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XXVIII N o.
An Archaeological Survey of the South Prong of the Alafia River,
Florida by E. Thomas Hemmings . . . .
Suwannee-like Points from southwestern Georgia by R. P. Bullen
The Sculpture of El Tajin, Veracruz, Mexico, book review
S. Jeffrey K. Wilkerson . . . . .
Functional Analyses of Poverty Point Clay Objects by D. G. Hunter
Problematical Stone Find by Ron Hunt . . . ..
Implications from some Florida Deposits and their Archaeological
Contents by Ripley P. Bullen ................
OFFICERS OF THE SOCIETY
President Benjamin I. Waller
4911 NE 7th St., Ocala, FL 32670
1st Vice President Wilma B. Williams
2511 McKinley St., Hollywood, FL 33020
2nd Vice President Raymond Williams
Dept. of Anthropology, University of
South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620
Secretary Wilburn Cockrell, Division
of Archives, History, and Records
Management, The Capitol, Tallahassee,
Treasurer Jerald T. Milanich Ed:
111 SW 23rd Terrace, Gainesville, 102
FL 32604 FIc
Directors at Large
Three years: Ray C. Robinson
1020 4th Street North
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Two years: Wesley Coleman
10 NW 124th Avenue
Miami, FL 33126
One year: J. Anthony Paredes
Department of Anthropology,
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32300
itor-Resident Agent Ripley P. Bullen
SFlorida State Museum, University of
)rida, Gainesville, FL 32611
AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF THE SOUTH PRONG
OF THE ALAFIA RIVER, FLORIDA
E. Thomas Hemmings
An archaeological survey of the basin of the South Prong Alafia River
was carried out by a two-man team from the Florida State Museum during the
winter months of 1974. This survey had two basic objectives. The first was a
practical one--to locate, record, and evaluate aboriginal and historic sites
endangered by phosphate strip mining in southeastern Hillsborough County
(Hemmings 1974). When this was accomplished, the survey was extended to
all parts of the South Prong basin and restricted to aboriginal sites. The next
objective, the concern of this paper, was problem-oriented--to interpret by
means of survey data the aboriginal settlement and use of this upland river
valley. Such an approach requires several basic assumptions, as will be made
clear in later discussions.
The South Prong basin lies less than 20 miles inland and is directly ac-
cessible to Tampa Bay (Fig. 1). Although the Florida Gulf Coast, especially
the Tampa Bay area, is one of the richest archaeological zones in North Amer-
ica, only the coastal lowlands have been intensively studied, and their relation-
ship to contiguous upland areas is essentially unknown (Willey 1949). Bullen's
(1955:54) statement with regard to the Tampa Bay region, "As yet but little
work has been done along [inland] river valleys...." remains largely true today.
An hypothesis was formulated prior to the survey pertaining to interac-
tion between the Tampa Bay area and upland river basins to the east. This
hypothesis was based on extensive earlier studies in the former area (Willey
1949; Bullen, 1955, 1973a, 1973b) and relatively little data for the latter area
(Bullen 1952; Hunt and Hunt 1957). Briefly stated, the environmental resources
of the South Prong basin were minimum for aboriginal agriculture and optimum
for those hunting-gathering activities which could supplement resources of the
bay area. We would thus expect the South Prong basin to have been a significant
hinterland area for the relatively dense, sedentary populations of Tampa Bay.
It seems likely that some degree of dependence on upland resources would
characterize not only the late prehistoric-early historic (Safety Harbor) period,
but also the preceding several thousand years when native plants and animals
of the Florida peninsula were distributed much as at present. In the context of
this hinterland hypothesis it is interesting to note John R. Swanton's comment
on the origin of the name "Alafia" (quoted in Simpson 1956:21):
On an early map the name Alafia does not appear on the
river now called by that name, which appears as Hunting
River. This shows pretty clearly that Alafia is from the
Florida Anthropologist, vol. 28, no. 2, June 1975
SOUTH PRONG SURVEY
Creek stem thlafi (=hunting) with the locative prefix
"a, the whole being a near equivalent of the English
"hunting place. "
The basin of the South Prong lies along the western margin of the Polk
Upland, a division of the Central Highlands of peninsular Florida (White 1970).
Dissection of this upland by the river and its tributaries results in about 130
feet of relief, although there are no well-defined valley walls or steep slopes.
The area of the drainage basin includes about 120 square miles, slightly more
than half in Hillsborough County and the remainder in Polk County (Menke and
The South Prong rises at Hookers Prairie 120 feet above sea level,
flows generally westward 12 miles, bends to the north, and nine miles later
joins the North Prong (Fig. 1). The fall of the river is about 60 feet upstream
and 30 feet downstream from the northward "bend. A meandering channel
within a narrow floodplain characterizes the lower two-thirds of the river.
Most of the closely spaced tributary streams head at small, perennial,
seep springs along the valley slopes and flow over short sand-bottom runs to
the South Prong. These springs may be the result of a shallow water table
perched above the irregular surface of the Hawthorn Formation (Cathcart
1962). There are no major artesian springs in the basin, the nearest being
six miles down the Alafia River at Lithia (Menke and others 1961).
The diverse ecology of the South Prong area has been briefly described
by Brown (1973). The major plant communities include hydric hardwood forest
of several types along the floodplain of the river and its larger tributaries
(Fig. 1), and pine flatwoods, oak hammock, oak scrub, and sand pine scrub
on upland areas. Small seasonally flooded prairies and bayheads also mark
poorly-drained upland areas, especially toward the eastern and southeastern
watersheds. There are 38 mammal, 144 bird, and 57 reptile species recorded
for the South Prong area. No list of fishes is available for the Alafia drainage,
but 43 freshwater species are known from the Hillsborough River drainage im-
mediately to the north (Barnett 1972). Likewise, no list of freshwater molluscs
is available. One edible pelecypod (Villosa amygdala) was noted in the lower
South Prong during survey.
The soils of the South Prong basin are classified in two major groups by
Bryan (1962): poorly-drained acid soils over hardpan (Leon and related sandy
soils) and well-drained upland acid soils (Lakeland and related sandy soils). In
addition there are localized muck soils underlying the South Prong flood-plain
and upland prairies and ponds. Generally, the poorly-drained soils now support
Fig. 1. Location of aboriginal sites in the South Prong Alafia River Basin (see Table 1
for site descriptions).
SOUTH PRONG SURVEY
permanent pasture and planted pines, while the well-drained soils are grown
to citrus. The principal land uses today, cattle, and citrus, account for a
markedly low human population density (Brewster Phosphates 1973).
The only previous archaeological investigation in the South Prong basin
was carried out by J. Clarence Simpson in 1937 (Bullen 1952). Simpson re-
corded "... two very small sand mounds. at Welcome and excavated ex-
tensively in Picnic Mound, but did not concern himself with other types of
occupation sites in the area. Table 1 summarizes the 21 aboriginal sites pre-
sently known in the South Prong basin, including the two previously recorded
mound sites. Descriptions of additional mound sites near, but not in, the basin
can be found in reports by Stirling (1935), Willey (1949), and Bullen (1952).
Occupation sites of the type discussed below have been dealt with briefly by
Hunt and Hunt (1957) for a large upland area to the north of the South Prong
basin. The latter study, however, is narrowly concerned with the stratigraphic
relations of artifacts and soil types.
The stone tool, debitage, and sherd collections from South Prong occu-
pation sites are described below. Although the sample of these materials ob-
tained by surface collection is small, it may nevertheless be adequately rep-
resentative of most sites recorded (Table 1).
Stone Tools. Most projectile points and stone tools recovered are frag-
mentary, and may represent discarded items; presumably serviceable tools
were often retrieved by their users. Projectile points were the most frequent
tool found on both lithic and ceramic sites. Many of these are basal fragments,
probably returned to camp with the shaft when damaged in use. The remaining
stone tools, notable bifacial reforms or cutting tools and several types of
unifacial scraping tools, are associated with flintknapping, hidework, and
work in wood, bone or antler.
Debitage. The surface scatter of flintknapping debris marking each site
was the basis for determining areas of occupation in Table 1. An average of
one-half hour was spent collecting at each site; no attempt was made to re-
cover all possible debitage. The study of this waste debris supplements ob-
servations that can be made from finished tools.
Table 2 compares frequencies for three categories of debitage in small
samples from lithic and ceramic sites. Flakes of bifacial retouch, the pre-
dominant category, were drawn from bifaces, probably during projectile
point manufacture or refurbishing. Hard hammer flakes were drawn from
nodules, cores, or large unifaces in other types or stages of tool manufacture.
The residual category, blocky fragments, includes angular debris with no
Fig. 1) SITE NAME
I Mizelle Creek
2 Welcome Mounds
3 Halls Branch 2
4 Halls Branch 1
5 Cabbage Ford
6 Colding Site
7 Picnic Mound
8 Hurrah Creek
9 Fort Lonesome Branch 2
10 Fort Lonesome Branch 1
11 Hurrah Lake 1
12 Hurrah Lake 2
13 Hurrah Lake 3
14 Brewster Plant Site
15 Boggy Branch
16 Bethlehem Church Site
17 Bethlehem Bridge Site
18 Albritton Road Site
19 Chicora Road Site
20 Chicora Bridge Site
21 Altman Cemetery Site
Newnan Point, biface
Belle Glade Plain
Belle Glade Plain,
Citrus Point, scraper
Putnam Points, bifaces
projectile point, scraper
Prong Alafia River Basin.
*Site use based on size, location, artifact content, and other characteristics.
**Ages represent probable time spans within which more-or-less brief occupations
occurred. None of these sites has been directly dated.
Summary of Aboriginal Sites in the South
AREA OF IDENTIFIABLE
OCCUPATION STONE TOOL
(acres) OR CERAMIC TYPES
1 Sarasota Point
1 Pasco Plain,
perforator, end scraper.
6 Belle Glade Plain,
1 Pinellas Points
(see also Bullen 1952)
8 projectile point
series of hunting/
series of hunting/
300 B.C.-A.D. 1300
A.D. 1300-1600 (and
300 B.C.-A.D. 1500
300 B.C.-A.D. 1500
SOUTH PRONG SURVEY
identifiable flake characteristics. Table 2 indicates that working of bifaces
was the major flintknapping operation represented in these samples, and in-
creased slightly relative to other knapping activity in ceramic sites.
Table 3 is based on the observation that a distinctive raw material,
silicified coral, can readily be separated from other chert types utilized in
the South Prong basin. Artifacts or waste flakes produced from silicified
coral exhibit the peculiar structure of radial septa or walls within closely
spaced corallites. The coral skeletons do not affect the homogeneous con-
choidal properties of the chert, and similar coralline chert was widely used
as a toolmaking raw material in peninsular Florida. The nearest source of
silicified coral is the famous Ballast Point "silex beds, an outcrop of re-
placed Miocene Tampa limestone 5 miles across Hillsborough Bay from the
mouth of the Alafia River (Cooke and Mossom 1929:78). Hunt and Hunt (1957:
805) noted a preference for coralline cherts in preceramic sites on the upper
Hillsborough and Withlacoochee drainages. The sample from the South Prong
basin, however, reflects increased occurrence in ceramic sites (Table 3).
