Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bike blinkers for our Archaeology Month bikers!
Sixteen bikers assembled at the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas NERR today to tour the archaeological sites of the state owned park on bike.  Our leader for the day was the ever gracious Chris Newman who originated the Tour-de-Guana offering and gave freely of her time today.  I knew Chris was a stellar archaeologist with much experience in our region, but I didn't realize she helped write the National Register nomination for the site (that is now listed!) and did numerous testing within the preserve. 

Paleoethnobotanist Michele Williams from FPAN-Southeast joined us to tell us what was what.
Several park staff members and other archaeologists joined us for the day and helped give the latest interpretation of prehistoric shell rings and middens, Minorcan wells, British indigo plantation features, and maritime landing sites.  The tour took two hours and ended with byo-lunch at picnic pavilion.  There Chris repeated highlights and gave 6,000 year culture history talk for those who opted to explore sans bike.

Group gathers round Chris at the Minorcan well.
Riding at the back, I was struck by the spirit of the event.  Many of us attended Michele Williams's SAAA lecture last night (to a packed room of 115!) and continued to deliberate over the information from last night with new information from today.  At different stops along the way, people fell naturally into different groups for conversation.  By the end we had not only raised the archaeological literacy of all present (myself included!) but could recognize a community of people sharing an experience on an archaeological site. 

And we didn't have to break out the shovels to do it!

Chris tells of the earliest excavations at Sanchez Mound and NERR staff share preservation strategies.
So to those who came out with us today, thank you for truly the most enjoyable day of work I've had so far this year!  If this event was any indication, it's going to be a long, glorious month.

Surface find is identified, appreciated, then left on-site to preserve environment (and follow the law!). 

Chris Newman is my local hero of the week!  THANK YOU CHRIS!!!!
And did I mention the PLANTS?!?  See some of the stars from the Native Plants, Native People theme:

Indigo remnants from Governor Grant's successful 18th-century plantation.

Indigo seed pods (hey honeys!!)

Native sugar cane.

Air plant, native people may have used this or similar plants for skirts.

Wax myrtle, fruit and seeds used for medicinal purposes, as documented at Windover site.

For more on:

Florida native plants, Michele recommends:
50 Common Native Plants Important In Florida's Ethnobotanical History by Ginger M. Allen, Michael D. Bond, and Martin B. Main

Sanchez Mound check out Amber's Sanchez Mound blog post from last year FAM

Archaeology: It's Out There! events check the program page on our website or events calendar.

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