February 2020 Speaker

Investigations into the Archaeology of the Anclote River Region

Phyllis E. Kolianos, AWIARE

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2020 AT 7 PM – 8 PM AT WEEDON ISLAND PRESERVE CULTURAL AND NATURAL HISTORY CENTER

Within Central Peninsula Gulf Coast, the archaeology of the Anclote River is understudied and underreported relative to other population centers. In the late 1800s, S. T. Walker and F. H. Cushing noted the importance of the mounds and pre-Columbian sites on the banks of the river, and both investigated the Safford (Ormond) Mound, 8PI3, near the upstream riverine system, a reused burial mound dating over 1,500 years. Almost 20 years of investigations into the archaeology of the Anclote River region reveal some important results that support recent research at other major sites and suggest shifting population settlements and sea-level change.

 

Phyllis received her BA and MA degrees from the University of South Florida in Applied Anthropology, and in 2009 received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the USF, Department of Anthropology. In her past position with Pinellas County, she supported the archaeological programs and activities at Weedon Island Preserve and was instrumental in the establishment of the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education, Inc. (AWIARE) and their research station at the Preserve. Kolianos has worked for many years with the investigation and recording of area sites, and has been active with public archaeology projects, grants, and archaeological research projects involving Weedon Island’s cultural resources and other lands within Pinellas County. Her most recent and ongoing project is the archaeology of the Anclote River region.


This program is sponsored by the Central Gulf Coast Archaeological Society, and the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education.

December 2019 Speaker

Digital Storytelling and the Past, Present and Future of Egmont Key

Laura Harrison, PhD, Director, Access 3D Lab, University of South Florida

Thursday, December 19, 2019 at 7 PM – 8 PM at Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center

Egmont Key is a diminutive island located at the confluence of the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. Because of its strategic location, the island played a significant role in Florida’s history. It was a haven for runaway slaves and Union soldiers during the Civil War, a Seminole prison during the Indian Removal Period, an outpost for rum runners during Prohibition, and a defensive location during multiple 19th and 20th century conflicts. Today, these histories (and others) are largely invisible to the public, due to limited tourism and outreach infrastructure on the island. Coastal erosion also threatens to destroy and submerge several historic buildings.

This presentation details an ongoing interdisciplinary project aimed at making Egmont Key’s invisible stories visible to the public, and digitally preserving endangered heritage with 3D laser scanning. A team from the University of South Florida in collaboration with the Seminole Tribal Historic Preservation Office and the Egmont Key Alliance used archival research, community outreach, and virtualization technologies to create immersive 3D visualizations of heritage sites that tell the many stories of Egmont Key’s past, present and future

 

Dr. Laura K. Harrison is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida, and the Director of Access 3D Lab - a research lab that incubates and supports transformative research in the digital realm. She is an advocate of interdisciplinary approaches in archaeology, as well as open access and digitization in the sciences and humanities. Originally trained as a Bronze Age archaeologist, Dr. Harrison became interested in digital heritage during her research at a threatened site in Turkey. She has worked on archaeology and heritage projects in the United States, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Italy, France and Romania. She holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Anthropology from the University at Buffalo, and a B.A. in Anthropology and Art History from Ithaca College.


This program is sponsored by the Central Gulf Coast Archaeological Society, and the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education.

November 2019 Speaker

The First Floridians and the First Floods: How environmental changes have constrained Florida archaeology and how underwater archaeology promises to help

Dr. Jessi Halligan, Florida State University

The earliest known archaeological site in Florida, Page-Ladson, dates to approximately 14,550 years ago, but it is located on what was the edge of a small pond in the middle of a semi-featureless savannah dozens of miles from the coast or any known rivers. Despite almost a century of searching, archaeologists do not know when the first Floridians arrived and who the first coastal peoples in Florida were, largely due to major geological changes that occurred from approximately 21,000-6,000 years ago, which has greatly impacted Florida’s landscape. The sites we know about from the Paleoindian period can provide important hints about the first Floridians and the world they lived in, but more than half of Florida’s Ice Age landmass was drowned by sea level rise that occurred during the end of the Ice Age, meaning that most of the answers about the first Floridians are likely underwater. Luckily, half a century of underwater archaeology in Florida has provided some important answers.