These apparent trends would certainly need to be substantiated by larger con-
The non-coralline cherts are variable in appearance and have not been
sorted. A probable source for these raw materials is the complex of flint
quarries at Lake Thonotosassa, Flint Creek, and the lower Hillsborough
River. There are no chert sources within the South Prong basin, and, in fact,
very few hardrock outcrops of any sort (and therefore no shoals along the
river or tributary streams).
Ceramics. The three ceramic types identified from occupation sites
are all utilitarian plainwares. In contrast, relatively large amounts of Weeden
Island and Safety Harbor period decorated types are reported from Picnic
Mound (Bullen 1952:67). This appears to be an example of the segregation of
sacred and secular ceramic types among ceremonial and residential sites, as
noted by Sears (1973). The Colding Site one-half mile north of Picnic Mound
(Fig. 1), which we believe to be the associated village area, apparently has two
utilitarian types, Belle Glade Plain and Pinellas Plain (Table 1). These may
represent cultural interaction with the Glades area and with Tampa Bay. How-
ever, the other prehistoric ceramic type from the South Prong basin, Pasco
Plain, also points toward the Gulf Coast. Unfortunately, there is no ceramic
sample available for the small mounds at Welcome.
Chronology. Based on surface collections, three kinds of occupation sites
can be identified in the South Prong basin. First, lithic sites are characterized
by the presence of chert debitage and stone tools, and by the absence of ceram-
ics. In nearly all such sites identifiable projectile points and other tools are
typically Archaic (Table 1). Second, ceramic sites are characterized by the
presence of debitage, pottery, and stone tools of types commonly associated
with pottery. Finally, multi-component sites are those in which surface col-
lections include artifact types characteristic of both lithic and ceramic sites
as defined above.
The basic assumption made for the purposes of dating sites in the South
Prong basin was as follows: small sites characterized by a sparse scatter of
tools, sherds, or debitage represent brief occupations, and are approximately
datable from the few known artifact types recovered. A less certain inference
about date of occupation can be made where site areas are large or where
datable artifacts are fragmentary or lacking entirely. Tentatively then, 13
preceramic lithicc) sites were occupied before about 2000 B. C., 7 ceramic
sites were occupied after that date, and one site (Colding) spans the introduc-
tion of ceramics to the Gulf Coast area (Bullen 1973a). The Colding Site is of
special interest because a locally owned surface collection indicates sporadic
use of the site from Early Archaic times until the primary village occupation.
All other lithic sites appear to represent Late Archaic occupation (after about
Site Use. Inferences about site use in the South Prong basin are based
on four factors: (1) nature of the artifact assemblage, (2) density of cultural
material within an occupation area, (3) size of this occupation area, and (4)
terrain or location factors. The first two of these were reviewed briefly above.
Some comments on the latter two will indicate the basis for categorizing gen-
erally certain kinds of occupation sites in the South Prong basin.
The most frequent site type inferred is the hunting camp. Eleven lithic
hunting camps, averaging 3.2 acres in size, and five ceramic hunting camps,
averaging 2. 2 acres in size, are identified in Table 1. The range of site size
appeared to be quite variable among lithic hunting camps, and for this type of
site as a whole (1-8 acres as measured by artifact scatter). Two explanations
for this variability can be suggested. First, the hunting camp may be occupied
by several family units, including men, women, and children, or simply by a
small hunting party of two or more males. The Chicora Bridge Site (6 acres),
for example, may represent a larger social unit and the Bethlehem Church
Site (2 acres) a smaller unit. Both sites are characterized by Putnam Points
and are chronologically indistinguishable. There are no specifically female-
oriented tools in site collections which could corroborate this distinction be-
tween larger and smaller hunting camps, and most are marked sparsely by
projectile point fragments and debitage, presumably reflecting male activity.
A second explanation for variability in site size may be simply that the terrain
imposed no limits on occupation area. The subdued relief of valley slopes in
the South Prong basin contrasts, in this respect, with the more rugged terrain
of a Piedmont river. On the Savannah River in South Carolina and Georgia, for
example, promontories of physically restricted area, overlooking the flood-
SOUTH PRONG SURVEY
plain, were favored locations for Archaic hunting camps (Hemmings 1970).
The terrain selected for hunting camp locations is consistently related
to drainage. Both lithic and ceramic sites are commonly located at the break-
in-slope from floodplain to valley slopes, and above Lake Branch lithic camps
are close to the South Prong channel. There are apparently no hunting camps
high on upland terrain, except in one case at the head of Halls Branch (Fig. 1).
Many of the hunting camp locations are adjacent to small tributary streams or
their headsprings, and also lie close to the South Prong floodplain. These were
presumably favorable ecotone areas, accessible to game and wild plant foods
of both uplands and floodplain, as well as to a requisite water supply.
A second site type of interest is the hunting/fishing camp, similar in
all respects to hunting camps described above, but accessible also to fishing
waters. Two such sites, each an elongate scatter of debitage, were recorded
along the shorelines of Hurrah Lake. Presumably, this mile-long natural lake
existed in the past as favorable habitat for fish and other aquatic animals,
nearly as it does today.
The remaining site types, burial mounds and an agricultural village (?)
are known from one or two examples in the South Prong basin, and no patterns
of site size or location can be distinguished. The Colding Site (6 acres) is today
cultivated, but requires fertilization. No dense debris or midden deposits are
present, and the village occupation may have been small, seasonal, and per-
sisting over a few centuries at most (with earlier lithic occupations sparsely
represented). The burial mound sites are, on the one hand, at the floodplain
margin (Picnic Mound) and, on the other, relatively high on the valley slope,
neither especially near a tributary stream or spring. Picnic Mound is believed
to be associated with the village occupation at the Colding Site (about one-half
The valley of the South Prong was utilized more-or-less continuously
after about 4000 B. C. Only very meager traces of earlier occupation are
known from this area (one Santa Fe and one Bolen Beveled Point, ca. 7500-
7000 B. C. in a private collection from the Colding Site). There are appar-
ently no large permanent or semi-permanent occupation sites in the basin. In-
stead the pattern of settlements is one of thinly dispersed, briefly occupied
campsites in predictable locations along the valley slope-floodplain ecotone.
The density of aboriginal sites determined by survey is only one for each six
square miles of the drainage area. Upland areas of the basin were certainly
exploited by aboriginal hunters, as indicated by an occasional stray tool or
flake. However, except on the headwaters of tributary streams, no occupation
sites were recorded in these areas.
The ceramic assemblage from the South Prong basin includes sherds
which are indistinguishable from Glades area and Gulf Coast types. These
sherds may actually represent ceramic vessels manufactured elsewhere and
introduced to the South Prong basin for household or ceremonial use.
Certainly all of the lithic assemblage was introduced, for there are no
flint sources in the immediate area. Silicified coral, found in significant
proportions among the raw materials of both lithic and ceramic sites, was
probably imported from Tampa Bay and other cherts from the Lake Thonoto-
sassa-Flint Creek-Hillsborough River area. Stone tool types, as well as raw
materials, correlate with these dense archaeological zones.
From all evidence, the South Prong basin served as a hinterland area
for Tampa Bay 20 miles to the west and perhaps other lowland coastal areas
as well. This hinterland provided diverse useful plant and animal resources
to populations more permanently settle in lowland (tidewater) areas. If food
products actually moved from upland to lowland areas, or less likely in the
reverse direction, evidence may only exist in well-preserved coastal middens
and not in less well-preserved upland sites.
Finally, the "durability" of the archaeological record in the South Prong
basin warrants some comment. In this area occupation sites are relatively
few and marked by thin scatters of "material remains [lying] without depth
upon an existing natural surface" (Hayden 1965:272). No buried occupation
levels, middens, or subsurface features were encountered in any of the test
pits or natural exposures examined during the survey. The South Prong basin
is, therefore, a "fragile-pattern area" where surface collecting, agricultural
activity, and other disturbance readily erase individual sites and the pattern of
settlement. Such areas should be thoroughly and systematically studied before
they are destroyed. For this purpose river basins and other definable geo-
morphic divisions of the Florida peninsula are meaningful units of study.
The South Prong survey was supported by a grant from Brewster Phos-
Phates, Bradley, Florida, to the Florida State Museum. Richard C. Timber-
lake and Robert Saunders, officials at Brewster Phosphates, were extremely
helpful to us at all times. William Troyer, also of Brewster Phosphates, and
Joseph A. Lamed, Curator of the Bone Valley Museum, Bradley, provided
much useful information for the Lonesome Mine tract and adjacent areas.
Finally, I am most grateful to my student field assistant, Lee Caruana of
Franklin and Marshall College, for his thorough treatment of the Lonesome
Mine area, which indicated the need for extended survey in the South Prong
SOUTH PRONG SURVEY
Barnett, Brian S.
1972 The Freshwater Fishes of the Hillsborough River Drainage, Flor-
ida. M.A. Thesis, University of Florida, Gainesville.
1973 Development of Regional Impact Application for Lonesome Mine.
American Cyanimid and Kerr-McGee Corporation, Bradley.
1973 Ecological Assessment of the Lonesome Mine Tract. Unpublished
Report, University of South Florida, Tampa.
1962 The Soils of Florida and Their Crop Adaptation. State of Florida,
Department of Agriculture, Bulletin No. 42. Tallahassee.
Bullen, Ripley P.
1952 Eleven Archaeological Sites in Hillsborough County Florida. Report
of Investigations, No. 8. Florida Geological Survey, Tallahassee.
1955 Archeology of the Tampa Bay Area. Florida Historical Quarterly,
Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 51-63. Gainesville.
1973a Introduction. In Archeology of the Florida Gulf Coast, by Gordon
R. Willey, pp. vii-xi. AMS Press, New York.
1973b The Tocobaga Indians and the Safety Harbor Culture. Paper presented
at the 38th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology,
May 3-5. San Francisco.
Cathcart, James B.
1962 Economic Geology of the Keysville Quadrangle, Florida. Geological
Survey Bulletin 1128. Washington, D.C.
Cooke, C. Wythe,and Stuart Mossom
1929 Geology of Florida. Twentieth Annual Report of the Florida Geo-
logical Survey, pp. 29-228. Tallahassee.
Hayden, Julian D.
1965 Fragile-Pattern Areas. American Antiquity, Vol. 31, No. 2,
pp. 272-276. Salt Lake City.
Hemmings, E. Thomas
1970 Prehistoric Subsistence and Settlement on the Upper Savannah
River. Southeast Archeological Conference, Bulletin No. 13,
pp. 26-33. Morgantown.
1974 Evaluation of Archaeological and Historical Sites on the Lonesome
Mine Tract. Unpublished Report, Florida State Museum, Gaines-
Hunt, Charles B. and Alice P.
