other
sites in the southeastern United States where stone and some bone artifacts
have been recovered in good stratigraphic sequences. These sites have shown
that Early Archaic stone tools, other than spearheads, remained quite similar
to those of the Paleoindians. They have also revealed that only modern fauna
existed by 9,000 to io,ooo years ago, and that people were utilizing deer and
smaller game and were consuming an abundance of hickory nuts and other
plant foods.
The Early Archaic period lasted for about 2,000 years. I consider it a time
of transition from the Paleoindian big game hunting, nomadic way of life to
the more localized, sedentary life style of the Middle Archaic that followed.

Middle Archaic
The Middle Archaic has been known traditionally for its Christmas tree-shaped
stone projectile points (fig. I.2oa). The rest of the chipped stone industry
from the Middle Archaic was not well described until I excavated two quarry
sites in Central Florida in the 1970s. These sites yielded thousands of stone
remains that dated principally to the Archaic period. They permitted me to
document quite precisely the step-by-step process of projectile point manu-
facture because at quarries many failures are discarded at various stages of
completion. But other activities were taking place at the quarry besides spear-
head production.
The reader should attempt to imagine an area with tremendous quantities
of flint rock utilized by only small groups at a time over several thousand
years. There was material to waste and it apparently was wasted. This fact
may be sad news for environmentalists who believe that people in the past
did not squander irreplaceable resources, but it is a bonanza for archaeolo-
gists because it makes it possible to study large collections and to begin to
draw some conclusions about how the quarries were used.
Observations made at quarry workshop sites indicate that heavy utilization
of Florida chert occurred during the Early and Middle Archaic periods. Para-
doxically, except for a wide variety of projectile points and some stemmed
end scrapers and drills made from broken projectile points, the greatest ma-
jority of the stone implements found at Archaic quarry sites in Florida cannot


1.20. (a) Newnans point
and (b) chipped stone tool
kit of the Middle Archaic.
(From Purdy 1981.)

be classified into distinct categories based on style or discrete function. Un-
like the sophisticated tools of the Paleoindian period, many of these imple-
ments are large, appear to have been used for a variety of tasks, and have a
shape that seems to have resulted from use rather than an intentional process
of manufacture.
This observation permits tentative conclusions about the Florida Archaic
way of life, particularly in the central highlands. The people either lived close
to the quarries or the quarries were visited as part of a seminomadic lifestyle.
Since stone is heavy, materials needing stone in order to be fashioned into


artifacts were brought to the quarry instead of quarried stone being brought
to a camp site. Thus the quarries became industrial sites where a variety of
articles were made. It is possible to speculate that activities other than projec-
tile point manufacture included the production of canoes, clubs, spear and
arrow shafts, basketry, religious items, works of art, etc. A full range of stone
utilization is found at outcrop workshop sites, including hammers, choppers
to cut down trees, a variety of adzes and scrapers to shape wood and bone,
and burins used to make incisions on materials such as animal hides and hu-
man skin (fig I.2ob). If quarries were visited frequently, it is quite possible
that the same stone debitage could be used again and again for a variety of
tasks until it was exhausted, thus obscuring its original function. Another
important observation is that quarries were used to teach young people how
to work flint. Symmetry and uniformity of flake removal are essential for the
production of stone spearheads, and yet specimens were examined where
flaking was crude and symmetry was not maintained.
It can be argued that the kinds of stone remains from quarry sites would
differ significantly from those found at camp or village sites, but the fact is

1.21. Map of Florida showing major water-saturated archaeological sites.


* = Major sites:
BW = Bay West
BG = Belle Glade
FC = Fort Center
GOM = Groves Orange Midden
HI = Hontoon Island
KM = Key Marco
LSS = Little Salt Spring
PL = Page- Ladson
RG = Republic Groves
WMS = Warm Mineral Springs
W = Windover
o = Other Sites and Wooden Artifacts


that the stone remains that have been studied from camp sites tend to verify
the fact that there are very few diagnostic stone implements other than pro-
jectile points during the Middle Archaic period.
There are four sites in Florida that have furnished more extensive informa-
tion than that provided by stone about cultural activities dating from ap-
proximately 6,500 to 6,000 B.P. Little Salt Spring, Bay West, Republic Groves,
and Gauthier (fig. 1.21) are Middle to Late Archaic cemeteries where, except
at the Gauthier site, bodies were interred in waterlogged organic deposits as
at Windover. Human burials have survived in excellent condition, as have the
usually perishable grave goods that accompanied them. These include woven
objects used as shrouds; wood, bone, and antler artifacts (fig. 1.22); and bo-
tanical remains such as bottle gourds. It appears that the bodies were staked
down at the Little Salt Spring and Republic Groves sites. Human brains were
preserved in the crania of individuals from the Little Salt Spring and Repub-

1.22. Incised antler artifacts from the Republic
Groves site. (From Purdy 1991.)

0 1 2


lic Grove sites and possibly from the Bay West site as well. Studies of physical
attributes have been conducted on the skeletons from the Little Salt Spring,
Republic Grove, Bay West, and, partially, the Gauthier sites. These studies
have supplied information about age at death, sex and age distribution in the
cemetery, pathologies, injuries, nutrition, and much more. Gauthier differs
from the waterlogged sites because the human skeletons (approximately iio
of them) were interred in a wet sand deposit, and the bones became mineral-
ized because of the saturated soil conditions. Bone and antler artifacts but no
botanical specimens survived at the Gauthier site.
Rather extensive radiocarbon dating has been done of all of these sites ex-
cept Gauthier. In addition, typical Middle Archaic stone points were found
at all of the sites. Newnans points, in particular, provide a good marker for
the period. This nicely made point was named for a site at Newnans Lake in
Alachua County and was securely dated at that site. Other artifacts found at
the cemetery sites include polished stone axes, celts, ornaments, and beads
made of marine shell and nonlocal stone. This fact, of course, indicates that
Florida was not completely isolated from contact with other cultures. Most
of the Middle Archaic waterlogged sites were discovered during development
projects; thus, the original provenience of the artifacts was lost. One can
have confidence in the 6500-6000 B.P. dates, however, because the water-
saturated mortuary sites appear to be single component and most of them
have yielded well-preserved organic materials that have been dated by radio-
carbon analysis.
The custom of burying people in moist depressions or ponds ceased around
6,000 years ago. Since people are slow to change the way they treat the dead,
it is interesting to speculate about the events that might have stimulated a
change in burial practices.
Sometime toward the end of the Middle Archaic period, people became
more and more efficient at exploiting marine and freshwater shellfish, fish,
and turtles, all of which were becoming plentiful as modern conditions in
Florida began to emerge. Implements and ornaments made from large ma-
rine conch shells began to appear.

Late Archaic
The term late implies the end of a period or the beginning of something new.
Major changes in cultural orientation, many initiated in the latter part of the
Middle Archaic, occurred during this last phase of prehistory before ceramics
are introduced into Florida.


The Groves Orange Midden site (also known as the Enterprise site) is a
waterlogged site on the north shore of Lake Monroe that has produced a
nearly complete and unlimited assemblage of environmental and cultural
"trash." It has provided hitherto unknown insights into environment and diet
along the St. Johns River during the Middle to Late Archaic.
The large chert quarries in the central highland area were rarely utilized
after the Middle Archaic. This statement is based on results of excavations at
the Senator Edwards and the Container Corporation of America sites, both
in Marion County, where hundreds of Early to Middle Archaic points were
recovered, but more recently dated points were seldom found. At habitation
sites dating to the Late Archaic, many points appear to be reworked Middle
Archaic spearheads in that they are essentially the same style but stubbier and
thicker. What kinds of conclusions about cultural changes can be drawn from
this situation? The following comments are pure speculation at present but
may hold up under rigorous testing.
When people became drawn to aquatic resources as these resources be-
came more plentiful along the rivers and coasts, they moved away from the
highland area and thus away from the large quarries. The Tampa embayment
region has sources of high-quality flint materials, but no outcrops occur on
the east coast or to the south. My theory is that as populations became more
sedentary along, for instance, the St. Johns River, they simply reworked and
reused antique stone specimens when they found them.
Another point to consider is the development of marine shell technology.
Although crudely made marine shell artifacts dating 8000-7000 B.P. were
recovered at the Windover site, the creation of all manner of shell tools, weap-
ons, and ornaments seems to have blossomed during the Late Archaic and
continued up to historic times. At the base of the shell midden at Lake Mon-
roe, an extremely burned "cooking vessel" made of marine shell was dated at
5900 B.P., thus of Middle to Late Archaic age. Above this level, other types of
marine shell tools and marine shell beads were recovered with dates ranging
from about 5600 to 5Ioo B.P., still with no ceramics present. At the Crescent
Beach site on the Atlantic coast, similar tools were recovered that date to
approximately the same time. The problem is that at most terrestrial sites the
opportunity for good stratigraphic control often does not exist or was not
maintained by the excavator and that material suitable for radiocarbon dating
does not survive.
For example, from the Tick Island site, located in the St. Johns River valley
between Lake Dexter and Lake Woodruff, a great variety of shell tools and


ornaments was found when dragline operations removed portions of the shell
mound to be used for commercial reasons. It is well established that portions
of this site are at least 6,000 years old, but unfortunately the materials from
many time periods were mixed during the mining activities so it is difficult to
say when shell technology was introduced at the site. Marine shell tools were
not recovered during excavations at three Archaic sites in the Ocala National
Forest. These sites dated around 5ooo000+ B.P., but most of the dates were ob-
tained from freshwater snail shells (Viviparusgeorgianus) and may not be as
accurate as desired. When marine shell tools are found in freshwater midden
deposits, as along the St. Johns River, it is certain they were brought in from
the coast to be used. In contrast, at certain Gulf Coast sites where marine
shells exist by the thousands, it is not always clear whether they were artifacts
or were discarded after a conch feast. In South Florida, diagnostic flint tools
are seldom recovered and organic materials that might be used for dating are
not preserved except at water-saturated cemetery sites.
Therefore, in the absence of ceramics, good stratigraphy, or datable mate-
rial, how would it be possible to know exactly when shell tool technology is
added to the cultural inventory? One clue comes from the South Florida cem-
etery sites that are fairly securely dated to the Middle Archaic. No shell ves-
sels, tools, or ornaments were recovered as grave goods at these sites, indicat-
ing that the technology was not yet well developed or important, although
the Gauthier site farther north did produce numerous shell beads made of
marine conch. Nevertheless, marine shell technology became extremely im-

1.23. Shell tools from the Key Marco site, Collier County, Florida. 1
(Courtesy of Marion S. Gilliland.) cm


1.24. Ornaments of shell from the Key Marco site, Collier County, Florida. (Courtesy of Marion S.

portant during the Late Archaic period in South Florida and in parts of North
Florida, where shell was perhaps easier to procure and more versatile than
flint. The greatest diversity and quantity of marine shell artifacts have been
found in South Florida. As many as 60 different categories of shell objects
have been described for the area (figs. 1.23 and 1.24).
The use of bone for weapons, tools, and ornaments is very ancient in Florida.
Bone technology continues to develop through time, but this expansion may
be more apparent than real because of larger populations and better preserva-
tion at more recent sites. Bone probably substituted for stone in places where
suitable flint was not available for the manufacture of projectile points and
other kinds of tools. In these locations, such as East and South Florida, bone
and shell technology was well developed. Despite the great diversity of arti-
facts produced from these two materials, Willey (1949a:47) recognized very
little overlap between the shell and bone industries and concluded that they
"complemented each other in a well-adjusted pattern of use."
Decorated bone and antler have been recovered in Florida dating to the
Early and Middle Archaic, and bone ornaments, particularly "pins" probably
used in the hair or as a means to secure clothing, become very elaborate in


more recent time periods. Most of the hundreds of bone artifacts recovered
so far from Late Archaic shell midden sites are plain and utilitarian, but in-
cised bone is known from this time period. At the Lake Monroe site, small
fragments of elaborately decorated bone artifacts were recovered from and
below the shell midden (fig. 1.25). Many varieties of bone ornaments were
found at Tick Island, but, as mentioned above, it is not possible to determine
their chronology.
In conclusion, new attributes are introduced during the Late Archaic (called
Mount Taylor in the mid-St. Johns River valley) and some old practices are
abandoned. Ecological conditions made it possible for people to "harvest"
aquatic resources. As they learned to exploit these resources effectively through
the development of new technologies or the application of old techniques to
a new environment, they enjoyed a food supply as (or more) reliable than
agriculture. This way of life persisted in most of Florida until the arrival of
Europeans in the sixteenth century. Shell middens that eventually became
huge began to grow primarily in the Late Archaic, and it seems that marine

....: h : i ...

1.25. Fragments of decorated bone artifacts from Groves Orange Midden, Volusia County,
Florida. Bottom specimen was dated 6200 B.P.


shell technology was developed at this time also. Ceramics have not yet ap-
peared but clay "boiling" balls are present. Greater cultural complexity is evi-
dent in Florida by 4500 B.P., but it is difficult to place emphasis on a single
component, other than increased use of aquatic resources, to account for this
complexity. It is possible that larger populations or external stimuli from neigh-
boring cultures were prime movers for cultural change.


