Table of Contents
 Table of Contents
 Artistry, Status and Power: How...
 Connections Across the Southern...
 Surface Hydrology and an Illusory...
 The Effects of Continuous Erosional...
 Book Reviews
 Back Cover

Group Title: Florida anthropologist
Title: The Florida anthropologist
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00027829/00101
 Material Information
Title: The Florida anthropologist
Abbreviated Title: Fla. anthropol.
Physical Description: v. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Florida Anthropological Society
Conference on Historic Site Archaeology
Publisher: Florida Anthropological Society.
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Frequency: quarterly[]
two no. a year[ former 1948-]
Subject: Indians of North America -- Antiquities -- Periodicals -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Antiquities -- Periodicals -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Summary: Contains papers of the Annual Conference on Historic Site Archeology.
Dates or Sequential Designation: v. 1- May 1948-
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Bibliographic ID: UF00027829
Volume ID: VID00101
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: oclc - 01569447
lccn - 56028409
issn - 0015-3893

Table of Contents
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
    Table of Contents
        Editor's Page
    Artistry, Status and Power: How "Plummet" Pendants Probably Functioned in Pre-Columbian Florida -- and Beyond
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
    Connections Across the Southern Frontier: Spanish Artifacts from Creek Contexts at the Tarver Sites (9Jo6 and 9Jo198)
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
    Surface Hydrology and an Illusory Canal in Cape Coral, Florida
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
    The Effects of Continuous Erosional Processes and Storm Damage on Coastal Site Integrity: Examples from Dixie County, Florida
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
    Book Reviews
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
    Back Cover
        Page 283
        Page 284
Full Text


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Volume 52 Number 4
December 1999


Editor's Page. Ryan J. Wheeler 226


Artistry, Status, and Power: How "Plummet"-Pendants probably Functioned
in Pre-Columbian Florida-and Beyond. John F. Reiger 227

Connections Across the Southern Frontier: Spanish Artifacts from Creek
Contexts at the Tarver Sites (9JO6 and (JO198). Thomas J. Pluckhahn and Chad O. Braley 241

Surface Hydrology and an llusory Canal in Cape Coral, Florida. George M. Luer 255

The Effects of Continuous Erosional Processes and Storm Damage on Coastal Site
Integrity: Examples from Dixie County, Florida. Steve J. Dasovich 267


Lewis and Stout (Editors): Mississippian Towns and Sacred Places: Searchingfor an
Architectural Grammar. Adam King 277
Milanich: Laboring in the Fields of the Lord: Spanish Missions and
Southeastern Indians. Kenneth W. Johnson 278
Bense (Editor): The Archaeology of Colonial Pensacola. Bruce J. Piatek 279
Swanton: Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors; Willey: Archeology
of the Florida Gulf Coast; Goggin: Space and Time Perspective in Northern
St. Johns Archeology. Vicki Rolland 280

About the Authors 282

Cover: Effigy pendants from Jones Mound, Hillsborough County, Florida. This photograph was
taken by Herman Gunter of the Florida Geological Survey in 1937, shortly after these artifacts were
excavated. The exotic stone plummets from this mound were found associated with human burials.
The excavation was directed by J. Clarence Simpson as part of a Works Progress
Administration program, and is reported on by Ripley Bullen in Eleven Archaeological Sites in
Hillsborough County, Florida, Florida Geological Survey, Report of Investigations No. 8, 1952.
Courtesy Florida State Archives.

Copyright 1999 by the
ISSN 0015-3893


It is with great pleasure that I present this, my first issue of
The Florida Anthropologist. Bob Austin served as editor
since 1995, producing Volume 48, No. 4 through Volume
52, No. 3. He deserves a hearty congratulations and thank
you for maintaining and improving the quality of our
society's journal. I volunteered for the job and began
working on this issue several months ago. For the most part
the format introduced by Brent Weisman and improved by
Bob Austin will be continued, with a few changes. Most
notably is a change in cover design. Many people have
suggested that we return to the issue-specific cover art that
aids in distinguishing each issue. I found this issue's cover
in the Florida State Archives, which is now the repository for
many early photographs from the Florida Geological Survey.
The articles in this issue are an eclectic mixture and should
satisfy the varied interests of our readers. In the lead article
John Reiger revisits one of his favorite subjects-plummets.
In 1990 John published an article in The Florida Anthropolo-
gist that argued that most plummets found in Florida are
actually pendants, and not fishing sinkers as some researchers
have suggested. In his current article he expands on some
interesting aspects of plummets that he introduced in 1990,
most notably that plummets may have served as
"charmstones," used in divination. The debate on the
function of plummets will probably continue, and there is
still plenty of room for research on this subject.
Florida readers will find the second article, by Thomas
Pluckhahn and Chad Braley, interesting, since it deals with
Spanish artifacts excavated at the Tarver sites in Georgia.
Punta Rassa Tear-Drop pendants and Florida Cut Crystal
beads are more typically found in late seventeenth century
Spanish missions in northern Florida and terminal Glades
complex sites in southern Florida. The Tarver site material
certainly provides some interesting contexts for these
materials, and will certainly inform future work in Florida.
George Luer, in our third article, revisits the question of an
aboriginal canoe canal at Cape Coral-originally presented in
his 1989 article on canals in southern Florida. George has
further investigated aerial photographs, historical sources,
and hydrologic data and concluded that the feature thought to
be the Cape Coral canal is actually a remnant of a logging
The final article, by Steve Dasovich, addresses the topic of
erosion and site formation and destruction on the Florida
Gulf Coast. Steve presents case studies of Bird Island and
Coon Island in Dixie County-both sites, along with many
others, were impact by the infamous 1993 "Storm of the

Century." As Steve notes, these major storm events remove
stabilizing vegetation from coastal sites, and begin the
process of erosion, which is compounded by boat traffic and
tides. Anyone who has visited sites along the Gulf Coast,
especially in Levy and Dixie counties, must be struck by the
devastating loss of valuable cultural resources.
Like our eclectic mix of articles, we have a wide range of
book reviews, including Vicki Rolland's review of the
University Press of Florida reprints of John Goggin's,
Gordon Willey's, and John Swanton's valuable monographs
on Florida archaeology and Southeastern Indians, as well as
reviews by Ken Johnson, Adam King, and Bruce Piatek.



VOL. 52(4)




History Department, Ohio University-Chillicothe, 571 West Fifth Street, P.O. Box 629,Chillicothe, Ohio 45601-0629
E-mail: reiger@oak.cats.ohiou.edu

For over one hundred years, archaeologists have been
puzzled by the "plummet," so-called because its use was
unknown, and because it had a superficial resemblance to what
Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language
defines as "a lead weight...hung at the end of a line...used to
determine how deep water is or whether a wall, etc. is verti-
cal." In 1990 in The Florida Anthropologist, I published
"'Plummet'-- An Analysis of a Mysterious Florida Artifact."
In that article, I presented evidence supporting the thesis that
plummets functioned in precontact Florida mainly as pendants,
conveying beauty and status, and not as fishing sinkers or
elements of composite fishhooks (Reiger 1990).
At the end of my analysis, I pondered the question of
whether these pendants could have had additional uses; one
such possibility might be their function as "charmstones," as
first suggested by Clarence Moore in 1907 (Moore 1907:459).
My essay ended at that point, however, with the charmstone
hypothesis left untested. The purpose of the present article is
to present the results of my subsequent research into the
charmstone hypothesis, as well as additional findings regard-
ing the other functions for plummets that have been proposed
by students of archaeology.


Before continuing this discussion, we should ask: What do
we positively know about plummets? For one thing, we know
that they were made of every conceivable material-- from the
hardest metamorphic or igneous rock to the softest oolitic
limestone, from shell and copper to earthenware and pumice
(Moore 1903; 1905:Figure 21; Goggin 1944:29). The use of
the latter two materials for plummets is another example of
how dubious the fishing-weight argument is, for a ceramic
sinker would probably have broken up soon after it was
employed, and pumice floats, making it worthless as a weight.
Regardless of the material from which the plummet was
fashioned, its shape remained consistently the same from the
Archaic, when they seem to have first appeared, right up to
European contact (Goggin 1954:27). What gives plummets
their distinctive appearance more than anything else is the
"knob" or "head" that most possess, formed by a groove
around the narrowest end. Some plummets are more elon-
gated than others, and some have an expanded center, while
many have a flattened "back." Sometimes both the "back" and
the "front" are flattened (Reiger 1990:230). But regardless of

individual differences, most have the characteristic "plummet"
shape and are immediately categorized as that type of artifact
(Figures 1 and 2).
We also know that at least some pre-Columbian Florida
plummets functioned as pendants, and apparently status
markers. Of the approximately 150 adult men and women
buried in the Jones Mound near Tampa Bay, twenty were
supplied with plummet-pendants, both of stone and shell.
Some were beautifully made, while others were simple, even
crude. In all cases, "pendants were located at necks or chests
and so, presumably, were suspended from the neck in life"
(Bullen 1952:49, Figures 15-18).
Among the nicest specimens, as Ripley P. Bullen pointed
out, "there is a wide range in bird and animal representations,"
which "is ... true of plummets as a class ... It seems they must
have had some function other than pure ornamentation"
(Bullen 1972:92).
He speculated that "perhaps they are clan or status sym-
bols," and "everyone [in the elite] wore the simpler forms on
dress occasions while the more complicated ones designated
the wearer's rank in whatever societal event was occurring."
According to this logic, "the beautifully made bird-and deer-
head plummets ... must have indicated very important posi-
tions in the societal or ceremonial hierarchy" and "were
[possibly] worn by medicine men in certain ceremonies when
the wearer represented an animalistic deity" (Bullen 1972:92).
Plummets associated with burials indicating their apparent
function as pendants were also found at the famous Crystal
River site in Florida. Clarence Moore's early work there
uncovered numerous shell, copper, and stone plummets,
including some made of quartz crystal. The two that Moore
illustrated in "Certain Aboriginal Mounds of the Florida
Central West-Coast" are painstakingly crafted, grooved for
suspension, and made in the classic plummet form. They were
found with two others "about 5 feet down, in the southern side
of the mound, near a skull belonging to a bunched burial"
(Moore 1903:Figure 46, 400).
While it is probable that these quartz-crystal plummet-
pendants were worn by the deceased in life-- from the neck or
ears-- we can be certain about another burial Moore found at
Crystal River. "On the base of the mound, in the southern
slope," he reported, "was the skeleton of an adult, lying full
length on [the] back. Extending across the pelvis, sagging
down somewhat, was a row of [39] pendants of stone, ... [and]
three of copper...." (Moore 1903:399). He concluded that


VOL. 52(4)




Figure 1. Five lithic (top) and four shell plummets (bottom) surface-collected by author on sites in the process of being
destroyed. All artifacts are from southern Florida, mainly Gulf Coast; biggest plummet (upper left) is 7.7 cm long and 3
cm wide. Three of the lithic specimens show obvious flattening on at least one side; the smallest of these seems never to
have had a groove or any other means of attachment. The smallest shell plummet (lower left) is the only one not made
from a columella; it was fashioned from the shoulder of a queen conch (Strombus gigas). All of these artifacts have been
donated to the Museum of the Historical Association of Southern Florida in Miami.

"seemingly, all these pendants had hung from the waist in the
manner shown by [Jacques] Le Moyne on aborigines of the St.
Johns River, Florida," as illustrated in my earlier article on
plummets (Reiger 1990:Figures 5, 6).
In addition to the peninsula of Florida, plummets have
turned up across much of the eastern half of the United States,
though there are regions, like New England and the Missis-
sippi Valley, where they occur more commonly than else-
where. Regardless of where they are found, these artifacts
were made by native peoples who lived in a world of naturalis-
tic metaphor (Hamell 1983, 1987; Miller and Hamell 1986).
Every object in that world possessed some level of what the
Algonquian-speaking cultures of North America called
Manitou, or Power, "the essential ingredient in... [the] relation-
ship between man...and all of Nature." It could be defined as
"the spiritual potency [my emphasis] associated with an object
(such as a knife) or a phenomenon (such as thunder)...Manitou
was the force which made everything in Nature alive and
responsive to man." Native American "ritual thus becomes the

means of harnessing, or conducting, Power" (Martin 1978:34-

California "Charmstones"

If the precontact peoples of Florida had a similar "world
view," they may have conceived of plummets as possessing the
potency, or Manitou, to bring good fortune or protection to
their owners. This is how they apparently functioned in the
Western Archaic traditions of California. One example of
many is the Windmiller culture of the Sacramento Valley,
which began developing sometime before 2500 B.C. Most of
what is known about these ancient people comes from their
graveyards, and "easily the most conspicuous artifacts" placed
with high-ranking burials were "polished charmstones or [my
emphasis] plummets, including phallic forms" (Baerreis
1980:357; Wallace 1978:32).
Like the plummets of the eastern United States, "the stones
[from California] must have been carefully guarded against


1999 VOL. 52(4)


damage, for they usually exhibit no battering, chipping, or
signs of wear" (Wallace 1978:33). Of the Florida plummets I
have examined that were broken, all seemed to have incurred
their damage from a single incident, like being dropped on a

Figure 2. Two fairly "typical" plummets from the Midwest, one
network that by Hopewellian times reached Florida's lower Gul
south and Yellowstone National Park in the west. Both were sui
southern Ohio and are from a private collection. The lighter spi
fashioned from rhyolite and has an oxidized iron stain; the dark
(right) was created from basalt. Both minerals are of volcanic o
probably not local to southern Ohio. The basalt artifact has obv
both of its larger sides; the rhyolite plummet has a "head" or "k
phallic. Neither artifact has a groove deep enough to have held
subjected to rough usage like that required of a "sinker" or net

hard surface. The break occurred usually at the tapered
"bottom" of a plummet or at the groove, its weakest point.
The extant part of individual plummets show none of the
damage over most of the surface (other than some weathering)
;, that one would expect to see if they
had been used in a utilitarian capacity,
such as a net weight.
While the function of plummets in
the eastern United States is debated,
the purpose of the California
"charmstones" has long been known,
and is backed up with both archaeo-
logical data and early ethnohistorical
sources. Besides their association in a
sacred context with high-ranking
burials, and the sometimes phallic
shape (Figure 3), "tending to confirm
the fetish or hunting medicine interpre-
tation" (Brennan 1975:113), there is
also some key oral history that has
been preserved.
One nineteenth-century researcher,
W. H. Henshaw,
received accounts of how these arti-
facts functioned directly from the
California Indians themselves. As he
reported, "the moment the stones were
shown to these [Santa Barbara] In-
dians, and without leading questions
from me, I was told that they were
'medicine or sorcery stones' used by
the medicine-men in making rain, in
curing the sick, and in various ceremo-
nies." Later, other coastal California
Indians gave Henshaw "substantially
the same account" (Henshaw
1885:110). When it came to rain
making, both descriptions included
the "sorcerer" arranging a number of
charmstones, some of them seemingly
phallic in form (Henshaw 1885:Plate
IV), into a circle and then thrusting
the stones together "violently" while
sprinkling water over them. When
water touched the stones, "smoke
issued from them." Henshaw failed to
explain why, but it might have been
end of a trade because they had been heated before-
f Coast in the hand.
rface-collected in "Similar ceremonies," he noted,
ecimen (left) was were "observed for curing the
er plummet sick,...putting out fires in the moun
rigin and are
ious flattening of
nob" that seems
a line securely if




Figure 3. California phallic "charmstones." From Charles Mile
(1963), reproduced with permission of the publisher.
trains, calling fish up... streams, when war was to be made, etc."
The Indians showed him "several other stones of various
shapes.. .to all [of which] mysterious properties were assigned."
But of all of them, "the pear-shaped 'sinker' variety was
considered the most effective in sorcery" (Henshaw 1885:111).
Henshaw could not help using the standardized "sinker" label,
even when being told that the classic "plummet"-shaped stones
he was analyzing had nothing to do with fishing, at least in the
conventional sense of the term.
Another early student of California charmstones who
interviewed Indians directly was L. G. Yates. He discovered
that the Napa Indians carried them in a "medicine bag" and
"hung [them] over creeks to entice fish, and [used them] in
hunting. They were also put in front of canoes." Other
California Indians wore them for defense in battle, believing
that they had the power to make one impervious, even invisible
(Peabody 1901:139).
But of all of them, "the pear-shaped 'sinker' variety was
considered the most effective in sorcery" (Henshaw 1885: 111).

he was analyzing had nothing to do with fishing, at least in the

Another early student of California charmstones who
interviewed Indians directly was L. G. Yates. He discovered
that the Napa Indians carried them in a "medicine bag" and
"hung [them] over creeks to entice fish, and [used them] in
hunting. They were also put in front of canoes." Other
California Indians wore them for defense in battle, believing
that they had the power to make one impervious, even invisible

_ ._...._ _1___~_~

Ironically, because of their great power, "charmstones
could not be brought into the dwelling but had to be
wrapped in grass or hide and buried or hidden at a
distance from the dwellings. When the owner desired
luck he went secretly to their hiding place, blew smoke
on them, spat acorn meal over them, and prayed to
them for success" (Lapena 1978:332).
The genesis oflithic charms may partially lie in the
fact that minerals like flint give off sparks when they
are struck together. "Therefore, stones were believed
to contain potential or kinetic fire, the living element,
and were considered suitable and sacred material for
phalli...and all kinds of charms or 'lucky stones'"
(Berger 1966:30).
Given the well-grounded history of the function of
charmstones and their similarity in form to eastern
plummets, one can only wonder why students of
archaeology have made a distinction between the two
categories of artifacts. As one authority put it: "If one
of the California charmstones were found in the East,
it would probably be classified as a plummet.... But
there is no possible cultural relationship between these
pendants and the Eastern plummet" (Brennan
While there may be no direct cultural connection
between California charmstones and eastern plummets,
the similarity in appearance between the two artifact
types is sometimes striking (Figure 4). Furthermore,
I believe that one can make an analogy between them.
The hypothesis for the use of grooved plummets as
fishing weights is, of course, also based on analogy,
specifically, the comparison to modern plummet-
shaped fishing sinkers made of lead. This parallel has
been drawn despite the fact that plummets were
created of every conceivable material, including some
that seem too lightweight or fragile to have been a
suitable weight. In addition, lead sinkers have a hole
s near the top for a secure line attachment, while most
plummets only have a shallow grove, and some have
no groove at all.
In trying to understand how these objects functioned in
pre-Columbian Florida, we have to remember that plummets
may have had more than one purpose during their "use life."
Even though I believe that it is unlikely that the majority of
those without a hole for a secure line attachment functioned as
fishing weights, it is conceivable that some specimens may
have begun their "careers" in that fashion. A plummet that
started as a sinker may have been lost, then found and reused
by someone else, perhaps centuries later, as a pendant or
charmstone whose power came from the notion that it was a
"natural" object provided by the spirit world.
One early student of archaeology, H.C. Meredith, even
suggested that all California charmstones evolved from fishing
weights: "'Suppose they [perforated stones] were used as net-
sinkers, or line-sinkers, as there is reason to believe they were,
and remarkable catches of fish with that net or line would
make for the stones the reputation of being 'lucky'. Continued

1999 VOL. 52(4)



successes would transfer them to the
realm of veneration-they would
become 'charm'." Then, "'they
need no longer be fastened to net or
line. It would be enough to hang
them over the water or from the ca-
noe'" (Moorehead 1917:165, 167).
Another part of the analogy be-
tween California charmstones and
eastern plummets is the fact that
some specimens in both artifact
categories exhibit phallicism. While
most of the western charmstones are
not obviously phallic, some are (Fig-
ure 3). In the East, only a tiny frac-
tion of plummets are obviously phal-
lic, but they do occur (Figure 5;
Leslie 1973:135; Ritchie 1969:Plate
29, #18). Though probably inde-
pendently developed, charmstones
and plummets did, on occasion,
manifest clear phallic characteristics
that seem to support the idea that
these were objects with "po-
tency"-that they could bring about
fertility and good luck in activities
ranging from love to fishing and
This notion is reinforced by the
documented existence of phallicism
in the pre-Columbian South, with
"phallic representations" being dis-
covered at the famous sites of
Etowah in Georgia and Spiro in
Oklahoma, and among the later
Creek Indians. In fact, according to
one researcher, "in the eighteenth
century Muskhogean mind there
existed an association between the
sun, maize, and male genitalia"
(Williams 1977:38). And in south-
east Florida, at the mouth of the
Miami River, a bone artifact was
found at the Granada site that was Fgure 4. California
"carved and smoothed into the shape "plummets" of east
of a penis." Its description in the with permission oft
excavation report is accompanied by the statement: "So far as
we know, the Tequesta [who lived at the site] were not
agricultural, but they may nevertheless have used phallic
effigies as fertility symbols" (Griffin, et al. 1982:154). It is my
contention than many plummets were phallic, and therefore
"potent," to their Indian owners, but because they are not
obviously phallic in appearance, they have not been recognized
for what they are by modern researchers.


nonphallic "charmstones." Note similarity in form to
rn United States. From Charles Miles (1963), reproduced
he publisher.
Importance of Light-Reflecting Surfaces on Plummets