1957 Stratigraphy and Archeology of Some Florida Soils. Bulletin of the
Geological Society of America, Vol. 68, pp. 797-806, Washington,
Menke, C.G., E.W. Meredith, and W.S. Wetterhall
1961 Water Resources of Hillsborough County, Florida. Florida Geo-
logical Survey, Report of Investigations, No. 25. Tallahassee.
Sears, William H.
1973 The Sacred and the Secular in Prehistoric Ceramics. In Variation
in Anthropology, pp. 31-42, edited by D.W. Lathrap and J. G.
Douglas, Illinois Archaeological Survey, Urbana.
Simpson, J. Clarence
1956 Florida Place-Names of Indian Derivation. Florida Geological
Survey, Special Publication, No. 1. Tallahassee.
Stirling, Mathew W.
1935 Smithsonian Archeological Projects Conducted Under the Federal
Emergency Relief Administration, 1933-34. Annual Report of the
Smithsonian Institution for 1934, pp. 371-400. Washington, D. C.
White, William A.
1970 The Geomorphology of the Florida Peninsula. Department of
Natural Resources, Bureau of Geology, Bulletin No. 51. Talla-
Willey, Gordon R.
1949 Archeology of the Florida Gulf Coast. Smithsonian Miscellaneous
Collections, Vol. 113. Washington, D.C.
April 17, 1974
SUWANNEE-LIKE POINTS FROM SOUTHWESTERN GEORGIA
Ripley P. Bullen
Suwannee-like and Clovis-like points are rare in West Florida. While
we assume the former are the Florida variety or equivalent of Clovis points
we also believe they are a little later in time on the average. The question is
always present whether or not the Suwannee variants are a local development
or if the form was developed elsewhere but happens to occur in more quantities
in Florida than elsewhere (possibly because the Paleo-Indian adaptation con-
tinued longer in Florida than elsewhere).
Points which can be classified as Suwannee are frequently included as
minor unimportant variants in collections of Paleo-Indian points in other
parts of the country. It is hence of interest to note the three Suwannee-like
points from the Blakely region of Georgia illustrated in the accompanying
photograph. These points are in the collection of Marvin Singletary of Blackely
who kindly let me photograph them when I visited him in the fall of 1973.
Florida Anthropologist, vol. 28, no. 2, June 1975
THE SCULPTURE OF EL TAJIN, VERACRUZ, MEXICO
by Michael Edwin Kampen. Gainesville, University of Florida Press, 1972.
IX plus 195 pp., illustrations, maps, glossary, bibliography, plates
($12. 50 cloth).
Review by S. Jeffrey K. Wilkerson
The format is large, 7 by 10 inches, with easily readable print and am-
ple margins containing photos, drawings, and captions. The numbered text is
divided into nine parts: Introduction, Sculptural Technique, Decorative and
Natural Forms in Tajin Sculpture, Iconography, Composition, Architectural-
Sculpture Arrangement, Style, The Problem of Chronology, and Tajin Sculp-
ture and Mesoamerican Prehistory. A catalogue of sculpture, glossary, and
The study represents the first time the corpus of Tajin sculpture has
been presented schematically and analytically under a single cover. Many
sculptural fragments, particularly those from the building of the Columns,
are published here for the first time. The presentation is systematic concen-
trating primarily on the four groups of sculpture associated with the Pyramid
of the Niches, the South Ball Court, the North Ball Court, and the Building of
the Columns. The argument, however, is marred by a number of factual mis-
representations and omissions.
The Introduction, which offers no modern history or etymology of the
site, misleads the reader on data as disparent as site elevation, architectural
dimensions (Pyramid of the Niches), structural profiles (Building 2), and pre-
historic dating. Much of this information can be found in various maps and pub-
lications, among them: Secretaria de Defense Nacional (1953, 1957), Garcia
Payon (1951, 1966) and Kelly and Palerm (1952). Most of these factual misrep-
resentations do not disrupt the author' s interpretations; however, a number do
affect the later discussions of scenes, iconography and chronology.
One important misinterpretation is that of Building 2 which the author
describes as (p. 9) "completely enclosing a shallow, pool-like space. This is
later interpreted as the building shown in the north-central panel of the South
Ball Court (pp. 38-39, 55-56) and is used to illustrate the location of rituals
shown in sculptural depictions. The "pool-like space" has been clearly indi-
cated by the excavator as an opening left in reconstruction and consolidation to
show an earlier construction phase (Garcia Payon 1966:13) and thus, is a mod-
Another point which complicates Kampen' s discussion of the corpus and
chronology of the Pyramid of the Niches is the assignment of certain sculpture
Florida Anthropologist, vol. 28, no. 2, June 1975
(Fig. 18 a-f) to that building (p. 8). These fragments are actually from the
"Arroyo Group" (Garcia Payon, personal communication 1963, 1973), the
complex of four large buildings found at the extreme south of the central por-
tion of the site.
Chronological considerations are further hampered by misreading of
the available pre-hispanic evidence. Postclassic evidence and/or a terminal
date circa 1100-1200 A. D. for Tajin has been presented by Ekholm (1953)
and numerous times by Garcia Payon (1955, 1963, 1966, 1971). Confirmation
of this late dating, indicating a prolonged Classic occupation in the general
Tajin area, has also been recently suggested by sculpture and stratigraphy
elsewhere (Wilkerson 1971 and in press). Proskouriakoff, in her early study
of Classic Veracruz sculpture also suggests some Postclassic dating on sty-
listic grounds (1954). The direct association of yokes, hachas, and palmas
with El Tajin (pp. 15-16) is also highly suspect. Only one plain yoke (Garcia
Payon, personal communication 1970) has been positively found at the site.
These data stand in contrast to the author' s 250-900 A. D. Classic dating of
the architectural sculptures (pp. 14) and treatment of associated portable
sculpture (pp. 15-16). In general, the discussion of archaeological data does
not do justice to the other interpretative aspects of the work.
The discussion of sculptural techniques and decorative and natural forms
is excellent and concise. It summarizes the limitations which technique placed
on naturalistic portrayal, and the possibility of various workshops. The sym-
bol referred to as an "X-motif" might be more properly called an "ollin mo-
tif" or "twisted line-motif" and may warrant consideration as an emblem glyph.
The approach to iconography is internally consistent although this re-
viewer does not always concur, especially with the treatment of the South Ball
Court. Composition and the integral relationship of architecture and sculpture
are brief, well-worded chapters summarizing aspects treated from different
standpoints earlier. The chapter on style defines six characteristics found
throughout Tajin sculpture and discusses each of the sculptural groups asso-
ciated with architectural units.
The chronology of Tajin sculpture is presented in chapter 8. Given the
earlier misreading of the archaeological evidence and the provenience of the
Arroyo Group sculptures, the chronology becomes somewhat confused. The
author presents three theories of style development: simplistic (formative) to
complex, complex to simplistic, and coexisting styles sponsored by various
workshops. He opts for the first, placing the Arroyo Group sculptures among
the formative specimens and rejecting foreign influence. Although this reviewer
agrees with the developmental theory, he feels that the latter group of sculpture
are formally distinct and iconographically late (i. e. following examples from
the Building of the Columns), and perhaps executed under, or as the result of,
The last chapter deals with the placement of Tajin sculpture within the
larger Mesoamerican art corpus. It presents a short but convincing examina-
tion of the relationship with Izapan and Mayan styles. The author sees a "gen-
eral awareness" of other major (monumental) sculptural traditions but not
"close contact" and discounts an origin for monumental sculpture in portable
sculpture of the Classic Veracruz style. Although designed as a summarizing
chapter presenting spatial orientation to the Tajin interpretation, it is, given
the detail of intrepretation up to this point, far too brief. It omits consideration
of Tajin-like sculpture and portrayals elsewhere; both in the immediate area
such as at Aparicio, and Sierra la Morena, and in the highlands at Cholula, and
perhaps Xochicalco. A consideration of these possible relationships could also
bring additional data to bear on the chronology of Tajin.
The catalogue which follows the text consists of line drawings of the
Tajin sculptural corpus. These drawings, although variable, far exceed in
quality most of the previously published drawings. Each sculpture, or frag-
ment, is presented with an identifying number, dimensions, references to
previous publication, location, description, and brief remarks. Although
without pagination the catalogue is immensely useful. One suggested addition
to the corpus, apart from a new panel from Building 4, found in 1970 and des-
cribed by Garcia Payon (in press), is a rectangular panel found at the edge of
the site and published in Garcia Payon (1955: num. 44). Its present location is
the museum of the city of Veracruz. It should also be noted that all of the ex-
posed column fragments from the Building of the Columns were moved to the
Museo Provisional in 1970.
This book is the first of its kind for a non-Olmec site of the Gulf Coast
and represents a considerable contribution both in terms of data collection
and interpretation. Its format and analysis, especially its reduction of com-
position and style to categories and "principles, as well as iconography, is
innovative. It is a step toward the definition of one of the most important, and
enigmatic, art styles in Mesoamerica.
Ekholm, Gordon F.
1953 Notas arqueologicas sobre el Valle de Tuxpan y areas circumue-
cinas. Huastecos, Totonacos y sus Vecinos. Revista Mexicana de
Studios Antropologicos, XIII, 2-3, Mexico, 413-421.
Garcia Payon, Jose
1951 La Piramide del Tajin. Estudio analitico. Cuadernos Americanos,
Ano X, 6, Mexico, 153-177.
56 BOOK REVIEW
1955 Exploraciones en El Tajin, Temporadas 1953 y 1954. Informes
2, Institute Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Mexico.
1963 Quienes Construyeron el Tajin y Resultados de las Ultimas Ex-
ploraciones de la Temporada 1961-1962. La Palabra y El hombre,
1966 El Tajin. Institute Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Mexico.
1971 Archaeology of Central Veracruz. Handbook of Middle American
Indians, Vol. XI, Robert Wauchope, editor, Austin, 505-542.
Kelly, Isabel; Angel Palerm.
1952 The Tajin Totonac, Part 1. History, Subsistence, Shelter and
Technology. Institute of Social Anthropology, No. 13, Smith-
sonian Institution, Washington, D. C.
1954 Varieties of Central Veracruz Sculpture. Contributions to Amer-
ican Anthropology and History, Publication 606, Carnegie Institu-
tion of Washington, 61-121.
Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional
1953 14 Q-f-(ll and 12) Papantla Vega de alatorre. Estados Unidos
Mexicanos, Departamento Geografico Militar, Mexico.
1957 Pachuca 14-Q- (IV). Estados Unidos Mexicanos, Comision Inter-
secretarial Coordinadora del Levantamento de la Carta Geogra-
fica de la Republica Mexicana, Mexico.
Wilkerson, S. Jeffrey K.
1971 Un yugo 'en situ' de la region del Tajin. Boletin 41, septiembre
1970, Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Mexico,
Florida State Museum
August 10, 1973
FUNCTIONAL ANALYSES OF POVERTY POINT CLAY OBJECTS
Donald G. Hunter
Excavations have demonstrated that the temporal position of the Pover-
ty Point Complex lies somewhere between the Archaic and the ceramic hori-
zons of the Tchefuncte Period, or from approximately 2000 B. C. until 400
B. C. The type site, though non-typical in itself, is Poverty Point in West
Carroll Parish, Louisiana. It is characterized by massive earthwork and
mound construction which may represent the earliest of such structures in
In most respects the site looks very Archaic (Ford and Webb 1956:129).