Some scholars say the lifestyles of the Archaic period in peninsular Florida
persisted to the time of early contact around A.D. 1500oo. And they would prob-
ably be correct because the Archaic lifestyle seems to have remained in most
locations in the peninsula until the Europeans arrived. This was not the case
for the Panhandle region of Florida nor for the rest of the southeastern United
States, where horticulture was introduced quite early. In some places it be-
came an important if not dominating way to control the food supply, espe-
cially after A.D. 1000 when Zea maize (corn) became a major subsistence item.
I have chosen to differentiate between the Archaic and the Ceramic periods
because (i) ceramic technology was a significant innovation into these cul-
tures; (2) ceramics of all kinds are major time markers; (3) the ceramic-using
cultures have been studied the most extensively in Florida and thus are better
defined; and (4) after the introduction of pottery, certain aspects of society
seem to intensify even though the hunter-gatherer-fisher way of life peristed
in most of Florida.
The Ceramic period in Florida begins about 4000+ B.P. It is possible to
divide this period into three phases as has been done with the Paleoindian
and Archaic periods: (I) Early or Orange, dating from ca. 4000 to 3000 B.P.
(2000-1000 B.C.); (2) Middle or Transitional, dating from ca. 3000 to 2500
B.P. (1000-500 B.C.); (3) Late or Regional, dating from ca. 2500 B.P. to his-
toric contact (500 B.C.-A.D. 1500). This classification is not purely arbitrary; a
great deal of effort has been expended to identify ceramic sequences in Florida.
The time frames for the phases, however, remain somewhat flexible because
major changes did not occur simultaneously in all areas or because precise
documentation is not always available. It is also possible to define a fourth
phase of the ceramic industry that is introduced during and influenced by
historic contact. This phase will be discussed later in the Historic period sec-


Early Ceramic

It is probably true that no radical changes in subsistence occur when pottery
first appears in the archaeological record. But cultural traits besides pottery
seem to make an appearance at this time, although some of these may have
been introduced during the Late Archaic. Nevertheless, the constellation of
new attributes may support the belief held by some individuals that pottery
was not locally developed.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, no one questioned
that contact between Florida Indians and cultures to the south had taken place
for a long time. The presumption of such connections did not come from
archaeological evidence as much as from early historic literature; for example,
the Solis de Meras account of Pedro Menendez de Aviles's experiences in
Florida. Eventually, the historic accounts citing specific incidences of com-
munication between Florida Indians and those to the south were dismissed
by many individuals as being erroneous or too recent to be indicative of long-
term relationships. Skepticism about contact grew as the twentieth century
progressed. Today opinion is divided, with some people saying that similari-
ties are due to the "law of limited possibilities" or the "psychic unity of man,"
and others declaring that there are too many duplicate traits, perhaps begin-
ning in the Late Archaic, to discount a contact situation.
The most obvious item for comparison from the archaeological record is
fiber-tempered ceramics. In fact, if it were not for the parallelism noted in
ceramics between northern South America and the coasts of Georgia and
Florida, other, perhaps older, evidence may have gone unobserved. Major
questions to consider are: Is it only a coincidence that the earliest ceramics in
North America appear first on the east coast of Georgia and Florida, that
they are fiber-tempered, and that some of the designs on the pottery are simi-
lar to those from northern South America? The Indians may desperately have
needed a technology to process the huge quantities of shells they were har-
vesting by 6000 B.P. Clay balls, found at many Late Archaic sites (part of the
Elliott's Point complex in Florida), may have served as boiling "stones" to
heat foods in containers that could not be set directly on a hearth. Also, fired
clay lumps may have served as a substitute for hearth stones in areas where
suitable stones were not available. These comments may not be the answer to
why ceramic technology developed indigenously or diffused along with other
traits, but there is no question that it was an instant success once it arrived.


For at least 1oo years, Orange Series ceramics have been recognized as the
earliest manifestation of the ceramic industry in Florida. The name comes
from a site on the St. Johns River in Orange County, but the ceramics of this
period are referred to just as frequently as "fiber-tempered" because fibers
(probably Spanish moss or something similar) were added as temper to the
clay before it was fired. This pottery is very distinctive (fig. 1.26) because of
the rough surface caused by the burned-out plant fibers, although in some
cases the surfaces were smoothed. The clay was hand molded, rather than
coiled, to shape the pots, which were usually rectangular with flat bases. As
mentioned earlier, no woven materials have survived from this period in
Florida, but from this time onward, numerous weaving patterns have been
identified from pot bottoms (fig. 1.27). Where a stratigraphic sequence exists,
fiber-tempered ware always underlies more recent ceramic types. Its earliest
occurrence is on the coast of Georgia and in the northern St. Johns River
region in Florida. Orange Plain sherds recovered from a water-saturated de-
posit at Lake Monroe (8Vo26oi) were dated as early as 4I00 B.P.

Safety Harbour period
AD 1000-1600

Weeden Island Period
AD 200-1000

Deptford Period
500 BC-AD 200

Orange (Fiber-Tempered)
2000-1000 BC

1.26. Pottery sherds from
several time periods,
showing various design
motifs. Color differences
result from firing methods
and temperatures,
tempering materials,
composition of clays, and
alteration. (Courtesy of
Ann S. Cordell.)


1.27. Weaving patterns from pot bottoms. (Casts courtesy of Grant Groves.)

Orange Plain is considered the earliest pottery in Florida and Georgia, with
Orange Incised and Tick Island Incised following somewhat later (fig. 1.28).
This observation is undoubtedly correct because some of the incised designs
that occur on Orange period sherds and on bone artifacts are carried over to
the Middle or Transitional phase (fig. 1.29). Orange period ceramics are found
around nearly the entire perimeter of Florida as well as near the St. Johns
River and its tributaries such as the Ocklawaha and the Wekiva, and in the
area of the Indian River, Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, etc. They are also
found sparingly at some Central Florida inland sites such as Bolen Bluff. Or-
ange pottery may not be as early in South Florida or the Gulf Coast as it is in
Northeast Florida. In some places, pottery dates only from the Middle Ce-
ramic or Transitional phase.
To my knowledge the appearance about this time of corner-notched or
basally notched spearheads has not been recognized as possibly having been
stimulated by an external source. Yet, at a time when stone tool manufacture
seems to have declined in Florida, it is strange that beautifully made stone
points show up that deviate significantly from those of previous time peri-
ods. Except for stylistic changes, the differences are not too obvious in pho-
tographs, but if one examines these specimens, it is apparent that they are
usually made of high-quality flint material (very often heat-altered silicified


0 1 2
1.28. Orange period sherds with designs from Groves Orange Midden site. c


1.29 (a) Design on a pottery sherd
from the Tick Island site, Volusia
County, Florida, compared to (b)
design on a bone artifact from the
Bilbo site, Georgia.

coral), the workmanship is superior, and the resulting forms are usually smaller
and more delicate than Archaic types (fig. 1.30). While they are sometimes
found in Late Archaic strata (although this association is not always clear),
they have definitely been recovered at sites containing fiber-tempered pot-
Less conspicuous or not as thoroughly studied as ceramics is the increase
about 5,000 years ago in marine shell technology, the use of coastal resources,
an elaboration of designs on some bone artifacts and, perhaps, changing burial
An intriguing additional bit of evidence supporting external influences is
the linguistic link postulated between the Timucuan Indians of Northeast
Florida and the Warao language of the Orinoco Delta in South America.
The basic phonological, morphemic, syntactic, and semiological structures and
process of Timucua show well over 75 percent agreement with twentieth-cen-
tury Warao. Lexically, seventeenth-century Timucua shares 55 percent cognates
with Warao. There is also a lexical stratum in both modern Warao and seven-
teenth-century Timucua- approximately 25 percent in Timucua-which seems
assignable to a Proto-Arawak (perhaps Proto-Maipure) level. In addition, Io
percent of the Timucua vocabulary is derivable from Proto-Gulf sources, an-
other 5 percent from a later specifically Proto-Muskhogean level, and the re-
maining 5 percent from Late Muskhogean. (Granberry 1971)

Muskhogean is the language group to which most of the Indians in the
southeastern United States belonged (Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, etc.).
If Granberry's interpretation is correct, the Indians of Northeast Florida shared
more language similarities with people from northern South America than

1.30. Basally and corner-notched stone points of the Early 0 2
Ceramic period. (From Purdy 1981.) cm


they did with their geographically closer neighbors. Granberry's evidence also
suggests that these linguistic connections may be ancient in that a pre-Timucua
group split from the proto-Waroid about 3000-2000 B.c. and began to mi-
grate to the Florida peninsula. Such voyages were possible. There is archaeo-
logical and early historic documentation for the existence of large canoes ca-
pable of traveling with many occupants and much cargo across vast expanses
of water.
The term formative is often used to refer to this cultural stage. It was initi-
ated for areas, particularly Middle and South America, when plant cultiva-
tion became important. It is probably misleading, therefore, to use "forma-
tive" where plant cultivation was not practiced or has not been well docu-
mented (see below and chapter 3 for a discussion of the evidence for plant
cultivation in Florida). It may be appropriate to use the term formative to
emphasize that important changes were occurring.
Bullen (1972) summarized his interpretations of the Orange period. He
divided the period into five subphases. Orange i, the oldest, lasted for several
hundred years and consisted of nothing but plain fiber-tempered sherds. Or-
ange 2 is identified by Orange Incised and Tick Island Incised pottery that
overlie Orange Plain at sites where stratigraphic sequences exist. Orange 3
phase ceramics contain different designs and are more recent. Orange 4 fiber-
tempered sherds have less elaborate decoration and tend to show a continu-
ity into the Transitional period because of similarity in designs. Bullen is some-
what uncertain if Orange 5 belongs in the Orange or Transitional period be-
cause it includes a mix of types from both traditions that may have coexisted
for a short time before fiber-tempering disappears.
I believe the chronology presented by Bullen for the Early Ceramic period
is basically correct. The problem is that some of his conclusions are based on
evidence from a single site or a single date, and the chronologies of his sub-
phases tend to overlap so that it is not always clear if the differences are chro-
nological or regional. The dates themselves may not be too accurate either,
since many of them came from marine shell, which is not usually as desirable
for dating purposes as other materials, and since some of the evaluations were
made long ago, before refinements were made in radiocarbon dating. One
specimen had even been treated with a preservative. Still, Bullen has demon-
strated that fiber-tempered pottery occurs from the northern Gulf Coast of
Florida at least as far south as Key Marco and on the east coast from the
Florida border to the South Indian Fields site. The entire period lasted for
approximately i,ooo years.


1.31. Steatite bead from Groves Orange Midden (8VO2601), Volusia County, Florida. Steatite is not
native to Florida.

Bullen makes an important statement when he points out that the close of
the Orange period occurred at approximately the same time as the beginning
of the Woodland period and the first appearance of pottery in northern states
around 1000ooo B.C. (Bullen 1959) -I,000 years after its arrival in Florida. This
northern pottery usually was not fiber-tempered. In this regard, Bullen (1959)
says that steatite vessels were manufactured in the North after pottery was
being produced in Florida and that a knowledge of the ceramic industry may
have stimulated the manufacture of steatite bowls even though other kinds of
artifacts made of steatite, such as net weights, were present in archaeological
sites at least by Archaic times (fig. 1.31). He offers as supporting evidence the
fact that steatite vessel fragments are not found in Florida earlier than the
Orange period and that they sometimes exhibit similar decoration. It should
be noted that steatite is always rare in Florida and is usually fragmentary.

Middle Ceramic
During this time, also called Transitional, ceramics become progressively less
fiber-tempered and incorporate tempering of sand, sponge spicules (often
called temperless pottery), and occasionally sherd fragments. The entire phase
is sometimes referred to as "semi-fiber-tempered" or "Norwood" in certain
parts of Florida. These different tempering agents tend to become fairly re-
gional through time as compared to the statewide homogeneity of fiber-tem-
pered ware during the Early Ceramic. Some coiled, rather than hand-molded,
vessels occur, and coiling becomes the standard by the Late Ceramic phase.
Pottery from this time, especially in the St. Johns River region and vicinity, is
still decorated to a certain extent. New vessel shapes and styles appear and
some of these may have been introduced from outside Florida.


While pottery is the component of material culture that has been examined
the most intently, it is not the most important feature of the Middle Ceramic
phase. As pointed out earlier, Florida was never completely devoid of influ-
ences from other areas; for example, the Io,ooo-year-old bolas from the Pa-
leoindian period were made of nonlocal stone. As cultures became more com-
plex throughout the Southeast, Florida transmitted to and received ideas from
other regions. Parts of the Southeast, especially along the Mississippi River
and other large river systems, may have been influenced in turn by contact
with Middle American cultures such as the Olmec. Selected traits of this con-
tact seem to have filtered into Florida along the Gulf coast. Consequently,
the Gulf Coast of Florida becomes the area where the most profound changes
begin to take place, and the St. Johns region of East Florida, formerly the
center of much innovation, is insulated and isolated from many of these de-
But what is the real nature of developments around 100ooo-5 B.c.? Based
on knowledge of early Mid-Eastern cultures in the Old World, it is usually
assumed that people do not adopt pottery technology until plants and ani-
mals are domesticated and sedentary village life begins. When people are no-
madic, it is logical that they would not want to be burdened by heavy and
easily breakable ceramic pots. Following this scenario, it was concluded that
when people began to use pottery in Florida they also had agriculture. But
the scenario has no script; that is, there is no archaeological evidence for plant
cultivation in Florida during the Early and Middle Ceramic phases. Through-
out the entire southeastern United States, there is no indication that culti-
vated plants played a major role in survival at this time. In peninsular Florida,
there are no archaeological finds to support the belief that plant cultivation
ever existed prehistorically. The conclusion that corn and other plants were
being raised is based on the accounts of Narvaez or de Soto that describe
their expeditions through Florida in the early I5oos. Based on evidence accu-
mulated so far, it appears that the introduction and acceptance of the ceramic
industry resulted from sedentism but not from the cultivation of crops. The
harvest from aquatic resources was evidently fertile enough to give birth to
Bottle gourds (Lagenaria siceraria) and ornamental gourds (Cucurbitapepo)
have been recovered at archaeological sites. They may have been present as
early as the Paleoindian period. These plants are usually considered culti-
gens, but it is possible they occurred naturally. They were probably used for
containers rather than food.