Despite the distinction made by scholars between
charmstones and plummets, we know that through time,
cultivated plants, trade objects, and religious ideas have
traveled over vast distances in North America. A possible
example of the last category is the central role played by lithics
that have a shiny or glassy surface in the rituals of widely
separated Indian peoples.
In one of the accounts given to Henshaw by the California
Indians, the rain-making ceremony included not only the circle




of charmstones, pushed together vigorously, but "a center
stone of a different character, ... a flattish, round, beach-worn
pebble ofquartzite [which has a glassy surface], unworked and
stained black with iron." It had, Henshaw was told, "peculiar
power in rain making" (Henshaw 1885:110).
On the other side of the continent, quartz had special
meaning for southeastern Indians. It was associated with the
"crystals" of Uktena, a Cherokee word for the great snakelike
being of the Underworld, with horns on its head and as wide
around as a tree trunk. While "inferior crystals," which
possessed only a little power, "could be had from the mere
scales of an Uktena," the crystal that every Indian male wanted
was the larger one, the Ulunsuti, that blazed like a diamond
from the Uktena's forehead. Shaped like a bullet (or phallus),
it had "'a blood-red streak running through the center from top
to bottom'" (Hudson 1976:167).
According to Cherokee oral tradition, many hunters had
tried to get the crystal from the monster as it lay hidden in
deep pools in a river, or lonely passes in the mountains, but all
except one had failed. The Ulunsuti's bright light had "'daz-
zled"' the hunters, allowing the creature to kill them. The one
successful hunter kept the crystal "'wrapped in a whole
deerskin, inside an earthen jar hidden away in a secret cave in
the mountains. Every seven days he [fed] ... it with the blood
of small game, rubbing blood all over the crystal as soon as the
animal has been killed'" (Hudson 1976:167).
No white man could look upon the Ulunsuti, and other
Indians were afraid of it as well, because they believed it had
power to kill them. Even the "'conjurer"' who owns it "'is
afraid of it, and changes its hiding place every once in a while
so that it cannot learn the way out'." When he dies, the crystal
must be buried with him or else it will roam the night for
years, "'like blazing star'" (Hudson 1976:166-168). Note the
similarity in the careful treatment of California charmstones
and southeastern quartz fetishes.
The Ulunsuti, then, possessed tremendous power, assuring
its owner "of success in hunting, love, rain-making, and every
other business." But for the Cherokee and most other south-
eastern Indians, the chief purpose of the crystal was in "'life
prophesy'." Indeed, the word Ulunsuti means "transparent" in
Cherokee. With it, "'the future is seen mirrored in the clear
crystal as a tree is reflected in the quiet stream below, and the
conjurer knows whether the sick man will recover, whether the
warrior will return from battle, or whether the youth will live
to be old'" (Hudson 1976:166-168).
The fact that quartz "crystals" in plummet form are found
in Florida burials together with "typical" plummets of shell
and stone (Moore 1903:Figures 43, 46, 47) tells us that these
objects were not "sinkers" for fishing, or, as some speculate in
the Midwest, net weights for wildfowl catching (Struever and
Holton 1979:8). Because of quartz's colorless, transparent
form, it became the scales of the Uktena or even the larger
Ulunsuti, at least in the hands of a shaman.
In addition to their association with Uktena, the powerful
snakelike beast with the glittering scales and forehead crystal,
minerals that reflect light had spiritual potency perhaps
because of their connection to the human eye. The sixteenth-

century Calusa of southwestern Florida told the Spanish that
they practiced human sacrifice when the chiefs son died or
when the chief, himself, or his queen died. "'The third
sacrifice is that each year they kill a Christian captive so that
they may feed their idol, which...eats...men's eyes'." Then,
while "adoring" the idol, the Indians danced with the captive's
head (Hann 1991:315-316). In the view of the Spanish clergy,
the Calusa had "'offended God very greatly, because the honor
that is due to Him alone, such as asking for health, long life,
victory against their enemies, an abundance of goods and
provisions, after all this being given to them by God, they ask
for it from their idols and give thanks to their idols for it'"
(Hann 1991:242).
The significance of the eye, and, therefore, things that
reflect light, to the Calusa is further demonstrated by what
they told the Spanish about their understanding of the "soul":
"'They say that each man has three souls. One is the little
pupil...of the eye; another is the shadow that each one casts;
and the last is the image of oneself that each one sees in a
mirror or in a calm pool of water.'" Upon dying, "'they say
that two of the souls leave the body'" but that "'the third
one,...the pupil of the eye, remains in the body always'" (Hann
Apparently, through the remaining soul, the pupil of the
eye, the living communicated with the dead "'to ask their
advice about the things that they have to do'." The Calusa
also believed that when a man became sick, it was because one
of his souls had left the body. The shamans would then go
into the woods looking for it, and on finding the soul, they
would bring it to the patient and coax it back into his head
through the nape of the neck, performing certain ceremonies
at the same time (Hann 1991:238).
By analogy, the rituals may have included plummets, as
they did among the California Indians and the Cherokee
(Kilpatrick and Kilpatrick 1967:113-114, 120). The second
culture used a suspended plummet, sacred because it "'comes
from the ground'," in order "to determine the course and
prognosis of an illness; to inquire into life expectancy; to learn
if one is being molested, or is about to be molested, by a witch;
to ascertain the whereabouts of a missing mate, strayed farm
animals, or lost or stolen possessions." The plummet was
"allowed to move freely in the air" or "barely immersed" in
water, the answer being given by the direction in which it
moved (Kilpatrick and Kilpatrick 1967:113-114).
If these plummets were so potent that they had to be hidden
away, or buried, some distance from the village, like the
California charmstone and Ulunsuti, this might explain why
Florida plummets are sometimes discovered in middens, and
not solely with burials. Of course, they are also found there
because middens are multiple-use sites, not simply garbage
dumps. Plummet-pendants could have broken off their string
and been lost, or eroded out of burials. Just because they come
from middens, as well as burials, does not mean that those
from the first context can be automatically designated as
utilitarian objects.
To the north, many of the plummets used in rituals were
probably of quartz, hematite ore, galena ore, or another

1999 VOL. 52(4)



Figure 5. Two phallic plummets from the eastern United States. The one on the left
has a flattened "knob" above the groove and was made from a "fine grained
greenish stone," 7.2 cm long and 1.4 cm at the base. Cylindrical in shape, it tapers
to a rounded, "lipstick-shaped tip" (Zimmerman 1992:88). From a middle Florida
site (8BR559) on the Atlantic Coast. Photograph supplied by Vera Zimmerman
and the Indian River Anthropological Society. The other, obviously phallic
plummet was made of dark sandstone and was found west of Syracuse, New York.
It is 11.5 cm long and 2.8 cm thick. Illustration from Beauchamp (1897).

mineral that reflects light, especially when polished. A Creek
hunter carried a quartz "crystal" and red ocher together in a
deerskin pouch, and when he applied the ocher to his face, it
"was believed both to enhance his eyesight and to attract
game." Red ocher "could also be used to attract members of
the opposite sex, but using it to excess was thought to cause

the user to go insane" (Hudson
This association of quartz crys-
tals and hematite, probably the most
common raw material for plummets
in the Midwest (Moorehead
1917:157), and the source of red
ocher, may be an important one for
understanding the function of plum-
mets. Charles Hudson hypothesizes
that the hand-and-eye design of
Mississippian times "represents a
crystal held in a man's hand, sym-
bolizing the ability to see into the
future" (Hudson 1976:169). And
one of the chief functions of plum-
mets, regardless of the material used
for manufacture, can be demon-
strated by the fact that an eye motif
was sometimes incised directly on
the plummet itself, like one made of
fossil bone or coral obtained by
Clarence Moore on Marco Island in
southwestern Florida (Moore
1907:Figures 11, 12). Other exam-
ples of the open-eye motif on plum-
mets come from sites culturally re-
lated to the famous Moundville Mis-
sissippian center in Alabama
(McAllister 1972:13-14, 58-59).
As we have seen, minerals that
reflect light, like quartz, had special
meaning for many Indian peoples:
"Light was life, light was mind,
light was knowledge, and light was
greatest being; and semantically
related concepts such as brightness,
transparency, visibleness, and white-
ness were also life, mind, knowl-
edge, and greatest being." There-
fore, all objects displaying these
qualities "were associated with the
cognitive and social aspects of life,
that is, the well-being, harmony, and
purposefulness of mind, knowledge,
and greatest being" (Miller and
Hamell 1986:324). Examples are
shell, and those minerals with a
crystalline, pearly, or metallic luster,
which made them revered for the
power they gave their owners to be

successful in every endeavor and to divine the future. These
included mica, obsidian, magnetite, hematite, galena, and
copper, and are the same minerals used for fashioning the
artifacts, including plummets, found with so many precontact
burials from the Midwest to the lower Gulf Coast.




Magnetite ore is particularly interesting, not only because
of its lustrous, black surface, but because it can occur in a
naturally magnetic state and become a "lodestone." With their
ability to "draw," lodestones were used for centuries in the Old
World to "pull" semen from a previously impotent man, a baby
from a seemingly barren woman, etc. "Doctors" advised their
patients, both male and female, to wear these stones-- which
were likened to testicles-- constantly for maximum potency
and protection (Culpeper 1671:5, 90, 97-98, 116-117, 126-
Pre-Columbian peoples might have used magnetic stones
for similar purposes, such as for drawing game to the hunter
and-- like the California Indians interviewed by H. W.
Henshaw who used a quartzite pebble for the same purpose--
drawing fish, like salmon, into rivers so that they could be
caught. It is important to note that perhaps the second most
commonly used mineral, after hematite, for making plummets
at the famous Koster site in Illinois was magnetite (Struever
and Holton 1979:8). Similarly, at Poverty Point in northwest-
ern Louisiana, which became "the largest and most complex
Late Archaic site in North America" (Brose, et al. 1985:27)
and whose earthworks predated the earliest mound-builders to
the north, the Adena, by as much as 600 years (O'Connor
1995:9), fully 80 percent of the recovered plummets were
made from nonlocal hematite, with most of the rest from
nonlocal magnetite (Webb 1968:312). Of the remaining
specimens, some were made of shiny, imported minerals like
galena and quartzite, while others were crafted of clay, hardly
the best material for a "sinker" or bolaa," as suggested by one
researcher (Bullen 1978:97).
While the majority of the plummets from this very influen-
tial culture have a hole for attachment, some of the Poverty
Point specimens have a groove and "knob" and, therefore, may
have been "prototypes for those...in the Gulf and Woodland
traditions of the southeast" (Bullen 1974:82). Significantly, a
number of the Poverty Point plummets have representations on
them, including "webbed feet," a "serpent," and "possible
human designs" (Webb 1968:313).
Why was hematite so important as a substance for the
making of plummets, even when it had to be imported from
long distances away? For one thing, hematite ore, like
magnetite ore, has a metallic luster that Indians would have
associated with divining. But more importantly, hematite is
the source of iron oxide, the sacred red ocher.
The most abundant ore of iron, hematite is the cause of
most of the red color in rocks. Though Indians produced red
ocherfrom the non-lustrous, earthy form of hematite, they also
made it by flaking off, or grinding down, hematite in the same
ore form used for plummets. For example, Hopewell burial
mounds in Ohio sometimes contained exfoliatedd" and
"ground" pieces of hematite as well as the red ocher powder
itself. Incidentally, some of these mounds also contained shiny
mica and native copper, "crystals" of quartz and galena, pink
and white quartzite pebbles, and marine shell from the Gulf
coast that document trading contacts with Florida (Hothem

Sprinkled on the dead as part of the burial ceremony of
precontact peoples in much of the eastern United States,
including Florida, red ocher seems to have been capable of
bringing "new life" to the deceased (Berger 1966:56; Salisbury
1982:17-18). At least part of this power to defeat death may
have derived from the fact "that ocher very effectively repels
vermin and prevents animal skins from decaying" (White
1986:18). That a mineral with sacred properties would be the
chosen raw material for plummets across huge portions of
what is now the United States is further evidence that these
artifacts were probably spiritually charged objects.
Plummets, then, seem to have been "pendants with power."
Probably all of them possessed a certain degree of potency-- to
protect their owner from harm, to insure success in some
endeavor like fishing and love, to "see" where to look for the
hunter lost on his way back to camp, and to divine the future.
Quartz-crystal plummets were probably the most potent of
all plummets, powerful enough for the Cherokee to view them
as "dangerous"-- "only persons trained from childhood could
handle them without harmful effects..." (Lewis and Kneberg
1958:177). Furthermore, as noted earlier, they had to be
hidden away or buried, with the hiding place frequently
changed to confuse the spirit and keep it subdued. And early
Catholic missionaries to the Apalachee Indians of northwest
Florida found that despite all their exhortations to the contrary,
high-ranking Indians continued to wear quartz-crystal plum-
mets and call on them for spiritual help. A number of these
artifacts were found in the archaeological excavation of the
"chiefs house" at the San Luis Mission near present-day
Tallahassee (Hann and McEwan 1998:80-81).
With what we now know about the symbolism of objects
with light-reflecting surfaces like shell and quartz, it is easy to
see the importance of the shell eyes in the wooden masks
(Gilliland 1989:Plate 18, "C") found at the famous Key Marco
site in southwestern Florida. These were probably representa-
tive of the soul and the entry point into the spirit world. In a
similar vein, we can now understand why in 1698 the Calusa
"Holy One" and his followers on Mound Key near present-day
Fort Myers Beach became enraged when Spanish priests
attempted to "pray" the rosary publicly (Hann 1991:186,191-
192). Going from bead to bead-- which were probably made
of glass, crystal, or stone-- the priests counted while saying
their prayers. As they did so, the Christians were acting in
direct competition with the shaman, who "consulted" his own
sacred stones with "polished...surfaces, in which a spirit or
soul was reflected" (Miller and Hamell 1986:316). Some of
these objects were possibly plummets, perhaps the same
"ornaments" mentioned by Father Juan Rogel in the 1560s that
"an important subordinate chief' and "witch doctor" had to
put on to gain admittance to the "house of idols" in order to
practice his "witchcraft and idol worship" (Lewis 1978:34).
As with all artifacts, the artistry exhibited in plummets
varied with the skill of the craftsman and the raw material
available. After examining numerous Florida plummets, all of
which he came to categorize as "pendants," Clarence Moore
explained the distinction between the finely made plummets of
exotic, hard minerals like hematite, and the cruder ones, often


1999 VOL. 52(4)


of limestone, made locally: "It is true, as we have said, that
many of the stone pendants of the keys [islands of southwest
Florida] are crude, but much of the stone of that locality is not
of a character conducive to good workmanship" (Moore
1907:459). Indeed, the shallow holes sometimes found in the
plainer limestone plummets (Figure 1) may have had special
significance, perhaps (as in California) as the entry hole for
the spirit that lives within the stone (Lapena 1978:331). In
any case, they were all still plummets in the end. It is errone-
ous to separate them into "pendants" and "sinkers" based on
material and modern notions of artistry, as one researcher has
done (Gilliland 1975:173-175, 224, 229).

Figure 6. Two views of "little man" plummet with flattened
back. From Illinois, it had "'streaks of black paint above
and below the eyes, [and] the black eye-balls and scalp-lock
... give it a hideous appearance which, perhaps, caused it to
be looked upon with reverential awe by its superstitious
aboriginal owner"' (Abbott 1881:235).

The Groove

In analyzing how plummets functioned, the researcher
invariably ends up focusing on the groove that most possess.
And the vast majority of the plummets the author has exam-
ined, as pointed out in my earlier article, have a groove that is
too shallow for a cord to have stayed tied on during rough
usage like that required of a net weight or a "sinker" in single
hook-and-line fishing (Reiger 1990:233-234). As any fisher-
man would know, the only secure attachment for an artifact as
small as the typical plummet would have been a hole and not
a groove, and except for those from Poverty Point, relatively
few of the plummets found in the eastern half of the United
States possess a hole. For net fishing, the flat, notched,
rectangular stone weights so common along the Delaware and
other rivers in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast (Brennan

1975:144), or its Florida equivalent in broken-out, notched,
clam segments (Gilliland 1975:Plate 117, "C"), would have
done the job much better. For single hook-and-line fishing in
Florida, the roughly torn-out columellae with a deeply recessed
area for a secure line attachment, like those found by Frank
Cushing at the famous Key Marco site in southwestern Florida
(Gilliland 1975:Plate 117, "E"), would have been far more
efficient than the smooth-surfaced, shallow-grooved, finished
columella plummets (Reiger 1990:232-234, 238).
An even more dubious notion, apparently widely held in
the Midwest (Struever and Holton 1979:8; James A. Brown,
personal communication, 1998), is that plummets were used
on cast nets for catching birds. As one who has hunted
wildfowl for over forty years, I cannot imagine any situation
where the kinds of easily visible nets the Indians would have
used would have caught birds efficiently.
The modern cast net is swung out over schools of bait fish
in shallow water, and falls to the bottom while the fish are
swimming to the surface to escape and are, thus, entangled in
the net. It is made of thin, limp, synthetic strings and is
weighted with horizontally tied-in tubular lead weights along
the bottom edge. The use of a cast net made of stiffer natural
fibers, with plummets of different sizes noisily banging into
each other and becoming entangled in the net as it was
thrown, seems extremely doubtful.
One kind of net that may have been used to catch birds was
the fixed net, underwater, that waterfowl could have become
entangled in when they dived for food. Old squaw ducks
(Clangula hyemalis) have been caught by the thousands in gill
nets set for fish in the Great Lakes at depths of up to 200 feet
(Pough 1951:104-105). In Florida, freshwater diving ducks
like lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) and ring-necked ducks
(Aythya collaris) might have been captured incidentally in
fixed nets set for fish, and it is even possible that Indians set
nets deliberately to catch these and other species. In any case,
it would have been just as unlikely for the Indians to have used
plummets on these nets as it would have been for the virtually
identical nets made to catch fish.
While the groove defining the "head" of a plummet is
usually too shallow for the cord to have stayed tied on during
rough usage like that required of a net weight, it is often deep
enough for "light usage" like that given to a pendant-charm.
And its owner could have worn it around his or her neck, as
the high-status burials in the Jones Mound near Tampa Bay
prove (Bullen 1952:49); from the waist, as Clarence Moore
discovered at Crystal River, Florida (Moore 1903:399-400);
possibly from the ear lobe (Milanich 1996:58-59; Peabody
1901:138); or, as will be shown shortly, from the forehead if
he or she possessed the power of a "headman."
I first pointed out in 1990 that many plummets have at
least one flat side, which I surmised was to keep them from
twisting on the string while worn on the chest (Reiger
1990:230). Another reason for this flatness may have been
because some of these objects were worn on the forehead as a
symbol of power.
Indians might have interpreted the plummet as a "little
man" because of its separated "head" and "body." While this




intention is usually only implied, it is sometimes spelled out
for us with the discovery of a literal "little man" plummet.
One example comes from Illinois, and as illustrated in Charles
Abbott's Primitive Industry (1881), this flat-backed artifact has
a well-executed, over-sized human head, with facial details,
above a plain body, the two parts of the plummet being
separated by a "neck groove" that runs only three-quarters of
the way around the object. Out of the plummet's head rises a
small, hatlike, or crownlike, knob for attaching a string
(Figure 6; Abbott 1881:234-235).

"The Form was the Thing"

The majority of plummets, regardless of their form and of
what they were made, were probably worn, like those of the
people who lived in the vicinity of the Jones Mound, around
the necks of their leaders (Bullen 1952:49, 61). And these
burials also suggest, once again, that it was the form, not the
level of workmanship, that was the key factor in the Indians'
conceptualization of these objects as spiritually charged
pendant-charms. Whether shell or stone, whether elaborately
carved from exotic "volcanic rock" or barely altered from a
local limestone pebble, they were all "plummets" because of
the addition of a groove and the resulting "head" (Bullen
1952:Figures 15-18).
The concept that the "form was the thing" is particularly
obvious at the well-known Fort Center site in the Lake
Okeechobee Basin of south Florida. The archaeologist who
has done the most work at this site, William Sears, concluded
that the plummets found at Fort Center were "without excep-
tion...made from stone and shell materials alien to the
Okeechobee Basin." The mineral types included granite,
crystalline quartz, granodiorite, gneiss, diorite, rhyolite-
granite, and quartz crystal. Because no debitage from the
making of the lithic plummets was found on site, they could
not have been utilitarian, every-day artifacts, like net weights
or "sinkers." The igneous rock source for the plummets came
from as far away as the Piedmont of Georgia and Alabama
(Sears 1982:84, 94-95).
Despite the varying distances over which they had traveled,
"there are similarities in form between the stone and shell
plummets." As examples, "the teardrop plummet and the
expanding-center plummet forms are represented in both shell
and stone," and overall, "the similarity of the stone and shell
plummets is remarkable" (Sears 1982:95).