It is typically ceramic, though minor frequencies of sherds have been found
in recent years. Large massive projectile points, mainly made of exotic
cherts, are common. A lapidary industry exploiting imported raw materials,
as well as some local stone, is well developed at the site. Other character-
istics include steatite vessels, hematite plummets, bar gorgets, and rough
greenstone celts. Perhaps the most common artifact is the Poverty Point clay
object (Fig. 1). The use of this object has been attributed to an earthoven
cooking technology and is the basis of this paper.
The smaller sites are usually far less spectacular than the larger sites.
Sometimes the only trait these sites share with the larger ones are clay ob-
jects (Webb 1968:303). Therefore it seems venturesome to say that all sites
within the complex represent only one cultural unit. However, similar projec-
tile points, plummets, and microflints sometimes occur in moderate numbers.
Jasper beads, steatite vessel fragments, and gorgets may be represented by
only a single example.
Hunting and gathering have been modeled for the subsistence base of the
Poverty Point Complex. Agriculture has alternatively been hypothesized, be-
cause it is thought that hunting and gathering could not have supported the size
population once present at Poverty Point (Ford and Webb 1956:129).
Perhaps the Poverty Point Period represents only a drastic change in
social structure over the previous egalitarianism of the Archaic. Surely more
social control is involved in mound construction, maintance of population, and
establishing trade relations than in the Archaic (Ford and Webb 1956:129). Yet,
the artifacts themselves remained essentially similar to those of the earlier
Florida Anthropologist, vol. 28, no. 1, June 1975
FUNCTIONAL ANALYSES OF CLAY OBJECTS
Early Archaeological Descriptions
Artifacts popularly called Poverty Point clay objects (Fig. 1) were first
described by Clarence B. Moore. His first description was of a single bicon-
ical plain object from surface collections at the Hopeka Plantation in Cata-
houla Parish, Louisiana (Moore 1913:43). Similarly, Moore lists three un-
identified clay objects from the mound at the Insley Place, Franklin Parish
At the Schwing Place in Iberville Parish, Moore's excavations in a
mound unearthed a deposit of clay objects below a group of burials (Moore
1913:15). However, there seems to be no clear association between these ob-
jects and the burials. This cluster contained thirty-two biconical forms, both
of the plain and grooved varieties, plus additional fragments (Moore 1913:16).
Carbon on the exteriors of several of these suggested that they were associ-
ated with a fire pit (Moore 1913:16).
Moore also described a pit which contained about twenty-five objects,
apparently tetrahedrons, from a mound at the Montgomery Place in Madison
Parish (Moore 1913:58). His fourth description was of an abundant sample of
clay balls from the Poverty Point Plantation (Moore 1913:P1. 2).
Moore 1913:73) attributed the use of these objects to a daily, rather than
a ceremonial activity, because of the negative correlation between the occur-
rence of the objects and burials. He seems to have favored the idea that they
had been utilized as pot supports during cooking, because several of the objects
had carbon on their exteriors. Furthermore, Moore compares a deposit of
cylindrical objects from the Rose Mound in Arkansas to "...earthenware ob-
jects such as were used by the aborigines in some regions as supports for
vessels while cooking was in progress (Moore in 1913:73)." However, no
reference is cited. The obvious flaw in Moore' s hypothesis was that there was
no direct association between these objects and ceramics (Ford, Phillips, and
Haag 1955:56). In most cases, the presence of ceramics at each site was not
Charles C. Willoughby, in correspondence with Clarence Moore, re-
lated that the biconical forms were almost identical to those that Edward Pal-
mer obtained in southern Utah. The Piute Indians had used these as gaming
stones (Moore 1913:73). He also suggested that they may have been utilized
as "sling stones" analogous to the "well-wrought sling stone of Polynesia
Present criticism against using ethnographic analogy in archaeological
interpretation would deny the relevance of these analogies as explanation. The
lack of direct historical association between the fossil society and the culture
posing the analog, as well as varying adaptive strategies in dissimilar environ-
ments weakens such explanations (Binford 1971:275 and Ascher 1971:264-65).
Caution should also be displayed in assigning the same function because of
similar morphology. However, these early attempts at interpretation should
not be harshly criticized because of the shifts in archaeological thought in re-
Later Archaeological Descriptions
Sporadic accounts of these fired clay objects have subsequently been
made for most of the Lower Mississippi Valley (Ford, Phillips, and Haag
1955:47-50). In 1955 and 1956 descriptions of a large number of these arti-
facts from the Jaketown Site (Ford, Phillips, and Haag 1955:39-49) and the
Poverty Point Site (Ford and Webb 1956:39-44) were published. Webb com-
pleted the descriptions while demonstrating the total range of variability in
this class of artifacts (Webb, Ford, and Gagliano unpublished manuscript:
More recently these clay objects have been found in respectable quan-
tities in West Florida (Fairbanks 1959, Bunn 1974) and individually at Tick
Island on the St. Johns River and the Canton Street site in St. Petersburg
The forms of these artifacts vary widely (Fig. 1) though the most fre-
quently occurring may be placed into six categories (Webb, Ford, and Gag-
liano unpublished manuscript:l). These include cylindrical grooved, biconical
plain, biconical grooved, cross grooved, melon-shaped, and melon-shaped
with end grooves (Webb, Ford, and Gagliano unpublished manuscript:1-2).
Most of these objects are small enough to fit within the palm of the hand. Usu-
ally there is no intentional tempering although bone fragments are represented
in some contexts (Hunter 1972:in press). The objects are composed of baked
clay, most of which seem to have been fired in oxidizing conditions which re-
sulted in colors ranging from tan to burnt orange.
The Archaeological Context
Excavations at Jaketown and Poverty Point yielded these artifacts in two
contexts. Mainly the objects were randomly scattered throughout the midden
with other cultural debris. Three pits containing numerous clay objects, ashes,
and charcoal were also uncovered. One of these concentrations contained no
clay objects, but was surrounded by their fragments (Ford, Phillips, and Haag
FUNCTIONAL ANALYSES OF CLAY OBJECTS
Fig. 1. Six common types of modeled
Poverty Point clay objects.
1955:37). Subsequent excavations have increased the total of such pits to at
least eleven. Six are from Poverty Point; three from Terrall Lewis; one from
Jaketown (Webb, Ford, and Gagliano unpublished manuscript:68-70); and one
from Shoe Bayou (Hunter 197Z:in press). Others have been described from
the Linsley Site (Gagliano and Saucier 1963:325), the Claiborne Site, and Teoc
Creek, though their numbers have not been published (Webb, Ford, and Gag-
liano unpublished manuscript:71).
Ford, Phillips, and Haag (1955:56) similarly rejected the analogues to
the "sling Stone" and the "gaming stone. They accepted Moore's conclusion
that these artifacts were associated with daily activities because of the vast
quantities of them occurring in the middens of these sites. Their association
with ashes and charcoal in-pits led them also to resort to ethnographic analogy
to interpret the archaeological data.
Their interpretation seemed analogous to Bereridge's description of
Australian aboriginal earthovens:
"As soon as the hunters have seated themselves comfort-
ably, they set to work skinning the opossums, whilst sev-
eral of the lyoores (women) go off with their yamsticks.
When they reach the spot which they had before selected for
the purpose, they begin with a will to excavate a hole three
feet in diameter and eighteen inches deep. During the digging
of the hole, any pieces of clay of about the size of cricket
balls which are turned out are carefully placed on one side.
When the hole has been dug sufficiently deep, it is swept or
brushed out with some boughs, or a bunch of grass; it is then
filled to the top with firewood (which the lyoores had previously
collected for that purpose), upon which the selected pieces of
clay are carefully placed. The wood is then ignited, and by the
time it is all burned the clay nodules have become baked, until
they are exactly similar to irregular sections of well-burnt
brick; of course, they are red hot. When this result has been
properly achieved, the hot clay is removed from the hole; for this
purpose they use two pieces of stick, about eight inches long,
holding them both in one hand, and working them deftly, even
as a cook-maid uses a pair of tongs....
"After the hot clay is removed from the hole, the ashes are
carefully swept out, and a thin layer of grass slightly moistened,
placed over the bottom, and round the sides, upon which the pre-
pared opossums are nicely packed, and then covered over with
FUNCTIONAL ANALYSES OF CLAY OBJECTS
more damp grass. The hot clay nodules are then spread
equally over the top of the grass, when the whole oven is
then closed with the finer earth which originally came out
of the excavation. Should this covering be too thin to keep
the steam from escaping, it is supplimented by earth, dug
in immediate proximity (this supplement soil accounts fully
for the depressions always found about the bases of the ovens).
Ashes are never employed for the outside covering, because,
being fine, they would percolate through the interlining both
of the grass and clay nodules, thereby adding an amount of
grit which would not improve the flavour or appearance of
the food. Before the heat in the clay nodules, and the bottom
of the hole has become exhausted, the opossums are beautifully
cooked, as perfectly so indeed as though the operation had been
performed in the most improved kitchen range extant ...."
(Beveridge 1889:32-34 in Ford, Phillips, and Haag 1955:56-57).
Ford and Webb' s excavations at Poverty Point uncovered two pits con-
taining these objects:
"Work at Poverty Point removed any doubt as to the use of
these baked clay balls. Several examples of the discovery
of the clay balls in place in fire pits are cited above. One
of the best examples of such a cooking pit was discovered in
the wall of a freshly cut gulley near the bank of Bayou Macon
between Riges 1 and 2 in the North Sector.
"Erosion and disturbance had destroyed about half of the pit,
which was clearly defined only in its lower portion. It had
been dug as a basin-shaped depression which measured 21
inches in the diameter preserved; the other dimension seems
to have been slightly more, so that the pit was oval. The bot-
tom was 31 inches below the present surface, but it was im-
possible to determine the original surface from which the pit
was dug. If some scattered bits of burned clay 12 to 14 inches
below the modern surface mark that level, then the pit would
have been 17 to 19 inches deep. Although the soil within the pit
was darker than the surrounding soil, there was no appreciable
amount of charcoal. What is of interest in the quantity and na-
ture of the fired clay balls ...
"A significant feature of the contents of this pit is the high
proportion of rough amorphous lumps of clay removed when
the pit was dug and were put to use precisely as in the ex-
ample of Australian cooking methods quoted in the Jaketown
report. 1A further parallel with the Australian methods is
suggested by two features; one is the lack of ash and char-
coal in the pit; the second is that between some of the clay
objects and the sides of the pit there were fragments of
charred leaves as it was prepared for the baking" (Ford
and Webb 1956:36).