The increasing cultural complexity that is observed during the Transitional
phase probably can be attributed to larger and more concentrated popula-
tions, sedentary villages near aquatic resources, and influences resulting from
trade networks. It is a fact that aquatic resources can support fairly large sed-
entary populations, such as that on the Northwest coast of North America,
with well-developed social hierarchies, including hereditary positions and
specialists. A society that becomes differentiated into divisions of labor based
on attributes other than merely sex and age usually can be recognized from
the archaeological record. For example, important people might be found
buried with elaborate grave goods or in special areas; settlements might con-
tain evidence of large structures (either the chief's house or a ceremonial cen-
ter); pottery designs and shapes might become more standardized and re-
gionalized when specialists produce it as compared to when it was manufac-
tured by each family; and existing technologies (such as bone and shell) be-
come elaborated with more ornaments added to the typically manufactured
utilitarian objects. The increase in ornamentation may be an indication of
high social status of some individuals and of more free time for certain spe-
cialists to devote to making decorative items. There is little concrete evidence
in Florida to demonstrate that the above statements are fact. One thing is
certain, however: most of the important action in Florida was taking place
where aquatic species could be harvested and in places that were on the main
path of diffusion.
The Transitional phase lasted for approximately 500 years. The reader is
reminded that this is a very long time. While some changes are apparent from
the archaeological record, they probably occurred so gradually that the people
who were modifying their culture hardly recognized that they were taking

Late Ceramic
In previous sections, the Paleoindian, Archaic, and Early and Middle Ceramic
periods were defined primarily using temporal differences and the occurrence
of a few diagnostic artifacts. Evidence of these early homogeneous popula-
tions is found throughout the state, even though it is recognized that some
areas were more heavily populated than others. A new dimension, regional-
ism, is added with the onset of the Late Ceramic phase.
The various archaeological regions established within the state beginning
with the Late Ceramic phase are frequently referred to as culture areas (fig.
1.32). The Culture Area Concept was put forward in the early twentieth cen-


1.32. Map of Florida culture areas. (From Milanich 1994.)

tury in an effort to divide the Indian groups of America into meaningful cat-
egories so they could be studied analytically. The traits that were used to es-
tablish culture areas included subsistence, ceremonialism, language, artifacts,
physical type, geographic contiguity, environment, and so on. As an example,
the Northwest Pacific Coast of North America was delineated as a culture
area because the Indians were maritime peoples who practiced no agricul-
ture, used no pottery, and shared similar social, ceremonial, and woodwork-
ing traditions. While these traits become somewhat indistinct on the periph-
eries of the culture area, they nevertheless tend to cluster in ways that sepa-
rate the Northwest Coast from that of California to the south, the Plateau to
the east, and the Arctic to the north.
There were language affinities also, but they played little part in the forma-
tion of the Northwest Coast culture area because various linguistic groups
were present within the area and linguistic ties existed with people from en-
tirely different culture areas. The Navaho and Apache of Arizona and New
Mexico, for instance, are linguistically and physically related to several North-


west Coast groups. A major flaw with the Culture Area Concept is that it
makes little allowance for time depths and the possibility that some areas may
have contracted or expanded through time. It appears that environment, sub-
sistence, ceremonialism, certain artifacts, and geographic contiguity are the
attributes that are the most important in establishing culture areas.
Can these criteria be applied to the creation of culture areas in Florida?
Despite claims for the cultivation of crops among the Indians of peninsular
Florida, there is virtually no substantial evidence that beans, corn, or squash
were grown prehistorically. No rivers with extensive alluvial plains exist in
peninsular Florida to make planting easier and more attractive. The Indians
of Northwest Florida (the Panhandle) apparently grew some corn by A.D.
900, but this occurred 1,400 years after the Late Ceramic phase began. Aquatic
resources formed the subsistence base throughout most of the state, but ex-
ploitation strategies must have differed because of the change from a temper-
ate climate in northern Florida to a subtropical climate in the south. Cultural
contrasts should be detectable also between a coastal way of life, a riverine
way of life, or a way of life dependent upon resources of inland lakes or culti-
vation of crops. Most of the tool kit, however, looks superficially much the
same throughout the state except for differences in ceramic styles; shell, bone,
and stone tools (where present) are quite similar everywhere. Ceremonial
objects and decorations may vary but their regional significance is ill-defined.
It is quite possible that art objects, especially those made of wood, may fur-
nish a clearer definition of regional cultures than do utilitarian objects or en-
vironmental differences (fig. 1.33).
In contrast to the Northwest Pacific Coast culture area described above,
linguistic groups did occupy distinct areas of Florida, at least during the Early
Historic period. Partial vocabularies of three major languages have been re-
corded: the Calusa who occupied the southwestern Gulf Coast and may have
included the Tequesta and Keys Indians as well as other groups; the Timucua,
who lived in Northeast and North Central Florida and may have been lin-
guistically related to the Tocobago in the Tampa area; and the Apalachee,
located in the Florida Panhandle between the Apalachicola and the Aucilla
Rivers. Linguistic relations are not known for the hunter-gatherer-fisher Ais
and Jeaga, who occupied a portion of the southeastern Florida coast, and the
already mentioned Tequesta, Keys, and Tocobago Indians.
The physical characteristics of Florida Indians, as determined from studies
of skeletal remains recovered throughout the state, are fairly uniform, as are
their pathologies, injuries, nutrition, and ages at death. These similarities in-


1.33. Wood carvings of animals. Compare
(a) carving from the Thursby site on the St.
Johns River near Hontoon Island (possibly an
otter holding a fish), approximately A.D. 1200,
to (b) carving from the Fort Center site (otter
with a fish in its mouth), approximately A.D.
500 (Sears 1982). Both specimens are made
from pine and both depict animals, but the art
styles are very different.

clude shovel-shaped incisors, extreme tooth wear and abscessing, evidence of
disease on skulls and postcranial bones, arthritis, syphilis, and congenital or
developmental abnormalities such as head deformation. Based on studies of
skeletal remains, the overall health of most Florida Indians was generally good,
but keep in mind that only bones and teeth have survived to draw this con-
clusion; obviously, something was killing them that might be identified if


other tissues had been preserved. In addition, the average age at death was
not very old (probably less than 30 years), so that maladies sometimes mani-
fest on skeletons of older adults had not yet developed prior to the time these
people died.
There is little question that social structure became more complex in cer-
tain areas of Florida during the Late Ceramic phase. This complexity is ap-
parent from settlement patterns, ceremonial structures, human skeletal re-
mains, a few classes of artifacts, and ritual associated with burial practices.
Many features, however, were merely frosting on the cake, and Florida Indi-
ans, for the most part, remained aquatically oriented throughout nearly all of
the state's later prehistory. Information about actual lifeways tends to remain
fairly speculative because concrete evidence is often lacking and interpreta-
tions are still based primarily on changes in the types of bowls people were
making; i.e., the shapes, designs, and pastes of the ceramic industry (fig. 1.26).
If ceramics were removed from the cultural inventory, it is doubtful that the
archaeological record would furnish enough significant, detectable variations
in the material or social culture of Florida Indians during the Late Ceramic
phase to warrant creating separate culture areas. One should expect to see
more complex development in areas such as the Gulf Coast, where resources
were plentiful or where a great deal of cultural diffusion occurred. In other
locations, such as the St. Johns River, resources were abundant but evidently
the area was effectively isolated for hundreds of years from outside influences,
or the inhabitants did not care to incorporate innovations into their social
systems. The St. Johns River, like the Nile River in Africa, was a natural world
tied together by moving water.
The long time span of the Late Ceramic or Regional phase has been di-
vided into three subphases that date roughly 500 B.C.-A.D. O, A.D. O-IOOO,
and A.D. o000-I500. These subphases are more apparent in some regions of
Florida than in others. Based on results of past field work and numerous re-
ports of investigations, these subphases and regional expressions have been
summarized and clarified.

500 B.C.-A.D. O
Three broad regional adaptations are recognized for this subphase: Gulf Coast
Deptford, St. Johns, and South Florida.
On the west coast of Florida, the Deptford people occupied salt marsh
locations near tidal streams, introduced sand-tempered pottery that appar-
ently originated in a similar ecologic zone on Georgia's Atlantic coast, and


probably moved inland during certain times of the year to hunt deer and
harvest hickory nuts. Several natural habitats were exploited along the Gulf
Coast but the major subsistence items were fish, shellfish, and even sea mam-
mals. Acorns were available from nearby hammocks and may have been an-
other important source of food. Small populations would have had nearly
unlimited resources. Some Deptford sites are believed to be underwater now
because of sea level rise. Deptford pottery was paddle-stamped to compact
coils. Simple, linear, check, and other stamped designs are present. Vessels
were deep and cylindrical-shaped with rounded (conoidal) bottoms except
for those with tetrapods or tripods, which had squared or flat bases (fig. 1.34).
The presence of podal bases on some pots suggests a cultural connection with
Woodland cultures (Adena/Hopewell) to the north. Deptford ceramics are
found at inland sites and along the St. Johns River and its drainage but are
not common.

1.34. Deptford period
ceramic vessel with
tetrapod base. (From
Goodyear 1969;
photo by Francis


How can we account for the presence of a few Deptford sherds at sites
outside of the core area other than to assume they were dropped and broken
during seasonal rounds? If the Deptford style pots themselves were desired,
it seems that they would be found in greater numbers and might even replace
local types. Perhaps Deptford pots were used to transport trade goods across
the state, comparable to the way amphorae (large vases), found at Mediterra-
nean shipwreck sites, were used in the Old World. For example, spearheads
made of high-quality chert material (often silicified coral) that outcrops in
West, but not East, Florida are frequently found at sites along the St. Johns
River. They may have been transported by canoes in ceramic pots. Another
possible explanation is that there may have been wife exchange from the Gulf
Coast to locations outside the area. The brides may have brought Deptford-
style pots with them, some of which may have been filled with "dowry" items.
These are probably far-fetched speculations that should not be considered as
fact, but they are presented in an effort to repeople the landscape and portray
human social behavior not directly related to subsistence patterns.
Nonceramic artifacts are not very spectacular until Late Deptford times. A
few shell, bone, and stone tools as well as shell beads have been recovered.
Around 100 B.C.-A.D. 100, a growth in ceremonialism occurs in the Gulf Coast
area. The famous Crystal River State Archaeological Site has provided the
most complete record for the area of what is called the Yent ceremonial com-
plex, which was probably introduced from Northwest Florida. Burial mounds
contained various kinds of copper artifacts and ornaments, plummets and
gorgets made of local and non-Florida raw materials, cut carnivore jaws, spe-
cial kinds of pottery (some with kill holes) not found in the village area, and
conch shell drinking cups, indicating that the black drink (Ilex vomitoria)
was consumed. The Yent complex probably also included an elite class of
people who had hereditary privileges, charnel houses, and religious special-
ists to carry out sacred functions. This complex seems to have been the start
of ceremonial activities that continued until the Historic period.
In the eastern part of the state, from the Georgia-Florida border in the
north to at least the Indian River area, from about 500 B.C. to A.D. Ioo, the
St. Johns I people produced mostly plain pottery bowls. This ceramic type,
initiated in the Transitional period, is often called chalky wear because it con-
tains few sand grains or fibers; its smoothness comes from the presence of
sponge spicules that serve as temper. The predominant technique to manu-
facture bowls is coiling. Sand burial mounds also occur for the first time,
replacing interment directly in shell middens. The presence of bundled buri-


1.35. Charnel house. (Painting
by John White of Virginia
between 1585 and 1587,
engraving by De Bry.)

als suggests that charnel houses were still used to store bodies until the flesh
rotted away, after which the bones were disarticulated, bundled, and placed
in the mound (fig. 1.35). Red ochre (hematite) was sprinkled on the bones.
This custom has been documented for even earlier periods and in Europe
dates to Neanderthal times about 40,000 years ago. Various explanations have
been given for the use of red ochre with burials; these include the belief that
it makes the corpse appear healthy or that, because hematite may have some
curative benefits, the dead will return to life either in this world or in the
hereafter. Extended, flexed, or cremated remains are also present in the sand
mounds. Grave goods are rare and there is no indication that only special
people were buried in the mounds.
Why do so many different kinds of burials occur at these sites? In our cem-
eteries, burials tend to be very similar. A possible explanation might be that a


grand burial ceremony occurred only once a year or at infrequent intervals.
At that time, all of the corpses stored in the charnel house would be prepared
for final burial. Those that had died recently and still retained most of their
flesh could not be disarticulated and bundled (secondary burial method) so
they remained extended or flexed (primary burial method). It is difficult to
explain cremation, however. By referring to ethnographic data gathered
around the world, one discovers that in some areas interment varies depend-
ing upon how death occurred or upon an individual's status or position in
society. Not only is the chief accorded special recognition but also the sha-
man, the talented woodcarver, the great hunter, etc., and all differ. Slaves are
often just dumped somewhere.
These sites occur along the St. Johns River and its tributaries and the At-
lantic coast, where huge oyster middens attest to the fact that this mollusk
was an important subsistence item. Freshwater aquatic species dominate in
the shell middens along the river. Most food items and artifacts remain much
as they were during Orange and Transitional times.
Widespread occupation in South Florida seems to date from about 500oo
B.C., although there is evidence from Cutler, Little Salt Spring, Warm Min-
eral Springs, Bay West, Republic Groves, Santa Maria, Cheetum, Fort Cen-
ter, and other sites that South Florida was inhabited during the Late Paleoin-
dian, Middle and Late Archaic, and Transitional (semi-fiber-tempered ceramic)
periods. Nevertheless, cultural changes in South Florida around 500oo B.. in-
cluded the introduction of black earth middens, the construction of circular
drainage ditches, plain sand-tempered pottery (also called Glades I), nonlocal
materials such as mica, steatite, igneous rock, platform pipes, marine shell,
and chert, although this latter material appears at earlier sites also. Primary
and secondary burials contain few grave goods. Many types of animals were
utilized. Practically nothing is known about plant remains from this time.
South Florida, according to some authors, was a cultural cul-de-sac (Willey
1949a). It may have received influences from Middle and South America, and
it interacted with cultures on the Gulf Coast and along the St. Johns River.
There is also strong evidence that it may have affected and been affected by
Hopewellian cultures as far away as the Ohio Valley.