Shell and Plummets

Many columella plummets found in Florida were made not
from Busycon whelk columella as some researchers have
claimed, but from the Pleuroploca gigantea, or horse conch
(George Luer, personal communication, 1994). This is a less
common, much larger, and more powerful gastropod than
Busycon. Up to sixty centimeters in height, about twice the
size of the largest Busycon, it and a similar species from
Australia are the largest univalves in the world. It feeds
mainly on other large gastropods like Busycon whelks, and is

so heavy that three or four of the empty shells were apparently
tied together by the Indians as a composite anchor suitable for
the shallow, grassy waters of southern Florida (Reiger 1981:7-
To pre-Columbian Indians, horse-conch shells would have
been literally "pregnant" with symbolism. For one thing, the
columella is longer, thicker, straighter, and more symmetrical
(George Luer, personal communication, 1994) than other
shells, and the aperture, or opening, is orange-red with an
animal inside that is brick-red, the color of ocher, symbol of
"new life."
From the earliest times, and for obvious reasons, shells
have had a worldwide association with females and fertility:
"'As the snail comes out of its shell, so man comes out of his
mother's womb'" (Safer and Gill 1981:155). Could it be that
the horse conch was preferred over other gastropods as the
source of plummets because its columella was the biggest,
straightest, and most symbolically "potent," and because the
red animal inside its large, red aperture suggested a human
baby, the result of a successful sexual union?
This idea may be further supported by the fact that its
columella was white, which connoted "success and happiness"
to the Cherokee (Underhill 1965:25), and presumably other
southeastern cultures including those in Florida, and because
its snakelike spiral was a motif associated with the Underworld
and fertility in the late, pre-Columbian Southeast (Dye and
Wharey 1989:322).
Though much less commonly used than the horse conch,
the queen conch (Strombus gigas), particularly the "lip," was
also employed to make "plummets" (George Luer, personal
communication, 1994). In Figure 1, the smallest shell
plummet was made from the shoulder of a queen conch, and
was found on a site in southwestern Florida, near the Gulf,
some distance from its natural habitat on the southeastern
There is enough evidence extant to suggest that shell
plummets played an important role in defining status, author-
ity, and power. For one thing, they appear interchangeably in
the archaeological record with those of stone and copper,
plummets of at least two of these materials sometimes being
found with the same burial. This was true at the Jones Mound,
where individuals of either sex were buried with both lithic
and shell plummets of similar design (Bullen 1952:51,53).
Also, in his description of the copper "plummets" found at
Crystal River on Florida's west coast, Clarence Moore ob-
served: "An especially noteworthy feature connected with these
pendants, which are of native copper, is that all are of the
same type as other pendants of stone and of shell found in this
[burial] mound, even the conventional bird form [badly
eroded, flat-backed, stone plummet in Figure 48 is possibly a
shoveler duck (Anas clypeata)] being represented" (Moore
1903:408, Figures 43, 48, 53). And we already have men-
tioned the striking resemblance in form of the plummets of
shell and stone found by Sears at Fort Center, some of them in
the charnel pond.
The idea of plummets being an offering to spirits of the
dead also seems to have been the purpose of the large deposit


1999 VOL. 52(4)


of copper and stone, but mainly shell, plummets found as part
of a "Burnt Offering" in the famous Seip Burial Mound, a
Hopewell-period site near Chillicothe in southern Ohio: "The
columellae of large sea-shells were utilized in making 40
plummet-like objects taken from the Burnt Offering." Among
them is a "plummet of sea-shell in effigy of the head [and bill]
of the duck" (Shetrone and Greenman 1931:440-443). The
species is hard to identify because the plummet was badly
damaged in the fire, but because of the size of the bill and
because a shoveler-duck effigy in black steatite was found with
another burial in the mound (Shetrone and Greenman
1931:424-425), it seems safe to conclude that the shell
plummet was probably a representation of that species.
Plummet-pendants created in the form of a shoveler-duck's
head and bill were also found with burials in the Jones Mound
(Bullen 1952:Figure 16) and, as already stated, possibly at
Crystal River as well. They may be further circumstantial
evidence that at least some plummets were spiritually charged
objects, for the shoveler duck is a classic example of the
"anomalous animal," a bird that "moves from what is viewed
as a normal habitat (the sky and trees) into an abnormal one
(lakes)" (Milanich 1994:187). Of all ducks, this species might
have seemed the most anomalous because of its odd, oversized
bill, and its habit of swimming with the bill held at an angle
in the water, as if communicating with the Underworld. It
should also be mentioned that the aboriginal "ceremonial
tablets" that have been found in Florida, one of which is the
model for the Florida Anthropological Society's emblem, may
also be a representation of a shoveler duck (Allerton, et al.
1984:Figure 3, 22).
The practice of making offerings to the elite individuals
buried in the Seip Mound has parallels in many parts of North
America. When, for example, the headman of the Timucua
died in the early historic period, "people...offered their most
precious adornments...for the deceased chief." Sometimes, a
Timucua "king's" subjects even offered their own children to
be buried with the leader. Other than his drinking cup and
certain valued objects, a chiefs possessions "were placed in his
house, which was then set afire so that none of them would
ever be seen again." A priest's funeral was similar, except that
the Timucua buried him in his house before setting it on fire.
Everything was then "purified by fire" (Hann 1996:106).
In order to understand these burial practices, we should
recall that to many Indian peoples "all things animate and
inanimate had spirit, and hence being." The Micmac of New
Brunswick and Nova Scotia were typical in that a man
"believed that there was a spirit of his canoe, of his snowshoes,
of his bow, and so forth." Thus, "a man's material goods were
either buried with him or burned, in order that their spirit
might accompany his to the spirit world, where he would need
them." For "just as he had hunted game in this physical-
spiritual world, so his spirit would again hunt the game spirits
with the spirits of his weapons in the land of the dead" (Martin
1978:59, 72).
Another aspect of the importance of having a well-supplied
grave is explained by Olotocara, a nephew of Saturiwa, the
sixteenth-century Timucua chief. Olotocara told his French

friends that he expected to die in the upcoming battle with the
Spanish, but that fate did not bother him so long as any gifts
that he was to receive after the battle were given to his
widow-"to be buried with him in order that he might receive
a better welcome to the village of the spirits" (Hann
We know that shell columella plummets were worn on the
chest by the Indians of Florida, not only because of the
placement of these artifacts on the bodies buried in the Jones
Mound, but because there is an eye-witness account from the
early historic period. In 1565 the future English admiral, John
Hawkins, landed on the northeastern coast of Florida in the
area already visited by the French. Among the observations
reported by John Sparke, the expedition's historian, was that
the Timucua had "'pieces ofunicornes [sic] homes [sic] which
they were about their necks, whereof the Frenchmen obtained
many pieces'." When Sparke asked about the source of the
"unicornes" (Souannamma in the Timucua language), "'they
doe affirme it [the unicorn] to be a beast with one home,
which cumming to the river [lower St. Johns] to drinke,
putteth the same into the water before he drinketh'" (Burrage
From the fact that Sparke goes on to say that some of their
men obtained "unicorne home" from the French, it seems clear
that his version of the standard mythological story of the
powerful stallion with the huge, white, spiraled, implicitly
phallic, horn protruding from its head came from the French,
and not the Timucua (Burrage 1906:127). There may have
been, however, some Indian input into the story because the
unicorn seems to have lost his horn in the water. In any case,
the French, and later the English, apparently understood at
least one point correctly-- that a large white columella did, in
fact, come from an aquatic environment.
It is hard to exaggerate the importance of this early
historical citation, discovered by John Goggin and reported to
the author by Robert Carr (Reiger 1990:235). Here we have a
seemingly incontestible primary source describing Indian
leaders right after European contact wearing around their
necks what apparently are the columellae of large seashells.
Finally, Sparke's account is important because it tells us
that salvaged gold and silver from Spanish shipwrecks were
"'wrought flat and graven [carved or cut], which they [the
Timucua] were about their neckes...'" (Burrage 1906:127).
His observation suggests why so many plummets have at least
one flat side-- so that they could be worn on the chest without
The gold metal "plummet type pendant" from the early
contact period in Florida illustrated by John Goggin in his
brief article, "Historic Metal Plummet Pendants," may be
exactly like the ones Sparke was describing. Goggin is
probably correct in his summation of the history of plummet
manufacture: "A distinctive artifact type of aboriginal Florida
was the plummet form pendant ... usually made of local
materials such as limestone, coral, and shell, as well as from
exotic stones like quartz, pumice and various metamorphic
rocks." And "during one early period ... when copper was
being traded into Florida in abundance, that metal was




extensively used for making plummets at Crystal River."
Then, "many hundreds of years later, in the sixteenth century,
when the Spanish introduced metal, it was eagerly used again,
and stone forms were copied in gold, bronze, lead, and copper"
(Goggin 1954:27). Besides the gold artifact, Goggin illustrates
three additional specimens made from the other three metals
mentioned. All have classic plummet shapes, showing once
again that "the form was the thing."


I began this article by asking if Clarence Moore was right
in 1907 when he hypothesized that Florida "plummets"-which
he had already determined were pendants and not "sinkers"--
might also have been "charmstones." After nearly a century,
we can support Moore's intuition with an abundance of
evidence, both direct and circumstantial.
The cognitive associations with plummets' light-reflecting
surfaces, the use of sacred substances in their manufacture,
their placement on the deceased in elite burials, and the
ethnographic accounts describing how they or similar objects
and materials functioned all seem to point to one conclusion:
"Plummets" functioned mainly as pendant-charms that
reflected artistry, status, and power. Of these, artistry was, in
itself, the least important. As one scholar pointed out long
ago, "Ornament among all primitive people is hard to separate
in its simplicity from the idea of fetichism, talismans, amulets
and religion generally" (Peabody 1901:137). And as the man
who revealed the treasures of south Florida's Key Marco to the
world, Frank Hamilton Cushing, put it: "'To a certain extent
all personal adornments, so-called, of early peoples are
ceremonial or sacred'" (Peabody 1901:137). The artist, then,
was really a "shamanic technician, one who could manipulate
material elements that often contained great supernatural
power" (O'Connor 1995:10).
It is impossible, therefore, to separate "artistry" from the
other major elements contained in these pendant-charms:
status and power. As status markers, these objects probably
were worn or possessed by elite individuals as many burials
indicate. The fact that some were made of exotic materials
that traveled over long distances, and took years to arrive,
made them all the more precious, and their rarity, and thus
their value, further increased when they accompanied their
owners into the grave for continued use in the spirit world
(Austin 1993:304-305).
Of the three elements, artistry, status, and power, it was the
last, of course, that probably meant the most to the owner of a
pendant-charm. In varying degrees, depending on factors like
the substance from which it was made and the distance over
which it had traveled, these objects could protect their owners
from harm, attract game and perhaps members of the opposite
sex, and divine the future.
Much of my analysis has been based on analogies with
cultures outside of Florida and the documented assumption
that preliterate peoples share certain beliefs, like phallicism,
the existence of spirituality in inanimate objects, and the
power of amulets to relieve anxiety by bringing predictability

to one's life. In the end, we can never know the individual
history of every plummet, and it is conceivable that some
functioned as fishing weights, perhaps at the beginning of
their careers, before becoming "lucky" and being transformed
into talismans. But for the great majority, I believe that they
began and ended their use histories as pendant-charms,
fascinating objects that give us a glimpse into the mind of
Florida's pre-Columbian cultures, and, probably, those of other
regions as well.


During the years of my wide-ranging research, I have incurred
many debts. A number of individuals helped by referring me to
sources, or actually obtaining them for me: Dennis Fowler, Richard
Judd, Gary Argabright, Thomas Altherr, Patricia Medert and the staff
of the Ross County Historical Society, and Robert Carr. George Luer
was particularly helpful in this regard, and as always, he generously
shared his ideas; his editorial aid was tremendously important in
improving the manuscript. Vera Zimmerman and the Indian River
Anthropological Society supplied a well-documented photograph of
a key artifact. Kim Heinz of the Archaeological and Historical
Conservancy took the photograph of the plummets shown in Figure
1, which are now part of the collections of the Historical Museum of
Southern Florida, and Dennis Deane made the photograph of those in
Figure 2. Royal Mapes, an Ohio University geologist, identified the
mineral source of some of the plummets and confirmed my suspicions
about the meaning of magnetite ore as a preferred raw material for
plummet-manufacture. Permission was granted to reproduce
illustrations from Indian and Eskimo Artifacts ofNorth America. A
sabbatical provided by Ohio University helped me complete the
writing. My research assistant, Pamela Kraft, discovered some leads
and keyed many revisions of the manuscript. Finally, my wife,
Andrea, did everything possible at home to give me the time to work
on the article.

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1999 VOL. 52(4)



'Department ofAnthropology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602
E-mail: Tpluckhahn@aol.com
'Southeastern Archeological Services, Athens, Georgia 30606
E-mail: SEARCHEO@aol.com

Sixty years ago, archaeologists with the Works Progress
Administration (WPA) provided the first substantial informa-
tion on the material culture of the early historic Creek Indians
with the excavations at the Macon Plateau site (9BI1), on the
Fall Line in central Georgia. These excavations, which were
later summarized in greater detail by Carol Mason (1963),
firmly established the basic chronology for the early historic
period in the Ocmulgee River Valley, through the definition of
the Ocmulgee Fields Phase.
The excavations at Macon Plateau produced a great deal of
European trade material, both from Creek contexts and from
the remains of an associated British trading post. Not surpris-
ingly, most of these goods consisted of guns, knives, glass,
pipes, and ornaments that are known to have been traded by
the British. However, a small number of more exotic European
items were also recovered, including a modest quantity of
majolica and olive jar sherds, a silver Spanish coin, and a
single Punta Rassa Teardrop pendant (Fairbanks 1956; Mason
In discussing the origins of these few Spanish artifacts at
Macon Plateau, Mason (1963:150) acknowledged the strong
possibility that the items were "brought from Florida as loot
from the many raids conducted by the English and the Indians
against the missions and the mission Indians of Apalachee."
However, perhaps in large part because such artifacts were
relatively few in number, she also held out the possibility that
they had been "brought to the frontier by the Carolinians" to
alleviate shortages ofEuropean ceramics and currency (Mason
1963:150, 162).
Until recently, there have been few excavations of Creek
sites in the Ocmulgee River Valley. As a result, there has been
no new evidence to substantiate the claim that the few Spanish
artifacts from Macon Plateau were indeed remnants from raids
against the Spanish and Apalachee Indians in Florida.
Recent excavations at the adjacent and closely related
Tarver (9JO6) and Little Tarver (9JO198) sites, located
approximately 10 km to the northwest of Macon Plateau in
central Georgia (Figure 1), shed new light on connections
across the southern frontier during the early historic period.
The recovery of a number of Spanish artifacts, some identical
to those found at Macon Plateau more than sixty years ago,
provides additional evidence of interaction between Creek
Indians and the Spanish and Apalachee in Florida during the
late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

Historical Background

By the first half of the seventeenth century, a chain of
Catholic missions was established by Franciscan missionaries
across north-central Florida and along the Sea Islands of the
Georgia coast. San Luis de Talimali, located in present-day
Tallahassee, was the principal mission town and was protected
by a bastioned fort and a Spanish garrison. From this mission
in 1679, Father Juan Ocon and two other missionaries were
sent to administer to the population in the Chattahoochee
Valley, known to the Spaniards as the Apalachicola Indians.
However, once there they were ordered to leave by the great
chief of Coweta. In 1681, two Franciscans, reinforced with an
escort of soldiers, attempted to establish a mission in the
Apalachicola Province, but again the natives resisted and the
foreigners were forced to withdraw (Smith 1992; Swanton
The settlement of Charles Towne by the English in 1670
proved that the Spanish had only weak control of the South-
east. By 1680 many of the missions along the Georgia coast
had been abandoned due to raids by Indians allied with the
English (such as the Westo), and the friars and their charges
retreated southward to the protection of St. Augustine (Worth
The English aggressively pursued trade with the Indians,
and soon traders were making their way west as far as the
Apalachicola Province. Supplied at Charles Towne, the
traders exchanged firearms, cloth, rum, and other goods for
deerskins and Indian slaves.
When the Spanish learned that Henry Woodward and other
English traders were operating in the lower Chattahoochee
Valley, they attempted to reestablish their control of the region
by burning the villages of Coweta, Kasita, Tasquiqui, and
Colome in 1685 (Hann 1996). The Spanish then built a fort at
the town of Apalachicola (just south of present-day Columbus)
in 1689. Subsequently, many of the Indians moved east to the
Ocmulgee River Valley, to be both closer to the English
traders and further from the Spanish. The fort was abandoned
in 1691. The site (1RU101) was excavated in 1960 prior to
the construction of the Walter F. George Reservoir (Kurjack
and Pearson 1975).
English entrepreneurs then established a fortified trading
post among the Indians at the Macon Plateau site (Mason
1963; Waselkov 1994). During the late 1600s, the traders


VOL. 52(4)




The Tarver Site

0 3


Figure 1. Map Showing the Location of the Tarver Sites.

began referring to the Indians in this area as "Creeks," perhaps
a corruption of Ochese (Ichisi) Creek, the old name for the
Ocmulgee River (Crane 1929). By 1708, eleven towns had
moved from the Chattahoochee to the Ocmulgee River, and
several Apalachee families resided among them (Hann
Governor Laureano de Torres Ayala of Florida described
a 1695 Spanish expedition sent to the Creek settlements on the
Ocmulgee River to avenge recent Creek raids on a Chacato
village near Apalachee (Boyd et al. 1951). The party of seven
Spaniards and 400 Apalachee arrived to find six villages
(Coweta, Oconi, Kasita, Ocmulgee, Uchichi, and Taisquiqui)
burned and abandoned prior to their arrival. They managed to

take 50 prisoners. This raid seems to have prompted the
Creeks to resume limited tradewith Spanish Florida (Waselkov
1994:193). However, relations were again disrupted in May
1702, when the English-led Creeks destroyed the Timucuan
mission of Santa Fe (Hann 1988:325).
In 1704, Colonel James Moore, with a force of 50 English
soldiers and 1000 Creek warriors, departed from the town of
Ocmulgee and raided the mission settlements of the Florida
panhandle. After inflicting horrible torture on both the
Spanish and Indians (see Boyd et al. 1951:74-82), they
enslaved several hundred Apalachees and marched them to the
South Carolina frontier. One group of Apalachee was allowed
to settle in the Savannah River valley, just downstream from


1999 VOL. 52(4)







0 50
Contour Iarrval = 1 Meter

4I I
40E 450E 50E

550E 600E 650E

Figure 2. Map of the Tarver Site Showing the Location of the Excavation Blocks.

Augusta. Two additional raids in 1704 resulted in the decima
tion and dispersal of the Apalachee people. Wright
(1981:141) notes that the attacks represent "the greatest slave
raid ever to occur in the South, or probably in the United
By the early 1700s, Indians from across the Southeast had
grown weary of the English. Pressure from the English to
trade or be enslaved had created such fear and resentment
among the Indians in the Carolinas and eastern Georgia that
a plan was devised, probably by the Chief of Coweta, Emperor
Brim, to unite all of the Indians in the area and destroy the

English. The Yamassee struck first in 1715, killing English
Indian agents and attacking several outlying settlements
around Charles Towne. They were reinforced by the Creeks,
who waited for the Cherokee to split the English into small
groups, making it easier to attack them simultaneously.
However, the Cherokee double crossed the Creeks and killed
several of their warriors, dooming the uprising to failure. The
English and Cherokees pursued the Creeks back to the
Ocmulgee River. The Creeks were forced to abandon their
settlements in the region, and moved back to the
Chattahoochee River (Crane 1929).