A second such feature was:
"... found in the ground surface beneath the ash bed in the
North 10-20 trench. This was near West 89 (Fig. 11). The pit
was round, 1. 9 feet in diameter and 0. 8 foot deep. It was filled
with powdery ash, intermingled with which were 32 baked clay
balls of recognizable form as well as numerous fragments. A
quantity of charcoal was saved from this pit" (Ford and Webb
Ford's interpretations implied a direct parallel to the Australian analogy.
However, subsequent excavations throughout the Lower Valley demonstrated
that Ford's "best example" was the exception rather than the rule. Most of
the pits differed widely from Ford's in one respect; they contained sizeable
amounts of charcoal and ash (Webb, Ford, and Gagliano unpublished Manus-
cript:68-71). This would suggest that the earthoven model could be restruc-
tured or modified to some extent.
Experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that these artifacts
could have been efficiently utilized in a culinary technology. It was of ex-
treme importance to duplicate the features and artifacts as found in archae-
ological contexts in effort to restructure the present models.
In the first experiment a pit approximately 18 to 20 inches in diameter
was excavated. It was circular in shape and about twelve inches deep. Soil
samples for the manufacture of clay objects were taken from Shoe Bayou, a
Poverty Point site in Catahoula Parish, and from Natchitoches Parish. These
were predominately clays, although the ones from Shoe Bayou contained some
small midden debris. These soils were wet and no particular treatment was
given to the preparation of the raw clay.
Three forms of clay objects were employed in the first experiment.
These included the biconical plain, biconical grooved, and biscuit-shaped
types. Shaping the biconicals was accomplished by rolling the clay between
the palms in a circular motion. The fingers of each hand were not extended
parallel to each other, but rather; an angle of approximately thirty degrees
FUNTIONAL ANALYSES OF CLAY OBJECTS
was formed between the two palms.
Biscuit- shaped objects were produced when the hands approached
being parallel or when poor control was maintained during the shaping. The
grooving in the biconical forms was produced by squeezing the object around
the periphery with four fingers of the same hand.
A fire was ignited in the pit and allowed to become quite hot before the
clay balls were placed in the pit. At the time of placement the clay balls were
still wet; no time was taken for the clay to dry. After this, additional wood
was deposited in the pit. This was allowed to burn until it had formed hot coals
(a period of about forty-five minutes).
Three pounds of beef roast and two Irish potatoes were wrapped in al-
uminium foil instead of the organic wrappings that may have been used in ab-
original times. The food was placed in the pit after most of the clay balls had
been removed by using two sticks, one in each hand. Ashes were not swept
out of the oven in accordance with numerous descriptions of earthovens from
Poverty Point sites (Webb, Ford, and Gagliano unpublished manuscript:68-71).
The hot clay balls were replaced in the oven by the use of the two sticks.
The food was then nested between two layers of clay balls intermixed with
ashes and coals. Additional pieces of small limbs were placed over the pit.
Their burning covered the contents with a warm layer of ash. The food was
allowed to cook for one and one-quarter hours and was well done within that
time. Undoubtedly this time could have varied if organic wrappings had been
At the completion of this cooking process there existed a scatter of clay
objects primarily to one side of the pit. Accompanying this was a slight scat-
ter of ashes. More clay balls remained in the pit intermixed with ash and some
charcoal. In profile there was some sorting of materials within the pit. Finer
fragments of clay objects, ash, and charcoal were lower in the matrix; larger
particles were generally higher, though there was some admixture.
After the clay objects had cooled, they appeared dark and very fragmen-
tary, not resembling those from aboriginal sites. When cleaned, their exteri-
ors were still dark, whereas their interiors were a light tan and not well fired.
No differentiation was noted between objects manufactured from Shoe Bayou
midden soil and those made of other clays, excepting the slight difference in
texture due to amounts of sand in the latter. Bone fragments did occur in the
objects made from the soil sample from Shoe Bayou in the same frequency rep-
resented in the archaeological sample from the site.
Clay objects having surface grooves were found to be easier to manipulate
using two sticks. However, several attempts were needed before even the
grooved objects could be handled. This agrees with one of Ford and Webb' s
interpretations concerning the functions of the grooving (1956:44).
A second experimental attempt at reproducing this cooking technology
was made, because the results of the first analysis did not fully reproduce the
paste characteristics within these clay balls as compared to those from ar-
chaeological sites. The same major steps were repeated in the construction
of the pit and in the manufacture of the clay objects. The only differences
were that the clay was from Natchitoches Parish, that it was well kneaded be-
fore shaping, and that the objects were allowed to dry before firing.
Biconical grooved, biconical plain, amorphous, melon-shaped, and cy-
lindrical grooved objects were manufactured. The first two types were formed
in the same manner as previously described. Melon-shaped objects were rolled
between the palms of the hands in a circular motion in much the same manner
as if to roll a ball. A true spheroidal shape was attained and then deformed by
compressing four fingers of the same hand across its surface. Cylindrical
grooved objects were by far the most difficult of the types to duplicate. Only a
few examples were produced that resembled even the poorest example of this
type. These were made by rolling the clay between the palms of the hands in a
back and forth motion. At the same time, the middle fingers were slightly ex-
tended towards one another producing the central groove and the clay was con-
fined with the thumbs and little fingers of both hands.
A portion of these objects were allowed to dry in the sun; an equivalent
number were permitted to dry in the shade. No cracking was noted in the latter
group. However, it did appear in those objects that dried in the sun. This was
apparently due to stress exerted on the objects because of uneven rates of dry-
ing in the sun.
The same processes in firing were observed in the second experiment.
The total firing time, including the period of food preparation, was approxi-
mately an hour and a half. No significant difference between the description of
the pit in the first experiment and the second were noticed.
After removal the clay objects appeared well fired. They were a light
tannish-gray to light orange in color, which differed slightly from the deeper
orange colors in the objects from Poverty Point. The colors are similar to
those artifacts from sites within the Catahoula Phase (Hunter 1972:in press).
The colors ran uniformly through the interiors of each object.
It was hypothesized by the author that these differences could represent
different lengths of firing or indicate numbers of different firings. The lighter
colors could have been simply explained as objects fired once, whereas others
FUNCTIONAL ANALYSES OF CLAY OBJECTS
were repeatedly fired and oxidized to a burnt orange color. These objects did
not fragment nearly as much as did those in the first trial. It appears that
fragmentation was caused by extreme stress brought about by the rapid rates
at which the water was driven out of the wet clays and also because of differ-
ential rates of heating and cooling within the same object.
The second attempt satisfactorily demonstrated that paste characteris-
tics could be duplicated within this class of objects in a technology that is an
efficient mode of food preparation. However, there seems to be no sense in
the inclusion of clay balls in the pit; the ashes and coals themselves would have
sufficient heat to thoroughly cook the food without the use of clay cooking balls.
A modification in the experiments seemed necessary.
A third experimentation and analysis was conducted to see if the clay ob-
jects could be fired repeatedly and to examine differences in the paste between
those objects fired only once compared to those fired more than once. This
attempt was also carried out to see if modification in the model would produce
the same results as in the first attempts. This modification in the model would
have to incorporate more dependence on clay balls for the transfer of heat,
rather than relying primarily on ashes and coals.
No departure was made from the usual construction procedures in pre-
paring either the pit or the cooking balls. Biconical grooved objects were made
and allowed to dry approximately three hours. Also incorporated into this as-
semblage were objects which had been previously fired in the first and second
A flame was ignited in the pit and the clay cooking balls were deposited
in the fire. More wood was added and allowed to burn down (approximately an
hour of firing). At this point, the clay balls were not individually removed
from the ashes and coals. Instead, the entire matrix of the pit was stirred with
a stick causing the smaller particles to settle lower in the pit. Simultaneously,
the clay balls worked their way to the surface. Approximately half the cooking
balls were removed in the usual manner.
No type of wrapping was employed in the third experiment. A small roast
was placed directly on top of the hot clay balls and additional hot objects were
stacked around the meat. Sections of small logs were placed around the edges
of the pit in effort to render additional heat. Within 45 minutes the meat was re-
moved from the pit. It was remarkably free of dirt and ashes, even though no
wrapping was used. The exterior of the meat was somewhat burnt, but the in-
terior was well cooked. The coals beneath the cooking balls were apparently
too hot at the time the food was placed in the oven. More time should have been
allowed for the temperature within the pit to decrease.
A scatter of clay objects and ashes similar to the two previous experi-
ments was deposited primarily to one side of the earthoven. More clay balls
remained in the pit, yet unlike the preceding attempts, they were deposited
primarily on top of the ashes and coals. A very few objects remained inter-
mixed with the ashes. When viewed in profile, the contents of the pit were well
sorted. The smaller debris was lower in the pit. Larger fragments of char-
coal and the clay balls occupied the upper portions of the pit.
No difference was noticed in the color of the objects fired only once, op-
posed to those fired repeatedly, except in one instance. The objects which
were incompletely fired and dark in color from the first experiment matched
the rest of the assemblage. Also, a slight variation was noticed in several ob-
jects in which ferruginous clay-loams were mixed with the regular clays.
These objects fired a deeper orange than the rest. Variation in color between
these balls and the ones from Poverty Point seems to be a function of differing
mineral content in the clays and not the firing sequence.
Summary and Conclusions
Hypotheses concerning the uses of Poverty Point clay objects have been
cited and systematically critiqued in light of archaeological thought and exca-
vated context. An alternative model involving the clay balls in a particular type
of earthoven technology has been generated in response to the previous data and
this present specific analysis.
The third experiment approaches being the model earthoven. In this case,
the properties of heat conduction are fully exploited. Heat seems to have been
diffused from the ashes and coals to the already hot clay objects (Fig. 2). Stor-
ed heat which is lost to the atmosphere would be replenished through a conduc-
tion principle from objects in contact with the coals. This could confine heat
around the food substance within the cluster of cooking balls, cooking it effi-
ciently without ash or dirt coming into contact. The main difference between
Ford's model and this one is the heat conduction principle. The former one
concentrates on the stored heat within the clay balls. The present model in-
corporates that property with heat conduction which replenishes lost heat.
The grooving of the clay balls seems to have functioned in at least three
ways. It increased surface area (Ford and Webb 1956:44) which permitted
greater efficiency in conduction and transferral of heat either from the ashes
or other hot cooking balls. The second major function was to allow for ease in
handling the objects (Ford and Webb 1956:44). Thirdly, the grooving made the
stacking of the cooking balls around the food easier. Plain objects tended to
Experimental objects and similar artifacts from Poverty Point sites have
:" .. a .- .4.. .
. .... .. .'.. .. .
A rro~ indii i .. ...o., ........-ao
A o ..- conduction of hea..0. ........../.2 .
Fig. 2. Model of Poverty Point earthoven.
...%. *. . .
.:t. .i .. : .. ..:a.......