A.D. 0-1000
On the west and northwest coast of Florida, the Swift Creek and Weeden
Island cultures replace Deptford around A.D. o-Ioo+. An amazing amount
of literature exists about the ceramics (and their origins) of this time as well


as more limited information about lifestyles. Relative dates for various
Weeden Island subphases were proposed early in the twentieth century, and
ceramic sequences were well established by the 1940s. There has been refine-
ment of these subphases in more recent years.
The Deptford, Swift Creek, and Weeden Island cultural traditions fall within
the time periods of Early to Middle Woodland (also called Adena and
Hopewell) in the eastern United States that are most conspicuous in the Ohio
Valley and nearby vicinities. There was a well-organized trade network, called
by archaeologists the interaction sphere, whereby material objects from one
area traveled to other locations. For example, marine conch shells from Florida

1.36. Effigy vessel, Weeden Island period, Washington County, Florida. (Courtesy of the National
Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, New York.)


have been found outside of their natural Gulf Coast habitat, and copper, prob-
ably from the Great Lakes, has been recovered in Florida. Some authors pro-
pose that the primary function of the interaction sphere was economic while
others believe it was religious or political. It may have been a combination of
all of these, and more, with certain individuals, groups, or centers becoming
prestigious, powerful, and awesome depending upon their ability to control
desired resources. Ideas must have flowed also but are not visible archae-
ologically. The material results of some of the ideas can be identified, such as
an emphasis on burial mound ceremonialism and new pottery designs. Fig.
1.36 illustrates one example of the multitude of shapes and designs modeled
from clays into three-dimensional representations.
Burials were placed in mounds used specifically for the dead. In some
mounds there is evidence that original interments were made at ground level
and later became the center of a mound that grew as dirt or sand and more
burials were added. Pottery caches were sometimes placed on the east side of
the mound. The Weeden Island site at Tampa Bay supplied the name to this
cultural expression dating from approximately A.D. o to 100ooo. Subsequent
research, however, has shown that the most elaborate components of this
time are found in North Florida and Georgia. Variations have also been noted
based on time, geographic location, and cultural antecedents. Researchers are
generally in agreement that the origin of some Weeden Island traits came
from the Kolomoki site in Georgia. But Willey (1985) makes a plea for cul-
tural diffusion from afar, saying, "I hope you will not altogether forget the
possibility of more remote and exotic contacts. It seems to me highly likely
that the Middle Woodland (Hopewell and Weeden Island) ... ceramic flam-
boyance of the Florida Gulf Coast must have something to do with its rela-
tive proximity to Mesoamerica." These connections wait to be demonstrated.
The variations noted at Weeden Island sites have been subdivided into
Weeden Island I-V depending upon time and space factors. Around A.D. I00-
300, just prior to Weeden Island and overlapping with Deptford, Swift Creek
Complicated Stamped pottery is introduced from Woodland cultures to the
north. The stamping is achieved by using a carved wooden paddle. It is largely
a distinct ceramic style that replaces Deptford in some locations and is recov-
ered around the Gulf Coast from west of Pensacola as far south as Crystal
River. At the same time, some influences called Santa Rosa arrive from west
of Florida's Panhandle. Weeden Island I is noted for its ornately decorated
ceramics with animal effigies and triangular cutouts. During Weeden Island
II-III, complicated stamped pottery decreases and is supplanted by Wakulla


Check Stamped, which prevails until Weeden Island V, when it is replaced by
Safety Harbor and Fort Walton period pottery.
The McKeithen site in Columbia County is a classic Weeden Island site
that has attributes similar to those at the Kolomoki site in Georgia. It dates
from A.D. 200 to 700; has multiple mounds; effigy vessels; pottery caches;
and evidence of the use of charnel houses, the black drink ceremony, and red
ochre. It grew out of Yent and Green Point ritual traditions. Weeden Island
continued even when Hopewell cultures and the interaction sphere declined
around A.D. 400.
Cades Pond is a Weeden Island-related cultural expression. Cades Pond
sites occur from the Santa Fe River on the north to Orange Lake on the south
and in eastern Alachua and western Putnam and Clay Counties. Villages were
located on high ground next to lakes or swamps and were probably occupied
most of the year. Subsistence items included fish, freshwater shellfish, turtles,
snakes, birds, deer, and hickory nuts. Storage pits have been identified at some
sites. The primary features that connect Cades Pond to Weeden Island are the
presence of burial and platform mounds. The mounds contain exotic materi-
als such as plummets made of imported stone, copper beads, marine shells,
and bones of shark, sea turtles, and mullet. The sites date from A.D. Ioo to
400 and are similar to Crystal River and Fort Center, with separate sacred/
secular areas and evidence of the use of charnel houses. Cades Pond sites also
contain. St. Johns and Dunns Creek Red ceramics (see below), indicating that
there was considerable interaction with people to the east.
The Manasota culture of the peninsular Gulf Coast dates within the time
frame of Weeden Island and shares a few of its attributes. It has been distin-
guished from cultures to the north of Tampa Bay and south of Charlotte
Harbor based primarily on ceramic differences.
In East Florida, along the St. Johns River and adjacent coastal areas, some
influences arrive from West and Northwest Florida. Copper objects, green
stone celts, jasper beads, and clay elbow pipes have been found in a few loca-
tions, indicating that this region was not totally isolated. Shell, bone, and
stone tools and ornaments apparently do not change very much from earlier
times, and the basic way of life from A.D. o to iooo probably remained essen-
tially as before. Burials were placed in sand mounds and consisted of both
primary and secondary interments. The primary ceramic type is St. Johns Plain.
Some pottery, called Dunns Creek Red, had a red slip applied and is usually
found in burials. Sites like Tick Island could have provided clues to temporal


0 2 4
1.37. Comparison of Florida stone points from Paleoindian to I I
Late Ceramic periods.

variations, but they were not excavated in ways that could furnish this infor-
Archaeological sites that have been excavated systematically are usually ex-
amined intensively rather than extensively. Minute information about diet,
climate, and typical material items may be identified but large quantities of
artifacts, other than pottery sherds, usually are not recovered. Thus it is not
likely that many exotic specimens will be found or that any class of objects
will be available in numbers sufficient for statistical analysis that would reveal
significant changes through time. At Hontoon Island, a garbage midden, the
overwhelming ceramics (about ioo,ooo sherds) recovered within this A.D.
o-iooo time range were St. Johns Plain with a chalky paste. Marine shell and
bone tools resembled those of former times. Most of the diagnostic chert
artifacts were Pinellas points (fig. 1.37). Pottery clays and animal bones were
available locally; marine shell and chert had to be imported, but not from
very far away. The only other nonlocal material recovered from the garbage
midden at Hontoon Island from A.D. o to 1ooo was a few fragments of green
stone. The midden contained convincing evidence of an aquatic diet consist-
ing primarily of fish, shellfish, and turtles. If a more elaborate way of life ex-
isted, it was probably reserved for ritual associated with burials. Unfortu-
nately, burial mounds have been destroyed in order to retrieve items consid-
ered valuable by nineteenth-century archaeologists and twentieth-century


1.38. Stylized illustration of ceremonial area at the Fort Center site. (From Morgan 1980; Purdy

There are several spectacular sites in South Florida that date within the
A.D. o-iooo time span. Belle Glade, Key Marco, and Fort Center have been
excavated more or less systematically. The most thorough examination of a
site and interpretation of a cultural complex and its temporal placement in
South Florida comes from Sears's (1982) work at Fort Center. Portions of the
site existed by 450 B.C. and eventually included middens, house mounds,
earthworks, ceremonial mounds, and a charnel pond.
About A.D. 200, the inhabitants at Fort Center constructed a special area
to prepare and bury their dead. This consisted of a low mound upon which
was probably built a charnel house, a special activity area that may have served
also as residences for specialists and their families, and an artificially dug pond
with a platform where bundled burials were placed (the charnel pond). The
mounds and the pond functioned as an integrated ceremonial area and the
entire complex was separated from the rest of the village by a low sand em-
bankment (fig. 1.38). Sometime around A.D. 5oo, the platform burned and
collapsed into the pond carrying with it approximately 300 bundled burials
and between ioo and 50o carvings or fragments of carvings thought to repre-
sent a total of 69 complete specimens (fig. 1.39). Many of these carvings had
supported or decorated the platform; others may have accompanied the dead
as grave goods. After the platform collapsed, 150 of the burials were retrieved
from the pond, interred on top of one of the mounds, and then covered with
white sand. The other 15o remained in the pond. The Fort Center site contin-


1.39. Wood carving of
eagle from the Fort
Center site. (Courtesy of
Roy C. Craven, Jr.)

ued to be occupied after this catastrophe but the ceremonial complex of the
site declined.
A situation at the Fort Center site that has sparked tremendous contro-
versy and discussion is the presence of corn pollen in the ceremonial area.
Sears (1982) interpreted the presence of corn pollen and other traits at the site
as evidence that there was contact with South America and with Hopewellian
cultures to the north. Sears's conclusion is supported by the recovery at Fort
Center of exotic artifacts, including fragments of 74 pottery pipes that are
nearly identical to those from Hopewell sites. Skepticism about the role of
corn in stimulating the construction of the complex Fort Center site stems
from the fact that (I) there is no other site in Florida where corn remains have
been found at such an early date as period II at Fort Center, (2) there is no
evidence that corn was important anywhere in the eastern United States around
A.D. 200, and (3) a study of pollen remains in 21 human coprolites from the
site revealed a variety of wild plants suggesting a random selection from the
local habitats with minimal dietary dependence on any particular plant. No
corn pollen was found in these 21 coprolites. Macrobotanical remains, such
as corn cobs, were not preserved at the Fort Center site.
No radiocarbon dates exist for the Belle Glade site located on the south-
eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee, but the site shares many traits with Fort
Center, including art styles executed on wooden carvings. In turn, the wooden
artifacts can be linked with similar specimens from Key Marco, which has
been dated to essentially the same time period as Fort Center. A number of
other large sites, known as Big Circle Mounds, occur in South Florida, but
these have not been examined carefully; consequently, very little can be said
about their function, temporal placement, or relationship to other sites in the
area and afar. Like Fort Center, they were probably constructed over a time
span of several hundred years and partially within the A.D. o-iooo period
being discussed. If the Big Circle Mounds were examined more thoroughly,
they might produce remains of corn in support of Sears's finds at Fort Cen-

A.D. IOOO-I500
Mississippian is the name given to the cultures of the southeastern United
States during this time span. In Florida these cultures are known as Fort
Walton in the Panhandle region, Safety Harbor around Tampa Bay, St. Johns
IIa-b in East Florida, and Glades IIb and Glades IIIa-b in South Florida (most
people do not consider Glades cultures as "Mississippian" in the Fort Walton


