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Saint Augustine, Northeast Florida
Going public with archaeology for outreach, assistance to local governments, and service to the citizens and state of Florida. Visit our website at: http://flpublicarchaeology.org/nerc/
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Archive for March 2016

Bioarchaeology: A Body of Knowledge

Bioarchaeology: A Body of Knowledge

Elizabeth Mills, a graduate student in bioarchaeology at the
University of Central Florida, measuring a cranium. 
Archaeologists learn about people and cultures from the past by studying the “stuff” they leave behind and the remnants of the places they used to live. Often, archaeologists are able to analyze artifacts and ecofacts (natural objects that are meaningful to the site: such as animal bone, plants, charcoal from a fire…etc.) to learn about a prehistoric diet or lifestyle. There are some limits, however, to what we can learn about ancient populations through looking at these things. Archaeologists who are concerned with learning about the health of a population, or the life history of an individual, can turn to the population itself to gain some answers to these questions and many more.

A skeleton with selected bones labeled. From:

Archaeologists who specialize in the study of human remains from archaeological sites are called bioarchaeologists. The human body is an excellent record-keeper. Even after thousands of years body tissues such as bone, hair, nails, and even preserved skin can yield invaluable information about a person’s life history, such as:
  • What kinds of food did they eat? Did they get adequate nutrition?
  •  Were they healthy as an adult? As a child?
  •    Did this person migrate during their lifetime?
  •  Did this person suffer from any major injuries during their life?
  •  What kind of work did this person do?
  They can also ask questions about the culture the person was a part of:
  • Did men and women perform similar jobs?
  • Did the culture have advanced medical technology? Could they mend bones, perform surgery?
  • Did the culture have any unique ideas about beauty that are reflected in the skeleton or on the body? 

Believe it or not, if a bio-archaeologist was to study your bones, they could answer a lot of these questions about you! But how? Here’s the shorthand version:
A skeleton being excavated by bioarchaeologists. Image from: ancient-origins.com
Bone can be preserved for thousands of years. Bioarchaeologists have many techniques to study bone to answer specific questions, including: gross analysis, microscopic analysis and chemical analysis. 
When they simply hold a bone and inspect it by looking at it (with no microscope) to evaluate its shape and condition, it is called “gross analysis” (don’t worry, it’s not really gross). There are many things a bio-archaeologist can see on bone through gross analysis. For starters, it is possible to establish whether the person was a male or female, whether they were an adult or a child, and what the person's ancestry may have been. The bioarchaeologist can also discover evidence of disease, nutritional deficiency, injury, and even purposeful changes to bone for purposes of beauty through this type of analysis!

Bio-archaeologists who specialize in Florida archaeology have done a lot of research to determine the impact that European colonization and missions had on the health and lifestyle of the Native American populations who once lived here. The book “Bioarchaeology of Spanish Florida” edited by Clark Spencer Larsen is a great source of information if you are interested in learning about the effects that colonization had on the Native People of Florida from a bioarchaeological perspective. I highly recommend checking it out (literally!)

Image from: Amazon.com
Bioarchaeology is a fascinating area of study within the realm of archaeology. Today, we touched on some of the things that bioarchaeologists can study through looking at bone, but there are many questions that can be answered through looking at other body tissues, such as preserved skin, hair, and nails! Bone is much more likely to be found archaeologically, but in some instances these other tissues are can provide just as much information.

That's all for this time, but next time tune in to learn a little about bioarchaeological excavations.

Works Referenced:
"Artifacts and Features." Learning Center of the American Southwest. 18 September 2013. Web. 31 March 2016.

Larsen CS. 2001. Bioarchaeology of Spanish Florida: The Impact of Colonialism. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

Hutchinson DL, Larsen CS. 2001. Enamel Hypoplasia and Stress in La Florida. In: Larsen CS, ed. Bioarchaeology of Spanish Florida: The Impact of Colonialism. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

Schultz M, Larsen CS, Kreutz K. 2001. Disease in Spanish Florida. In: Larsen CS, ed. Bioarchaeology of Spanish Florida: The Impact of Colonialism. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

Woodland Pottery: Swift Creek

To continue with our Florida Archaeology Month-themed blogs, let's take a look at one of the important parts of Woodland culture: pottery!

Here in Northeast Florida, we see two main types surface during the Woodland Period: St. Johns and Swift Creek. St. Johns is our tried and true sponge spicule tempered pottery found all over Northeast Florida from 500 BC until around AD 1600. I feel like a lot gets said about St. Johns, so I thought I would focus on Swift Creek.