3E 3
300E 350E




Thus, the Creek occupation of the Ocmulgee River Valley
was brief. The Tarver sites, like Macon Plateau and other
historic Indian sites in the Macon area, would have been
occupied for only a few years, probably from around 1690 to
1715. Although documentary evidence points to nearly a
dozen towns moving to the Ocmulgee from the Chattahoochee
River Valley, we are unable to correlate the Tarver sites with
any specific town. Eighteenth-century maps depict only about
half of the towns, and their locations are inconsistent or
imprecise. In addition, attempts to reconstruct town locations
are hindered by the lack of survey data. Although the Macon
area saw many large-scale excavations by the WPA, there has
never been a systematic survey of this portion of the Ocmulgee

Description of the Tarver Excavations

The Tarver sites have been known for over a hundred years
as an excellent place to find Indian artifacts (Ledbetter et al.
1994:49). The sites were first brought to the attention of the
archaeological community in the late 1930s. While massive
excavations were ongoing at Macon Plateau, WPA archaeolo-
gists Gordon Willey and Arthur Kelly visited several area sites
reported by workers and local informants. The farm of Arthur
Tarver was one of these sites. National Park Service archaeol-
ogist Charles Fairbanks studied the material from the Tarver
farm and concluded that it was one of a group of middle Geor-
gia sites dating to a brief but important historic episode during
the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries (Fairbanks
The Tarver site was relocated during a 1989 survey and
testing project for the Macon Water Authority's Town Creek
Reservoir (Webb 1990). Data recovery was conducted a few
years later on a small portion of the site that contained
predominantly Archaic Period materials (Ledbetter et al.
The Little Tarver site may have also been known locally for
many years, but was only identified by archaeologists in 1994,
on a survey of a proposed new water treatment plant and
associated infrastructure (Benson 1994). Subsequent testing
confirmed the research potential of the site (Pluckhahn and
Braley 1994).
The planned construction of a new water treatment plant
and associated infrastructure precipitated data recovery of a
portion of the Tarver site and of virtually all of the Little
Tarver site (Pluckhahn 1997). The city of Macon applied for
matching federal funds to construct the plant, which is being
built to replace the existing facility, which was severely
damaged by tropical storm Alberto. In order to comply with
federal regulations (Section 106 of the National Historic
Preservation Act of 1966, as amended), archaeological data
recovery was necessary to mitigate the loss of information due
to construction. The work was completed by Southeastern
Archeological Services, Inc., under sub-contract with
Woodward-Clyde Federal Services, Inc., and was funded by
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Excavation of the Tarver site commenced with the excava-
tion of shovel tests and test units, and culminated with the
mechanical stripping of four large excavation blocks that
together totalled 1349 m2 (Figure 2). A single large block
measuring about 630 m2 was excavated on the Little Tarver
site. Following the removal of the plowzone with a backhoe,
the soil interface was shovel shaved by hand, and all cultural
features were excavated.
A combined total of 389 features was identified in the
Tarver and Little Tarver excavations. The array of features
included 332 postmolds, 15 burials, 4 rock clusters, 35 pits, 2
pottery clusters, and one concentration of bone. All of the
features that were identified during this phase of work were
mapped and excavated. Although the Tarver sites also contain
significantLate Archaic, Late Woodland, and Early Mississip-
pian components, artifacts and features associated with the
historic Creek occupation were most prevalent in the areas that
were mitigated for this project.
The artifact assemblage associated with the Creek occupa-
tion substantiates the dating of this settlement to the late
seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, as indicated by
historic documents.' The pottery assemblage from the Tarver
sites includes over a thousand sherds associated with the Creek
occupation. Overall, the assemblage from the Tarver sites
appears very similar to the Blackmon phase (ca. 1650-1715)
in the lower Chattahoochee River Valley, as recently defined
by Knight (1994:189), and earlier by Mistovich and Knight
(1986). However, the Tarver assemblage incorporates some of
the changes that take place with the transition to the subse-
quent Lawson Field Phase (ca. 1715-1836), as well as a few
minor geographic variations.
With the exception of a few minority types, all of the
Blackmon phase wares are present in the Tarver assemblage
(Figure 3). Grit tempered Ocmulgee Fields Plain and
Ocmulgee Fields Incised sherds dominate the collection,
accounting for approximately one-half of the historic Creek
pottery from the two sites. Plain and incised shell tempered
pottery was second in frequency, contributing about one-fourth
of the total. Cob-marked and brushed varieties of the Walnut
Roughened pottery type were also fairly common, together
totalling approximately one-fifth of the Creek ceramic collec-
tion. Minority wares included the Chattahoochee Brushed,
Ocmulgee Check Stamped, and Kasita Red Filmed pottery
European trade goods were relatively common on the
Tarver sites, but were largely restricted to an occurrence in
burials. Table 1 summarizes the trade goods that were
recovered from the Tarver sites.
With a total of slightly less than 53,000 specimens, glass
and lapidary beads, pendants, and buttons dominate the trade
assemblage from the Tarver sites. The bead assemblage
includes some types that are very common on Creek sites from
the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, as well as
a few varieties that are quite rare. A minimum of 38 "Kidd
types" are present in the collection from the Tarver sites (see
Pluckhahn (1997, 1998) for more detailed descriptions of the
bead assemblage). Consistent with period of occupation


1999 VOL. 52(4)


indicated by ceramics and historical records, the bead assem-
blage lacks most of the types that are common earlier in the
historic period, such as the chevron and Nueva Cadiz types
(Smith 1987:46-7).
Also common in the trade assemblage from the Tarver
sites, albeit in far lower numbers than glass beads, were brass
and iron ornaments, including tinklers, bracelets, beads, and
buttons. Notably, brass gorgets and animal effigy pendants
were not recovered from the Tarver sites, but such artifacts are
reportedly more typical in earlier (early seventeenth century)
contexts (Smith 1987:36-41).

Kasita Red Filmed (0.20%)
Ocmulgee Check (0.20%)

Ocmulgee Plain (43.76%)

Ocmulgee Incised (11.49%)

Feature 50

Feature 50 was one of a cluster of three burial pits at the
center of what appeared to be a small rectangular summer
house that was identified in the largest and most productive
excavation block (Block B) on the Tarver site (Figure 4). The
pit contained the remains of two individuals. The primary
interment was that of a child, estimated at approximately six
years of age. This grave had been disturbed by the secondary
interment of an adult.
At the upper levels of the pit excavation, only the cranium

shell temp. plain (24.68%)

shell temp. incised (0.50%)

-Walnut Roughened (17.98%)

Chatt. Brushed (1.20%)

Figure 3. Percentages of Ceramic Types in the Historic Creek Pottery Assemblage from the Tarver Sites.

Somewhat less common in the trade assemblage from the
Tarver sites are metal tools. Scissors, knives, and a possible
sword fragment were retrieved from burials, but on the whole
tools appeared to be less popular than items of personal
A few other trade items also proved to be relatively rare in
the trade assemblage from the Tarver sites. Glass bottle
fragments were found only in very small quantities. European
tobacco pipe fragments were also uncommon. Finally, with
the exception of a few gunflints and a musket ball, no firearm
parts were identified in our excavations.
Most of the objects of European manufacture in the
assemblage from the Tarver sites were probably obtained
through exchange with the British traders operating at Macon
Plateau. However, a few artifacts may have been obtained
from more distant sources, and perhaps through a different
form of interaction. These more exotic artifacts were primarily
limited to a single context, as described in the following

of the child was visible. The remainder of the skeleton was
covered by a large scatter of brass beads, a broken dark green
glass bottle, and fragments of what appears to have been a
brass kettle. At the western end of the pit, opposite the child's
head, was a broken colonoware vessel.
After mapping the artifacts in the upper layer, we removed
them to expose the second layer (Figure 5a). Below the brass
kettle lay the fractured cranium of an adult. The frontal and
nasal portions of the skull were lying inverted, with other
disarticulated cranial fragments nearby. Relatively blunt
supraorbital margins suggest that the cranium belonged to a
male. Two possible cut marks and a depressed fracture on top
of the frontal bone suggest that this individual received head
trauma. There was no sign of bone regeneration surrounding
these wounds indicating that they took place during or after
the individual's death. In addition to these cranium fragments,
the second layer also contained a pair of iron scissors and, in
the neck area of the child, a cluster of Florida Cut Crystal
Even with the second layer of Feature 50 exposed, most
of the skeletal remains were still covered by a number of



Table 1. Summary Data for Trade Goods Associated with the Historic Creek Component at the Tarver Sites.

Type Quantity

glass and lapidary beads, pendants, and buttons 52,985

brass tinklers 28

brass C-bracelets 9 whole, 25 fragments

brass pendant 1

brass bell 1

brass buttons 32 whole or partial

brass pins 2

brass needle 1

brass kettle 1 (broken into many pieces)

tubular brass beads 124 whole, 11 fragments

iron bracelets 4 clusters

iron nail 1

iron spike 1

iron scissors 2

iron knife 1

possible iron sword 1 fragment

gunflints 5

musket ball 1

dark green bottle glass 1 broken bottle, 3 other fragments

Colon-ware 1 broken vessel

San Luis Polychrome majolica 1

kaolin tobacco pipe 1 fragment

artifacts. Only with most of the artifacts removed and the
third layer in the pit exposed (Figure 5b) were we able to fully
understand the sequence of events represented by the feature.
In this final layer, it became evident that the child's skeletal
remains were intact only from the cranium to the sternum.
With the possible exception of the toes, the remainder of the
child's burial had been disturbed by the intrusive, secondary
burial of the adult. The long bones of the adult were found
interspersed with those of the child in a seemingly random
jumble near the center of the pit.
It is possible to offer some suggestions of what the child's
grave must have looked like before the intrusive adult burial
displaced most of the skeleton and grave goods. The position-
ing of the child's upper body suggests that he or she was placed
in an extended or partially flexed position. The Florida Cut

Crystal pendants were apparently worn on a string about the
neck. The Punta Rassa Teardrop pendants may have been
worn in the same manner, but the evidence for this is more
equivocal as most had been displaced. A line of Cornaline
d'Aleppo beads in the neck area were apparently strung on
another necklace. A fragment of wood near the child's right
side may indicate that he or she was placed on some type of
board. Probably, the dark green glass bottle was placed at the
child's right side and the colonoware vessel at his or her foot.
The brass kettle was obviously very damaged by


1999 VOL. 52(4)

3658 3708 3758



0 5


* .0

* Potnmold
0 Pit

Figure 4. Map of Block B on the Tarver Site.










0 10 1"


Figure 5. Plan Maps of Feature 50 on the Tarver Site.


the intrusion and must have been located on top of the child's
torso or legs.
In addition to these grave goods, the total artifact inventory
for Feature 50 includes over 15,000 glass beads (including 10
identifiable types), 5 whole and 25 partial brass C-bracelets, 3
brass buttons, 6 shell ornaments, and 124 tubular brass beads.
Many of the latter were still threaded with cordage, and a few
had a blue glass bead attached with a knot.

Other Contexts

Apart from Feature 50, the occurrence of Spanish artifacts
was extremely limited at the Tarver sites. A single sherd of
majolica was retrieved from a shallow pit about 10 m to the
north of Feature 50 on the Tarver site, at the center of what
appeared to be the remains of a second summer house. A
possible "Spanish spike" was found in plow zone contexts at
the Little Tarver site.

Descriptions of the Spanish Artifacts from the Tarver

The principal types of Spanish artifacts from the Tarver
sites will be of some interest to archaeologists unaccustomed
-. -. -,'A .,-a.... ., :.. ...:': :. -'. ,,,., ., ...

Figure 6. Photograph of Selected Florida Cut Crystal Pendants
to seeing these materials from sites outside of Florida. The
following section provides more detailed descriptions of these
artifacts, with the hope that this will be useful for comparative

Florida Cut Crystal Pendants

Fifteen Florida Cut Crystal pendants were recovered from
Feature 50, and one additional specimen was retrieved from
plow zone contexts in the same general area. Defined by
Goggin (n.d.) based on a sample from a few sites in Florida,
these ornaments are manufactured from quartz crystal that was
ground to produce facets. The examples from Tarver are all
teardrop shaped, with a perforation near the top (Figure 6).
The perforation resulted in the removal of a flake spall on one
The Florida Cut Crystal pendants from the Tarver site vary
greatly in the number of facets. Most have a series of longer
facets at the top, and many more smaller facets at the base.
However, a few examples are composed entirely of smaller
facets. The sample from the Tarver sites ranged from 1.84 to
2.63 cm in length (with an average of 2.32 cm), 1.26 to 1.61
cm in width (with an average of 1.48 cm), and .69 to 1.03 cm
in maximum thickness (with an average of .84 cm). The
ranges of dimensions for the Tarver specimens are generally
consistent, albeit slightly smaller than the measurements cited
by Goggin (n.d.) for his sample of pendants of this type from
sites in Florida.
Florida Cut Crystal pendants are generally thought to date
to the late sixteenth
.. century (Deagan
1987:180; Goggin
n.d.). However,
S2 cm numerous examples
C===C= virtually identical to
the Tarver speci-
mens have been
recovered from ex-
cavations at Mis-
sion San Luis in
Tallahassee, occu-
pied from 1633 to
1704 (Mitchem
1991, 1993a, 1996).
There, pendants of
this type were espe-
cially abundant in
the church, as well
as in the presumed
chief's house.
Deagan (1987:180-
181) notes that
Fairbanks recovered
S a slightly smaller,
from the Tarver Site. a
ovate form at
Apalachee mission sites in Florida, and she suggests that this
variety may date slightly later (approximately 1650 to 1700).
Mitchem (1993b:403) notes that Florida Cut Crystal pendants
are most common in Florida, but have also been found in
Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Noting the amount of labor involved in the production of
Florida Cut Crystal Pendants, Deagan (1987:181) suggests that




these ornaments were probably either special gifts to the
Indians from the Spanish, or represent possessions of the
Spaniards that were salvaged by Indians. Although many of
the pendants in Feature 50 had been displaced by a later
intrusive burial, several were found around the child's neck,
suggesting that these were worn on a necklace.

Punta Rassa Teardrop Pendants

The second rare type of ornament in Feature 50 consists of
the Punta Rassa Teardrop pendant, 21 of which were found in
the grave (Figure 7). Again, many of these had apparently
been displaced by the intrusive burial of an adult, but a few

Figure 7. Illustration of Punta Rassa Pendant Types Identified

were found in situ near the child's neck, where they appeared
to have been strung on a necklace with the Florida Cut Crystal
Although they are now patinated, the Punta Rassa orna
ments from Tarver were manufactured in various shades of
translucent blue glass. On the complete examples from
Feature 50, a suspension loop is present at the top of the
pendant. The pendants from Tarver closely follow the range
of dimensions cited by Goggin (n.d.) for a sample from
Florida. The Tarver sample as a whole ranged from 2.11 to
2.95 cm in length (with an average of 2.47 cm), 1.05 to 1.42
cm in width (with an average of 1.32 cm), and from .60 to
1.37 cm in thickness (with an average of 1.03 cm).
The sample of Punta Rassa pendants from the Tarver site
exhibit some degree of variation in morphology, permitting
their division into at least five varieties. The first variety,

represented by two specimens, includes a number of parallel
ridges running along the long axis (Figure 7a). This was
generally the largest variety in the collection, in terms of
length, width, and thickness.
A second variety, also represented by two specimens, is
globular and smooth (Figure 7b). One of the examples of this
variety is at the upper end of the size range, while the other is
relatively small.
Two whole pendants and a portion of a third are similarly
smooth-bodied, but include small nodes near the top (Figure
7c). These specimens were near the mean for length and
width, but were significantly thinner than most of the other
There are three
examples of a
fourth variety that
have a smooth
body that is di-
vided into two
"lobes" separated
on one side of the
pendant by a shal-
low groove (Figure
7d). These speci-
2 c) side view of Variety 3 mens were near
the mean for the
sample as a whole
in their propor-
Finally, there
is a variety of pen-
dant that is easily
differentiated by
e) side and bottom views of Variety 5 the presence of
two distinct
"lobes" separated
by a ridge running
the length of the
in the Tarver Collection. pendant, appar-
ently a remnant of
the mold seam
(Figure 7e). This was the most common variety, with ten
whole examples identified. Pendants of this variety were
generally near the mean in their proportions.
Prior to this project, the Punta Rassa type was known only
from a few sites in Florida, primarily Spanish missions, and
from Macon Plateau (Fairbanks 1956; Goggin n.d.; Mitchem
1993b). Goggin (n.d.) feels that the specimens from Macon
Plateau are late examples, and that the type was more common
in the early seventeenth century. Mitchem (1993b:407), citing
Muller (1972:138), notes that these pendants were often used
as earrings in Spain during the sixteenth century.
Like those at the Tarver site, the two Punta Rassa pendants
at Macon Plateau were also found in the grave of a six- or
seven-year-old child (Fairbanks 1956; Mason 1963). Again,
although the sample size is quite small, this coincidence would


1999 VOL. 52(4)


appear to be more than fortuitous, and likely indicates a
deliberate cultural preference on the part of the Creeks.

Seven Oaks Gilded and Gilded Molded Beads

The assemblage from Feature 50 also includes 27 Seven
Oaks Gilded beads and one Seven Oaks Gilded Molded bead.
These types were first described by Goggin (n.d.) for a few
sites in Florida. The Seven Oaks beads in the Tarver assem-
blage were generally poorly preserved, and the gold gilding
had been lost from many of the specimens. The glass beneath
the gilding appears olive, as Goggin (n.d.) also noted. The
molded example has a simple line and dot design. Mitchem
(1993b:402) reports that the Seven Oaks type has been found
at the mission sites of San Luis and San Juan del Puerto in
Florida, and at the mission at Casas Grandes, Mexico.


Vernon and Cordell (1993:418) define colono-wares in
seventeenth-century Spanish Florida contexts as "pottery
produced using traditional aboriginal techniques and exhibit-
ing European form characteristics that differ from native
vessel forms." Portions of one vessel matching this description
were identified in Feature 50. Although it was apparently
broken and displaced by the intrusive burial of an adult, this

Figure 8. Colono-Ware Vessel from the Tarver Site.

pot appeared to have been placed near the child's feet.

The colono-ware vessel from Feature 50 is amphora-shaped
(Figure 8). It has a flat bottom with a small foot ring. Two
small handles run from the top of the body of the pot to points
just below the rim. The vessel is buff-colored and appears to
have been coil made. The pot measures approximately 12 cm
high and 12 cm wide, with an orifice diameter of 4.7 cm
Although it is not possible to state definitively that the
colono-ware vessel from Feature 50 is of Spanish or Apalachee
origin, its shape is reminiscent of colono-ware vessels from
Florida (Bonnie McEwan, personal communication 1996).
More specifically, it resembles an Early Style Oliver jar
(Deagan 1987:31-32) in many respects. This, coupled with its
association with the Punta Rassa and Florida Cut Crystal
pendants, strongly suggests that the vessel may also have been
obtained from Spanish sources.


A single fragment of majolica was recovered from a
shallow pit (Feature 152) in Block B on the Tarver site. The
pit, which may simply represent a low spot that filled with
midden, appeared to be near the center of a Creek structure
that extended outside the project area.
Although it is quite small, the sherd can be classified as
either San Luis Polychrome or Aucilla Polychrome majolica.
The former variety was produced in Mexico, and is fairly
common on late
seventeenth- and
early eighteenth-cen-
tury Spanish sites in
Florida (Deagan
1987:76). South
(1977:239) cites
Goggin (1968) in dat-
ing San Luis Poly-
chrome to the interval
from 1660-1720, with
a median date of
1690. Deagan
(1987:76) gives the
type a slightly
broader range, from
about 1650 to 1750.
Aucilla Polychrome
majolica was most
popular in the inter-
val from 1680 to
1685, and does not
extend into the eigh-
teenth century
(Deagan 1987:77)
As is typical for
both of these types,
the sherd of majolica from Feature 152 has a cream-colored
paste and an off-white enamel. The design on the sherd is
quite small, but appears to include portions of the characteris-



tic green floral pattern and black framing lines (Deagan
A slightly larger and more diverse assemblage of European
ceramics was recovered from the Macon Plateau site. The
sample there included seven sherds of San Luis Polychrome,
one each of Castillo Polychrome and Abo Polychrome, four of
Puebla Polychrome, and a few that could not be classified
(Mason 1963:151). Twenty-four sherds of green-glazed,
Spanish olive jar were also found at Macon Plateau (Mason
Majolica was sometimes recycled into ornaments and this
may have been the case with the sherds from Tarver and
Macon Plateau. One of the majolica sherds at Macon Plateau
had been perforated and made into a disk (Fairbanks 1956;
Mason 1963:151).

Regional Interaction

It is possible that the Spanish artifacts that were recovered
from the Tarver sites were, like the other objects of European
manufacture in the assemblage, obtained through exchange.
Waselkov (1989) notes that Spanish artifacts continued to be
traded into the interior, usually through Indian middlemen,
well into the seventeenth century. Although the volume of this
trade dropped precipitously following the Spanish incursions
against the Creeks along the Chattahoochee Valley, it resumed
for a brief period after 1695 when a joint Spanish-Apalachee
expedition attacked the Creek villages on the Ocmulgee in an
effort to restore their dominance in the region (Waselkov
1994:193). It is also possible that the artifacts represent
heirlooms from an earlier period of extensive trade between
the Creeks and the Spanish in the late sixteenth- and early
Given that Creek Indians from the Ocmulgee area are
known to have participated in raids on the Spanish and
Apalachee Indians in Florida in 1704, it seems more likely
that these artifacts were obtained through plunder. On the
other hand, the concentration of such spoils of war in a single
grave, and particularly that of a child, is something of an
An alternative but related possibility is that these artifacts
belonged to Apalachee Indians that moved to the Ocmulgee
River Valley following these raids. Although many Apalachee
were brought to the area as slaves, and would not be expected
to retain their possessions, a number came under their own
volition and settled among the Creeks on the frontier (Crane
1929:80). It seems possible that the child buried with these
pendants and the colono-ware vessel was an Apalachee.
In either case, the Spanish artifacts from the Tarver sites
provide an intriguing glimpse into interaction between the
Creek Indians and the Apalachee or Spanish in Florida. Some
sixty years after Spanish artifacts were first recovered from
historic Creek contexts in the Macon area, we again have a
hint of connections across the southern frontier during the late
seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

'According to an agreement between FEMA and the Muscoge Creek
Nation, artifacts found in burial contexts at the Tarver sites were
reburied following analysis.


We thank Johanna Minich and Gisela Weis-Gresham for their
illustration of many of the figures used in this article. Grateful
appreciation is extended to Marvin Smith for his help with the
analysis of the bead assemblage. This paper benefited from the
suggestions of the editor and two anonymous reviewers.

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This paper explores the possibility of an Indian canoe
canal, or trail, across Cape Coral in Lee County, southwestern
Florida. Historical references to the possible canal are
reviewed and assessed, and aerial photographs are inspected
for traces of it. Using a hydrological approach, the Cape Coral
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could have been favorable for a shallow canal or trail. Results
of historical, photographic, and hydrological analyses discour-
age the possibility of a canoe canal across Cape Coral. This
study finds no evidence of a canal.