 

Dr. Jessi Halligan is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology, with specializations in geoarchaeology and underwater archaeology. She is anthropologically-trained archaeologist with a focus upon the initial peopling of the Americas through my active research program in submerged Paleoindian sites in Florida. This focus leads to complementary foci in hunter-gatherer societies, geoarchaeology, sea level rise and submerged landscape studies, including underwater field methods. Dr. Halligan earned a PhD in Anthropology from Texas A&M University (2012) and a BA (2000) from Harvard University in Anthropology with a specialization in Archaeology. She has been a Registered Professional Archaeologist since 2012 and has more than two decades of field and lab experience in North American Archaeology. She has conducted research and/or worked on Cultural Resource Management projects all over the Northeastern United States, the Northern Plains, Texas, and the Southeast. Dr. Halligan is especially interested in the peopling of the Americas, climate change during the terminal Pleistocene and early Holocene, coastal site preservation, and human adaptation to major climate change.


This program is sponsored by the Central Gulf Coast Archaeological Society, and the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education.

November Lecture: The First Floridians and the First Floods

The First Floridians and the First Floods: How environmental changes have constrained Florida archaeology and how underwater archaeology promises to helpDr. Jessi Halligan, Florida State UniversityThe earliest known archaeological site in Florida, Page-Ladson, dates to approximately 14,550 years ago, but it is located on what was the edge of a small pond in the middle of a semi-featureless savannah dozens of miles from the coast or any known rivers. Despite almost a century of searching, archaeologists do not know when the first Floridians arrived and who the first coastal peoples in Florida were, largely due to major geological changes that occurred from approximately 21,000-6,000 years ago, which has greatly impacted Florida’s landscape. The sites we know about from the Paleoindian period can provide important hints about the first Floridians and the world they lived in, but more than half of Florida’s Ice Age landmass was drowned by sea level rise that occurred during the end of the Ice Age, meaning that most of the answers about the first Floridians are likely underwater. Luckily, half a century of underwater archaeology in Florida has provided some important answers. The monthly CGCAS Archaeology Lecture series is sponsored by the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education (AWIARE).

Posted by Central Gulf Coast Archaeological Society on Thursday, November 21, 2019

October 2019 Speaker

Adventures in Downtown Tampa Archaeology – The Lost Fort Brooke Cemetery and 100-Year-Old Love Letters to the Steamer Gopher

Eric Prendergast, M.A. RPA, Senior Staff Archaeologist, Cardno

Almost everywhere you dig in southern downtown Tampa, near the waterfront, there are some remains from the infamous military installation that gave rise to the town of Tampa in the early 1800s. It has long been known that Fort Brooke had two cemeteries, but only one of them was ever found and excavated in the 1980s. Recent excavations across downtown Tampa have focused on the hunt for the second lost cemetery, among many other components of the fort. While testing the model designed to locate the cemetery, a sealed jar was discovered. It was crammed full of letters written in 1916. The letters were mailed to someone aboard C. B. Moore’s steamer Gopher, while the ship completed it’s 1916 expedition on the Mississippi River. What were they doing buried in a parking lot in Tampa?

Eric Prendergast, M.A., RPA. Senior Staff Archaeologist with Cardno. Eric is a transplant from the northeast who has only lived in Tampa since 2012, when he came to graduate school at USF. Since then he has worked in CRM and has recently served as Principal Investigator for major excavations in Downtown Tampa and for the Zion Cemetery Project, Robles Park Village.


This program is sponsored by the Central Gulf Coast Archaeological Society, and the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education.