Swift Creek pottery dates between AD 100 - 850 and is found predominately in Georgia and adjoining states including Florida, South Carolina and Alabama. The complicated-stamped wares were first adopted around the Lower St. Johns and Altamaha Rivers and soon became the most common wares in the region during the period.

While Swift Creek is primarily found around in the grey area, archaeologists have found it at sites as far away as Indiana and Ohio. (Wallis 2011)

So what does Swift Creek look like? It features elaborate designs stamped on various types of bowls and cups. Early vessels had rounded and flattened rims as well as fancier notched, nicked, scalloped and crenulated. Later vessels had thick folded rims and simple rounded or flattened lips.  The pottery is usually sand tempered but charcoal is common in earlier vessels. They've even found some with bone and grog tempering! 

Early Swift Creek rim sherds (Ceramics Technology Lab)
Late Swift Creek rim sherds (Ceramics Technology Lab)
Swift Creek body sherds (Ceramics Technology Lab)

The designs were pressed into the vessels before firing by using carved paddles. However, no wooden paddles have ever been found. Archaeologists have been able to determine what they could have looked like based on the stamped designs in pottery.

Reproductions of paddles - an steriotypical Swift Creek design is second from left.

Some interesting notes about Swift Creek:
  • Archaeologists have created a database of specific design motifs and can track the patterns through space and time.
  • Not only have they found matching designs, but even specific paddles! Flaws such as cracks in the wood have been found in impressed designs, allowing researchers to track specific paddles through space and time.
  • Chemical anaylsis of the clay itself has shown non-local vessels were found almost exclusively in mortuary settings while locally made vessels were used in daily village life.
  • Technofuntional analysis shows vessels found in village settings were mostly cooking vessel while mortuary assemblages included a diverse array of special-use and ceremonial vessels in addition to cooking.  

Check out Neil Wallis's The Swift Creek Gift for more information about this awesome pottery.
You can also search for Swift Creek pottery from your area in the Florida Museum of Natural History's database!

Unless otherwise noted, text and images by Emily Jane Murray, FPAN Staff.

Works Referenced:
2011 Wallis, Neil. The Swift Creek Gift. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
Ceramics Technology Lab at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Ever Wonder About The Woodland Period But Were Too Afraid To Ask?

pottery making
"Artisan of the Woodland" is the theme of this year's Florida Archaeology Month.  But as we meet the month's half way mark, some of you may still be wondering "what IS the Woodland Period?" and "what were the artisans doing?"  If you still have these questions, don't be ashamed, you're not alone!

Florida's Woodland Period occurred approximately 1000 BC - 1000 AD in the Eastern part of North America (from Eastern Canada to the Eastern part of the United States down to the Gulf of Mexico).  To give a very general idea of where this falls on the timeline of Prehistoric peoples:

 Paleo-Indian Era 13,000 B.C. - 7000 B.C.
Archaic Era 7500 B.C. - 500 B.C.
*Woodland Period 1000 B.C. - 1000 A.D.
Mississippian Period 1000 A.D. - 1600 A.D.

The Woodland Period is further broken down into three parts: Early, Middle, and Late (creatively labeled!)  For more details on each of these, see the Southeast Archaeological Center

But what generally sets the Woodland period apart from the other eras?  It is defined by three key traits:
1) increased sedentism and social stratification
2) intensification of cultivation (to supplement hunting and gathering)
3) widespread adoption of ceramics

The native peoples did not awake on the first day of year 1001 BC and say "Hey! Lets stay put for a while and start planting these seeds!"

Rather, changes occurred gradually through deep time.  These traits actually begin to be seen in the late Archaic Era but are not wide spread in the Southeast until later in the Woodland Period.                

Life of the Woodland people is still very evident in Florida today.  It can most prominently be seen in our State's many existing mounds such as Green Mound, Turtle Mound and Thursby Mound, just to name a few.  Some of these mounds reflect the peoples' increased sedentism (large trash heaps comprised primarily of oyster and clam shells).  Other mounds reveal their increased social stratification (higher physical location = higher social position).  While still others reveal both (archaeologists discovering layers of trash, building remains, more trash and more building remains).                               
Turtle Mound in Cape Canaveral National Seashore
In addition to mounds, Archaeologists often see evidence of the Woodland Peoples in their pottery remains, the most commonly found being St. Johns.  St. Johns Pottery differs from its predecessor, The Archaic Period's Orange Pottery which is thicker and fiber tempered:                                                   
Orange Pottery
St. Johns Pottery has thin walls, is light weight and chalky.   It further evolved from having a plain surface:                                                   
St. Johns Plain Pottery
to having a check stamp:
St. Johns Check Stamped Pottery
Of course St. John's pottery can be broken down into WAY more complicated detail (some archaeologists counting the amount and spacing of the checks!)  If you want more detailed differentiation, check out the collection at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Now, enjoy the remaining half of Florida Archaeology Month!  