1.40. Copper breast
Plate from the Lake

sense). The attributes usually associated with the Mississippian period include
corn agriculture or horticulture; flat-topped temple mounds; and a ceremo-
nial complex previously known as the Buzzard Cult or the Southern Cult, in
which a number of motifs are executed on various material items, particu-
larly ceramics made specially for burials of elite individuals. A few breast plates
of copper have been recovered also in association with chiefly burials (fig.
1.40). The Pinellas point becomes the most common chipped stone imple-
ment. This small triangular stone point resembles those recovered from sites
of this age throughout the Southeast and is thought to signal the adoption of
the use of the bow and arrow. The bow and arrow was first in use 19,000


years ago in North Africa. It is believed that this technologically superior
weapon was invented only once and that it eventually diffused throughout
most of the world. If this conclusion is correct, it took from 19,000 B.P. to
nearly A.D. Iooo to enter the southeastern United States. It never reached
isolated groups such as the Australian Aborigines.
Impressive temple mounds in Florida include those at Fort Walton Beach
and Lake Jackson near Tallahassee. Similar kinds of structures are found in
the Tampa Bay area, further south on the Gulf Coast (for example, at Pineland
and Mound Key), and in East Florida along the St. Johns River at the Mount
Royal, Shields, and Thursby sites. These areas were occupied during the Early
Historic period by the Apalachee, Tocobaga, Calusa, and Timucuan Indians,
respectively. The temple mounds were probably constructed by the immedi-
ate ancestors of these historically described people, although numerous large
temple mounds seem to have Weeden Island components. Artifacts other than
exotic ceramics and copper breastplates remain quite similar to styles that
were in use previously. A.D. iooo marks the beginning of check-stamped pot-
tery along the St. Johns River and surrounding areas (fig. 1.41).
The temple mounds usually contained a ramp that led to a plaza area. It is
believed that only important people are buried in the temple mounds and
that when a chief died the structure that was built for his residential or cer-
emonial use was destroyed. This individual was buried in the mound and
that portion of the mound was covered over and another structure for the
new chief was built on top of it. Some of these mounds contain numerous
episodes of building and rebuilding. Because of the nature of Florida's soils
and environment, very little physical evidence of those structures remains,
although at some sites large pieces of wood, presumably used as house posts,
have survived. The ceramics found in the temple mounds differ from the un-
decorated everyday village pottery, indicating a difference between secular and
sacred use.
Much of the way of life portrayed for the people of the Mississippian pe-
riod is based on historic accounts of Indian groups as they existed when first
encountered by Europeans. One famous group was the Natchez Indians, who
lived along the Mississippi River and were described vividly by DuPratz
(Swanton 1946). Another account is that of Juan Ortiz, a member of Narvaiez's
expedition of 1528, who was held captive by the Tocobaga around Tampa Bay
until rescued by de Soto in 1539. There is probably a great deal of support for
the belief that chiefdoms did exist, that these were not egalitarian societies
(that is, there were social hierarchies and probably inheritance of important


1.41. St. Johns Check Stamped sherds from Hontoon Island.

positions), and that there was maize or corn agriculture in some locations.
The red clay soils around Tallahassee were ideal for agriculture. However, in
peninsular Florida around Tampa Bay where the Tocobaga resided, among
the Calusa, the Glades people, and along the St. Johns River, the attributes
seen that are associated with the Mississippian period were probably used for
rituals that took place at the temple mounds. In addition, these locations may
have been central places where the action was. People may have come to
these centers to trade, meet friends, acquire spouses, and relieve boredom.
There is no concrete evidence in these areas for agriculture or horticulture.
Most aboriginal Floridians continued a way of life dependent primarily upon
aquatic resources. The Alachua Tradition people who lived in North Central
Florida about this time may have planted some crops, although no crop re-
mains have been found. They did not construct temple mounds or make elabo-
rately incised pottery. The Alachua Tradition evidently came from the river
valleys of the Georgia coastal plain.
Further support for the existence of nonegalitarian societies during the
Mississippian period comes from the fact that the common people were bur-
ied in cemeteries, mounds, pits, or village debris, whereas elite individuals
are buried in temple mounds along with exotic artifacts.


The top portion of most of the large mounds contains Early Historic pe-
riod items, indicating that these structures were still in use when European
contact occurred after A.D. 1500. There is a possibility that some European
goods made their way into Florida prior to actual contact between Europe-
ans and Indians. A brief protohistoric period may have occurred if Indians
from the Caribbean or South America fled to Florida shortly after A.D. 1492
in an effort to escape Spanish atrocities.


The Historic period in the Americas is a story of the decline of the American
Indian and a way of life that had been evolving for at least Io,ooo years. In
Florida, this decline began in A.D. 1513 with the arrival of Juan Ponce de Le6n.
Exploratory or slaving expeditions may have occurred prior to this time, but
they have not been documented. These earlier contacts may explain why the
Indians of Florida were hostile to Ponce de Le6n and all other groups that
came later. There are several bits of information that suggest that nonlocal
Indians and/or Europeans knew of Florida before Ponce de Le6n's voyage.
These include (I) a map from about A.D. 1500oo that shows an outline of part of
the Florida peninsula, (2) a name given to Florida by the Indians of the Baha-
mas, and (3) a Spanish-speaking Indian encountered by Ponce de Le6n. There
are also the comments made in Fontaneda's account (True 1944) that Indians
from Cuba ancientlyy" entered Florida looking for the River Jordan (foun-
tain of youth) and settled among the Calusa.
The European ventures that had the greatest impact on Florida and other
locations in the Southeast were: Juan Ponce de Le6n in I513 and 1521, Lucas
Vasquez de Ayllon in 1521, PaTnfilo de Narvaez in 1528, Hernando de Soto in
1539, Tristain de Luna yArrellano in 1559, Jean Ribault in 1563, Pedro Menendez
de Aviles in 1565, and Juan Pardo in 1566. It is interesting to note that when de
Luna's 1559 expedition traveled to some of the same villages described as lav-
ish by de Soto 20 years earlier, they were either deserted or in a state of de-
cline. Evidently de Soto set in motion a demographic collapse brought about
by brutality and by the introduction of diseases for which the Indians had no
natural immunity.
Almost from the beginning there were composite pictures drawn of Florida
and the people who lived there. Each succeeding generation of scholars has
refined the earlier descriptions as new documents are discovered in archives
and translated. An excellent example of the way new information can be in-


corporate into an earlier publication is the revision of Buckingham Smith's
1854 translation of Hernando de Escalente Fontaneda's 17-year experience as
a captive among the Florida Indians in the mid-i5oos to be discussed below
(True 1944).
A disturbing feature of some of the documents or illustrations pertaining
to early expeditions is that chroniclers lifted whole passages describing or
depicting scenes from South or Central America and attributed them to events
experienced in Florida with no apology for plagiarism or misrepresentation.
For example, Ponce de Le6n used dogs against the Indians of Hispaniola,
and their use in war led to the coining of a new word, aperrear, "to cast to the
dogs." Gruesome tales of the use of dogs to track down Indians are to be
found in narratives of de Soto's expedition. One account purporting to de-
scribe a dog owned by de Soto is identical to Herrera's story of a dog owned
by Ponce de Le6n.
Other examples are the drawings of Jacques le Moyne engraved by de Bry
in 1591. They provide the best pictorial documentation of the Timucuan Indi-
ans and scenes from their daily life. Nevertheless, the natives look very much
like European people depicted by artists of the time, and the pictures of arti-
facts are so stylized it is difficult in many cases to relate them to material items
recovered from archaeological sites. While the written descriptions accompa-
nying the pictures probably reflect the situation as it existed in Florida fairly
well, the reader gets the impression that considerable embellishment occurred.
The references to gold and silver sources is especially suspect and may have
been included either because the author became confused with scenes from
Central or South America or because he hoped to gain financial support to
return to Florida. The writers and artists who visited the Americas themselves
or depended for their portrayals on descriptions given by those who survived
early explorations probably had limited personal experience or knowledge of
the New World. They took liberties with the literature that was available and
often incorporated scenes that look very much like European life of the four-
teenth to sixteenth centuries (fig. 1.42). While the authenticity ofle Moyne's
drawings is questionable, they can be considered as accurate as written docu-
ments of the time that were often recounted from memory. Letters to the
crown describing events shortly after they occurred probably furnish less ques-
tionable portrayals of life in Florida.
The Indians of Florida were taller than the French and Spanish intruders
(fig. 1.43). The elite male members of society were tattooed extensively. They
wore elaborate ornaments and painted deerskins. Spanish moss was used by


1.42. (a) LeMoyne drawing of a Timucuan Indian village (from Bennett 1968); (b) St. Mary's
Wattle Chapel at Glastonbury. This famous site would have been known to LeMoyne. It was
surrounded by legends and had been destroyed in 1539 (Michell 1983), only 25 years prior to
the French settlement at Fort Caroline that led to LeMoyne's drawings and descriptions of the
Florida Indians.

1.43. LeMoyne drawing showing
a Timucuan chief taller than the
Spaniards. (From Bennett 1968.)


women to make garments to "cover their nudity" (Bennett 1968: 78). Scenes
from the le Moyne drawings show hunting, planting and harvesting crops,
preparing food, shamanism, waging war, consuming the black drink, caring
for the sick, punishing those who did not conform, villages, a chiefs burial,
and more.
Fontaneda's account of the Florida Indians (True 1944) is especially valu-
able because he lived among the Indians for 17 years, from the ages of 13 to
30. There seems to be some confusion as to the actual date of his capture,
which followed the wreck of the ship that was transporting Fontaneda and
his brother to Spain to be educated. His ordeal probably began sometime
between 1545 and 1549, and his rescue took place in the early to middle I56os.
Some sources say he was rescued by Ribault and others say it was Menendez.
He evidently became an interpreter for Menendez, but it is not clear if he
stayed in Florida or returned from Spain after his rescue to perform this task.
It would have helped if Fontaneda had related these details in his memoir,


but their absence does not diminish the importance of his document, which
was written in 1575, six years after he returned to Spain for good.
The memoir is the most compact description of Florida of that time. In it
Fontaneda describes the geography and tells "of the Indians, their customs,
habitat, language, clothing, and food. He describes animals, birds, fish, and
plants. He relates contemporary events and makes recommendations for fu-
ture Spanish policy" (True 1944). Fontaneda spoke at least four Indian lan-
guages. Though most of his captivity apparently was spent in the southern
part of the Florida peninsula, particularly among the Calusa, many of his state-
ments support the descriptions of the Timucuan Indians depicted by le Moyne.
It is interesting to note that Fontaneda spent more of his first 30 years among
the Indians than he did among his own people, yet in his document he ex-
pressed the opinion that "they never will be at peace, and less will they be-
come Christians... I know what I say. If my counsel be not heeded, there will
be trouble. Let the Indians be taken in hand gently, inviting them to peace;
then putting them under deck, husbands and wives, together, sell them ...
for money. In this way, there could be management of them, and their num-
ber become diminished" (True 1944). After 17 years of day-to-day relation-
ships with the Florida Indians, it seems as if Fontaneda would have had some
affection or compassion for them; instead he recommended their deporta-
tion and enslavement.
At least 30 other individuals who had spent many years among the Indians
were rescued and returned home. Accounts of their experiences, if they exist,
have not been discovered. Ships wrecked along the Florida coasts were plen-
tiful, particularly in some areas. The ships were often laden with gold and
silver being transported from South America back to Spain. Bad storms and
hurricanes in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have been attributed
partially to the "Little Ice Age," a climatic deterioration that occurred during
this time. Since there was often too long a lag period between the loading of
ships and their actual date of departure, many of them set sail during hurri-
cane season and encountered the extremely hazardous weather conditions
that caused the shipwrecks. These ships were plundered by the Indians and
became the source of much of the precious metals, glass beads, and other
European materials found in Florida. Fontaneda states that the natives took
jewelry that was made by the Mexican Indians from the wrecks.
The Spanish began to establish Catholic missions in 1565, after they drove
the French from Florida and founded St. Augustine as the earliest permanent
settlement in North America. Since Fontaneda's (as well as Menendez's) rec-


ommendation of deportation and enslavement of the Indians was not imple-
mented, the missions served as a mechanism through which the Spanish could
strengthen their control over the natives. The missions functioned as distri-
bution points in a network of trade and tribute of food, labor, and other
items. There was also a sincere desire on the part of the Jesuit and Franciscan
priests to convert the Indians to Catholicism. The first mission, known as
Nombre de Dios, was located at St. Augustine near the Indian village of Seloy.
Many other missions operated in Florida during the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. Gabriel Diaz Vara Calderon furnished a map showing the distribu-
tion of the missions in 1674-75.
The Indians of Florida attempted to maintain their social order and a mea-
sure of dignity despite the degradation of their way of life brought about by
the foreign intruders. Occasionally, the Indians revolted. Anthropologists
would call these revolts revitalizationn movements" because they were efforts
to bring about a more meaningful existence for people in despair. They oc-
curred among the Guale, Timucuans, Ais, and others. For example, after the
Timucuan uprising of 1656, the warriors claimed that "they sought only to
improve their low state and relieve the continuous abuses" (Lanning 1935:
206). Some acculturation took place in both directions. The Indians began
to rely on certain products such as European plants, animals, and metals; and
the Spanish, in order to survive, ate Indian foods and prepared their meals
using native dishes and cooking methods. Marriages between Spanish men
and Indian women also led to cultural exchanges and assimilation on a small
scale. Indian populations soon declined as a result of European- and African-
introduced diseases and from brutalities until, by the early eighteenth cen-
tury, the original inhabitants had virtually disappeared from Florida, leaving
a void filled by the present-day Seminole Indians. The last of the original
Florida Indians are said to have left Florida with the Spanish when England
took over in 1763.