Previous Research

While investigating the Pine Island Canal (8LL34) on Pine
Island in Lee County in the 1980s, I hypothesized that the Pine
Island Canal might have linked with a possible second canoe
canal across Cape Coral (Luer 1989:105-106). It was hypothe-
sized that such a travel route might have been used by Florida
Indians, perhaps 500 to 1000 years ago, to shorten the distance
between the mid-stretch of the Caloosahatchee River and
northern Matlacha Pass and, ultimately (via the Pine Island
Canal), northern Pine Island Sound (Figure 1).
The possible existence of such a route was suggested by
Charles Kenworthy in the Smithsonian Institution Annual
Report for 1881. Kenworthy wrote that he had visited the
western end of the Pine Island Canal where he met a long-time
resident of Pine Island who told him of two Indian canals:

I was assured, by a gentleman who had resided on the [Pine]
island for 24 years, that the canal extended across the island for
a distance of 3 miles, and that it could be traced inland (from
the shore of the mainland) a distance of 14 miles [Kenworthy

Kenworthy's account suggested that a canoe canal or trail
existed on the mainland to the east of Pine Island, which today
is covered by land development in the City of Cape Coral.
This sprawling land development has destroyed the area's
natural landscape. As a consequence, I began to look at old
aerial photographs of the area, as well as historic maps and
written descriptions, to try to find traces of such a canal.
In 1980, I noticed a faint dark line on 1944 aerial photo-
graphs (United States Department of Agriculture [U.S.D.A.]
1944a) that perhaps was a remnant of a canal, but I was
uncertain of its identity and did not record it as an archaeolog-
ical site in the Florida Master Site File (FMSF). Also in 1980,
I inspected original United States Government survey maps
and field notes (e.g., Clay 1873; Survey General's Office

1872a, 1872b, 1873) that described portions of the Cape Coral
area, but I found no depiction or mention of a canal feature
(Luer 1989:107-108). In 1987, when an archaeological
planning document was prepared for Lee County, the faint
dark line was assigned a FMSF number, 8LL756, to flag it
"until further determination can be made" (Austin 1987; Luer

Further Research

In 1989 when I first wrote about a possible canoe canal
across Cape Coral, I urged that it "needs further investigation"
(Luer 1989:108). Thus, I undertook additional research, and
present results here.

Archival Research

Research of historic accounts reveals ambiguity and
confusion about a possible aboriginal canal in the Cape Coral
area. The research discloses that Dr. Charles Kenworthy' first
heard about a possible, lengthy canal "on the main land" in
early 1875. In a letter published in May, 1875, in Forest and
Stream, a sportsmen's weekly magazine, Kenworthy described
a recent visit to Pine Island, where he saw the western end of
the Pine Island Canal. There, he met "a Yankee named
Ham,"2 who said that remains of a canal could be traced across
Pine Island, and:

Mr. Ham assured me that a similar excavation existed on the
main land, and could be traced in a direct line towards
Okeechobee for a distance of fourteen miles (Kenworthy

This statement repeats the second-hand nature of
Kenworthy's information, but it differs in two key ways from
his later account in the Smithsonian Annual Report for 1881.
Specifically, it mentions "Okeechobee" and it does not state
that the rumored canal extended "inland (from the shore of the
mainland)" (compare with Kenworthy [1883:633], quoted
above). These discrepancies suggest that Mr. Ham could have
been referring to an area farther east than Cape Coral. This
possibility is supported by additional information derived from
Kenworthy that was printed in Forest and Stream in August,

The canals at the head of the Caloosahatchee ... extended some
fourteen miles or over in a line to connect the Lake Okeechobee
with the Caloosahatchee (Anonymous 1875).


VOL. 52(4)




Here, the area discussed is "the head of the Caloosahatchee,"
which is clearly farther east than Cape Coral. Moreover, this
sentence has four elements in common with Kenworthy's
earlier information from Mr. Ham: 1) the quantity of 14
miles, 2) the notion of a straight line, 3) the mention of
Okeechobee, and 4) the rumored nature of the canals. The last
point is documented by Kenworthy not only in the second-
hand origin of the report, but also in a letter he wrote describ-
ing his own visit to the head of the Caloosahatchee River
(Kenworthy 1875a: 171) where he saw no such canal or canals
(nor is one known to have existed). Indeed, this particular

area was so poorly known that Kenworthy even rejected the
existence of Lake Hicpochee (between the headwaters of the
Caloosahatchee River and Lake Okeechobee), instead believ-
ing that there was a mythical, direct "outlet" from the lake to
the river (Kenworthy 1875a:171, 1875b).
It should be noted that Kenworthy's 1875 letters in Forest
and Stream show that his purposes in writing them were to
create interest in then-remote areas of Florida, and to attract
settlers and winter visitors, especially hunters and fishermen.
As such, Kenworthy's letters contain some exaggerations and
inaccuracies. He wrote and speculated about southern
Florida's "ancient canals" in order to attract attention of

Figure 1. Cape Coral and traces of old logging railways in 1944 and 1953 aerial photographs (U.S.D.A. 1944a, 1953a).


1999 VOL. 52(4)

Rainfall and Water Table


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Pineda soil Boca soil Rainfall

Figure 2. Rainfall and the fluctuating water table. Rainfall is per month, whereas the water table reflects cumulative effects
of rainfall, runoff, percolation, and subsurface flow. Monthly rainfall averages are based on the 60-year data set from Fort
Myers (1891-1950) (see Table 1). The ground surface is represented by zero on the Y-axis. For each soil, negative values
show the water table's depth below the ground surface. Note that one value is positive, reflecting a flooded surface (data from
Table 2). Also note that the lines plotted for the water table can be shifted slightly to the right because these water table
measurements are averages taken at the beginning and middle of each month (see Table 2).

tourists as well as scientists, who he hoped would investigate
them (e.g., Anonymous 1875).
Toward that goal, Kenworthy later made additional
observations about mounds and canals in Florida. To his
credit, he drew a cross-section and plan view map of the
Naples Canal in late 1877, and he published the results
(Kenworthy 1883:631). It was in that 1883 paper, perhaps
through errors of editing or memory, that changes in wording
occurred that shifted the rumored, 14-mile-long canal to the
"shore ofthe mainland." Thus, archival research suggests that
Kenworthy's 1883 article mistakenly moved a rumored canal
from near Lake Okeechobee to Cape Coral.

1996 Field Research

In 1996, a proposed land alteration project in the City of
Cape Coral was reviewed by the city's Division of Growth and
Land Management. The project involved a relatively undis-
turbed, small parcel in a vast area of altered land that had been
dredged, filled, and subdivided in the 1960s (Rothchild
1985:81-103). The parcel was a short distance northwest of
the intersection of Nelson Road and Embers Parkway, and was
to be dredged for fill material, creating a borrow pit to be
called "Nelson Lake" (Figure 1).

The Division's Susan McLellan, an archaeologist working
as a Geographic Information Systems Technician, consulted
the FMSF form for 8LL756 and realized that the parcel might
contain a portion of what had been flagged as a possible canoe
canal across Cape Coral. In September 1996, Richard
Sosnowski, a planner with the city, contacted me. He asked
for my opinion about the parcel because of my work with
Florida canoe canals and because the parcel had been cleared
for development by the Florida Division of Historical Re-
sources (Kammerer 1996).
I explained to Sosnowski that I was still actively research-
ing the area, and that I recently had made enlargements of the
1944 aerial photographs, which showed that the faint dark line
indeed did cross the parcel. In October 1996, I brought the
enlargements with me to Cape Coral, and met Sosnowski and
McLellan. We went to the field and made a careful visual
inspection of the parcel, but we found no traces of the dark line
on the ground, nor did we see any indications of a possible

Research of OldAerial Photographs

In 1996, my inspection of enlarged photographs suggested
that the faint dark line was not a remnant of a canal. First,




Table 1. Monthly rainfall at Fort Myers, Lee County, Florida.
The first set of data is based on a 60-year record from 1891-
1950 (U.S.D.A. 1954:Table 1). The second set is based on a 30-
year record from 1941-1970 (U.S.D.A. 1984a:Table 1).




Normal Total,



there were no traces of embankments on either side of the line
(which typically are visible as lighter streaks or vegetative
anomalies in aerial photographs of known Florida canoe
canals). Second, a long, arc-shaped bend in the line seemed
longer and more gradual than any of the bends in the known
Florida canoe canals, namely the Naples, Ortona, Pine Island,
Mud Lake, Snake Bight, and Walker's canals (Carr, Dickel,
and Masson 1995:Figure 2; Carr, Zamanillo, and Pepe
1997:Figure 3; Luer 1989, 1998; Luer and Wheeler 1997;
Wheeler 1998a, 1998b). Instead, the gradual bend in the dark
line was suggestive of a logging railway, some of which are
visible in local aerial photographs and sometimes marked on
maps, such as in the soil survey of Collier County (U.S.D.A.
1954:Sheet No. 3).
Thus, in February 1998, I carefully inspected additional
1944 and 1953 aerial photographs at the University of Florida
Map and Imagery Library. These offered wide coverage of the
Cape Coral area and revealed that the dark line, though very
faint in places, could be traced eastward to additional faint
lines converging on a north-south railway in North Fort Myers
(U.S.D.A. 1953a). In addition, the original faint dark line
could be traced westward until it branched into north-running
lines that appeared to be abandoned spurs (U.S.D.A. 1944a).
Based on these observations, it appears that the faint dark
line I had seen in 1980 represents a former railway from
logging operations (Figure 1). Such railways were often
ephemeral, being installed quickly and removed soon after
timber was cut and hauled out. They date to sometime in the
early decades of the 1900s, based on their convergence on a
former railroad siding, called Slater, located along the eastern
of two railroads running through North Fort Myers.3 The
eastern track was built by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in
1904, while the western track (to which there were also a few

rail connections) was built by the Seaboard Air Line Railway
System in 1926 (Florida Department of Agriculture 1941;
Grismer 1949:164, 233). These and additional rail lines,
including temporary ones used for logging operations in the
Cape Coral area, have been depicted on a map by Lee County
resident James Pickens, based on 1944 U.S.D.A. aerial
photographs (Walker et al. 1996:Figure 12).4

Further Questions

Additional inspection of 1944 and 1953 U.S.D.A. aerial
photographs revealed no trace of an Indian canoe canal or trail
anywhere across Cape Coral. A signature like that of the Pine
Island Canal, two light-colored streaks (remnants of embank-
ments) with a central dark streak (a remnant of the channel),
could not be detected. This suggested that a canal across Cape
Coral never existed, or that it might have been a very shallow
feature, or trail, that could not be seen in aerial photographs.
The latter alternative raised further questions. For exam-
ple, could a shallow canoe trail across Cape Coral have held
water? Could it have left little trace in aerial photographs?
Could natural sloughs and ponds have been used instead of a
canal? Such questions prompted research about the natural
surface hydrology of Cape Coral.

Table 2. Depth from the surface to the water table in
three soils in Charlotte and Lee counties (U.S.D.A.
1984a:Table 17). The monthly readings are based on an
average of two readings taken on the first and middle of
each month for the 3-year period during 1977-1979. Soil
profiles vary in different locations, as shown by the two
examples of Immokalee soil. Boca and Pineda soils are
common in the Cape Coral area. The positive value
indicates water above the ground surface.


Immokalee Immokalee Boca Pineda

Surface Hydrology and Cape Coral

Surface hydrology is affected by a combination of factors
such as topography, geology, vegetation, and climate. Under
natural conditions (before artificial drainage), the Cape Coral





1999 VOL. 52(4)


area was characterized by
flat or gently-sloping ter-
rain and poorly-drained
soils. Periods of high rain-
fall tended to saturate
many of the soils. When
the water table reached the
ground surface, some areas
were prone to a kind of
flooding known as "satura-
tion overland flow"
(Knighton 1984:22, Table
2.4). Major factors and
effects are reviewed here.

Seasonality: Rainfall and

In southern Florida,
there is a dry season (No-
vember through April) and
a wet season (May through
October). In a typical year,
there is approximately 133-
137 cm (52-54 in) of pre-
cipitation at Fort Myers,
immediately east of Cape
Coral (Table 1). Approxi-
mately 80% of this annual
rainfall occurs during the
wet half of the year, May
through October (U. S.D.A.
1954:Table 1, 1984a:Table
In response to changing
amounts of rainfall, the
water table moves up or
down in the soil. During
the year, it can fluctuate as
much as approximately
0.6-1.2 m (2-4 ft) in soils
that are common in the
Cape Coral area (Table 2).

Figure 3. Three drainage basins near Cape Coral for which U.S.G.S. discharge data are
available. Dotted lines show approximate boundaries of drainage basins, based on U.S.D.A.
(1953b, 1984b). See End Note 5 regarding the boundaries and sizes of these drainage basins.

The water table's lowest extremes occur during the dry season
and droughts, and the highest occur during rainy periods that
often result in flooding. Figure 2 shows that the water table is
highest in the middle to late portions of the rainy season (July
through October) in two soils that are common in the Cape
Coral area.
Discharge data from three drainage basins (Alligator
Creek, Orange River, and Imperial River) near Fort Myers and
Cape Coral (Figure 3)5 show that peak discharges are most
frequent in September, with most other peak flows occurring
at other times during the rainy season, especially in August
and October (Table 3). These peaks cluster in the latter half
of the rainy season, after the water table has had time to rise,
and base flow and surface runoff have increased.

Some peaks appear to reflect rainfall from hurricanes or
tropical storms. For example, peak flows at Alligator Creek
and Orange River on September 11, 1960, correspond to the
passage of Hurricane Donna (Gentry 1984:514). Such heavy
rainfall, occurring in the last half of the rainy season, may
flood an already wet landscape. In southwestern Florida, high
rainfall events could have flooded and thereby threatened the
functioning of some known canoe canals, such as the Pine
Island Canal with its hypothesized stepped impoundments
(Luer and Wheeler 1997:126-127).
Under natural conditions in Cape Coral (before artificial
drainage), water collected in seasonal ponds and sloughs. The
duration of standing water in these low-lying areas can be
estimated based on soils. For example, Isles fine sand was


Table 3. Monthly distribution of peak flows during 13,15, and
18-year records (water years = October 1st through September
30). Data are for Alligator Creek (Station 02293400, 1960-
1972), Orange River (Station 02293050, 1960-1977), and
Imperial River (Station 02291500, 1940-1954). Data compiled
from Price et al. (1997) and website of U.S.G.S. (1998a).


Alligator Orange Imperial
Creek River River



1 1

2 3

characteristic of numerous shallow ponds in Cape Coral,
which usually held water for approximately 3 to 6 months per
year. Longer periods of standing water were
typical of deeper ponds (characterized by Cope-
land, Felda, and Pineda fine sand, depressional). Table 4. Dra
Extensive seasonal sloughs carried saturation Cape Coral, I
overland flow for approximately 7 days to 1 1,2,3,10, 11
month per year, while their water tables re- topographic
mained very near the surface for 2 to 4 months
per year. Such sloughs were characterized by
Pineda and Boca soils (U.S.D.A. 1984a:18-46). Name of
Because Cape Coral, and southern Florida in Basin
general, have such pronounced seasonality in
rainfall, the effects of the dry season need to be Hancock-
emphasized. At Cape Coral, soil data indicate Yellow Fever
that both shallow and deep ponds often were dry Creek
for half the year, and shallow sloughs or flood-
ways often were dry for 11 months or more. In Yucca Pen
many shallow ponds and seasonal sloughs, it was Creek
typical for the water table to drop to more than 1
m (40 in) below the surface during the dry sea- Drainage
son. In deeper ponds, the water table typically segments divi
fell to within 25-100 cm (10-40 in) of the surface
for 4 to 6 months (U.S.D.A. 1984a:18-46).

Drainage Patterns

Like most of southern Florida, the Cape Coral area has flat
or gently-sloping terrain. While the edges of the Cape Coral
peninsula are at sea level, most of the land rises gradually to
elevations of between 3-4.5 m (10-15 ft), reaching approxi-
mately 6 m (20 ft) above sea level near the northeastern edge

of the area (United States Geological Survey [U.S.G.S.] 1956b,
Before artificial drainage, Cape Coral had two principal
watersheds (Figure 4) that were fed by shallow ground water
(base flow) and surface runoff. One directed water westward
toward Charlotte Harbor via sloughs and small creeks, such as
Yucca Pen Creek. The other watershed carried water south-
ward via Yellow Fever and Hancock creeks to the
Caloosahatchee River. A third zone in the central portion of
the peninsula (now mostly destroyed by land development)
seems to have lacked a prevailing direction of surface flow. It
was dotted with many seasonal, shallow ponds, which un-
doubtedly helped to charge the area's ground water through
Total discharge from the area is not large, reflecting the
relatively small sizes of drainage basins. I estimate that the
largest basin, the Hancock-Yellow Fever Creek basin, has an
area of approximately 88 km2 (34 mi2), and that the Yucca Pen
Creek basin has an area of approximately 39 km2 (15 mi2)
(Table 4). Apparently because of their relatively small
discharges, there are no U.S.G.S. gauging stations at these or
any other natural streams in Cape Coral. However, several
gauging stations have been established at major artificial
drainage canals (see below).
Low basin relief and a cover of vegetation tend to discour-
age erosion and channel elongation and branching (Knighton

inage density of the two largest, natural drainage basins in
,ased on interpretation of soils maps (U.S.D.A. 1984a:Sheets
, 12, 19, 20, 21 and U.S.D.A. 1984b:Sheets 52, 53, 54) and
sheets (U.S.G.S. 1958a, 1958b, 1956a).

Sum of the Lengths
of Channel Segments

10 miles

5 miles



34 sq. miles 0.29

15 sq. miles

density is defined as the sum of the lengths of the channel
ded by the area of the basin.

1984:16-19). These processes also are discouraged by the
presence of numerous, shallow lakes and sizeable amounts of
local ground water storage, as in the original, central area of
Cape Coral. These factors contributed to low stream order and
drainage density for the natural creeks in Cape Coral.
Stream order and drainage density can be quantified. For
example, the Hancock-Yellow Fever Creek drainage network
has a low stream order of 3 when the "Strahler method"


1999 VOL. 52(4)


Figure 4. Major natural drainage areas in Cape Coral, prior to artificial land alteration. Drainage basins of Hancock and
Yucca Pen creeks are outlined by dash-and-dotted lines. Dashed lines delimit other drainage areas. Based on U.S.D.A.
(1944b, 1953b, 1984a).

(Knighton 1984:8-9; Strahler 1952:1120) is applied to stream
data derived from the U.S.G.S. (1958) topographic sheet
(scale: 1 inch equals 24,000 feet).6 It also has a low drainage
density of 0.29 (Table 4) that is consistent with the basin's low
relief and its cover of primarily saw palmetto, grasses, shrubs,
and pine trees. The basin's shallow, seasonal ponds and
floodways supported low, sometimes marshy vegetation, while
the deepest ponds and sloughs supported some cypress trees.
The development of the main channel of Yellow Fever
Creek (Figure 4) apparently was influenced by underlying
geology because it was aligned with, and was fed partly by, a

long series of shallow, pond-filled concavities that curved
across northern Cape Coral. As they neared Charlotte Harbor,
several natural sloughs or floodways in northwestern Cape
Coral developed incised channels, such as Yucca Pen Creek.
It and several other of these creeks have low stream orders of
2, and some have an order of 1, using the Strahler method and
maps (U.S.G.S. 1956a, 1958b) with scales of 1 inch to 24,000
feet. However, some of these sloughs have shallow upstream
segments, with intermittent or seasonal flow, that appear to




Table 5. Simplified, typical soil profiles of selected natural
common in the Cape Coral area. Depths are below surface
approximate. Based on U.S.D.A. (1984a:33, 46, 72).

1. Boca fine sand
0-3 inches: gray sand
3-14 inches: light gray sand
14-25 inches: very pale brown sand
25-30 inches: gray sandy loam with calcareous nodules
30+ inches: fractured limestone and sandy clay loam

2. Pinedafine sand, limestone substratum
0-4 inches: grayish brown sand
4-9 inches: light gray sand
9-15 inches: very pale brown sand
15-24 inches: yellowish sand
24-27 inches: light gray sand
27-41 inches: gray sandy loam
41-52 inches: gray sandy loam with limestone and shell fragir
52+ inches: fractured limestone

3. Wabasso sand, limestone substratum
0-3 inches: black sand
3-13 inches: gray sand
13-19 inches: light gray sand
19-23 inches: dark brown and dark reddish brown sand
23-37 inches: brown sand
37-51 inches: light brownish gray sandy loam
51+ inches: fractured limestone

have interconnected (or anastomoticc") patterns (U.S.D.A.
1984a:Sheets 1, 2, 10, 11).
Near the upper edge of the tidal zone, Cape Coral probably
had some return flow that helped support marshy vegetation
on the landward side of mangrove swamps (Figure 4). Before
recent, widespread, artificial drainage andfilling, such marshy
zones were common along the coast of southwestern Florida.
The habitat is termed "high marsh" or "high swamp"
(Montague and Wiegert 1991:490; Odum and McIvor
1991:Figure 15.6). In the Cape Coral area, these marshy areas
probably received some ground water (base flow) returning to
the surface, especially during high flow periods (June through
October). As low-lying areas, they also were flooded occasion-
ally by unusually high tides.

Twentieth-Century Changes

The first large-scale, artificial drainage work in Cape Coral
was the dredging of the Gator Slough Canal, which was dug
by 1944 (U.S.D.A. 1944b). This canal led eastward from
Charlotte Harbor, following the natural route of Gator Slough,
a seasonal shallow floodway (Figure 4). As the canal went
inland, it diverged toward the northeast, away from the natural
slough. As it went farther eastward, it penetrated the

Hancock-Yellow Fever Creek drainage basin, inter-
soils cepting water from the mid- and upper reaches of that
and basin. Thus, the eastern portion of the canal diverted
water from the Caloosahatchee watershed to the
Charlotte Harbor watershed.
In the 1960s and 1970s, large portions of Cape
Coral were dredged and filled to create land for urban
development and housing subdivisions (Rothchild
1985:81-103). To help remove water from the land,
artificial ponds and wide drainage canals were dug.
The intention was to lower the water table, build up
the land surface, and promote runoff. Annual hydro-
graphs for 1996 of two canals in Cape Coral, Gator
Slough Canal and Shadroe Canal (U.S.G.S. 1998b),
reflect the rapid runoff, high and narrow peak, and
minimal or non-existent base flow of artificially-
drained land. Before artificial drainage, it is assumed
that hydrographs of natural creeks would have dis-
played slower runoff, lower and broader peaks, and
ents some base flow.
Natural soils in the Cape Coral area would be
expected to have a downward trend in the water table
during the twentieth century, with greater lower
extremes during the annual cycle of fluctuation,
probably resembling trends recorded elsewhere in
southwestern Florida, such as near Corkscrew Swamp
in Collier County (McPherson 1984:Figure 8). The
lowering of base flow may account for what appears
to be decreased return flow and increased salinity in
high marsh and saltern habitats landward of the
mangrove zone.