Arrows indicate conduction of heat. o'
been retired without causing damage to them in any way. It therefore appears
that clay balls could have been re-used as many times as possible. Several
earthovens from archaeological sites contained numerous types of these arti-
facts ranging from one to eight in frequencies of occurrence (Webb, Ford, and
Gagliano unpublished manuscript:68-70). It is not out of the question to suggest
that the Indians periodically gathered these artifacts from abandoned earthoven
areas for re-use. Gathering would be much simpler than manufacturing objects,
especially at the larger sites such as Poverty Point where abundant supplies
were readily at hand. It seems only logical to postulate that these objects were
used repeatedly, as logical as suggesting that Indians re-used pots after each
meal rather than discarding a serviceable vessel and manufacturing a similar
article. The occurrence of whole objects in the midden can be attributed to loss
and discard when an aboriginal family relocated.
The artifact re-use model would account for the many types of clay balls
in a single earthoven. These frequencies have also been attributed to stylistic
preferences of women from different kinship groups who have married into the
same family units (personal communications, Hiram F. Gregory 1972).
No direct evidence has occurred to clarify the types of food which were
prepared in this manner. Grain crops such as amaranthus or maize would have
required the use of incombustible containers. The ceramic nature of the ar-
chaeological complex and the non-association of clay balls with stone vessels
would seem to delete this food source. Freshwater mollusks do not occur in
the middens of sites on the interior drainages. The amounts of shells resulting
from such harvests would drastically alter the Ph factor of these acidic soils
so that preservation would be expected (Ford and Webb 1956:129).
Roots and tubers, as well as nuts, could have been more easily roasted
in the hot ashes of an open fire. Similarly, it would appear easier to roast
meats on a spit over a bed of hot ashes. To explain this technology as a result
of cultural preference seemingly would be an untestable hypothesis. However,
this seems to be the case with the Australian aborigines (Beveridge 1889:32-34
in Ford, Phillips, and Haag 1955:56-57).
Whatever the food substance was, it is now clear that these artifacts re-
ferred to as Poverty Point clay objects could have functioned as a culinary
technique. This method is efficient, and probably served the needs of a large
aboriginal population on the Poverty Point temporal level.
1971 Analogy in Archaeological Interpretation. Man's Imprint from the
Past, Readings in the Methods of Archaeology, pp. 262-71, edited
FUNCTIONAL ANALYSES OF CLAY OBJECTS
by James Deetz. Little, Brown and Company, Boston.
1889 The Aboriginies of Victoria and Riverina as seen by Peter Bev-
eridge. in Ford, Phillips, and Haag, 1955, pp. 56-57.
Binford, Lewis R.
1971 Smudge Pits and Hide Smoking; the Use of Analogy in Archaeolog-
ical Reasoning. Man's Imprint from the Past, Readings in the
Methods of Archaeology, pp. 272-92, edited by James Deetz.
Little, Brown and Company, Boston.
Bunn, Jennings W. Jr.
1974 Clay Balls: Ceremonial or Utilitarian. Florida Anthropologist,
vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 47-48.
Fairbanks, Charles H.
1959 Additional Elliot's Point Complex sites. Florida Anthropologist,
vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 95-100. Tallahassee.
Ford, James A. and Clarence H. Webb
1956 Poverty Point, A Late Archaic Site in Louisiana. Anthropological
Papers, American Museum of Natural History, vol. 46, part 1,
Ford, James A., Philip Phillips, and William G. Haag
1955 The Jaketown Site in West-central Mississippi. Anthropological
Papers, American Museum of Natural History, vol. 45, part 1.
Gagliano, Sherwood M., and Roger T. Saucier
1963 Poverty Point Sites in Southeastern Louisiana. American Antiqui-
ty, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 320-27.
Hunter, Donald G.
1972 The Catahoula Phase of the Poverty Point Complex in East-central
Louisiana. Southeastern Archaeological Conference, Bulletin 12.
Manuscript in press.
Moore, Clarence H.
1913 Some Aboriginal Sites in Louisiana and Arkansas. Journal of the
Academy of Natural Sciences, series 2, vol. 16, part 1, art. 1.
Webb, Clarence H.
1968 The Extent and Content of Poverty Point Culture. American
Antiquity, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 297-321. Salt Lake City.
Webb, Clarence H., James A. Ford, and Sherwood M. Gagliano
1972 Poverty Point Culture and the American Formative. No. 2,
PROBLEMATICAL STONE FIND
On January 6, 1974, an egg-sized, tear-drop shaped stone object with
an indentation on one end was found while surface collecting on a preceramic
site in Early County, Georgia. The object is 57 mm (2 1/4 in) long and 48mm
in diameter. The concave indentation at the top is 15 mm across. The surface
is very smooth, especially considering that it is made of white quartzite, a
rough material to work into shape.
When contacting archaeologists to determine what the object was used
for, it was soon apparent that, like many other prehistoric objects, no one
knows for sure the exact reason it was made. Some proposed uses for this
pecked and polished stone is that it was an atlatl weight, a bola stone,or was
covered with leather and used as a club head. Because of the extremely fine
workmanship which indicates a great deal of time was spent in its manufac-
ture, I do not think it was used for purely utilitarian purposes which might
lead to its becoming lost or broken.
Judging by the other stone artifacts found on the site it is early archaic
in cultural period. Many massive crude "blades" or hand scrapers are found
there along with archaic stemmed points and one perfect Dalton point. This
object could be from a more recent time period though since it was a surface
When it was made or what it was used for I don't know and I'm not going
to offer any theories. This report is just to document that another one has
April 19, 1974
Florida Anthropologist, vol. 28, no. 2, June 1975
IMPLICATIONS FROM SOME FLORIDA DEPOSITS
AND THEIR ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTENTS*
Ripley P. Bullen
In 1958, Stephen Taber, then Geologist at the University of South Car-
olina, visited me in Gainesville, Florida, to discuss some phases of late
Pleistocene fossil problems and signs of recent rises in sea levels along the
Carolina shore. It seemed that they had bone beds in the Carolinas which,
while smaller, resembled those known in Florida as the Melbourne Bone Bed
at Vero on the east coast and as Seminole Field at Joe' s Creek in western St.
Petersburg on the west coast. During our conversation it developed that sim-
ilar late Pleistocene fossil problems along the shore were to be found all the
way from North Carolina to Texas. Due to this fact I am emboldened to make
these remarks in the hope they will in some way help other workers in other
states with similar problems and, possibly, stimulate more research in late
Pleistocene-Holocene geology. While much work has been done recently in
this field in Florida by Dr. Harold K. Brooks of the Department of Geology of
the University of Florida, much still remains to be done for proper interpre-
tation of the archaeology of the region.
In Florida there is abundant evidence of radical changes in the physio-
graphy of the state. These imply (1) a continued recent rise in sea level, (2)
that the last rise in sea level higher than now occurred during or before the
Paleo-Indian period not after, i. e. before 6000 B. C., (3) a wet erosional pe-
riod of extreme magnitude but short duration occurred, and (4) a long long
period of deposition of sand by wind with the growth of large inland stabilized
dunes. I will first briefly present evidence for a continued rise in sea level.
It must be considered in the context that geologists insist that there has been
no recent sinking of land in Florida and that the distance to the mouth of the
Mississippi is so great that the vast weight of sediments deposited by that
river have had no effect on the west coast of peninsular Florida. The down-
ward sloping strata evident along the west coast of the peninsula are then the
result of the Ocala uplift which occurred epochs ago.
Sea Level Rise Along the Gulf Coast of Florida
Tampa Bay receives the waters of the Hillsborough, Alafia, Little Mana-
tee, and Manatee Rivers. Oyster shells are commercially dredged from var -
*This paper was presented at a Conference on the archaeology of the Gulf
Coast held at Lamar State College, Beaumont, Texas, April 17-18, 1970.
It was slightly revised in 1974.
Florida Anthropologist, vol. 28, no. 2, June 1975
ious places in the bay for use as fill, on driveways, etc. Some of these shell
beds are long and narrow in shape and situated in locations indicating they bor -
der old stream channels. Sometimes Paleo-Indian and Archaic artifacts are
found in dredged shell from these beds. It may be suggested these deposits
are old middens or shell collecting places which, along with the mouths of the
rivers, have been inundated by the rise in sea level which produced Tampa
Bay as we now know it (Goodyear and Warren 1972). No doubt this rise, on
both the Gulf and Atlantic coast, substantially increased oyster and other shell-
fish resources (Goggin 1948:228-29).
Some years ago, I was taken by Dr. Lyman O. Warren of St. Peters-
burg to examine a site exposed at low tide at the eastern side of Tampa Bay
a little north of the present mouth of the Little Manatee River. This site con-
sisted of scattered fragments of human bones and occasional pieces of shells
resting on the wet level surface exposed by the low tide. We dug small test
holes but there were no bones, shells, or other evidence of human occupation
below the slimey surface. Examination of the surrounding land also failed to
produce any nearby evidence of man' s presence. Our only explanation was
that there had been a small midden or perhaps burial mound in that location
which had been destroyed by wave action caused by a rise in sea level.
At the Palmer site on the mainland side of the coastal lagoon in south-
western Sarasota is an Archaic midden some fourteen feet in height with
fiber-tempered pottery limited to the top five feet. A large stratigraphic test
in this midden reached salt (brackish) water but did not reveal the base of the
shell heap. We have a C-14 date of 2150 B. C. (G-600) for the contact zone
where water was met, but presumably the midden started to accumulate ear-
lier. Similarly, a little south of Englewood there is a very large shell mid-
den entirely surrounded by water. A very small amount of Transitional and
Orange(fiber-tempered) period pottery was found there by collectors, but when
we visited it--after some bull-dozing had occurred--there was no sign at all of
ceramics. The bottom of this midden was at a substantial but unknown distance
below the present surface of the Gulf. This may well be the place to mention
that the late John M. Goggin told me that in the various tests he had made in
the Everglades National Park in extreme south Florida he had never reached
the bottom of a site--always encountering water first.
Sea water along the whole Gulf coast of Florida is very shallow and
coastal maps in various places indicate extensions of present stream channels
substantial distances into the Gulf. At one place off the coast near New Port
Richey, Wilfred T. Neill of that city has discovered what he calls the "Two
Fathom Site. At this site on the bottom of the Gulf he has found Archaic-like
chert artifacts and, I understand, some sherds of Deptford pottery (Neill, per-
Further north at Battery Point near Bayport, Florida, a roadside park
was formed some years ago by pumping material from off shore onto the land.
Specimens pumped up from the Gulf included fragments of steatite vessels,
stemmed and basally notched projectile points, and sherds of Norwood, Pe-
rico Linear Punctated, Deptford Cross Stamped and St. Johns Incised vessels
(Bullen and Bullen 1953, 1954). While the St. Johns Incised sherds could date
to Z100 B. C., the Norwood and Perico sherds (based on present knowledge)
can be dated no earlier than 1000 B. C. and the Deptford sherds we would not
expect before 600 B. C. Gordon R. Coates of St. Petersburg dug a series of
pits in the Gulf at times of low tide and located the source of these specimens.
It consisted of a thin but rich shell heap covered by muck as well as by wa-
ters of the Gulf. It had two components--an upper and a lower one--thus ex-
plaining the apparent admixture of relatively early and relatively late pottery
type (Coates 1955).