By 35,000 years ago, Homo sapiens sapiens had evolved in the Old World
replacing previous hominid species, and the technology had been developed
permitting survival in nearly all ecological niches. It is possible, therefore,
that humans may have migrated to the Western Hemisphere by 25,000 to
30,000 years ago. However, this topic is hardly worth taking up at present
because there is no definite proof of such early human presence in the West-


ern Hemisphere. All sites that have been proposed have been evaluated
carefully by competent archaeologists and so far all fall short of meeting the
criteria necessary for acceptance. These criteria include: (i) rigid systematic
excavations, (2) well-defined stratigraphy, (3) datable materials, and (4) rec-
ognizable artifact forms.
I have always believed that people were in the New World before 20,000
years ago, and I also believe that some of the proposed early sites are authen-
tic despite the fact that results of investigations have not been conclusive. For
example, at a chert quarry site in Marion County where I conducted excava-
tions for several years, crude stone artifacts were recovered below Paleoindian
period tools that probably date to about io,ooo years ago. The crude imple-
ments were typologically distinct from Paleoindian and were separated strati-
graphically from them by a culturally sterile zone about 15-20 cm thick. No
organic material was preserved that could be dated by radiocarbon analysis.
Thus, I attempted to apply innovative techniques to determine the age of the
crude stone artifacts. These methods included thermoluminescence and weath-
ering experiments (see chapter 4). The preliminary results from these inde-
pendently conducted studies yielded dates of 30,000-26,000 B.P. But un-
proven dating techniques applied to controversial materials need far greater
testing before they will be accepted by the archaeological community. Here
the story rests until further research is carried out. Earlier, however, I did
mention two convincing dates for Florida of around 12,000 years ago, which
might be considered proof of a pre-Clovis occupation.
As discussed at the beginning of this chapter, the presence of Clovis spear-
heads and butchered bones of now extinct animals furnish strong evidence
for human habitation in Florida prior to the end of the last glacial period.
Since the Clovis point has been tightly dated elsewhere at approximately
11,400-11,000 B.P. and is a very distinctive type, we can assume that those
from Florida are contemporaneous. Unlike sites in the western United States,
however, the Florida Clovis points are not in association with the extinct ani-
mals nor have they been recovered stratigraphically below typologically more
recent materials. Elephant tusks have been found that were fashioned into
tools, a few of which have zigzag lines that represent the earliest artistic efforts
recovered in Florida. When found in rivers today, these tools are fossilized
(turned to stone) and probably have been for thousands of years. Since ivory
cannot be worked when it becomes fossilized, the native peoples of Florida
must have been modifying it when it was green (fresh) or somewhat sea-
soned. As a result, there is no question about the age and authenticity of


these ivory objects. Thus, we must conclude that humans and extinct Pleis-
tocene (Ice Age) animals lived in Florida at the same time. So far, the depos-
its in which the extinct animals are imbedded have not contained evidence of
human association; that is, no tools or human skeletal material. A possible
exception are the Vero Beach and Melbourne bone beds. Human skeletal
material was recovered from these bone beds in the early part of the twenti-
eth century. Arguments have raged for decades about whether or not the hu-
man remains were contemporaneous with the extinct animals in the bone
beds or were intrusive.
Ales Hrdlicka, an influential physical anthropologist of the time, was con-
vinced that the cranial measurements were similar to those of modern-day
Indians. He opposed those investigators who believed the skeletal material
dated to the same period as the Ice Age animals. What Hrdlicka really op-
posed were snap judgments about the antiquity of the human remains with-
out the proof to back it up. Because he was such a prominent individual, his
opinions and conclusions reigned for a very long time. Ironically, more re-
cent evaluations of the human crania from the Vero Beach and Melbourne
deposits suggest that Hrdlicka's reconstructions were not accurate and that
the crania actually may belong to a Paleoindian population.
Throughout all of North America there is virtually no human skeletal ma-
terial that has been securely dated at 1o,ooo years or older. Human remains
found at Warm Mineral Springs have been touted to be older than Io,ooo
years, but if one examines the 16 radiocarbon dates obtained from organic
material recovered in association with these bones, it is clear that the dates
range from 1o,5oo to 8700 B.P.; this suggests that some sort of sampling er-
ror or mixing occurred. Morris (in Purdy 1991:189-92) concluded that "Warm
Mineral Springs Man" and the cranial material from the Vero Beach and
Melbourne sites are doliocephalic (long-headed). He determined that there
seems to be considerable variation in cranial measurements among Paleo-
indians, but that they can be distinguished from later Archaic populations.
Since many of the human and animal remains still exist in various institu-
tions, it is conceivable that certain analyses could be carried out on both ani-
mal and human bone to determine if they lived at the same time. Radiocar-
bon analysis would not be possible if the bones are fossilized.
From the Cutler site near Miami, the Warm Mineral Springs and Little
Salt Spring sites near Sarasota, and the Page-Ladson site on the Aucilla River,
human skeletal remains and/or cultural materials have been dated to about
9900-9600 B.P. and are associated with all modern fauna. Thus, the earliest


in situ evidence for humans in Florida dates to this time period. It was then
that Florida underwent very rapid climatic changes. Sea level rose, rivers
flowed, passive ponds became springs, and low areas became lakes. In other
words, previously scarce surface water became available.
The Paleoindian period is usually depicted as a nomadic, big game hunting
way of life. A major new stage called the Archaic begins around 9000 B.P. and
lasts until at least 4500 B.P. People became more sedentary as new resources
became available and plentiful. There is an amazing increase in evidence of
human occupation. For example, the Late Paleoindian stone points are fairly
abundant in Florida, especially the Bolen point, which probably dates to the
last part of the Paleoindian period. In fact, the Bolen point may signal the
end of the nomadic way of life because it is found at some excavated terres-
trial sites as well as in the rivers. The Harney Flats stone quarry site in Hills-
borough County yielded Middle to Late Paleoindian stone tools, including
Suwannee and Bolen points (Daniel and Wisenbaker 1987). This should be
an indication that there were permanent residents in Florida at least by 9000 +
B.P. On the other hand, most of the earlier Paleoindian types are rare or non-
existent from terrestrial sites, and there is little information to support the
conclusion that people resided permanently in Florida at this time.
The beginning of the Archaic period in Florida has not been well docu-
mented. From stratified sites elsewhere in the southeastern United States, it
appears that some of the Paleoindian tools are carried over into the Archaic,
but that the stone spearheads change from the typical fishtail types of the
Paleoindian period to the numerous stemmed varieties of the Archaic.
The Windover site is the only Early Archaic site in Florida that has been
studied intensively. Since the dates for the Windover site range between ap-
proximately 8000 and 7000 B.P., it probably borders on the Middle Archaic.
Chert artifacts are rare at Windover because the site is located away from chert
outcrop regions. The few stone points found there resemble the Kirk Ser-
rated, which is an Early Archaic stone point type in Florida. As mentioned
earlier, Windover is a landmark site that contained a multitude of informa-
tion that has not been recorded for any other site of this time period in Florida.
Around 7000-6000 B.P. during the Middle Archaic, many thousands of
stone points were made and lost, only to be found again in the twentieth
century. This is the time period that the major chert quarry sites were used
most extensively. People were still seminomadic but within a restricted range
of seasonal activities. This is also apparent from the great variety of stone
points that are typical of the Middle Archaic indicating regional or tribal pref-


erences. The incredible numbers of stone points that have been recovered
leads one to conclude that Florida had large human populations, but no cal-
culations have been attempted.
If only stone points are collected by amateurs, they are nice to look at and
they furnish clues that people were hunting animals or other humans, but
they are limited in what they can reveal about the total way of life of a society.
Recall that the majority of the wetland cemeteries date to the Middle Archaic
and contain the bones of hundreds of individuals plus diagnostic perishable
and nonperishable artifacts in datable contexts. These sites date at about 6500-
6000 B.P. They have provided all manner of information about burial prac-
tices, age and cause of death, food items, artifacts, and environment. Thus
they have added tremendously to our storehouse of knowledge about Florida's
prehistoric inhabitants. It is a mystery why the Indians changed this burial
By the Late Archaic, a different kind of cultural adaptation develops. Around
6000 B.P., Florida's flora, fauna, and hydrological conditions had adjusted to
the changing climate. Numerous fish, shellfish, turtles, and plant species be-
came abundant to the point that they could be predicted and relied upon as
food staples, and the technology had been developed to exploit the resources
efficiently. Aquatic species were the major dietary items along with deer and
nuts. Our excavations at Lake Monroe demonstrated that people were using
quantities of hickory nuts and acorns. Nut trees do not run away; the nuts are
seasonally available; they provide protein, oil, calories, and other important
nutrients; and they can be prepared in various ways or stored. No storage
pits have been found in Florida that date to this time, but storage pits are
common in other parts of the southeastern United States. We used hickory
nut shells from the site at Lake Monroe to date the deposits. They ranged
from 4100 B.P. at the top of the undisturbed sequence to 6200 B.P. for the
lowest cultural deposit. An argument similar to that made for nuts can be
proposed for turtles and tortoises. These slow-moving animals are fairly easy
to catch under the right conditions and they return large amounts of edible
flesh for very little effort. Archaeological evidence for their use is abundant.
The way of life that developed during the Late Archaic furnished the base
upon which more complex societies evolved later on. This way of life prob-
ably was more secure than one dependent upon horticulture or animal hus-
bandry. It should be cautioned, however, that people who rely on natural
resources for their food supply and other needed items must limit their popu-
lations so as not to exceed the carrying capacity of the environment. They


might be able to support a large population for a short time or a small popu-
lation for a long time. Even with good management, some resources prob-
ably would be depleted. If too many items disappear, the group will most
likely move to another location.
Most hunter-gatherer-fisher bands are no larger than 25 to so people. Since
many of the plants and animals used by the aquatic-oriented Florida Indians
were probably replenished fairly rapidly, there may have been short-term
movements back and forth in the same general area over a long period of
time. Unfortunately, we do not have a dating method that can provide a year-
by-year record of activities from 6000 to 500ooo B.P. Seasonal indicators may
be reliable if, for example, plants and animals that are available only at certain
times of the year turn up in the deposits. It would then be possible to say that
a site was occupied during that time of the year, but it still would not be
possible to conclude that the site was not utilized throughout the year be-
cause many of the items recovered would be obtainable year-round. The above
discussion applied to the Florida situation is supported by Fontaneda's ac-
count. He mentions that there "are many towns of thirty or forty inhabitants
each [around the Lake of Mayaimi (Lake Okeechobee)] and as many more
places there are in which the people are not so numerous" (True 1944).
The Indians in Florida had been exploiting the aquatic resources for at
least I,500 years before ceramics were introduced. Fired clay balls, basally
notched points, and marine shell tools and beads appear in the archaeological
record prior to the appearance of pottery. Whether or not pottery was an
indigenous development in North Florida and coastal Georgia is not known
for sure. So far, no items exist that can be shown positively to have traveled to
Florida from the Caribbean or Middle and South America. On the other hand,
objects made from organic materials seldom survive and thus are not ar-
chaeologically visible. You may have noted that most perishable materials on
exhibit in museums are ethnographic specimens that date to the Historic pe-
riod. Prehistoric items are usually stone, shell, or ceramic. The Florida Indi-
ans were fairly sedentary by 4500-4100 B.P., when fiber-tempered (Orange
period) pottery first appeared. These are the earliest ceramics in North America.
The development of ceramic traditions through time and regionalism, defined
primarily by ceramic styles, has already been discussed.
From the Late Archaic forward there seems to be an elaboration of the
social life of the aquatically oriented peoples of Florida. What should the ar-
chaeological record reveal about societies that were becoming more complex
and differentiated with regard to social structure and division of labor? There


should be evidence of large populations with some kind of central control
over people's actions with perhaps a warrior class to enforce order. Cultiva-
tion of crops such as corn should be present to support the increased popula-
tion, or there should be evidence for the intensification of the use of natural
resources. Important people would probably be buried in special areas with
special grave goods. One would expect to find more ornamentation with re-
curring symbolism used as badges of identity. Village markers like large
wooden carvings might appear (fig. 1.44).
What is known? What is not known? What is speculation rather than fact?
There is evidence for central areas where ceremonies were performed and
where people may have congregated to bring tribute, to relieve the boredom
of a mundane existence, to procure spouses, and for numerous other reasons.
We know that some people were buried in special areas, and there is increased
ornamentation. But, from the archaeological record, there is very little con-
crete evidence in Florida of cultivation of corn, squash, and beans or of the
cultivation or manipulation of other plants.
In appendix D of Bennett (1975), there is a list and discussion of "Plant Life
in Sixteenth-Century Florida." Sixty-two species of trees, 61 shrubs, 18 vines,
and more than 300 additional plants are mentioned of which more than 200
could have been in use by the Indians for foods, drinks, medicines, and dyes
when the whites came. Some of these are familiar to us, such as grapes, per-