Text by FPAN Staff, Robbie Boggs
Photo Credits:  pottery making image: nps.gov, Turtle Mound photo: University of Central Florida, modern trash photo: ricksblog.biz, light bulb photo: clipartpanda.com, orange and st. johns pottery photos: Florida Museum of Natural History

Seminole Rest: Visit a FAM 2016 Site!

Visit a Florida Archaeology Month Site

FAM 2016 Poster Front

Seminole Rest is one of the sites that we are highlighting for Florida Archaeology Month. The theme this year is "Artisans of the Woodland." The Woodland Period in Florida persisted from about 3,000 years ago to about 1,000 years ago. Regional Native American cultures during this time period were engaging in different lifeways, trading with each other quite a bit, and building mound complexes that were the site of fairly intensive habitation, such as at Crystal River.

FAM Poster 2016 Back

Seminole Rest around time of Civil War

In the East Central Region we have a great site that you can visit that was occupied during the Woodland Period: Seminole Rest is managed as part of the Canaveral National Seashore and offers visitors a chance to stroll around a mound site that was later a historic occupation site. In fact, habitation at the site goes back to about 2,000 BC. It was occupied up until at least 1500 AD when the Spanish arrived. It was later largely settled after the Civil War and grew into what is today Oak Hill. Once they started occupying it, humans just didn't want to give up on this piece of land.

Aerial of Seminole Rest showing the three historic structures on the site.

Below we have a few pics to entice you out. While you're there don't forget to explore the rest of the Canaveral National Seashore and Mosquito Lagoon!

This is a sign telling you where you are.

Beautiful, easy trails to get around the site.

Looking at Seminole Rest from the lagoon.

The Instone House at Seminole Rest, atop one of the mounds.
Text: Kevin Gidusko

Archaeology Advocacy: Where have all the tabs gone?

This post started as a recap of this week's 1st Annual Archaeology Advocacy Day, which I will get to in a minute, but I want to first voice my concern over archaeology advocacy in general. I went looking for Advocacy this morning, here's what I found out.

Figure 1. National and State organizations that feature Advocacy tab on their home page (highlighted in red).

Figure 2. Professional and avocational organizations I belong to where advocacy is not present on their homepage.

Why is it that public libraries, museums, and preservation organizations are so much better at advocacy? Advocacy is not buried or hidden on their pages, but front and center. Where have all the archaeology advocacy tabs gone? It could be I misunderstand the mission of these societies, but as a professional these are the places I go to get news and direction. I am a member of all the organizations in Figure 2, therefore I can and should take a more active role. If you are also members of heritage organizations that do not feature advocacy on their homepage, especially where stewardship is a part of their code of ethics, please ask the board to include an Advocacy tab on their homepage to help centralize information and increase training opportunities.

The SAA under "Pages for the Public" lists links to preservation and protection organizations. You can also find information on the FPAN website related to recent bills and archaeology issues (Protection of Artifacts on State Lands). Finally, consider this: supporters of the recent Isolated Finds push have a advocacy tab on their homepage.

Now on to recap celebration of Archaeology Advocacy Day, which was a very positive step in this direction...

March 1 marked the official kick off for Florida Archaeology Month (FAM) 2016. Every year archaeologists and heritage educators archaeologists across the state stage individual events, set up festival tables, and speak to audiences of all ages to promote our state's buried past. This year we did something different; we launched FAM in the Rotunda at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee. The Advocacy Day allowed us to plan a day to get together with Legislators and meet with the public one on one.

Partner organizations from around the state participated, including:
Florida Anthropological Society
FAS local chapter Panhandle Archaeological Society at Tallahassee
Florida Archaeological Council
Southeast Volusia Historical Society and New Smyrna Museum of History
Florida State University
University of West Florida
St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum & Lighthouse Archaeology Maritime Program
 St. Augustine Archaeology Association
Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN)

Many of us also wear other hats, such as myself who also represents my employer Flagler College,
Project Archaeology, and Society for Historical Archaeology.