Implications of Hydrological Analysis

Here, I return to the questions: Could a shallow canoe
canal across Cape Coral have held water? Could it have left
little trace in aerial photographs? Could natural sloughs and
ponds have been used instead of a canal?
In answer to the first question, the data presented above (in
Tables 1 and 2, and in Figure 2) suggest that a shallow canoe
canal across Cape Coral could have been feasible when the
water table was high, which was approximately 3 to 4 months
each year (during July through October). Given a draft of
approximately 15 cm (6 in) for dugout canoes and a water
table at 25-40 cm (10-16 in) or less below the surface, such a
canal could have had a depth of approximately 60 cm (24 in).
However, this depth would have provided enough water for
canoes during only a few months of the year, typically in the
middle and late rainy season.
If a canal with a shallow channel (60 cm maximum depth)
had been dug, part of the answer to the second question is that
similarities in shallow soils may make it obscure in aerial
photographs. Soil profiles of the Cape Coral area's predomi-
nant soil types show that soil colors and composition are not
very different at a depth of 60 cm (24 in) than they are at the
surface. In general, these shallow soil zones are predomi-
nantly gray, light gray, very pale brown, or yellowish fine sand


1999 VOL. 52(4)

Luxii CAPE Corw~

(Table 5). At slightly greater depths, however, some of the
area's predominant soils have zones that differ markedly from
overlying materials. For example, Boca fine sand contains
calcareous nodules at approximately 63 cm (25 in) below the
surface and fractured limestone at approximately 75 cm (30 in)
below the surface (Table 5). Thus, comparatively similar
sandy soil at shallow depths probably would have made a
shallow canal's embankments less visible in aerial photo-
graphs than if deeper, different subsurface material had been
An answer to the second question, however, also needs to
consider vegetation. If a canal was as deep as 60 cm, then it
should have left traces on the surface. Observations of the
remains of known canoe canals indicate that differences in
elevation between a canal's eroded embankments and channel,
even ifjust a few inches, should affect vegetation in ways that
should be visible in aerial photographs. Even if obliterated in
some areas by flooding (in seasonal ponds and sloughs), a
canal across Cape Coral would have been long enough to cross
some areas that were not prone to flooding and where traces of
its embankments and channel should have remained on the
surface. Such traces probably would have affected vegetation
in ways that would be visible in old aerial photographs.
Could natural sloughs and ponds have been used instead of
a canal? This might have been possible by two routes, but only
if the land was flooded and only if there was sufficient water
for dugout canoes to navigate. One possible route might have
been via a flooded Gator Slough and the headwaters of Yellow
Fever Creek (Figure 4). A second possible route was between
the headwaters of Yellow Fever and Yucca Pen creeks, via a
series of connecting, seasonal sloughs and ponds. However,
the limiting stretches of seasonal sloughs (having soils such as
Pineda fine sand and Boca fine sand, slough) suggest that such
possible natural routes might have been flooded for only a
week to a month each year (U.S.D.A. 1953b, 1984a:24,44,46,
Sheet No. 2) and that water depths were slight, perhaps only
an inch or two. These two routes were not much shorter than
an open-water one around the southern end of Cape Coral,
which was available year-round.
In sum, if the hydrology during the last 500-1000 years
was similar to that of the recent past (prior to artificial
drainage), then a shallow canal (60 cm depth) across Cape
Coral might have held enough water for dugout canoes during
approximately 3 to 4 months of the year. A deeper canal
probably would have extended its usable time. However, a
canal should have left traces on the landscape (differences in
vegetation and possibly soils), but they are lacking in aerial
photographs. Natural sloughs and ponds do not appear to have
offered viable canoe routes across Cape Coral because of
stretches that were too shallow and that were flooded for only
brief periods each year.


Archival research of accounts dating to the 1870s and
1880s suggests that a rumored canal was attributed to the Cape
Coral area through confusion or error. Historical land surveys

in the 1870s do not show or mention a canal. Inspection of
aerial photographs dating to 1944 and 1953 reveals no trace of
a canoe canal, and shows that a previously suspected feature
was an abandoned logging railway dating to the early 1900s.
An analysis of Cape Coral's natural surface hydrology and
soils helps to understand the potential and limitation of the
land from the standpoint of a hypothetical canoe canal. Today,
the lack of definite evidence for a canal indicates it is unlikely
that one existed.


The absence of a canoe canal across Cape Coral does not
change the hypothesis that lengthy canoe canals, such as the
ones at Pine Island and Ortona, served as transportation short-
cuts, facilitating communication and movement of items of
tribute and exchange (Luer 1989). However, it does point to
the need for understanding the lower Caloosahatchee River,
Matlacha Pass, and the Pine Island Canal in terms of canoe
travel. Matlacha Pass would have provided a north-south
corridor (connecting Charlotte Harbor with San Carlos Bay
and the northern end ofEstero Bay) as well as an access to the
mouth of the Caloosahatchee River (and points eastward from
there). With the addition of the Pine Island Canal, Matlacha
Pass was connected to Pine Island Sound. Major aboriginal
sites were in all these locations. Future research should be
directed at improving our understanding of how Indians
navigated these coastal waters and incorporated Pine Island
(perhaps as a wind screen) and the Pine Island Canal in their
navigational strategies.
In addition, this study's exploration of the seasonality of
high water tables in southwestern Florida is of interest to the
hydraulic functioning of known canoe canals. The fact that
archaeological work has disclosed channel depths of approxi-
mately 100-130 cm (3-4 ft) at the Ortona and Pine Island
canals (Carr et al. 1997; Luer and Wheeler 1997:125, 130)
indicates that these two canals (both of which were dependent
largely on ground water) originally were dug deeply enough so
that they would have held some water beyond the season of
the highest water tables (July through October), though they
might have become dry during dry periods or droughts.


'Charles Kenworthy was a medical doctor, who first visited the coast
of southern Florida in 1844. Thirty years later, in the Winter of
1874-1875, he was sent byForest andStream, a sportsmen's weekly
magazine published in New York City, to explore Florida and to
write a series of letters promoting some of its then-remote areas to
the magazine's readers. This was the second expedition that the
magazine sent to Florida, the first being by naturalist Fred A. Ober
to Lake Okeechobee in early 1874 (Anonymous 1874; Hallock
1876:7, 13-14; Ober 1874a, 1874b; Reiger 1975:30-32, 178-179;
Tebeau 1984:17-18, Figure 2). In Kenworthy's case, he and two
companions sailed a 21-foot, shallow-draft sailboat along portions of
the Florida Gulf coast and up the Caloosahatchee River (Kenworthy
1875a). Within a year of this expedition, Kenworthy settled in
Jacksonville, Florida (Anonymous 1875, 1876). In late 1877, he




sailed from Key West to Cedar Keys, stopping at the Naples Canal on
the coast of southwestern Florida (Kenworthy 1883).
2 It should be noted that Kenworthy (1875a:211) identifies his
informant as a "Mr. Ham." Luer (1991:61) has suggested that the
informant might have been a man named "Brown."
3 According to Williams and Cleveland (1993:376, 379), Slater was
a large sawmill town that also was called Woodruff or Samville.
4 It should be noted that this early twentieth-century logging probably
removed a good portion of the Cape Coral area's tree cover. Thus,
the Florida Department of Transportation's (1983) characterization
of the area as having less than 10% tree cover and its classification
of the area as "palmetto prairie" (Luer 1989:108) may reflect the
aftermath of logging, rather than its natural condition.
5 Figure 3 is conservative in its boundaries of drainage basins. For
example, the Imperial River drainage basin apparently encompasses
additional area, such as to the northeast (Estevez 1997). At some
times, larger drainage areas may correlate with high flows when these
streams receive water from lands that are flooded.
6 The Strahler method is a system for determining stream order, or a
way of numbering the hierarchical structure of drainage networks for
a variety of analyses (e.g., Knighton 1984; Strahler 1952). The
determination of stream order is dependent on the scale of the maps
used, and so it is necessary to state their scale.


I am grateful to Richard Sosnowski and Susan McLellan of the
City of Cape Coral's Division of Growth and Land Management for
their caring and interest, and for generously giving assistance in the
field. A version of this paper was written in Spring 1998 for a fluvial
geomorphology class taught by Dr. Joann Mossa, and it benefitted
from her comments. Archaeologist Karen Walker kindly called my
attention to her report containing James Pickens' map of old rail lines
in the Cape Coral area. Archaeologists Robert S. Carr and Jorge
Zamanillo generously provided a copy of their study of a portion of
the eastern Ortona Canal. The paper also benefitted from comments
by reviewers.

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264139082022100) and Shadroe Canal (Station
02293345), Florida. Tabular data from U.S.G.S. web site
Walker, Karen J., Robin L. Denson, and Gary D. Ellis
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Report. Report conducted for Self and Rost, Inc., Engi-
neers, and the Lee County Division of Public Parks by Gulf
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Anthropologist 51:15-24.
1998b Walker's Canal: An Aboriginal Canal in the Florida
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Williams, Lindsey, and U. S. Cleveland
1993 OurFascinatingPast, CharlotteHarbor: TheEarly Years.
Charlotte Harbor Area Historical Society, Punta Gorda.



S. .. yes, but what was the

The exact, full wording of that reference is as close
as your phone:

Back issues of The Florida Anth-opologist -- going
back close to a half century are available at the

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FAX (305)925-7064

Sole agents for back issues of The Florida Anthropologist



University of South Dakota, Archaeology Laboratory, Vermillion, SD 57069
E-mail: sdasovic@usd.edu

The impact on coastal site integrity caused by the normal
ebb and flow of tides and wave action can be measured over
a period of time. However, damage caused by catastrophic
events can be more difficult to measure. Indeed, the opportu-
nities available to conduct such studies are rare. In March,
1993, the "Storm of the Century" struck the Big Bend region
of Florida. Ongoing archaeological and geomorphological
studies on Bird Island (8DI52), Dixie County, Florida, were
interrupted and damaged. Sustained winds of around 74 KPH
(120 MPH) and the resulting storm surge caused great destruc-
tion to the site and the island. The consequential scatter of
cultural material on Bird Island is compared to the strati-
graphic sequence on nearby Coon Island (8DI15). This
comparison sheds light on the processes involved during
storm-aided redistribution of coastal site materials and
suggests that buried shell lenses on Coon Island are redepos-
ited shell midden materials resulting from severe storms.

Erosional Processes

Any archaeological site situated along a body of water
suffers from erosion. The continuous action of waves, tides,
and boat wakes erode archaeological sites. Insights into these
and other erosional processes, such as storms, which affect
archaeological sites can be gained from geological studies of
coastal erosion.
Coastlines often are classified in terms of wave-energy
levels such as high, moderate, low, or zero levels. It stands to
reason that areas of higher wave-energy levels would suffer
from more severe erosion than those experiencing lower
wave-energy levels. The northeastern Gulf Coast of Florida
(which includes Dixie County), roughly defined here as
running from the Ocklockonee River to just north of Tampa
Bay, is classified as a low to zero wave-energy level area
(Davis and Hayes 1984; Garrett 1983; Puri et al. 1967). This
area also is characterized by low tidal ranges (Davis and
Hayes 1984:319). However, wave-energy and tidal levels are
general geological terms. In other words, what may be low or
zero energy in a geological sense can be quite high for a
coastal archaeological site. It is for this reason that "simple
correlations between high and low wave-energy areas and
overall erosional damage to archeological sites cannot be
made" (Garrett 1983:38). Within these broadly classified
areas, significant localized contradictions can exist. For
example, the Shired Island West (8DI7) site, approximately 2
km southeast of Bird Island, "suffers heavy erosional damage.

Intensive wave action has caused trees carrying part of the
midden matrix to tumble overnight, and large areas to
disappear in a matter of months" (Garrett 1983:38).
Tides add to the effect of wave erosion. High tides carry
the waves higher up the beach toward or into a coastal site,
causing more damage than during low tides. During Spring
along the Gulf Coast of Florida, occasional neap tides can
cause extensive erosional episodes. For example, at the Naval
Live Oaks Reservation in the Gulf Islands (near Pensacola),
neap tides were responsible for the erosion of as much as 6 m
of sediment in twenty-four hours (Garrett 1983:38). At Bird
Island, just one neap tide caused the loss of up to one meter of
the shell midden.
Boat wakes can be just as damaging as natural waves in
areas of high boat traffic. Henry Baker (1988) studied erosion
along the Intracoastal Waterway in St. Johns County, Florida
and the effectiveness of the measures used to control it. Boat
wakes as well as tidal fluctuation and rising sea levels all
affected this site by severely undercutting the shoreline,
causing collapse of the overlying sediments.
Studies such as these are important because they document
the magnitude of erosion to sites and offer ways to abate the
onslaught. However, none of these studies go beyond the
destruction of the site itself to tell the story of where the site
materials go, or how they are redistributed when they are
impacted by severe erosional episodes, such as the major
winter storm that obliterated most of the Bird Island shell
midden. It is the purpose of this paper to address this issue.

Research Area

Between January 1992 and April 1994, Florida State
University's (FSU) Department of Anthropology, the Aca-
demic Diving Program, and the Department of Geology
conducted archaeological studies along the coast of Dixie
County (Figure 1). Three sites were examined, Coon Island
(east end of research area), Shired Island West (middle), and
Bird Island (west end). Coon and Bird Islands are privately
owned and Shired Island West is in the Lower Suwannee
Wildlife Refuge. These sites are located in a low-to-zero-ener-
gy zone. Despite this classification, some severe localized
erosion exists. Shired Island was examined briefly. It was
apparent that numerous episodes of washover and severe
undercutting of the shell midden were quickly destroying and


VOL. 52(4)


AT G;lII.F l SlI.'T .11W WATIrE DTI'M x .el,,eI
I I I I"



Figure 1. Map showing locations of Bird and Coon Islands.

redepositing what was left of this site. Bird Island and Coon
Island, the two sites detailed in this paper, also show how this
low-energy zone can be deceptively destructive.

Coon Island

In March, 1992, in response to the landowner's report of
artifacts washing up along its beach, FSU surveyed Coon
Island. Several test units were excavated to determine if there

were any intact cultural deposits, as this was not evident on
the surface. The landowner explained the extreme erosion
that Coon Island had endured from waves, tides, and storms
over the last 50 years. The only evidence of the shell midden
that was once there, according to the landowner, was the
debris on the beach and some thin lenses in the sand hills on
the island's interior. The landowner's best account of erosion
was in the description of the house. It was located on high
ground (originally without stilts) overlooking the windward

1999 VOL. 52(4)


DAsovIcn CooN AND Bum ISlANDs

side of the island. It had been on this high ground, without
stilts, since the mid 1980s. By 1992, 75% of the house was
supported by stilts, holding it nearly 6 meters above the beach.
After the 1993 storm, the house and roughly 40% of the
existing island were washed away.
Excavations included two test units (1 x 1 m) and two
profiles on the island, and one offshore, underwater test unit
(1 x 1 m). The first land unit was on the beach in the south-
west corer of the island, and the second was on high ground
on the extreme west end of the island. Both were excavated to
a depth of 1 m and yielded no artifacts or evidence of shell
layers, as was expected, since the location of the midden was
east (downwind) of both units. The underwater unit was
located south of the beach, near the west end of the island. It
showed no signs of cultural material to a depth of 1 m.
Of particular interest were the two profiles. Both were in
the windward or south side of the high ground in the center of
the island. They exhibited thin, widely spaced layers of
disarticulated oyster and clam shells with occasional associated
artifacts. These thin shell layers are important and will be
discussed later. No primary cultural deposits were located.

Bird Island

In the winter of 1993, FSU started an interdisciplinary
research effort on Bird Island. Major fields of research
included archaeology, osteology, hydrology/geomorphology,
and biology. What initially called attention to the island was
a report of human bones washing up in the surf. Hundreds of
whole and fragmented human bones, most noticeably skull
fragments and long bones, were observed rolling in the surf
and lying exposed along the beach. All of these projects
originally were aimed at solving the problem ofjust where this
human bone was originating and where it was going.

Archaeology ofBirdIsland. Bird Island is a multi-component
site with evidence of occupations from the Middle Archaic
Period to the present. When FSU started investigating the site,
the only identifiable feature was the remnant of a shell
midden. It was approximately 60 m long, and visible only in
the cut-bank along the beach. On its west end, it was approxi-
mately 2 m thick at its deepest point, and it tapered off to
about 5 cm thick on its east end. During the first trip to the
island, only a cursory survey of discernible features was made,
although the biological study was completed. Locations of the
shell midden and the artifact scatter along the beach were
noted for more detailed study in the following weeks. The
storm struck the island prior to the next visit, destroying most
of the midden. No detailed measurements of the midden were
made before the storm.
Seven months after the storm, a small remnant of the shell
midden was excavated near its east end. This was the only
area where original deposits remained following the storm. A
profile was cut into the side of the midden to determine the
burial level's relationship to the midden. This level had been
previously identified in the beach sediments due to some
exposed burials (due to vandalism). The excavation area was

inland of the mean-high-tide-line. The remaining shell
midden deposits reached 16 cm in depth. Excavation was
continued below the shell into the burial levels. These levels
were composed of a dark-stained soil which possibly repre-
sented a second, non-shell midden. This staining was approxi-
mately 55 cm thick and contained, almost exclusively, human
remains and associated burial goods such as bone hair pins,
and lithic tools. The staining under the shell midden was
consistent with the exposed burial area on the beach.
A wide variety of ceramic material was recovered on the
beach ranging in age from the Orange to the Ft. Walton
periods. Currently, students at The Florida State University
are inventorying the ceramic collection (Glen Doran, personal
communication 1998). Very little lithic material (no diagnos-
tics) was recovered on the beach. The most interesting
discovery in the beach material was the inordinately large
amount of steatite. Nearly 66 kg were recovered from the surf
Surveys during later visits pinpointed the extent of the
burial area in the beach sediments. After the storm, 19 burials
were excavated on the beach, sometimes while working in the
surf. During each visit to the island, human bone was in
abundance on the beach and in the surf on the windward
(south) side of the island. This continued through 1995,
presumedly from continued erosion. In 1996, local residents
reported that bones were no longer noticed on the beach.
In a recent Master's thesis, all human remains collected
from Bird Island were analyzed (Stojanowski 1997). "Based
on the number of frontal bones and left femora (medial thirds),
a minimum of 36 individuals are present in the sample"
(Stojanowski and Doran 1998:141).
The only radiocarbon evidence comes from a 1987 assay.
It was from a human bone sample obtained from an eroding,
complete burial. The uncorrected result was 4570 +/- 110 B.P.
(Beta-27221). Stojanowski and Doran (1998:139) report this
as a calibrated date of 3349 B.C. The burial and the date were
associated with the Orange Period because Orange-period
ceramics appeared to have been associated with the burial
(Julian Granberry, personal communication 1992).
Midden rock was found during each visit to Bird Island,
indicating some duration of the erosional processes. Midden
rock has been described as calcined shell cemented together by
groundwater percolation. It "occurs in irregular pieces 25 to
50 cm in their longest dimension and is somewhat resistant to
erosion. Midden rock could be left as lag in the event that a
site was destroyed by marine erosion" (Gagliano et al.

Geological Setting ofBirdIsland. Bird Island is situated in a
low-to-zero wave-energy zone, a low-tidal range zone, and
contains a transgressive stratigraphic sequence because it is in
an area of transgressive seas. Bird Island was not always an
island. According to local residents, around the
turn-of-the-century it was still possible to drive an oxen cart
from the nearby town of Horseshoe Beach to the current
island. Much of the oxen trail was through a marshy area,
making it difficult to determine when it became an island.




Furthermore, identifying pre-contact landforms around the
current island was beyond the scope of this research.
Modern prevailing winds for both Bird and Coon islands
are from the south and southeast except in winter, when
northeast winds prevail. Regularly occurring storms tend to
approach the islands from the west or northwest. Hurricanes
can approach from any direction.
Before the storm, Bird Island displayed many characteris-
tics of a low-profile barrier island as delineated by Nummedal
(1983:93). "The coastal waters off Dixie County are shallow.
The 1-fathom contour...lies 1 to 5 miles offshore; the 5-fathom
contour is about 25 miles from shore, indicating a slope
slightly in excess of 1 foot per mile." Puri et al. (1967:37) also
suggest that the extent of this shallow water is an indication of
the lack of major storms, such as hurricanes, to hit this area.
Nummedal (1983:109) also shows that the northeast Gulf
Coast is one of the areas least likely to experience a hurricane,
especially a great hurricane (sustained winds in excess of 56
m/sec or 125 mph). This is a major factor in the continued
existence of shell middens along the northeast Gulf coast. As
can be seen by the 1993 winter storm (sustained winds of
around 120 mph), it may only take one such storm to destroy
one of these sites.
Continued pounding by lesser storms can damage or
destroy coastal sites just as efficiently as any single hurricane.
However, the immediate offshore area ofBird Island contained
several features that helped to protect the midden during these
lesser storms as well as from daily wave action. Probably the
most significant of these was a berm-like feature extending
southwestward from the island. This long, thin, submerged
sandbar (possibly a remnant of Bird Island's migration) was
both an aid and a hindrance to the shell midden's preservation.
It protected the west half of the island (where the midden was)
from some wave action by causing many of the waves to lose
energy before they reached the west end of the island. How-
ever, since waves tend to travel in a course perpendicular to
bathymetric contours upon reaching shallower water, it also
acted as a guide and refracted the waves toward the midden on
the west-southwest corner of the island. Much of this berm
was washed away during the storm, and the west half of the
island now receives the full brunt of wave action rather than
redirected, lower-energy waves. Several large offshore oyster
beds to the south also act as a barrier to wave action by
successfully breaking up waves before they hit the beach.
If enough energy remains after a wave passes these two
obstacles, the wave then encounters nearshore oyster and grass
beds (Figure 2). Here, except in the case of storms, the waves
lose most of their remaining energy, leaving only a small flow
of water to run along the beach. However, where there were
neither oyster nor grass beds, the waves reached the shore
with sufficient energy to undercut the midden. The midden
was in a position that was offered no direct protection by
nearshore oyster beds or grass beds, resulting in the undercut-
ting and consequent collapse of the midden materials.