At Johns Island, further to the north and beside the mouth of the Chassa-
howitzka River, is a large shell midden, about five feet thick, which rests di-
rectly on solid limestone rock. The Gulf side of this midden has been substan-
tially eroded and the top of the limestone ledge is covered by one and a half
feet of water at high tide. Man could not have started to live on this ledge un-
der present conditions (Bullen and Bullen 1950:42). Behind the midden is a
salt marsh. Tests in this marsh were sterile down to a depth of twenty inches
where a few sherds, chips, and bones were found (Bullen and Bullen 1950:27).
As the surface of a salt marsh grows upward with rising sea level, it may be
inferred that the sea has risen about twenty inches since abandonment of Johns
Island by Indians in late Weeden Island times. From the quantity of St. Johns
Incised pottery at Johns Island, it is probable the site was first occupied around
or shortly after 1000 B. C. The great quantity of stonework at the site--espe-
cially in the lower stratum and the eroded beach area--implies a quarry or
other source of chert in the immediate neighborhood. There are some sugges-
tions that such a source may have been in the then much shallower water of the
Gulf in front of the site. Presumedly, Indians were good at diving but, certainly,
a substantial rise in sea level is indicated at Johns Island.
Still further north at Wash Island on the north side of Crystal River near
its mouth is a limestone exposure in front of a small midden. On the ledge
Florida Transition period artifacts--steatite, St. Johns Incised, Perico In-
cised and Punctated sherds and basally notched projectile points were found
(Bullen and Bullen 1961). Tests in the midden, however, only produced pottery
of the later Weeden Island period (Bullen and Bullen 1963). The earlier part of
the midden must have been present when the site was occupied by Weeden Is-
land people as the remaining portion is too narrow for occupation. Obviously,
they lived on the older midden and threw their rubbish to the rear or landward
side. Again, a rise in sea level since Weeden Island time (ca. A. D. 400-1000)
may be implied.
The famous Crystal River site is located four miles inland on the
north bank of that river. A multi-component site, it consists of a large
temple mound and shell midden beside the river, a large burial mound
with a surrounding embankment behind the midden, and, further from the
river, a second temple mound and burial mound separated from the first
area by a plaza (Bullen 1953). When I first visited it in 1950 the temple
mound beside the river had a ramp which pointed northeasterly across a
small bay or arm of the river. Later the ramp and part of the temple mound
were used as fill to turn this bay into a trailer park. During its construction,
parallel ditches were dug across the trailer park. In the profiles of these
ditches could be seen cross-sections of the shell causeway which had once
connected the ramp of the temple mound to the eastern part of the midden vil-
lage. Obviously, a rise in sea level had inundated the causeway area and
formed one compulsive reason for the construction of the second temple mound
and plaza further from the river. The causeway would never have been con-
structed under today' s conditions or if it had been it would have reached to
approximately the present elevation of the surface of the river. As seen in
the profiles the top of the ramp was covered by a substantial amount of river
sediments. We have a C-14 date of A. D. 640 (1-1365) for a fire pit in the tem-
ple mound. This pit was exposed when the ramp was removed and its date
must precede the final construction of the ramp. It seems, therefore, vir-
tually certain that the rise in sea level which finally inundated the causeway
occurred after A. D. 600.
At the north end of the Tiera Ceia site in the southeastern side of Tampa
Bay a little north of the mouth of the Manatee River, there is an Indian cause-
way leading from part of the village midden to the location of an early Weeden
Island burial mound. It leads across a low area, was built on top of "mud",
and obviously was constructed to gain ready access to the burial mound at
times of high water. When we put a narrow trench across it in 1950 (Bullen
1951:10-11) muck, etc., had accumulated a vertical distance of eight inches
above the base of this causeway since its construction.
Sea Level Rise Along the Atlantic Coast of Florida
Along the east coast of Florida the Atlantic Ocean deepens rapidly so
that there is not as great an opportunity to demonstrate a correlation between
Indians sites of various periods and a continued rise in sea level. However,
there are some very significant examples of physiographical changes that can
be mentioned. One is the fact that at Jacksonville Beach some years ago a
hurricane removed sand and exposed the base of a cypress swamp. Similarly,
west of South Ponte Vedra Beach, clearing operations show that trees were
once growing at lower elevations than now. Amelia Island, like peninsular
Florida, is a big recurved sandspit which has successively meandered south-
ward. The southern end of this island, where sand ridges dominantly extend
from east to west, is the youngest. There are no Indian sites of any period
known south of the AIA bridge from Amelia Island towards Talbot Island.
Possibly the land is not old enough to have been occupied in Archaic or Tran-
sitional times. Sites of this period are found to the north on the western side
of the island (Bullen and Griffin 1952).
The Cato site near Vero beach gives us our best evidence for a sea level
rise along the Atlantic coast. Here below the present surface of the beach was
found a shell midden, about a foot thick, which sloped downward towards the
east. The midden contained a few thick St. Johns Plain sherds of the variety
we associate with the Florida Transitional period of about 1000 to 600 B. C.
The C-14 date for this deposit is 845 B.C. (Bullen, Bullen, and Clausen 1968).
Off to one side some burials in recent marine marl have been found. This site
could not have been occupied under today' s conditions, i.e. the shell midden
could not have accumulated. We were working at a little below meantide ele-
vation but were unable to dig very far to the east to ascertain how far the mid-
den extended into the Atlantic. However, it documents the fact that the waters
of the Atlantic as well as those of the Gulf have risen relative to the land
within recent times.
The St. Johns River Region
This low gradiant stream, flowing south to north in an old trough be-
tween an old off-shore bar and the original (?) Florida mainland, shows in
its middle coarses the effects of sea level rise and the resultant lowered gra-
dient. Here it has a wide flood plain across which the river has cut channels
and, in times of floods, deposited materials. This area abounds in ox bows
and "dead" rivers. Interestingly, there are old, preceramic, Viviparus and
Pomacea shell middens of substantial size, ten to twenty feet high and up to
two hundred feet long, some distance removed from the present river. They
border what must have been old channels or ox bows which are no longer dis-
cernible. The bases of these middens extend outward beneath the present val-
ley floor. The upper portion of one of these middens have been C-14 dated to
3300 B. C. but we have no idea of their beginning date (Bullen and Bryant 1965).
Two of the large Archaic shell middens of the St. Johns River with which
some of you are familiar, Tick Island and Bluffton, have been entirely re-
moved for shell. In doing this, dredges operated at depths of at least five to
six feet below the present river level. This does not prove the river was five
to six feet lower when these middens started to accumulate (4-5000 B. C. ?),
but it is suggestive.
Other data supporting a recent rise in sea levels as well as ground-
water levels for south and southeast Florida, have been previously presented
by Goggin (1948). A derelict Indian canoe stranded on an old lake beach east
of Tampa, Florida, and buried under peat and sand around 1000 B. C. (Bullen
and Brooks 1967), testifies to a much higher lake level in past times.
Conclusions So Far
It is evident from the above that the waters of the Gulf of Mexico were
much lower in Paleo-Indian, Archaic, and Transitional times than they are
today. We can conclude that (1), as the Gulf of Mexico is very shallow, early
man and migrants from Mexico or Central America could easily walk on dry
land substantially south of the present day Gulf beaches. (2) Midden deposits
of considerable importance should be found along the sides of old inundated
river channels. (3) Early Archaic people exploited salt water as well as fresh-
water shellfish. (4) The relatively few large, salt water shells in the St. Johns
River shell heaps undoubtedly represent tools, not food remains, and testifyto
communication with the Atlantic coast. They may represent our first evidence
of trade. (5) The first permanent villages (large preceramic Archaic shell
middens) were not entirely isolated communities.
Deposits Suggesting An Extensive Erosional Cycle
In peninsular Florida fossil bone beds--thick sandy or mucky deposits
containing bones of Pleistocene animals--are found along both the Gulf and
Atlantic coasts a short distance inland from the present shores of the lagoons
which form the intercoastal waterway. These beds extend from Tarpon Springs
southward to south of Charlotte Harbor on the Gulf coast and on the Atlantic
side from the mouth of the St. Johns River southward to Hollywood a little
north of Miami. These beds are cut by small streams such as Joes Creek in
St. Petersburg (Simpson 1929) and that at the classic Vero site (Sellards 1960)
as well as by Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor. Eroded nubbles of fossil bones
may be found on the edges of the intercoastal waterway and occasionally on the
Gulf or Atlantic beaches. These bones beds are not entirely continuous and
they also vary considerably in width, thickness, and condition of the contained
Most of the bone beds represent redeposited materials. This is clearly
true at Joe' s Creek in Seminole Fields, western St. Petersburg (Bullen 1964),
at the Melbourne Golf Course site, and in fields near the classic Vero man
section; all places where I have done field work. At Melbourne, for example,
I went to investigate a possible association of man and mammoth. After scrap-
ing, the section revealed an eroded sloping surface of the "B" (bone bed) de-
posit sticking out of the top of which was a large portion of a mammoth tooth.
The superior deposit, as at Vero, was somewhat contorted but strata (a layered
condition) clearly indicated deposition by water flowing from west to east. On
the uphill side of the tooth and well below its top was the tip of a bifacially
chipped knife or projectile point. This specimen was clearly in an eddy de-
posit caused by the obstruction of the mammoth tooth. Curving lines of the
eddy were very distinct. Obviously erosion had removed the top of the "B"
deposit exposing the tooth and forming a hole or depression behind it. Then
a period of deposition started during an early phase of which the chipped
specimen became lodged in the erosional hole behind the tooth.
I was present when Drs. Sellards and Gunter reopened the Vero site in
1952 and noted the eroded surface of the "B" deposits but no fossils were pre-
sent in the exposed face. I trowelled this face (both above and below the junc-
tion) and found four sherds--two sand-tempered and two of St. Johns (chalky)
paste--on the eroded (sharp line) top of the "B" or Melbourne bone bed depos-
it (i.e. separated from it by only 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch). All four sherds were
at the same elevation but separated horizontally along a slightly sloping line
which followed the top of the underlying "B" deposit. No sherds were found
higher up and there was no hint of a pit or of disturbance in the overlying
strata. These sherds could date to ca. 600 B. C. (based on the sand-tempered
examples --both temper types are known to be later than the fiber-tempered
pottery of the Orange period), and demonstrate that the top of the "B" or Mel-
bourne bone bed formation must have been exposed at the time of their deposi-
tion. It would seem they must have reached their "in situ" location by means
of water action although it is possible they were thrown to this location by In-
dians after the erosion of the Melbourne formation and before the deposition of
the overlying, relatively recent, formation. I should mention in passing that
fossils, when present, concentrate at greater depths (nearer the middle of the
"B" deposit) than that of its top (Weigel 1962) while Vero man was associated
with the top of the "B" horizon, i. e. with the junction between the Melbourne
formation and its overlying more recent deposit (Sellards 1916-17).