Archaeology in Action!: views from the Rotunda at the Capitol in Tallahassee March 1
(photo credit: Nigel Rudolph, FPAN-Central Facebook page)

This year is also special as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. In 1966 archaeology advocacy was in full force as that particular legislation required a major and targeted plan to be adopted across all 50 states. And one year later Florida passed it's own Historical Resources statute (Chapter 267) to protect state-owned lands. People fought hard to get these landmark bills passed. And yet here we in 2016 with challenges to both laws reinforcing the notion: preservation and protection takes constant education.

House Representative Lake Ray stopped by to meet FPAN staff and support Florida heritage.

March is therefore the best time of year to get involved in upping your archaeology advocacy game. To advocate for archaeology means to stand up for the preservation and protection of archaeological sites. You can add your voice as an advocate to descendant communities, or speak in support of preserving sites for those cultures that can no longer advocate for themselves. Do attend as many archaeology month events as you can, but also see it as an opportunity to get more involved.

Here are 5 ways to take your commitment to preserving Florida's buried past further this month:

1. Did you know heritage tourism in Florida is a 6 billion dollar industry? Preservation is of measurable economic benefit to Florida. Write to your local elected officials, let them know their votes for preservation and protection of cultural resources is also a vote for the state's economic development. Send them this publication that shows the economic impact of preservation in our state. Ask them to continue to support the Historic Preservation Grants Program and be aware of these grants-in-aid projects in your community.

2. Visit a historical site and post it on social media, tag it with #FAM2016. The safest sites are those visited by the public, especially historic cemeteries and remote cultural parks. Make a point to get out there, explore, and share your experience with others.

3. You can attend a city or county commission meeting and give your 3 minutes public comment time in support of cultural resources. Let them know it is Florida Archaeology Month if they are not yet aware. Request posters and bookmarks from FAS or FPAN to take to the meeting for your elected officials. If you like a project recently undertaken by the city, let them know their attention to cultural resources was appreciated. If there is a site out in the county you are concerned about, let your elected officials know. They work for you and they are especially interested in your concerns.

4. Ask your local libraries and public schools to support heritage months, such as Black History Month, Women's History Month, and of course Florida Archaeology Month. These are opportunities to raise the level of awareness in your community in the places the people around you visit frequently.

5. Donate to the cause. The Archaeological Conservancy is also active in Florida and accepts donations. Funds to the Conservancy goes to purchasing sites in danger. Just last year the Conservancy purchased the Windover site in Brevard County. Or donate to your local FAS chapter. The St. Augustine Archaeology Association, for example, funds historical markers at a archaeological sites across the city. Today at 5:30 as they unveil their latest marker downtown on the south west side of the Bridge of Lions for the historic boat basin. Plus a donation doesn't have to be money, your time is also valuable. The Florida Anthropological Society is a great place to start by joining as a member. You can also enlist as a volunteer for Community Support Organizations across the state that support Florida State Parks or individual historic sites in your community.

Volunteers attend State Site Stewardship training by State Archaeologists Mary Glowacki at Sams House, Merritt Island. 
In sum, enjoy the March spectacle of Florida Archaeology Month, but also see it as an opportunity to take your passion for Florida archaeology to another level. The state's cultural resources need your help and attention. Pledge today an act of advocacy that will help preserve sites into the future.

For more information check out the following links:

Find Your Elected Officials- website makes it easy to identify and contact your State House Member, State Senate Member, US Congressional Member, and US Senators

Making Archaeology Public Project - videos to commemorate and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (MAPP)

Archaeological Conservancy- consider saving sites by donating to their purchase and perpetual protection

Florida Anthropological Society- become a member!

Archaeology Institute of America Advocacy Page - featuring news and initiatives from around the world

Florida Public Library Association - Advocacy Archive

Florida Association of Museums - Advocacy page

Florida Trust for Historic Preservation - Advocacy page

Text: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff

Images: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff except where noted

Figure 1: screen caps from the following organizations: Public Library Association; American Alliance of Museums; National Trust for Historic Preservation; Florida Association of Museums; Florida Library Association; Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.

Figure 2: screen caps from the following organizations: Society for American Archaeology, Society for Historical Archaeology, Southeastern Archaeological Conference, Florida Anthropological Society, Florida Archaeological Council.

Florida Archaeology Month Poster:  Florida Anthropological Society, and supported by the Department of State, Division of Historical Resources. Additional sponsors for 2015 include the Florida Archaeological Council, Florida Public Archaeology Network, state and local museums, historical commissions, libraries, and public and private school systems. For more information see the FAM website.
Advocacy Day photos by Nigel Rudolf, FPAN Central Staff.

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