Archaeological excavations under the direction of Dr. John W. Arthur at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) have taken place over three short field seasons (2007, 2009, and 2011) at the Weeden Island site (8PI1). This archaeological research at Weedon Island is to foster University of South Florida St. Petersburg undergraduate anthropology students in the preservation of cultural heritage, learn archaeological field techniques, promote the awareness of the Weedon Island cultural and environmental resources, and to cultivate the importance of public archaeology in conjunction with the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education (AWAIRE). In 2006, in consultation with the Weedon Island Cultural Center Director, Phyllis Kolianos, an area was located to conduct archaeological investigations in part of the midden that has been extensively disturbed due to previous looting. Research questions are addressing whether we can locate residential features, determine environmental changes in the Weedon Island estuary, and investigating issues focusing on indigenous subsistence practices.
The excavations are part of the requirements for the Archaeological Method and Theory course taught at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg by Dr. John W. Arthur, where students learn field techniques by setting up excavation units and undertake excavation, screening, and field curation of artifacts. The students then began the preliminary lab processing of the artifacts and samples by inventorying the cultural material and artifact cleaning. These three field seasons have inspired USFSP students to address indigenous subsistence practices and how the estuary has changed over the last millennium. In addition, USFSP students have presented their research in various conferences around the country and have received awards and grants. Thus, this research is helping to promote the cultural and environmental heritage of Weedon Island.