Storm Damage and Other ErosionalFactors. Only one project
was completed before the storm hit Bird Island. This was a

biological study of sea grass and living oyster bed distribu-
tions along the island's south side and a comparison of their
positions to the shell midden.
The study found that the absence of nearshore oyster and
grass beds was the major contributing factor to severe under-
cutting of the midden because normal wave activity and boat
wakes often reached the midden unhindered. However, this
absence did not seem to be a major cause for the erosion of the
burials. Most of the burials were located to the southeast of
the post-storm remnant of the midden. Neither normal wave
nor tidal action was observed to have exposed the burials in
the beach. Even immediately after smaller storms, no burials
were exposed. The only instance burials were found to be
exposed was after a case of site vandalization. The bone
found washing in the surf could, however, have come from an
area near the west end of the midden, where the undercutting
was taking place, and therefore where the burial area might
have already been destroyed by the time of initial survey. The
only observed undercutting on the island was in the western
half of the shell midden.
Even though it took less than two hours for the storm to
nearly destroy the shell midden, other erosional processes
could have caused more total damage over time. Undercutting
from continual erosional processes caused minor collapses
and damaged the midden's integrity.
After severe high tides or neap tides (survey crews were on
the island for two such events), only a small fraction of the
material that was dislodged could be seen on the beach or in
the exposed tidal zone after the tides subsided. Where all this
redeposited material now resides is still a mystery. However,
damage from these normal erosional factors accounts for an
inconsequential part of the overall erosional damage to the site
during 1993.
Access to the island was not gained until two weeks after
the storm. The windward side of the island was unrecogniz-
able. What formerly was a 60 m long by 2 m tall section of
exposed midden (Figure 3) became a gently sloping sand
ramp about 25 centimeters thick (Figure 4). A large part of
the burial lens seemed to have survived intact. A small
portion of the midden survived partially intact.
The storm hit Bird Island in at least two episodes. The
first, a strong wind out of the south, apparently did little
damage. The second, out of the west, consisted of hurri-
cane-force winds and a powerful series of storm surges, the
largest of which was estimated to have been 12 feet high (3.7
m) by local residents. During this second episode, three main
events occurred: sand deposition, midden destruction, and
midden material redeposition.
To help determine this destructive sequence of events on
Bird Island, David Furbish, a hydrologist/geomorphologist
(and a specialist in sediment transport in water) from FSU's
Department of Geology, evaluated Bird Island and the areas
nearby. After the storm, much of the interior of the island was
covered with a thick layer of sand. The explanation for this
relates directly to the still-intact burial lens. The beach sand
could not have been disturbed much at all because the burials
were no more than 20 centimeters below surface. This means


1999 VOL. 52(4)


tI Buii ArMa Ovstec Bed
SGrass Bed Post-Storm Midden

Li Post-Stom Midden Debim

Figure 2. Plan map of Bird Island and relevant near-shore and archaeological features.


island on top of the already-deposited
sand as the surge further regressed.
Random hand cores were placed
in the island's interior. None of
these found buried cultural material.
Such material was only found lying
loose on top of the newly deposited
The above represents the proba-
ble scenario for the distribution of
sand and midden material on the
island. The newly redeposited sand
was thickest on the lower-lying por-
tion of the island nearer the beach.
Hand cores showed the new layer of
sand to be as much as 1.5 m deep in
some areas. Relatively little sand
was found on the high ground with

Figure 3. The midden on Bird Island before the storm.

that the new sand on the island's interior came from some-
where other than the beach. Apparently, as the surges neared
the island, large quantities of sand were picked up from the
offshore bars, the berm-like feature northwest of the island,

and the foreshore area (Figure 5).
Then the surges moved over the
nearshore oyster beds, grass beds,
and the burials. At the midden, they
probably peeled off successive layers
from the top of the midden and car-
ried the material onto the island.
After passing the midden, each wave
started to lose energy because it was
now passing over a significant ob-
stacle, the island itself (also see
Dolan 1973:265). They then began
dropping their load of transported
sand and midden materials on the
island's interior.
The waves continued to lose en-
ergy as they traveled across the is-
land dropping the sand along the
way. Midden materials (shell, bone,
and ceramics) are more easily trans-
portable than sand due to their great-
er surface areas (David Furbish,
personal communication, 1993), and
were carried or washed onto the
high ground. Most of the midden
material remained in a horseshoe


Figure 4. The midden on Bird Island after the storm.

shape around the high ground, settling there as the storm
surge retreated (Figure 2). Some midden material remained
suspended, coming to rest on the lower-lying portions of the

1999 VOL. 52(4)



the cores indicating a depth of no more than .2 m. Sand
normally "flows" in surf zones, but it takes larger amounts of
energy to transport it a large distance at one time. Such is not
the case for shell where a lesser amount of energy can carry
it for longer distances. Therefore, the waves must have lost
the energy necessary to transport sand before they reached the
high ground, leaving most of the sand on the low ground.

There is no way to determine the amount of midden
material that was redeposited on the island proper. Measure-
ments of the midden were not made on the first visit because
the biological study was paramount. The second trip was
meant for a more detailed study of the midden. Due to the
storm, detailed measurements were not made. Furthermore,
determining a total area of redeposition would be relatively
meaningless considering that not all of the midden material
can be accounted for due to the lack of detailed measurements.
It should be assumed that some portion of the midden material
was washed completely over the island and into the bay,
probably during the strongest sequence of waves at the
beginning of the storm. This process, known as "washover,"
is common when storms strike low-profile islands (i.e.,
Dolan1973; Nummedal 1983).

Comparison of Bird and Coon Islands

In comparing 1994 Bird Island to 1992 Coon Island, one
sees remarkable similarities in that thin shell layers exist on
the high ground of both islands and little or no other evidence
of the original shell middens can be found. After surveying
the redeposited midden debris on Bird Island, it is postulated
here that the thin cultural layers in the high sand hills on Coon
Island were caused by successive severe storms which eventu-
ally destroyed all direct evidence of the original site.
Louis Tesar (1995:1) reports similar erosional effects on
other coastal sites. He states that many sites in Bay County,
Florida "were substantially eroded with shell midden remains
(primarily oyster) and associated artifacts being deposited as
water washed lenses along and near beach lines and extending

onto adjacent tidal flats." These beach lenses appear to be
indicative of less violent erosional processes because the
material was not transported overland. The evidence on Bird
Island shows that the cultural material/artifact lenses along
beach lines are direct effects only of everyday wave and tidal
erosion, because the beach line was relatively clear of cultural
material after the storm .


Erosion of coastal sites is a topic that should be approached
in a manner of "site relativism." There are so many variables
unique to each stretch of coast, each site, and each erosional
episode, including the damage during and after inundation,
that making generalizations about coastal site erosion is
difficult. Each site must be evaluated individually, taking into
account its unique set of geological, hydrological, and ecologi-
cal features.
The problems brought about by coastal site destruction are
not unique to salt-water environments. Sites bordering fresh
water involve many of the same erosional processes (Baker
1988; Lenihan et al. 1981; Will and Clark 1996; Zimmerman
and Whitten 1980). Lessons can be learned from one
coastal/shoreline environment that can help with studies at
Lucille Johnson, a discussant for the symposium where the
first version of this paper was presented, offered further
insight on the results of this study. She suggested that archae-
ologists should take careful note of this type of study when
considering site distribution, aboriginal population estimates,
and related studies along coastal areas. This is not a new
thought, but it is rarely discussed in the context of coastal or
shoreline archaeology. At some point in the future, the Bird
Island site will no longer be discernible as an archaeological
site, much as the Coon Island site is now. Following this line
of thought, Johnson asked: "How many coastal sites have been
destroyed without anyone's knowledge?" Another question
might be, "How many sites are currently thought to represent

-- offshore -- nearshore backshore

beach face

Figure 5. Idealized shoreline profile (adapted from Komar 1983).




small occupations, when in fact much of the original site
material has been redeposited or destroyed?" Many more such
questions can be posed.
At Bird Island, archaeologists had a rare opportunity to
document a site's near-annihilation by nature. This has
brought to light the criteria for the recognition of in situ
versus redeposited cultural material at coastal sites. The
conclusions drawn from such observations will aid future
endeavors in coastal site archaeology.


Another version of this paper was presented at the 1994 Society
for American Archaeology's annual meeting in Anaheim, California
in a symposium entitled "Prehistoric Underwater Archaeological
Resources oftheNorthAmerican Continental ShelfandNear-Coastal
Waterways". Field work was supported by the Florida State
University's Department of Anthropology and the Academic Diving
Program. My thanks to Glen Doran who served as my co-principal
investigator for the burial excavations, to James Dunbar who
encouraged me to write this paper, to W. Raymond Wood for his
editorial comments, and to the anonymous reviewers. I would also
like to thank Gregg R. Stanton, Director, Academic Diving Program,
Florida State University, for logistical support, and the many
students from FSIUs Department of Anthropology who volunteered
their time. Finally, this project could not have been undertaken
without the support of landowners Carolyn Davis and Thelma
Flanagan. Carolyn was a good friend to the archaeology of Florida
and she will be missed.

References Cited

Baker, Henry A.
1988 Erosion at the Shell Bluff Landing Site (8SJ32), 1988.
Florida Archaeological Reports 2. Bureau of Archaeologi-
cal Research, Division of Historical Resources, Florida
Department of State, Tallahassee.
Davis, Richard A. Jr., and Miles O. Hayes
1984 What is a Wave-Dominated Coast? In Hydrodynamics and
Sedimentation in Wave-DominatedCoastalEnvironments,
edited by B. Greenwood and R.A. Davis Jr., pp. 313-329.
Elsevier, New York.
Delorme Publishing
1986 Florida Atlas & Gazetteer. Freeport, Maine.
Dolan, Robert
1973 Barrier Islands: Natural and Controlled. In Coastal Geo-
morphology, edited by Donald R. Coates, pp. 263-278.
Publications in Geomorphology, State University of New
York, Binghamton.
Dunbar, James S., S. David Webb, and Michael Faught
1992 InundatedPrehistoric Sites in Apalachee Bay, Florida, and
the Search for the Clovis Shoreline. In Paleoshorelines
and Prehistory: An Investigation of Method, edited by
Lucille Lewis Johnson, pp. 117-148. CRC Press, Boca
Raton, Florida.
Gagliano, Sherwood M., Charles E. Pearson, Richard A. Weinstein,
Diane E. Wiseman, and Christopher M. McClendon.
1982 Sedimentary Studies ofPrehistoric Archaeological Sites:
Criteriafor the Identification of SubmergedArchaeologi-
cal Sites ofthe Northern Gulf ofMexico Continental Shelf.
Preservation Planning Series, Coastal Environments Inc.,
Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Garrett, Susan
1983 Coastal Erosion and Archaeological Resources on Na-
tional Wildlife Refuges in the Southeast. Archeological
Services Branch, National Park Service, Atlanta.
Komar, Paul D.
1983 Beach Processes and Erosion An Introduction. In CRC
Handbook of Coastal Processes and Erosion, edited by
Paul D. Komar, pp. 1-20. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton,
Lenihan, D. J., T. L. Carrell, S. Fosberg, L. Murphy, S. L. Rayl, and
J. A. Ware
1981 The Final Report of the National Reservoir Inundation
Study. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park
Service, Southwest Cultural Resources Center, Santa Fe,
New Mexico.
Nummedal, Dag
1983 Barrier Islands. In CRC Handbook of Coastal Processes
and Erosion, edited by Paul D. Komar, pp. 77-122. CRC
Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida.
Puri, Harbans S., J. William Yon, Jr., and William. R. Oglesby
1967 Geology ofDixie and Gilchrist Counties, Florida, Bulletin
49, Florida Geological Survey, Tallahassee.
Stojanowski, Christopher M.
1997 Descriptive Analysis of the Prehistoric Bird Island (8DI52)
Skeletal Population. M.S. thesis, Department of Anthro-
pology, Florida state University, Tallahassee.
Stojanowski, Christopher M., and Glen H. Doran
1998 Osteology of the Late Archaic Bird Island Site (8DI52),
Dixie County, Florida. The Florida Anthropologist
Tesar, Louis D.
1995 Inundated Terrestrial Sites: A Cautionary Note. The Florida
Anthropologist 48(1):46-53.
Will, Richard T. and James A. Clark
1996 Stone Artifact Movement on Impoundment Shorelines: A
Case Study fromMaine. AmericanAntiquity61(3):499-51-
Zimmerman, Larry J., and R. G. Whitten
1980 Prehistoric Bones Tell a Grim Tale of Indian v. Indian.
Smithsonian 11(16):100-108.


1999 VOL. 52(4)

A new video on Florida's native peoples

"Shadows and Reflections:
Florida's Lost People"
SProduced by the Florida
Funded by the
Florida Department
of State


Produced and Directed by Chaos Productions
Executive Producer: Brent Weisman
Written by Marshall Riggan
Artwork by Theodore Morris

1998 Florida Anthropological Society and the Florida Department of State

To obtain copies send $23.45 ( $18.81, plus $1.14 tax and $3.50 S&H) to:
Terry Simpson, 7751 Avocet Drive, Wesley Chapel, FL 33544


Support production of
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the scholarly journal published quarterly by
The Florida Anthropological Society since 1948.

Donations are now being accepted from
individuals, corporations, and foundations.

Inquiries and gifts may be directed to:

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The Florida Anthropological Society is a non-profit organization
under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Contributions are tax-deductible as provided by
section 170 of the code.


Mississippian Towns and Sacred Places: Searching for an
Architectural Grammar. R. Barry Lewis and Charles Stout,
editors, University of Alabama Press, 1998. xiv + 304pp.,
illustrations, bibliography, index, $29.95 (paper).

Savannah River Archaeological Research Program, P.O.
Drawer 400, New Ellenton, South Carolina 29809

To most archaeologists, Mississippian towns represent nodes
in a settlement system or collections of domestic and public
architecture. Mississippian Towns and Sacred Places:
Searching for an Architectural Grammar, edited by R. Barry
Lewis and Charles Stout, takes a different approach to Missis-
sippian towns by searching for the fundamental rules, and the
meanings behind them, governing the arrangement of archi-
tecture and the use of space. This is what is referred to as an
architectural grammar. Enlisted in this effort are some of the
Southeast's most respected scholars. Although all do not
explicitly embrace Lewis and Stout's search, their contribu-
tions help bring together an impressive comparative data set
on Mississippian town structure. These data alone are of great
value, but by framing them with a fresh new perspective, the
editors have created a thought-provoking volume.
In the first chapter, R. Barry Lewis, Charles Stout, and
Cameron Wesson provide a brief introduction to the concept
of architectural grammar and address the question of why it
may be important to understand an architectural grammar of
Mississippian towns. Fundamentally, architecture and its
arrangement encode information about social structure. By
understanding the rules guiding town layout and the meaning
behind them, they hope to reconstruct elements of social
structure and compare them across space and through time.
While this introduction is informative, it may not be extensive
enough for those unfamiliar with their approach.
Many of the following chapters do not expressly join the
search for an architectural grammar. Regardless, as individual
pieces, they present valuable information and interesting ideas.
In Chapter 2, Claudine Payne and John Scarry explore why the
Lake Jackson site, a large mound site with all the architectural
hallmarks of a Mississippian town, was established and
flourished on the fringes of the Mississippian world. The
article presents an excellent summary of what is understood
about Lake Jackson and the Apalachee chiefdom. David Hally
and Hypatia Kelly discuss the domestic architecture found at
the King site (Chapter 3), a village located in northwestern
Georgia. In addition to an informative summary of the King
site architecture, the authors also argue that residences served
as symbols of the continuity of households, and as such were
destroyed and rebuilt with the passing of important household
Chapters 4 and 6 present nice summaries of the location,
structure, and architectural content of Mississippian towns in

the Eastern Tennessee River valley (Gerald Schroedl) and the
Lower Mississippi River valley (T. R. Kidder), respectively.
Both studies show that the basic structure of Mississippian
towns was established early in the Mississippian sequences,
and that mounds became tools used by a restricted part of
society to establish and reinforce their social status.
In Chapter 5, Cameron Wesson employs an approach similar
to the editors' as he attempts to understand the structure of the
Moundville site in Alabama as a sacred landscape. In his
search for meaning, Wesson draws on historic Creek architec-
ture and cosmology as an ethnographic analogy. While
tantalizing, the analogy does not link neatly with Mississip-
pian architecture and use of space, and consequently, Wesson
is unable to produce fresh insights into the meaning of
Moundville's structure.
In Chapter 7, Charles Stout and R. Barry Lewis review the
structure of Mississippian towns in Kentucky, and succeed in
identifying several general patterns in town layout. For
example, they suggest that only the mound-plaza complex was
determined by some formal design scheme, and that local
topography and parallel and perpendicular arrangements were
more important in determining orientation of mounds and
plazas than particular cardinal directions.
In Chapter 8, Jon Muller uses population figures collected
during the Historic period to support his contention that the
difference between the political organization of prehistoric
chiefdoms and historic "tribes" has been overstated. He finds
that the size of aboriginal towns remained remarkably stable
throughout the Historic period, and argues that by maintaining
stable towns many native groups may have maintained a level
of political stability not often acknowledged by archaeologists
and historians.
In the ninth chapter, Scott Demel and Robert Hall explore
the complex structure of Cahokia by examining the distribu-
tion and arrangement of mounds, plazas, borrow pits, cause-
ways, and woodhenges, as well as archaeological evidence for
"urban renewal and multiple land uses." They identify some
intriguing patterns in mound alignment and clustering, and
make the excellent point that the final layout of Cahokia was
the result of continuous planning and construction efforts that
occurred throughout the occupation of the site.
In the final chapter, Lewis and Stout summarize the previous
chapters and suggest some generalizationsaboutMississippian
town design. They argue that only the arrangement of mound-
plaza complexes and associated buildings and palisades were
prescribed by a common design scheme. This design scheme
allowed elites to use mounds and plazas, with their ancient
sacred associations co-opted during the Mississippian period,
to justify their privileged social and political positions. While
this approach is intriguing and holds great promise, Lewis and
Stout may have produced even more interesting results if they
had included the structure of non-mound towns in their
consideration of architectural grammar. By contrasting the


design grammars of political capitals and villages, they may
have been able to go beyond social ranking to investigate less
well understood elements of Mississippian social structure.
Leaving the search for an architectural grammar aside, this
book contains a wealth of information about the arrangement
of architecture and the use of space from a cross-section of
Mississippian communities. As such, it represents a wonderful
comparative data set. The editors are to be credited for
bringing these together. The contributed papers are well-
written and nicely illustrated. I did feel that the theoretical
discussions and site descriptions contained too few citations of
the original works, making it much more difficult for the
reader to explore more fully the theoretical perspective of the
book or to use it as a starting point for more in-depth compara-
tive research. Despite these few shortcomings, anyone inter-
ested in Mississippian towns, architecture of the prehistoric
Southeast, or Mississippian ideology will find a great deal of
useful information in this volume.

Laboring in the Fields of the Lord: Spanish Missions and
Southeastern Indians. Jerald T. Milanich. Smithsonian
Institution Press, Washington, 1999. 210 pp., figures, tables,
bibliography, index. $26.95 (cloth).