September 2019 Speaker

Ethnoarchaeology of Ancient Fishing Practices: Insights from the Florida Gulf Coast

Giness J. Mahar, Phd, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida

Millions of people venture out into Florida’s coastal waters each year to take part in an ancient practice: fishing. Whether for commercial or recreational purposes fishing has deep roots in the region - thousands of years deep. That Florida's ancient inhabitants have benefited from these bountiful coastal waters for over ten thousand years is not surprising. Coastal archaeological sites throughout the state are loaded with the remains of fish familiar to local fishing enthusiasts: mullet, red drum, seatrout, sheepshead and more. But while archaeologists have been able to identify what fishes ancient fisherfolk were catching, they have not been able to discern how they were catching them. Until recently.

Ethnoarchaeology is the study of living human practices to understand past human actions and archaeological materials. Methods like this are often used when archaeological investigations leave researchers with more questions than answers. This presentation tacks back and forth through time—over two thousand years—on a quest to better understand the knowledge, practices, and technologies of Florida's ancient fisherfolk.

Ginessa Mahar completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Florida. Her dissertation research involves the investigation of coastal fishing communities that thrived along the shores of the North Florida Gulf Coast during the Woodland period. Mahar specifically focuses on the fluorescence of civic-ceremonial centers and how fishing technologies and practices developed to facilitate the large gatherings that brought distant communities together at these sacred sites.


This program is sponsored by the Central Gulf Coast Archaeological Society, and the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education.

September Lecture: Ethnoarchaeology of Ancient Fishing Practices: Insights from the Florida Gulf Coast

CGCAS/AWIARE Archaeology Lecture Series:Ethnoarchaeology of Ancient Fishing Practices: Insights from the Florida Gulf CoastGinessa J. Mahar, Phd, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of FloridaMillions of people venture out into Florida’s coastal waters each year to take part in an ancient practice: fishing. Whether for commercial or recreational purposes fishing has deep roots in the region - thousands of years deep. That Florida's ancient inhabitants have benefited from these bountiful coastal waters for over ten thousand years is not surprising. Coastal archaeological sites throughout the state are loaded with the remains of fish familiar to local fishing enthusiasts: mullet, red drum, seatrout, sheepshead and more. But while archaeologists have been able to identify what fishes ancient fisherfolk were catching, they have not been able to discern how they were catching them. Until recently.Ethnoarchaeology is the study of living human practices to understand past human actions and archaeological materials. Methods like this are often used when archaeological investigations leave researchers with more questions than answers. This presentation tacks back and forth through time—over two thousand years—on a quest to better understand the knowledge, practices, and technologies of Florida's ancient fisherfolk.Ginessa Mahar completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Florida. Her dissertation research involves the investigation of coastal fishing communities that thrived along the shores of the North Florida Gulf Coast during the Woodland period. Mahar specifically focuses on the fluorescence of civic-ceremonial centers and how fishing technologies and practices developed to facilitate the large gatherings that brought distant communities together at these sacred sites.

Posted by Central Gulf Coast Archaeological Society on Thursday, September 19, 2019

AWIARE Provides Grants for Weeden Island Research

RESEARCH

Grants Awarded

To further our mission of facilitating archaeological research and educational opportunities, AWIARE, in cooperation with the Levett Foundation, is offering up to $10,000 in grant funds annually to support student research on Weedon Island and the Weeden Island culture.

This year the awards committee chose three worthy recipients to receive funding. University of South Florida doctoral candidate Kendal Jackson will receive funding for 12 radiocarbon dates to assist in dating relict estuarine flooding surfaces to determine how human-environmental interaction shaped the establishment and development of late-Holocene (ca. 6500 BP-present) estuarine ecosystems in Tampa Bay. Kendal’s project is a fine example of using an interdisciplinary approach (archaeology and geo-sciences) to address a topic that also has relevance for today.