While at Vero, Dr. Gunter had a wide ditch made by a bulldozer in a
nearby field about a half mile to the northeast of the classic Vero site. This
ditch cut through the Melbourne bone bed and Dr. Gunter kindly permitted me
to trowel the face of this cut. In this cut the quantity and size of fossil nubbins
increased with depth like a normal frequency or sine wave and then decreased
in a similar manner. Gunter pointed out that the only "good" fossil they found--
the jaw of a carnivore--came from the midpoint of the profile, i.e. the peak of
my sine curve.
There seems to be only one satisfactory explanation for reworked Pleis-
tocene bone beds extending for over 100 miles along both the east and west
coasts of peninsular Florida. The animals must have died in marshy or swampy
areas near the shore, or their bones were washed into such places, and later
probably covered with sand, at a time when the seas were lower than at present.
As the seas rose they undercut these deposits, dumping them on a beach where
they were scattered and sometimes rolled by wave action, and then the seas re-
treated leaving behind fossil bones distributed over tremendous areas. This
event, which may explain the presence of marine forms mixed with terrestrial
fauna at Seminole Fields, must have occurred a long time before the advent of
man in Florida. Subsequently, these bone deposits were covered by sand moved,
primarily, by wind action. The topography must have been rather irregular or
the underlying deposits variable in their resistance to erosion as semi-articu-
lated skeletal material is sometimes found in restricted areas. Perhaps they
represent late survivors or perhaps they were located a little beyond the max-
imum advance of the sea. I should mention that no satisfactory evidence of
man' s contemporaneity has come from these deposits although there have been
several attempts (Sellards 1917, Weigel 1962).
The rivers of north Florida present different problems. They produce
two groups of Pleistocene animal bones (an earlier Irvingtonian and a later
Rancholabrean fauna), Paleo-Indian and other points and tools, and stone tools
and sherds of more recent times as well as modern cow bones and patinatedd"
Coco-Cola caps. A few bones of the later or Rancholabrean fauna exhibitbutch-
ering marks evidently made by man on green bone (Walter Auffenburg, personal
communication). The rivers are small, the number of bones large, and a strata
from which they could have eroded apparently lacking. The problem here is to
find an excavatable site. A possible explanation is that these are kill sites, lo-
cated at river crossings, and that the animals were butchered in shallow
reaches of the river. This interpretation has been pointed out by Ben I. Waller
(1970) who has spent a lot of time studying these locations. If so these same
crossings were used by deer and other game, and the same locations were
used for the collecting of migratory birds--a not unlikely situation.
A somewhat similar but different situation occurs at large springs and
caves of which Florida has a liberal supply. Typically, in a spring or cave
there is a deposit of fallen material below its mouth. This accumulation in-
cludes limestone eroded from the walls and material washed in by heavy rains
or floods or thrown in by man. Objects tend to roll down the sides of these de-
posits and to be found near their peripheries. Human bones and other items
have also been found in galleries or notches in the sides of springs raising
questions as to whether they washed in, were taken there by Indians at times
of extreme low water, or were left there by alligators (Royal and Clark 1960,
In two dry caves we have found deposits containing man' s artifacts and
some food remains in strata which sloped downward from their mouthes. In
the first case, due to the steepness of the slope, the specimens must have
washed in from the surrounding surface where there is an Archaic period site
(Bullen and Benson 1964). In the second case, while man certainly entered
the cave for water, there were no typical curving (concave cave-like de-
posits, just a few sloping lines leading downward from the entrance ramp.
In both cases erosion was a factor.
At Hornsby Springs near High Springs, Florida, there are a series of
small lime sinks near the spring. These have been excavated (Dolan and Al-
len 1961) with the finding of sherds in some, Archaic or Dalton period points
in some, and in one case a chip under a mastodon tooth below a shell cap
(Dolen and Allen 1961:Fig. 4). Freshwater shells of this cap have been sub-
jected to a radiocarbon analysis with the result of an indicated age of 7930
B. C. (Dolan and Allen 1961:11). Obviously these sink holes were at one time
open--perhaps not all at the same time--and were subsequently filled with
sandy deposits which entrained man's artifacts. Deposition was probably by
water which must have been fairly violent to roll in the mastodon tooth--un-
less it was put there by a child. In any case the association must be considered
fortuitous while the date is based on freshwater shellfish which grew in lime-
stone impregnated water and must have contained a large amount of fossil car-
Deposits Indicating Deposition by Wind
Several references have been made to deposition of sand by wind action
earlier in this paper. Certainly the upper strata beside Joe's Creek at Sem-
inole Field were deposited by wind action (Bullen 1964). There are, of course,
sand dunes near the shore which sometimes cover Indian deposits (Lazarus
1965). Around Paynes Prairie near Gainesville, Florida, about 30 inches of
sand covers the eroded top of the underlying Hawthorne Formation. Dalton
period tools and chips are found in small erosional basins in the top of the
Hawthorne Formation while Archaic period tools, and then pottery of various
ceramic periods, are found in the upper sand zones (Bullen 1960). This sand
must have accumulated gradually during sporatic occupation. These are, of
course, normal or usual phenomena and while they imply an extended period
of time they had relatively little physiographic effect.
Along the banks of the Silver Springs Run southeast of Ocala and in other
inland places (east of Arcadia) are extensive stabilized dunes. Below them, in
the Silver Springs area, are bands of coarse and fine material sorted, accord-
ing to geologists, by percolating water. These bands increase in thickness with
depth. It seems that water, possibly a wet period, is indicated. In any case,
the uppermost of these bands was once a bare surface as man's artifacts--
chips and points--are found from there upwards to the present ground surface,
seven to eight feet higher (Neill 1958; Hemming n. d.). As occupational ev-
idence occurs in horizon bands in the dune with Paleo-Indian points at the bot-
tom, it is evident that sand was added to the site periodically over some 9,000
years. A similar situation occurs a little north of Tampa with Suwannee points,
the local variety of late Paleo-Indian points, lying on a clay deposit below five
feet of windblown sand (Simpson 1940:13). Wind as well as water has played
an important part in the late geological history of Florida.
As this is a conference on Gulf Coastal archaeology and ecology, I
have listed various fairly unique archaeological-geological situations in
Florida. This has been done for two reasons: First, because of the possi-
bility similar situations are known or may be found in other places. In that
case pooling of data may show the way to solutions or explanations of the
problems presented. Second, because they all reflect, in one way or an-
other, environmental and ecological situations of the Gulf Coastal plains
during or leading up to the time of the Gulf Tradition. And finally, to indi-
cate that physiographic features have changed considerably during man' s
occupation of Florida.
Bullen, Adelaide K. and Ripley P.
1950 The Johns Island site, Hernando County, Florida. American
Antiquity, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 23-45. Menasha.
1953 The Battery Point site, Bayport, Hernando County, Florida.
Florida Anthropologist, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 85-92. Gainesville.
1954 Further notes on the Battery Point site, Bayport County, Flor-
ida. Florida Anthropologist, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 103-8.
1961 Wash Island in Crystal River. Florida Anthropologist, vol. 16,
no. 3, pp. 81-92. Gainesville.
1963 The Wash Island site, Crystal River, Florida. Florida Anthro-
pologist, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 81-92. Gainesville.
Bullen, Ripley P.
1951 The Terra Ceia site, Manatee County, Florida. Florida
Anthropological Society Publications, no. 3. Gainesville.
1953 The famous Crystal River site. Florida Anthropologist, vol. 6,
no. 1, pp. 9-37. Tallahassee.
1960 The Bolen Bluff site on Paynes Prairie, Florida. Contribu-
tions of the Florida State Museum, Social Sciences, no. 4.
1964 Artifacts, fossils, and a radiocarbon date from Seminole
Field, Florida. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of
Sciences, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 294-303. Gainesville.
Bullen, Ripley P. Adelaide K. Bullen, and Carl J. Clausen
1968 The Cato site near Sebastian Inlet, Florida. Florida Anthro-
pologist, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 14-16. Tallahassee.
Bullen, Ripley P. and Harold K. Brooks
1964 Two ancient Florida dugout canoes. Quarterly Journal of the
Florida Academy of Sciences, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 97-107.
Bullen, Ripley P. and Carl A. Benson
1964 Dixie Lime Caves number 1 and 2, a preliminary report.
Florida Anthropologist, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 153-64. Gaines-
Bullen, Ripley P. and William J. Bryant
1965 Three Archaic sites in the Ocala National Forest, Florida.
William L. Bryant Foundation, American Studies, no. 6.
Bullen, Ripley P. and John W. Griffin
1952 An archaeological survey of Amelia Island, Florida. Florida
Anthropologist, vol. 5, nos. 3-4, pp. 37-64. Gainesville.
Coates, Gordon C.
1955 Recent tests at the Battery Point site, Bayport, Hernando
County, Florida. Florida Anthropologist, vol. 8, no. 1,
pp. 27-30. Gainesville.
1973 Remains of early man recovered from spring cave. Archives
and History News, vol. 4, no. 2, p. 3. Tallahassee.
Dolan, Edward M., and Glenn T. Allen, Jr.
1961 An investigation of the Darby and Hornsby Springs sites,
Alachua County, Florida. Florida Geological Survey,
Special Publication, no. 7. Tallahassee.
Goodyear, Albert C., and Lyman O. Warren
1973 Further observations on the submarine oyster shell deposits
of Tampa Bay. Florida Anthropologist, vol. 25, no. 2,
pp. 52-66. Gainesville.
Goggin, John M.
1948 Florida archeology and recent ecological changes. Journal of
the Washington Academy of Sciences, vol. 39, no. 7, pp. 225-
The Silver Springs site and a summary of prehistory in the
Silver Springs valley. Paper tendered in 1974 for publica-
tion in the Florida Anthropologist.
Lazarus, William C.
1965 Alligator Lake, a ceramic horizon site on the northwest Flor-
ida coast. Florida Anthropologist, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 83-125.
Neill, Wilfred T.
1958 A stratified site at Silver Springs, Florida. Florida An-
thropologist, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 33-52. Tallahassee.
Royal, William, and Eugenie Clark
1960 Natural preservation of human brain, Warm Mineral Springs,
Florida. American Antiquity, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 285-87.
Salt Lake City.
Sellards, Elias H.
1916 Human remains and associated fossils from the Pleistocene
of Florida. Florida Geological Survey, 8th Annual Report,
pp. 121-60. Tallahassee.
1917 Review of the evidence on which human remains found at Vero,
Florida, are referred to the Pleistocene. Florida Geological
Survey, 9th Annual Report, pp. 57-70. Tallahassee.
1928 Pleistocene mammalian fauna of the Seminole Field, Pinellas
County, Florida. American Museum of Natural History
Bulletin 56. New York.
Simpson, J. Clarence
1848 Folsom-like points from Florida. Florida Anthropologist,
vol. 1, nos. 1-2, pp. 11-15. Gainesville.
Waller, Ben I.
1970 Some occurrences of Paleo-Indian projectile points in
Florida waters. Florida Anthropologist, vol. 23, no. 4,
Weigel, Robert D.
1962 Fossil vertebrates of Vero, Florida. Florida Geological
Survey, Special Publication no. 10. Tallahassee.
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