Thomas College, 1501MillPondRoad, Thomasville, Georgia

This book is an excellent summary about a little-known, but
important, chapter in American history. With this short book,
Jerry Milanich continues his tradition of writing well-in-
formed, easy-to-read books about the period of Spanish
exploration and colonization in the southeastern United States.
The target audience is the general, informed public, but
professional archaeologists and historians will also find the
book entertaining and useful. The purpose of the book is to
tell this story and raise public awareness of the initial Euro-
pean penetration and colonization of part of the area that
became the United States of America. It is a lively narrative
of historical events, native peoples, archaeological sites, and
activities of the archaeologists and historians making these
discoveries. The book is well-written, clear and concise, and
serves its purpose very well. This is not a book about technical
details, professional debates, or archaeological uncertainties,
as those matters are dealt with in other books.
Various chapters of the book deal with the natural environ-
ment; the ethnography of the Timucua, Apalachee, and Guale
prior to and during the Spanish mission period; the early
European explorations and colonization from de Soto to
Menindez; and the establishment and expansion of the
mission system. Other chapters describe what these sites look
like archaeologically, and what daily life would have been like.
In the final chapters, Milanich depicts the internal and
external stresses, demographic collapse, and the final tragic
destruction of the native peoples and the missions. The
chapter headings are illuminating, such as "In Search of a
Once Forgotten Land," "Black-robed Friars and Military

Outposts," and "A People Destroyed, a Land Forgotten."
The story of the missions is placed in the context of the
larger conflict between the Old World and the New World, and
the competition between the European powers for control of
the New World. Milanich corrects "romantic misconceptions"
in public knowledge. The Preface concludes with a telling
statement: "But even the light of knowledge cannot brighten
one dark truth: missions and colonization must take most of
the blame for the disappearance of a significant portion of the
southeastern Indians" (p. xiv).
In discussing pre-mission events, Milanich makes a com-
ment about Narviez that I suspect may also apply to de Soto.
Milanich suspects that the Indian guides deliberately misled
Narvaez and led him away from the main villages (p.66). I
wonder if that also happened to de Soto. De Soto's guides told
him that Ocale was a large town with lots of food. But when
de Soto arrived at a village they said was Ocale, it wasn't large
or well-supplied. Maybe he never reached the real Ocale.
Maybe the guides misled not only de Soto, but also us archae-
ologists trying to trace his footsteps.
One unanswered question about the missions is the abrupt
change in Indian pottery types, from the previous, various
local types to the harder, better-made, more standardized
Leon-Jefferson series. My theory is that this change resulted
from the shift to a money economy, pressures to produce a
more salable commodity, and entry into the global system of
Spanish trade and commerce. Mr. Bruce Nelson of Lake City
suggests a commercial production of these wares.
There is a lot of unfinished field research, such as searching
for the site of the fort built by the Indians during the rebellion
of 1656 against Spanish authority, somewhere in current
Madison County. Many interesting research questions could
be addressed at a site like that! More surveys are needed to
round out the picture of settlement patterns and demography.
For example, there is a cluster of Spanish mission period sites
with Leon-Jefferson pottery around White and Peacock Lakes
in Suwannee County. These sites may have been associated
with Napituca or de Soto's Battle of the Pond, which was the
climax of native resistance to de Soto in Florida. Only surface
collecting and very limited testing has been conducted. (This
vicinity was to have been the target of my next field survey for
Milanich, but instead I graduated. Perhaps we need another
grad student....)
What is the relevance of Milanich's book, and of mission
studies in general? The relevance is that the mission period is
not over yet in many areas of the world. Many native peoples
today, such as the Yanomami of Ecuador, continue to suffer
daily the same fate as the seventeenth century peoples of La
Florida. The same motivations, ethnocentrism, stresses on the
native peoples, and catastrophic unintended consequences are
still at work today among the native peoples of tropical South
America. Contact with outsiders, especially congregating
them, usually leads to sickness, epidemics, and death, resulting
in population decline and cultural disruption. The "glorious
past" isn't very glorious, and it isn't even past. It's still with
us. These issues are still relevant in today's world. This is the
study of unintended consequences, of sometimes-benevolent


1999 VOL. 52(4)


intentions resulting in genocide.
Another area of relevance is the modern Maya Indians. The
conquest that began five centuries ago continues today in the
form of government and national army attacks on the tradi-
tional Mayan peasant villages occupyingthe agricultural lands
of the highlands. Two decades of civil war ended earlier this
year (1999) in Guatemala, an event which prompted a visit by
the President of the United States. The government of
Guatemala finally admitted that its Army was guilty of secret
death-squad attacks on the native Maya villages. The conquest
didn't end in the sixteenth century. Yes, the study of the past
is relevant to today's world problems.
As we approach the second millennium next year in A.D.
2000 (or 2001, depending on who you ask), Milanich's
comment is interesting that the American Indians had held
these lands for "a dozen millennia." But it ended quickly.
The Spanish spread outward from St. Augustine was like
putting a drop of poison in a bucket of water--the closer to it,
the sooner the life in it died.

Archaeology of Colonial Pensacola. Judith A. Bense, Editor,
University Press of Florida, 1999. xviii + 294 pp., figures,
tables, notes, bibliography, index, $49.95 (cloth).

Florida Agricultural Museum, 1850 Princess Place Road,
Palm Coast, Florida 32137

Jerald Milanich, in the Foreword to this publication, points
out that "few people would ever equate Pensacola with Spanish
Florida." JudithBense, as Pensacola's leading archaeologist,
is bringing researchers' and the public's attention to the
historical archaeology of colonial Pensacola. Archaeology of
Colonial Pensacola addresses the period of A.D. 1559-1821
and presents data from historical research, archaeological
excavations conducted since 1983, and a discussion of the
public interpretation program that accompanied the archaeol-
ogy. Dr. Bense points out that zooarchaoelogy and
paleoethnobotany were not included in the volume since such
research is on-going. The edited volume contains a chapter on
Pensacola's colonial history by Dr. William S. Coker, followed
by Jane E. Dysart's historical review of the Indians in colonial
Pensacola. Dr. Roger C. Smith provides a look under the
waters of Pensacola Bay at two recently investigated colonial
shipwrecks. Dr. Bense reviews the data from her archaeologi-
cal excavations in colonial Pensacola, followed by a chapter on
the archaeological context and comparisons between them.
Thomas Muir, Jr. finishes the volume with his discussion of
the public interpretation of Pensacola's colonial archaeology.
This book provides a comprehensive presentation of the
exciting research being done in Pensacola; the history, the
archaeology, and public interpretation.
William S. Coker's discussion of Pensacola's colonial
history provides a clear and well organized historical context
for the chapters that follow. His use of section headings such
as "Exploration of the Northern Gulf Coast, 1519-40" breaks
the chapter into discrete historical sequences. This is a helpful

organizational tool that facilitates understanding and makes
the chapter very readable. It also proved useful when referring
back to the chapter for a specific historical detail. Coker
includes many figures that provide the graphic information
that makes the chapter a useful introduction for the archaeo-
logical information that follows.
Chapter 3 is titled "Indians in Colonial Pensacola." This
chapter contains a great deal of useful historical information
on native life. It does parallel the previous chapter which
results in some redundancy. It was also difficult to follow the
locations discussed in the text, and a map with place names
would have been helpful. These concerns, however, are minor
given the well researched and well organized presentation of
Native American experiences, including involvement in
international relations, that unfolded in colonial Pensacola.
Dr. Roger C. Smith takes us below the waters of Pensacola
Bay to discover two British period shipwrecks and a sixteenth
century shipwreck. Smith provides a detailed review of the
historical and archaeological data collected from the wrecks
and their surroundings. He clearly defines the processes used
to identify the temporal and culture affiliations of each wreck.
His review and interpretation of the wrecks and the artifacts
recovered from them is interesting reading.
A glossary of terms, or a labeled diagram of a ship's hull,
would have made terms such as "filler plank, graving piece
and garboard strake" more intelligible to the land lubber.
There is a discussion of the mapping of the Deadman's
shipwreck and the production ofa "digitized computer-drafted
sketch of the timbers," but unfortunately it does not appear in
the book. The story of the investigation of these wrecks, the
findings, and the interpretation are logically presented and
drive home the significance of these resources and the high
quality of the research.
The archaeology moves ashore in Dr. Bense's chapter
"Archaeology of Late Colonial Pensacola." She describes,
analyzes, and explains a sample of archaeological data
recovered from late colonial period (1750-1821) deposits in
downtown Pensacola. The sample consists of 52,618 artifacts
recovered from 177 features that together weigh over 1,200
pounds. This data set is described in detail in the chapter and
appendices 1 and 2 contain additional tabular data. Presenting
the findings from 12 sites excavated since 1983 is a monumen-
tal undertaking. Dr. Bense accomplishes the task with clarity
and organization. She reviews the total assemblage, then the
artifact classes (glass, ceramics, metal, etc.), and then the
groups within the classes (bottle glass, glass beads, etc.). Next
functional artifact groups are examined. Then the ceramic
chronology of the combined assemblage is examined for the 41
features that contained fifty of more sherds. All these findings
are then used in a cultural component analysis of the Early
Spanish (1756-63), British Period (1763-81), and Late
Spanish (1781-1821) cultural components.
The data described in chapter five are applied to a broader
context in chapter six, "Historical and Archaeological Context
and Comparisons." Dr. Bense examines the value and role of
Pensacola in terms of the larger colonial world. Next she
examines Pensacola's place in the regional archaeological


context and identifies both temporal and spatial archaeological
trends and compares the Pensacola data to other colonial sites
such as St. Augustine. Social status, as reflected by material
culture in Pensacola, is also examined by defining four social
groups from the twenty-four late Spanish period closed
context. In sum, this chapter applies the data described in
chapter five to anthropological questions and compares the
findings to other colonial sites.
The final chapter was written by Thomas Muir, Jr., and it
reviews the development of the public archaeology effort, both
nationally and in Pensacola. The discussion reveals the
process and the partnerships that made archaeological and
historical preservation a reality in Pensacola. This chapter
should prove valuable to preservationists in other cities that
are looking for a model of how to preserve and interpret their
cultural resources.
Archaeology of Colonial Pensacola is an excellent effort to
document the history and archaeology of colonial Pensacola.
It provides data which can be used by scholars of the colonial
period. The book also illustrates, for the general public, the
interesting and important findings and the importance of
preserving Pensacola's archaeology for the future. This
publication will help people recognize Pensacola as a signifi-
cant part of Spanish Florida. It will also increase local pride
and should stimulate additional research, preservation, and

Early History ofthe CreekIndians and Their Neighbors. John
R. Swanton with Foreword by J.T.Milanich, Series Editor.
University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 1998. 491 pp., 10
maps unbound, $29.95 (Paper).

Archeology ofthe Florida GulfCoast. Gordon R. Willey with
1998 Preface by Gordon R. Willey and Foreword by J.T.
Milanich, Series Editor. University Press of Florida,
Gainesville, 1998. xxxiii + 599 pp., 60 pls., 76 fig., 20 maps,
17 tables, $29.95 (Paper).

Space and Time Perspective in Northern St. Johns Archeol-
ogy. John W. Goggin with 1998 Preface by James J. Miller
and Foreword by J.T. Milanich, Series Editor. University
Press of Florida, Gainesville, 1998. 148 pp., 12pls., 9 figures,
1 map unbound, $29.95 (Paper).

1805 N. Twelve Oaks Lane, Neptune Beach, Florida 32266

In 1998, University Press of Florida republished three
volumes long-considered seminal works in southeastern
anthropology. They have been reissued as part of a new series
entitled Southeastern Classics in Archaeology, Anthropology,
and History. Each book opens with a new foreword written by
Jerald Milanich, series editor. More than four decades after
their original printing, these books are still revered for the
scope and accessibility of the ethnohistorical and archaeologi-
cal information synthesized within their covers. John R.
Swanton's Early History of the Creek Indians and Their

Neighbors, GordonR. Willey'sArcheology ofthe Florida Gulf
Coast, and John M. Goggin's Space and Time in Northern St.
Johns Archeology, Florida, are no longer collector's items to
be sought in used book stores or photocopied chapter by
chapter. When asked to assist in the announcement of their
republication, I went to past issues of The FloridaAnthropolo-
gist and American Antiquity to find out what the authors'
colleagues had written when they originally reviewed these
books. The admiring remarks expressed by John W. Griffin
(1953), Charles H. Fairbanks (1953, 1958), and Alex D.
Krieger (1951) still reflect today the enormous contribution
and present-day applicability of these three books.
Early History ofthe Creek Indians and Their Neighbors was
first printed in 1922, before reviews were printed in either of
the above journals. However, when Charles Fairbanks (1958)
informed readers of The Florida Anthropologist of Swanton's
death, he spoke of the discipline's great admiration for the
man and his research. Swanton, he wrote, "was a gentleman
and a scholar." Fairbanks referred to Swanton's scholarly
training following Boas' holistic approach to recording Indian
cultures and to the forty-four years Swanton spent at the
Bureau of American Ethnology. From 1906 until his death,
Swanton focused his attention on the Indian cultures of the
Southeast, producing two comprehensive books dedicated to
the understanding of the region's Native American cultures,
languages, and history. (The other is Indians ofthe Southeast-
ern United States). The opening pages of Early History of the
Creek Indians offer a detailed history ofEuropean contact. The
remainder of the text is organized by linguistic families and
their associations, and based on ethnographic documentation,
Swanton reviews the cultural traits of each linguistic group.
Readers are guided by a concise table of contents and a
comprehensive index. A series of detailed, large-scale maps
are unbound and found packaged separately within the back
cover. These maps delineate, through time, the areas occupied
by the forty-three tribes included in Swanton's study.
Archeology of the Florida Gulf Coast was originally issued
as a Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collectionvolume in 1949. (A
second reprinting was reproduced in 1982 by the Florida Book
Stores, Inc.). This latest edition includes a new preface written
by Willey. In his 1951 review, Krieger lauded Archeology of
the Florida Gulf Coast as a "monumental contribution from
the points of view of industry, presentation of new data, good
organization, balanced interpretations, and clearwriting." The
book contains 599 pages of text divided into eight sections.
After reviewing regional ecology and the earliest archaeologi-
cal work of the Gulf region, Willey organizes, by county,
thorough descriptions of all Gulf area surveys and sites
(Sections Three through Five). Based on a considerable
amount of data, Willey offers chronologies for the Northwest
Coast, Central Gulf and Manatee Region, and a summary of
site-types (village, midden, mound or cemetery). In Section
Six, Willey defines ninety-five pottery types or varieties
associated with the Gulf Coast's various cultural periods.
Since first published, this section may arguably be the most
often thumbed through. The quality of the beautifully hand-
drawn illustrations has not suffered in reproduction. Though

1999 VOL. 52(4)



all of the finely detailed drawings reveal the artistry and
craftsmanship present in aboriginal surface treatments, it is
especially apparent in the illustrations of the Swift Creek,
Weeden Island, and Fort Walton Period vessels. The two
concluding sections of the book provide ethnohistoric data, and
a discussion of cultural continuities (settlement, economy,
society, and technology) both from within and outside the
coastal area. The final pages contain photographs of site
excavations and ceramics. Again, the reproduction of the
photos and plates are clear and of high quality. As a side note,
until this republication by University Press of Florida, Willey
had never received any royalties from the sale of Archeology
of the Florida Gulf Coast.
The third book, Space and Time Perspective in Northern St.
Johns Archeology, Florida by John M. Goggin, was first
published by Yale University Press in 1952 and carried an
original purchase price of $2.00. James J. Miller has written
a new preface to the 1998 edition. In their reviews, both
Griffin (1953) and Fairbanks (1954) praised the broad scope
and accessibility of the data. Goggin, like Willey, included a
synthesis of both earlier and then-current excavations located
within the larger St. Johns River valley, which he divided into
four subareas. Goggin covers environmental, historical, and
ethnohistorical research information. He provides six regional
cultural chronologies for the state. These chronologies are
based on regional changes in artifact assemblages, site types,
and burial patterns. In the section entitled Cultural Sequence,
Goggin discusses the development of his chronology as it
relates to the preceramic Mt. Taylor and the later prehistoric
periods of Orange, St. Johns I, and St. Johns II. He concludes
with discussions of the cultural disruption experienced during
two historic periods he refers to as St. Augustine and Semi-
nole. These classificatory designations are still utilized today.
In the following section, Goggin discusses the cultural and
material traits, geographic distribution, environmental
characteristics, history, and cultural relationships associated
with each "cultural tradition." In his review, Griffin related
that Goggin had noted that St. Johns la (AD 650-1100) in
Figure 2 was in error and should read St. Johns lb. The
original text has been faithfully reproduced, including this
small error. Appendix A catalogues, by site, the cultural
occupations found within each of his four subareas. Standard-
ized definitions of artifact types are provided in Appendix B.
Accompanying each description is a list of site locations where
examples of the artifact were recovered. This information is
referenced by time period within the text itself or in the
following section entitled "Explanation of Plates." The
"generous" bibliography provides archaeological and history
references. Space and Time Perspective also contains an
unbound, large-scale map attached to the back cover. The
general location of all then-known sites south of the St. Marys
River (Nassau County) to the Indian River (Volusia County)
and west through Marion, Putnam, and Clay counties are
Concluding his review of Space and Time Perspectives,
Fairbanks (1954:416) stated that It is often said that the time
is not ripe for summaries of any specific area, but this report

shows that such effort may well be worth while." This
statement aptly describes the continued relevance of the
massive amount of information available in all three reissued
volumes. Certainly, the ensuing years of research have fine-
tuned or adjusted the chronologies and hypotheses offered by
these authors. However, the foundations of our understanding
of the people and cultures of the southeastern region are
grounded on the collective knowledge presented in these three
books. The University Press of Florida should be congratu-
lated for initiating the republication of early works through
their Southeastern Classics series. They should also be
thanked. They have placed Swanton, Willey, and Goggin back
in the hands of another generation of anthropologists.

References Cited

Fairbanks, Charles H.
1953 Review of Space and Time Perspective in Northern St.
Johns Archeology. American Antiquity 19(1):415-416.
1958 JohnR. Swanton 1873 -1958. The Florida Anthropologist
Griffin, John W.
1953 Review of Space and Time Perspective in Northern St.
JohnsArcheology. TheFloridaAnthropologist6(1):41-42.
Krieger, Alex D.
1951 Review of Archeology of the Florida Gulf Coast. American
Antiquity 17(1): 62-64.

About the Authors:

ChadO. Braley, Vice President of Southeastern Archeological Services, Inc., received aM.S. degree in Anthropologyin 1978
at Florida State University. Field School in St. Augustine introduced him to the archeology of the Hispanic Southeast. He
authored Historic Indian PeriodArchaeology ofthe Georgia Coastal Plain in 1995 as part of the Georgia Archaeological
Research Design, and most recently analyzed and reported on the River Basin Survey's 1958 1962 excavations at Yuchi
Town (ca. A.D. 1650 1836), located on the Chattahoochee River south of Columbus, Georgia.

Steve J. Dasovich received his Master's degree in Anthropology from the Florida State University in 1996, and a Ph.D. in
Anthropology from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1998. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University
of South Dakota Archaeology Laboratory.

Kenneth W. Johnson has recorded more than 1,000 archaeological sites in Florida and Georgia, dozens of them Spanish
period, especially in northern peninsular Florida. He completed graduate studies with Dr. Jerald Milanich in 1991, writing
his dissertation on 16th-17th century settlement patterns in northern peninsular Florida. A native south Georgian, he is
currently an associate professor of anthropology at Thomas College, a small, private liberal arts college in Thomasville,
Georgia. He is currently investigating the Indian Pond site, probably Santa Cruz de Tarihica, in Columbia County, Florida.

Adam King is the Special Projects Archaeologist for the Savannah River Archaeological Program, a division of the University
of South Carolina's South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. He holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from The
Pennsylvania State University and is currently conducting research on Mississippian political systems in the Etowah and
Savannah River valleys of Georgia and South Carolina.

George M. Luer is an archaeologist from Sarasota, Florida. He has combined archaeology and surface hydrology to gain a
better understanding of the physical workings and engineering of Florida's Indian canoe canals. He has collaborated with
archaeologist Ryan Wheeler, and they have published a number of papers presenting their research.

Bruce J. Piatek is currently the Director of the Florida Agricultural Museum located in Flagler County. He previously was
the Research Director for the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board and worked in the Pensacola area at Fort Branacas
and the Naval Live Oaks Reservation for the National Park Service. His undergraduate work was done at the University of
Florida were he worked with Dr. Jerald Milanich and he received his Master's degree from Florida State University after
working with Dr. Glen Doran and Dr. Kathy Deagan.

Thomas J. Pluckhahn is a staff archaeologist with Southeastern Archeological Services, Inc., of Athens, Georgia. He recently
entered the Ph.D. program at the University of Georgia, where he received his M.A. in 1994. For his dissertation, Tom is
studying Middle Woodland period settlement and ceremonialism, focusing on the site of Kolomoki and its hinterlands in
southwestern Georgia.

John Reiger is a professor of history at Ohio University-Chillicothe, John F. Reiger has a B.A. in sociology from Duke, an
M.A. in history from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern. He acquired his interest in
Florida's pre-Columbian inhabitants while teaching at the University of Miami in the 1970s.

Vicki Rolland has lived in northeastern Florida for many years and has had the pleasure of being involved in a variety of
research projects undertaken in the area.


1999 Voi 52(4)



Indian River Anthro. Soc. 272 Tenace Shores Dr., Indiaantic, FL 32903

Volusia Anthro. Soc. P.O. Box 1881, Ormond Beach, FL 32175

St. Augustine Arch. Assoc. P.O. Box 1301, St. Augustine, FL 32085

Northeast Florida Anthro. Soc. 4144 Tarino Place, Jacksonville, FL 32244

I '
Central FL Anthro. SOC.' P.O. Box 261, Orlando, FL 32801-0261

Kissimmee Valley Arch. & Hist. Cons. 8 Bear PL Lane, ake Placid, Fl. 33852 -
,r -i I


Southeast Florida Arch. SOC. P.O. Box 2875, Sua FL 34995
,.,- cU JC fOiUlAC *

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juiKN^M-- -- o
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Southeast Rorida Arch. Soc. P.O. Box 2875, Stuart, FL 34995 "" -- .......

Southwest FL Arch. Soc. P.O. Box 9965,Naples. FL 34101 s

Broward Co. Arch. Soc. 6820 NoODr. 6-201, Davie, FL 33317

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