Trevor Duke, from the University of Florida, will receive funding that will contribute to his petrographic and instrumental analysis of clays used to make pottery found in mortuary and domestic contexts at Weeden Island and Safety Harbor culture sites in Tampa Bay. Determining whether mortuary pottery was made with different or more restricted varieties of clay, would support the hypothesis of ceramic specialists and will contribute to his doctoral research topic of assessing the role of mortuary pottery specialization in creating, maintaining, and transforming social connections in the region during these periods.

The final recipient, Heather Draskovitch, is an MA student at USF who is currently surveying and testing the Weeden Island site to better understand its chronological development. Her grant funds will help obtain radiocarbon dates to document this development. Congratulations to all three recipients for submitting clear and well-developed proposals that are consistent with the overall mission of AWIARE.

2019 FAS Annual Meeting

EVENTS

This Year's Conference

The 71st Annual Meeting of the Florida Anthropological Society

This year's meeting was co-hosted by the Florida Public Archaeology Network’s Central Region and the Central Gulf Coast Archaeological Society Crystal River. The Plantation on Crystal River served as the conference hotel and the location for organizational meetings and conference proceedings. Presentations and posters on a wide range of topics related to Florida archaeology were presented, as well as field trips to nearby sites, including Crystal River Archaeological State Park, and several archaeological sites along the river.

AWIARE and FAM 2019

EVENTS

Family Archaeology Event

Every March, Florida celebrates Florida Archaeology Month (FAM). FAS chapters, archaeologists, heritage professionals, museums, historical societies, and the public come together to promote and celebrate Florida’s archaeological sites and knowledge about the past through events, workshops, lectures, and archaeology days.

On March 2nd, the Weedon Island Preserve was full of archaeological activities to celebrate Florida Archaeology Month. Heather Draskovich and Kendal Jackson, who are University of South Florida graduate students, gave two short presentations focusing on current archaeological project at the Weeden Island site. Heather discussed her research to determine when and where Indigenous people were occupying the site and Kendal presented a summary of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) excavations undertaken since 2007.

Also, Rebecca O’Sullivan and Kassie Kemp from the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) created an inventive pop-up exhibit outlining the USFSP excavations with associated artifacts of shell tools, pottery, stone tools, and plant specimens, which gave attendees a new perspective of what has been uncovered at the site over the last 12 years. While people were enjoying the lectures and the pop-up exhibit, visitors also were able to walk over to the AWIARE Research Station where AWIARE’s Secretary Phyllis Kolianos exhibited artifacts from her recent archaeological excavations at two Weeden Island sites along the Anclote River.

The final act of the day was a short hike out to a portion of the Weeden Island site where USFSP and AWIARE have been excavating and Dr. John Arthur (AWIARE’s President) and Elizabeth Southard Razzouk (AWIARE’s Vice President) gave a lecture of the excavations and what they have been finding at the site. If you missed this year’s celebration of Archaeology Month at the Preserve, we will be doing something similar next year. So come on out and celebrate Archaeology Month next March!


FAM 2019: Shared Collections—Shared Stories

A major highlight during the month-long celebration is always the new FAM poster, developed every year to illustrate a unique theme within Florida Archaeology. For the 2019 poster and theme, the FAM team drew from the vast network of archaeological collections on display throughout the state.


 

Weedon Island Pottery Featured on WEDU

COLLECTIONS

Weedon Island Pottery

Two experts discuss pottery types and styles of the Weeden Island Culture

Early this year, a student from SPC contacted us about wanting to do a short video segment on the Weeden Island culture and the Weedon Island Preserve that would be produced by WEDU Public Media. The segment aired in July 2019, and features Dr. Robert Austin of Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education (AWIARE) and Dr. Thomas Pluckhahn of USF Tampa, Department of Anthropology. Check it out!

AWIARE Lab In the News

RESEARCH & EDUCATION

Archaeologists and Volunteers at Weedon Island Lab are Piecing Together the Past

A nonprofit group takes old artifacts and makes sense of their stories.