1.44. Front and back views of the owl totem being unloaded at the Florida State Museum in 1955.


simmons, nuts, tobacco, etc. Others, such as the roots of coontie (Zamia
integrifolia), were used as flour. The use of roots for food is mentioned exten-
sively in the early historic literature. For example, Fontaneda states that they
have "bread of roots which is their common food the greater part of the time
but the lake [Okeechobee] rises so high in some seasons that the roots cannot
be reached and they are without eating this bread for some time" (True 1944).
The identification of specific plants is often difficult. About the only reliable
way to conclude if people were ingesting plants, rather than the plants being
a natural part of the environment, is through an analysis of human copro-
lites. Other markers might be indicators of plant manipulation and/or usage.
If plants or animals are not familiar food items to individuals who are exam-
ining historic documents or the archaeological record, they tend to be ig-
nored. Fontaneda mentions that the Indians preferred deer or fowl, but they
also ate eels, alligators, sharks, snakes, rats (probably opossum), tortoises,
and "many more disgusting reptiles which, if we were to continue enumerat-
ing, we should never be through" (True 1944).
We still know very little about the womb-to-tomb life of Florida Indians.
A great deal of speculation about what people were doing prehistorically is
based on early historic records. As a matter of fact, many of the sites where a
more elaborate way of life existed border on the Historic period so that some-
times it is not clear if the sites are prehistoric, protohistoric, or early historic.
Historic records are nice because they name people and events that are not
recognizable from the archaeological record, but sometimes they are incom-
plete, biased, or downright erroneous. Occasionally archaeological data have
been able to correct, verify, and supplement written documents. Investiga-
tions carried out at St. Augustine are an excellent example.
Two of the most spectacular archaeological investigations in recent years,
which have located portions of de Soto's route through Florida, are the exca-
vations at the Tatham site and the discovery of de Soto's 1539-40 winter camp
in Tallahassee. Recovered at both of these sites is ample physical evidence of
European contact. At the Tatham site, several hundred human burials were
found, as were 153 early-sixteenth-century glass beads, and objects of silver,
gold, and iron (fig. 1.45). Of the burials, more than 70 were found in the
upper portion of the mound, many in association with European artifacts. It
is believed that most of these people died of diseases brought by the de Soto
expedition. A few skeletons bore evidence of injury and death from sword
wounds. The Anhaica site in Tallahassee, located less than a mile from the
state capitol, was a principal Apalachee Indian village that was found aban-


i. n ing S. uU B.3 -, .., .., .
S 0 0 X

1.45. Early-sixteenth-century glass beads from the Tatham Mound, Citrus 0 1 2
County, Florida. (Photograph by Harry W. Buck II; courtesy of Jeffrey M.
Mitchem, Arkansas Archaeological Survey.)

doned by de Soto's expedition. De Soto occupied the village and used it as a
base for five months. Among the European artifacts recovered when the site
was excavated were fragments of Spanish pottery, blown glass beads, and small
links of iron (chain mail). More than 90 percent of the items were of aborigi-
nal origin; this is important because if it were not for the few European ob-
jects, it would be difficult to determine that the site was of historic age. It was
not until later in the Historic period that Indian artifacts began to reflect
European influence, such as in new ceramic designs and shapes.
At Hontoon Island we excavated from water-saturated deposits a zone in
which all seven major classes of material items-ceramics, stone points, ma-
rine shell tools, fauna, flora, cultivated plants, and freshwater shellfish-
changed abruptly from those recovered in a slightly older, lower zone. Nu-
merous radiocarbon dates for this drastically different assemblage had a range
of error that overlapped with the early sixteenth century, yet European arti-
facts were not recovered until higher in the deposit. It is difficult to imagine
anything except a major environmental or cultural catastrophe that would
cause people to modify their way of life as quickly as documented at Hontoon
Island. I have proposed that the changes observed were the result of new
ideas introduced by refugee Indians who fled brutalities occurring in the Car-
ibbean or further south prior to actual European contact in Florida.





Major Identifying Features

Historic European artifacts; decreased
populations; written documents

especially coastal


2500 B.P.-A.D. 1492

3000-2500 B.P.

4000-3000 B.P.


Regionalism in ceramic styles; burial
and temple mounds; bow and arrow late
in period; Pinellas and other small stone
points; plant cultivation in some areas;
ceremonial pottery; trade in nonlocal
materials; social complexity

Middle Transitional with changes in ceramic
pastes, manufacture, and decoration;
increasing social complexity; efficient
exploitation of aquatic resources;
influences from distant cultures


First ceramic pots (Orange, fiber-
tempered); efficient exploitation of
aquatic resources; changes in stone
point styles; shell technology diversifies
and continues until Historic period

Nearly statewide

especially Gulf

Mostly Atlantic
coast and
St. Johns River


6000-4000 B.P.

7000-6000 B.P.

9000-7000 B.P.


Shell middens appear along coasts and
rivers; small stemmed stone bifaces;
marine shell technology becomes major
addition to culture; steatite and other
imported materials

Middle A variety of stemmed stone bifaces;
wetsites with preserved human remains,
plants, and wood and bone technology;
populations more concentrated; intense
use of chert quarries


Distinctive stemmed stone bifaces, e.g.,
Arredondo and Kirk Serrated;
Windover expands knowledge of
this period (see text)

Statewide, but
most evident
along rivers
and coasts

Statewide; wet
sites mostly in
South Florida

Nearly statewide,
but evidence
not abundant


A.D. 1492+


Major Identifying Features


10,000-9000 B.P. Late and Middle All modern fauna; Bolen (Late); Nearly statewide,
Suwannee and Simpson (Middle) most especially rivers
common stone bifaces; Harney Flats and springs
best stratigraphic evidence at quarry site
(see text); period is poorly dated

11,500-10,000 B.P. Early Butchered bones of Pleistocene animals; Nearly statewide
Clovis biface; distinctive tools of stone in springs
and elephant ivory and rivers

Before II,500 B.P. Prepaleoindian Largely unknown; absence of stone Rivers, springs,
bifaces; crude stone tools; butchered and stone quarries
bones of Pleistocene animals; wood,
bone, and antler tools

We will never know what the Florida Indians would be doing today if their
way of life had not been disrupted in the early sixteenth century and eventu-
ally obliterated. They seemed to have reached a steady state. Technology that
might have led to a more complex society was not present. They used no
source of animal power to haul burdens or pull a plow. Bison were abundant
in the Southeast, and the Spanish wondered why they were not castrated and
used in this manner. The dog was domesticated, and it may have been able to
carry a load if harnessed to a travois in a method similar to one used among
the Plains Indians. No such conveyance is mentioned for Florida. However,
the dog was sometimes eaten by the native people of the Southeast.
Fossil fuels were not utilized as an energy source anywhere in the Ameri-
cas; in fact, only coal was used in the Old World at this time. Water power via
the canoe, manufactured from magnificent heart pine, served as the only high-
energy source available in Florida. But without sails, the canoes too were
powered by human energy or depended on downstream currents instead of
wind. The Florida Indians evidently had no knowledge of the wheel since it
was not used in the ceramic industry or for any other task. Their pyrotech-
niques apparently were not well developed. No kilns have been discovered
that would have permitted high firing of pottery. Temperature control was
needed for altering certain flint artifacts, in the bone and woodworking in-
dustries, for cooking, etc., but these methods seem to have remained un-




changed for thousands of years. Metals are not native to Florida; thus, the
Indians did not develop metallurgical skills. If they had done so, they prob-
ably would have been similar to those of South and Central America, where
wonderful artifacts of personal adornment were fashioned from gold and sil-
ver, but few utilitarian items were made that could provide extrasomatic
sources of energy. The pure metals were too soft for that purpose and al-
though alloying was practiced, it was used to enhance the creative effect of
the art objects.
Without new technological achievements, the Indians of Florida attempted
to elaborate their culture in another way-through their social structure. Cer-
tain specializations became prestigious and resulted in a hierarchial society
with positions inherited through matrilineal clans. More efficient use of time
through specialized diversity is a way of building capital. But their surpluses
(primarily food) were expended on temple mound building that entailed a
labor force that had to be fed and on ceremonialism that also exhausted the
surplus food supply. Monument building and ceremonialism may promote
esprit de corps, but they lead nowhere unless accompanied by technological
The Spanish could have guided the Indians out of the Stone Age. They
wanted to make Catholics of the Indians, but they did not wish them to be-
come too familiar with their firearms and other weapons. In the long run, it
did not matter. Their future lay only in the hereafter.




Ask an archaeologist "How did you know to dig there?" and the answer might
be book-length. In this chapter I will describe (i) some of the circumstances
that motivate archaeologists to conduct fieldwork, and (2) the actual mechan-
ics involved in guiding projects through their various stages until they are
completed or terminated.
First, it is important to understand that American archaeologists, as an-
thropologists, wish to learn as much as they are able about cultures that ex-
isted in the past. The task is formidable since there are no human survivors to
interview, usually no written documents, and only a fraction of the objects
used in everyday and ritual activities have withstood the ravages of time. But
the archaeological record is fragile for an even more significant reason: it is
finite. Comparing the problems faced by the archaeologist to those of an ar-
chivist or experimental scientist, Taylor wrote:
The archivist and the experimental scientist may with impunity select from
their sources those facts which have for them a personal and immediate signifi-
cance in terms of some special problem. Their libraries and experimental facili-
ties may be expected to endure, so that in the future there may be access to the

same or a similar body of data. If, however, it were certain that, after the
archivist's first perusal, each document would be utterly and forever destroyed,
it would undoubtedly be required of him that he transcribe the entire record
rather than just that portion which at the moment interests him. He would
have difficulty in justifying his research if, knowingly, he caused the destruction
of a unique record for the sake of abstracting only a narrowly selected part ...
Therefore, only one objective can be sanctioned with regard to the actual exca-
vation of archaeological sites: that of securing the most complete record pos-
sible not only of those details which are of interest to the collector, but of the
entire geographic and human environment." (Taylor 1948:154)

Archaeologists destroy as they dig. Once specimens are removed from their
context, it is impossible to view them again in their original surroundings. It
is only by transposing the archaeological record to notes, maps, sketches,
photographs, etc., that it can be preserved for study. Archaeological field and
laboratory methods have not been static through the years. They have been
refined constantly to incorporate techniques that generate data capable of an-
swering questions about past cultures and environments that formerly were
never asked. Because archaeological resources are shrinking at an alarming
rate and because archaeologists realize that much untapped information may
be contained in sites that remain, there is a tendency to be increasingly cau-
tious about making decisions to excavate.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, circumstances prevailed in
North America that piqued the curiosity of a few individuals about the
continent's early inhabitants. Two of the most important of these were: (i)
extensive land-clearing activities in the East that continually exposed large
quantities of antiquities, and (2) the remains of ancestral structures in areas
where Native American groups still resided, particularly in the southwestern
states. In fact, Indian studies in the Southwest led to the birth of North Ameri-
can anthropology and archaeology. The information accumulated about ar-
chaeological sites and artifacts since at least 1850 furnishes the base upon which
regional and temporal prehistories are recognized today. Many archaeologi-
cal sites are still found by landowners with added input now from state and
federal compliance requirements, developers, divers, avocational archaeolo-
gists, and problem-oriented investigations. Natural disasters such as earth-
quakes and floods sometimes expose archaeological sites also. Whether or not
a site is excavated by a professional archaeologist depends upon a number of
factors that I will detail in this chapter.


Archaeological sites can be placed into three major categories: habitation,
special use, and shipwreck sites. Habitation sites include permanent villages
or seasonally occupied camps. Special use sites include cemeteries, ceremo-
nial areas, caches, quarries, and more. Shipwrecks, though not as common as
habitation and special use sites, are important because they represent a slice of
time and an assemblage of materials entombed in death as they were related
in life: Pompeii-like conditions.
Traditionally, special use sites, particularly human burial or ceremonial ar-
eas, have been studied the most extensively because the largest quantity of
unbroken ornate and artistic grave goods or ritual objects are recovered there.
Even with today's research-oriented approach and the claim that artifacts have
no intrinsic value, a disproportionate amount of grant funds is allocated to
excavate these types of sites. Habitation sites generally yield a greater variety
of materials pertaining to everyday activities than do special use sites, but the
materials are usually broken and/or lack decoration. Investigations of ship-
wrecks and other types of underwater sites have increased since scuba tech-
nology was developed and improved and various types of submersibles have
become available. Shipwrecks in Florida, of course, postdate the Columbus


Most archaeologists today are interested in how people dispersed themselves
across the landscape. Therefore, sites are seldom excavated until a regional
survey is conducted to assess the overall environmental situation and the land
use and settlement patterns of aboriginal inhabitants within a region's eco-
logical zones. It is a logical first step to learn the number, location, and nature
of archaeological remains in the area of interest. Preliminary reconnaissance
activities are usually carried out prior to a detailed field survey. These activities
include an examination of archival materials, site files, photographs, and maps
to determine if sites have been recorded in the area already. Aerial photo-
graphs can often pinpoint archaeological sites that can be subsequently lo-
cated on the ground. Local historians and collectors should be consulted, for
they are a major source of information that is often neglected. Permission to
cross private lands should be obtained and a code of ethics observed, such as
closing gates, etc. It goes without saying that money, time, personnel, and
equipment must be available before a survey is undertaken.


The importance of the archaeological survey should not be underestimated
because it may not be followed by excavations. It is a noninvasive, nonde-
structive means to assess past human activities in an area that may be de-
stroyed by planned development. Or, in the case of a project with a specific
research objective, it may reveal the most advantageous spot to excavate in
order to test an investigator's hypotheses. The goal of a surface survey is to
produce a reliable prediction about what is under the ground. It is only going
to be as good as the methods employed and the people employing them.
Once the area and research design have been defined, mapping, remote sens-
ing, and sampling strategies are the keys to a successful archaeological survey.