Volunteer Bob Austin holds a red chert (silicified coral) projectile point from Hillsborough County that was used at the end of a spear or knife.

Volunteer Bob Austin holds a red chert (silicified coral) projectile point from Hillsborough County that was used at the end of a spear or knife. He says artifacts help tell how different cultures lived.

After more than four decades of archaeological work, Bob Austin can't handle the Florida summers like he used to.For years, he loved digging into the ground and excavating multi-thousand-year-old artifacts. But now, at age 68, Austin's body limits most of his work to the other aspect of archaeology, the one spent indoors studying the artifacts, compiling data and piecing together history to uncover what life looked like thousands of years ago.

That Austin is able to do this with ancient, mostly broken pieces of pottery or stone tools is what has drawn him to archaeological work for his entire professional life. He doesn't need to be outside digging, even if he'd prefer to be.

"One of the things I've always liked about it was that you have that fieldwork part, but you also could involve your brain and your intellect," Austin said. "What really keeps bringing me back is trying to figure stuff out."

One of 11 board members of the nonprofit Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education (AWIARE), Austin is an expert on lithic technology, or how ancient stone tools were made and used. He received his Ph.D in anthropology from the University of Florida in 1997.

Austin still consults for his former employers, private archaeology companies around Florida, while volunteering for AWIARE. The alliance gets most of its funding from individual donations and the occasional grant.

Many of the rooms at the AWIARE lab on Weedon Island are filled with old artifacts - spearheads, shards of pottery, animal bones. Some are laid out on a large table, a collection of items donated over the years to AWIARE and the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center.

Austin and the lab's other volunteers are organizing the artifacts so they can compare them to items already stored in the lab. That process will help uncover where the donated items came from and perhaps clarify what  purpose they served.

One of the volunteers at the lab, Penny Seabury, is cataloguing a collection of documents belonging to local archaeologist Lyman Warren. After Warren died, his family donated his massive collection of artifacts and papers to AWIARE. Seabury's goal is to create a digital version of the collection that will allow other archaeologists to access Warren's work.

AWIARE's biggest project, and the one that garnered the most publicity, was the excavation of an 1,100-year-old canoe on a Weedon Island Preserve beach. In 2011, Austin and Phyllis Kolianos, another AWIARE board member, led a trip to remove the 40-foot canoe from the ground in pieces. Austin said he also worked with designers to set up the canoe's display, located in the Cultural and Natural History Center.

"It was our really big project," Austin said. "And that's what got us publicity and got us funding."

An artifact as monumental as the ancient canoe is an anomalous discovery; most of AWIARE's work involves items of lesser significance. But they  each offer a glimpse of Florida's prehistoric era. Austin's job is to figure out what the shards of pottery or worn-down stone tools might reveal.

That process is tricky for even the most experienced archaeologists. Interpreting old artifacts and data such as measurements and locations  requires a large amount of guesswork. But the results can be revealing.

"It helps you understand how different cultures, people who belong to different cultures, lived," Austin said. "That there are differences  between cultures, but there's also a lot of similarities."

Bob Austin measures projectile points used as spears or knives.

Bob Austin measures projectile points used as spears or knives. Austin and other volunteers are organizing artifacts to compare them to items already stored at the lab.

One advantage of archaeological research that is different from other methods of studying history is its capacity to reduce historical bias, Austin said. While those in power often dictate what is remembered, they have little say in what gets discovered thousands of years later underneath the ground.

"History is written by the winners," Austin said. "And history is slanted.  People forget things, or they don't want to talk about certain things, or they want to slant things a certain way."

To express this point, Austin likes to use an adage from the late Florida archaeologist Calvin Jones: "The dirt don't lie."


BY JASPER SCHERER, TAMPA BAY TIMES STAFF WRITER -- JULY 2017 -- photos by CHERIE DIEZ
http://www.tampabay.com/sports/outdoors/at-weedon-island-lab-piecing-together-the-past/2330695