As with most things these days, maps have become more complex and di-
verse. Road and topographic maps are probably still the most used and most
important. A road map, or a portion thereof, gives the general area where a
survey will be conducted, including the state and county (or counties) in-
volved. Quadrangle maps published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS),
obtainable from some bookstores, give Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM)
coordinates, township (T), range (R), section (Sec.) numbers, and elevations
above sea level (topographic relief) within a given area. Quadrangles cover 7.5
minutes of latitude and longitude at a scale of 1:24,000 (I inch:2000 feet;
measurements are now usually converted to the metric system).
On the Index to Topographic Maps of Florida it can be seen that the state
is divided into more than 1,000 quadrangles. Alachua County is composed of
25 whole or partial quadrangles, and each quadrangle has a name, such as
Newberry, Gainesville West, Gainesville East, Orange Heights, Archer, etc.
(fig. 2.1). Townships are generally divided into 36 one-square-mile sections,
although they are sometimes complicated by Florida land grants. The Uni-
versity of Florida, for example, is located within several sections of the
Gainesville East Quadrangle, TioS, R2oE, Sec. 6 (primarily) at approximately
29039'30" north latitude and 82020'30" west longitude, given in degrees (0),
minutes ('), and seconds (") (fig. 2.2).
To be more precise in describing a location, a section can be divided and
designated in the following manner: NW of the SW of Section 6 (fig. 2.3).
Zones 16 and 17 are the particular east-west segments of UTM coordinates
assigned to Florida counties. The eating coordinate is a six-digit number
measured in meters eastward from the zone origin. The University of Florida
at Gainesville is in Zone 17 with an eating value of approximately 370000E.


2.1. Index to
maps of Florida,
showing some of
the Alachua


2.2. Gainesville East Quadrangle map, showing the location of the University of Florida.





































2.3. Section 6 of a township, showing
how a section can be subdivided.

The nothing coordinate is a seven-digit number recording the distance north
of the equator in meters. The nothing value for the University of Florida is
approximately 328oooo0000N.
Contour mapping and methods to fix the exact geographic position of a
specific spot on a map are discussed below in the excavation section. Many
other kinds of maps are used as needed to carry out archaeological projects:
navigational maps; real estate plat maps; soils maps; maps showing physi-
ographic, geologic, and hydrologic features; Landsat images, etc.

Remote Sensing

Aerial photography, various magnetic prospecting methods, and side-scan
sonar are some of the remote sensing techniques that are being used increas-
ingly in some areas to assist in the discovery of archaeological sites without
destroying them in the process. Several of these methods have been used in
Florida to conduct archaeological surveys in the Everglades and Big Cypress
and at Spanish mission sites, as well as to locate shipwrecks. Remote sensing
is most beneficial in places where archaeologists hope to find structures, bur-
ied irrigation systems, extensive agricultural lands, shipwrecks, and other
objects or edifices that may now lie below the ground or underwater. These
techniques are often very expensive, they are not always reliable, and they
usually furnish only a general picture of what might be present. Nearly all
remote sensing techniques must be followed up with some kind of additional
testing (ground truth) to provide more detailed information. Nevertheless,
there are occasions when these methods are extremely useful and they may be
the only investigation that is conducted.
Archaeology has benefited from aviation and aerial photography since World
War I, with contributions from such famous persons as Charles Lindbergh.
Technological advances made during World War II and space explorations
have also been utilized by archaeologists. Sites that have left almost no sur-
face trace on the ground have been found on aerial photographs. From the
air, one can look down and view the earth as a whole in ways that are not
possible by any other means. The Landsat series, or NASA Earth Resources
Technology Satellite (ERTS-I), map of Florida has a scale of 1:500,000ooo ( cm
equals 5 km or about 3+ miles). The false color imagery of this map shows
cleared areas as white or light gray, vegetation as shades of red, urban areas as
blue-gray, and open water in shades of blue. Because of the nature of archaeo-
logical remains in Florida and because vegetation grows so rapidly, aerial pho-


tography, especially the small scale of the Landsat series, may not be as appli-
cable here as elsewhere.
Geophysical remote sensing devices involve either passing energy of vari-
ous kinds through the soil in order to "read" what lies below the surface from
the anomalies encountered by the energy or measuring the intensity of the
earth's magnetic field. Echo sounding or seismic methods can be simple, such
as dowsing, in which the ground is struck with a heavy object and the experi-
enced ear detects resonant differences indicating buried objects. Many other
sonic, radio wave (ground-penetrating radar), and electrical impulse techniques
have been utilized depending upon availability and applicability. The discov-
ery of underwater sites, particularly shipwrecks, has increased greatly in the
last few years through the use of the proton magnetometer, side-scan sonar,
and the sub-bottom profiler, which have been valuable in detecting and map-
ping objects and features on and below the seafloor.
Electrical resistivity is a technique based on the principle that the damper
the soil the more easily it will conduct electricity (low resistivity). If, for ex-
ample, a stone wall is encountered, the instrument will measure higher resis-
Buried features containing even minute amounts of iron produce slight
but measurable distortions in the earth's magnetic field. The proton magne-
tometer is the instrument most commonly used to locate buried hearths, pot-
tery kilns, iron objects, pits, and ditches by magnetic detection. The principle
is simple. Grains of iron oxide in clay, randomly oriented if unfired, will line
up and become permanently fixed when heated to about 700oC (I292F) or
more. This phenomenon has also been used as a dating method (see chapter
4). Anomalies caused by pits or ditches occur because the magnetic suscepti-
bility of their contents is greater than that of the surrounding subsoil.
Metal detectors are electromagnetic devices helpful in detecting metals and
other buried remains. They also are used by nonarchaeologists to find and
plunder sites.
In summary, nondestructive remote sensing methods have been used to
locate buried sites and features, to determine the geographic extent of sites,
and to produce contour maps. Most of these techniques are expensive and
require the services of trained personnel to operate and interpret them.


We are still left with the questions of where sites exist that hold the greatest
potential for furnishing the most significant information about the past, which
sites are the least disturbed, which sites are in the greatest danger of being
disturbed, and at which sites the landowners are receptive to excavation. In
the case of problem-oriented research, we wish to learn which site or sites will
answer the questions being addressed about a specific culture, a specific cul-
tural activity, a specific time period, or a general investigation of habitation in
the area throughout all time periods. Excavations should not be conducted
before there is abundant and exact information.
Archaeologists have always used sampling techniques prior to actual exca-
vations, but in the past their methods tended to be nonprobabilistic. Field-
work concentrated on conspicuous sites (e.g., Mayan pyramids) or conve-
niently located sites (e.g., next to roads) and/or depended on the intuition or
experience of the archaeologist. This type of sampling is fine for many specific
tasks if it is truly representative of the data universe, but usually it is not. For
instance, generations of archaeologists studying Mayan culture excavated large
temple structures and ignored investigations that would provide insights about
how the peasants lived. Closer to home, generations of archaeologists in
Florida studied Ceramic period cultures, while six to eight thousand years of
Paleoindian and Archaic activities were virtually neglected. In order to judge
in any quantitative manner how representative the sample is of a site or re-
gion (the data universe), some form of statistical or probabilistic sampling
needs to be used. This type of approach allows researchers to project the total
number and size of sites. Use of probabilistic sampling techniques has reached
new heights in the last 20 years of the twentieth century because of the neces-
sity to do the best job possible with the limited time and money allotted for
emergency salvage or cultural resource management (CRM) projects con-
ducted prior to modifications resulting from development (see chapter 6).
Sampling strategies look good on paper but in reality are often difficult to
apply in the field because of impassable terrain, hostile landowners, politics,
etc. For a clear discussion and definitions of terminology associated with sta-
tistical sampling, see Fagan (1991:198-203). Once the universe is defined and
a grid of square sampling units is imposed over it (see excavation section
below), archaeologists generally use one of three basic sampling types:
Simple random sampling, like drawing cards from a hat, randomly selects for
sampling a certain number of units in the grid frame (a table of random num-


bers is usually used). All samples are treated as equal without taking into ac-
count variables such as topography. This method is useful if no previous ar-
chaeological work has been conducted in the area.
Systematic sampling, in which one unit is selected and then others are cho-
sen at equal intervals from the first one; for example, every fifth square on a
grid of equal-sized squares.
Stratified sampling is probably the most useful method when sample units
are not uniform, such as different environmental settings. This type of sam-
pling permits intensive examination of some parts of the grid frame and less
detailed work on other areas where, for example, experience has shown that
investigations will not be productive. Sampling strategies are important for
predicting where sites will not be found as well as where they will be found. It
is logical to expect that people utilized areas where resources needed for sur-
vival were located, such as food, water, and raw materials.
Most archaeologists do not have the training to interpret the findings of
most remote sensing techniques, to draw sophisticated detailed and scaled
maps, or to conduct statistical analyses. Many archaeological projects today
include the services and skills of cartographers and statisticians as well as other
Despite the real and hypothetical data derived from written documents,
maps, remote sensing, and grandiose sampling techniques, archaeologists must
verify the evidence by physically walking and conducting surface and often
subsurface inspections and/or collections of artifacts. This is done to deter-
mine the significance of a site or area in providing new information about the
past or to delineate major cultural remains that will be impacted by impend-
ing development. Surface collections made within sampling units enable the
archaeologist to plot densities of artifacts and features and to assess the antiq-
uity of occupation. There is always the question of how reliable surface collec-
tions are in predicting what is under the ground. Old sites or multicompo-
nent sites might not be recognized at all. In order to determine the relation-
ship between surface and subsurface deposits, it is often necessary to probe,
auger, core, shovel, or dig test pits. All information derived from the field
survey should be recorded and mapped precisely on survey forms. The infor-
mation may be used to determine where subsequent excavations will take
place, or it may substitute for excavation if further fieldwork is not recom-
Survey data forms must be devised that furnish accurate information about
the location of sites (state, county, quadrangle map, township, range, sec-


tion), ownership, purpose of the survey, physiographic situation (vegetation,
soil, contour elevation), what sites are already recorded, history of past activ-
ity at sites, previous designations and publications if any, present condition of
sites, site limits (horizontal and vertical if sites are tested), sketch map, pho-
tos, aboriginal features or artifacts observed, comments and/or recommenda-
tions, date of survey, and name of recorder. A Survey Log Sheet is illustrated
in chapter 6.


Archaeological field manuals are valuable in furnishing general ideas about
how to excavate systematically, but there are many kinds of sites in the world
and every site is unique. "So varied are the skills of the excavator that much of
a professional archaeologist's training in the field is obtained as a graduate
student working at routine tasks and gaining experience in the methods of
excavating and site survey under experienced supervision" (Fagan 1991:216).

2.4. Air photo of the Groves Orange Midden site, Lake Monroe, Volusia County, Florida (summer
1993), showing an example of how archaeologists overcome adverse conditions in order to
excavate significant cultural remains. In this case, two locations in the lake were cofferdammed
and a well point system installed to keep the lake water out of the units while excavations
proceeded systematically. Individuals are working 2 meters below the lake bed. Thousands of
water-saturated organic specimens, which usually do not survive, furnished important informa-
tion about diet and environment in this area of Florida 6,000 years ago.


Archaeological fieldwork should not be carried out unless an individual has
first had an opportunity to work with a qualified archaeologist. A surveying
course in civil engineering is recommended also. The fieldworker should know
enough to be properly prepared, but even the most well-informed fieldworkers
should proceed as if they are ignorant of what will be encountered. Impor-
tant observations might be missed if a previous knowledge of what lies be-
neath the ground is assumed. In addition, archaeologists should be able to
adapt excavation techniques to the field situation (fig. 2.4).
Countless descriptions of field methods exist in the literature. The most
important advice is: DO IT RIGHT! Since sites are recorded precisely, they
could conceivably be plotted on a map of the world and, unless obliterated by
natural or cultural events, be found again anytime in the future. For example,
several years ago a graduate student was preparing to conduct new investiga-
tions at a site dug in the 1940s by Dr. Charles H. Fairbanks. Taking Fairbanks's
field notes and sketches, the student was able to locate the exact corners of
one of his old excavation units. Regrettably, many people believe that the sole
requirements for archaeological fieldwork are
picks and shovels, strong backs, and a place to dig. Unfortunately this over-
simplification is difficult to refute because at first blush fieldwork doesn't seem
to require much beyond interest and leisure time. But fieldwork ... is of ut-
most and crucial importance because it is here that the control of the informa-
tion begins and ends.... It is correct, however, to think of fieldwork as a series
of techniques and procedures that are neither difficult nor profound. It is the
invisible background of guiding concepts, assumptions, and scientific principles
that the observer and recorder possesses as professional intellectual equipment
that marks the difference between the archaeologist and the antiquarian or mere
collector. (Jennings 1989:29)

The site or sites that promise to offer the most information are the ones
that should be selected for excavation. The reasons for excavating should be
based on the significance of the archaeological remains with regard to (I)
local, national, or international importance; (2) quantity, quality, or unique-
ness; (3) threat of destruction; and (4) public interest. In other words, priori-
ties should be established. The preliminary survey and sampling procedures
should have furnished an estimation of what percentage of a site should be
excavated in order to obtain a representative sample of the universe. There are
occasions when total excavation of a site is recommended, but selective exca-
vation is usually practiced because (i) most sites are too large to consider total


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