Thursday, December 17, 2020

An Indigenous Analysis of the Grotesques of the Southeast

S. Margaret Spivey-Faulkner, Ph.D.,
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta

A new reanalysis of the large assemblage of zoomorphic carvings excavated at the Fort Center archaeological site in south Florida has revealed what appears to be a nearly 1,000-year rooftop sculptural tradition in the American southeast. Here, we will review that reanalysis, including a nascent indigenous method of interpreting the figural depictions using folk taxonomies developed out of Native southeastern languages. Finally, we will contextualize this work within the broader project of indigenous archaeology.

Dr. S. Margaret Spivey-Faulkner is an anthropological archaeologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta. Her work focuses on hunter-gatherers of the southeastern United States, looking specifically at examples of peoples who defy popular characterization of hunter-gatherer societal complexity.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Forgotten Ecologies: Recent Vegetation Transformations Reveal Past Human Influence

Christopher A. Kiahtipes, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Scholar, Institute for the Advanced Study of Culture and the Environment, University of South Florida

Humans leave lasting environmental legacies on the landscapes they occupy. From the fire-stick to the farm, human interventions in ecological process have important ramifications for future vegetation cover. Yet disentangling human-driven (anthropogenic) vegetation change from natural fluctuations in climate has proven difficult in the sedimentary record. I explore the conceptual and empirical challenges of identifying and assessing human-driven environmental change in archaeological and paleoecological contexts. I do so using my own research in the Mai Ndombe, Equateur, and Tchuapa provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Coring of deposits associated with archaeological sites and offsite peat-land complexes dispersed across the interior forest zone reveals regional patterns in climatic-forcing as well as the timing and extent of human interventions in the rain forest zone. At the conclusion, I make some comparisons with the archaeological/paleoecological records of the southeast US and consider whether there are common patterns in environmental transformations leading up the Colonial era.


Chris Kiahtipes is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Anthropology with the Institute for the Advanced Study of Culture and Environment. His research examines the combined influence of human societies and climate change on vegetation cover in Africa’s Congo Basin as well as the Great Basin region of North America. With a specialization in the recovery and analysis of plant microfossils, his research projects bring together archaeological and paleoecological methods to document the long-term influence of human societies on global ecosystems. Chris’ other research interests include fire ecology, quantitative methods, human behavioral ecology, and conservation biology.

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

Thursday, October 15, 2020


Gulf Coast Archaeology: Examining Society and Climate through Material Culture


Trevor Duke, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Florida

Lindsey Parsons, M.A. Student, Geology Department, University of Georgia

Two winners of the 2019 and 2020 Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education (AWIARE) and Levett Foundation Grant discuss their winning research along the Gulf Coast of Florida.


Trevor Duke, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Florida
Abstract: Modern society is highly specialized. Most people spend years acquiring the skills necessary to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc., and thus depend on other specialists, like farmers or butchers, to meet their everyday needs. This type of interdependence is characteristic of state-level societies with centralized economies. Conventional wisdom tells us that hunter-gatherers are generally unspecialized, diversifying daily tasks to meet the needs of their household or village. On the contrary, archaeological evidence demonstrates that hunter-gatherer societies in the Tampa Bay region embraced different forms of pottery specialization. This presentation focuses on this observation to address a critical anthropological question: What motivates people in different societies to become specialists? I argue that the tumultuous times of the Late Woodland and Mississippian periods (AD 650-1550) created the need for a network of ritual specialists that served specific purposes for Native American communities across the Lower Southeast.

C. Trevor Duke is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at the University of Florida. His research focuses on how people use labor and objects to create social relationships. His dissertation research centers around developing new methods for investigating pottery specialization in small-scale societies.

Lindsey Parsons, M.A. Student, Geology Department, University of Georgia
Abstract: The Calusa, a group native to southwestern Florida, left extensive shell mounds and kitchen middens throughout the region up to and including the 18th century. While oysters and hard clams are known food items for the Calusa, they also ate scallops, but little is known about this food resource. The purpose of this study is to determine if the Bay Scallop Argopecten irradians, found in midden deposits, provide key insights into Calusa resource use during the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age climate anomalies (A.D. 850 – 1850). I focused on two localities, the Pineland Site Complex and Bayshore Homes that are both located on the Gulf Coast of Florida. I will use body size, taphonomy, and stable isotopic analysis of deposited shells to examine how climatic factors may have influenced the scallop as a food resource as well as harvesting behaviors of native communities.

Lindsey Parsons is a second-year master’s student in the Geology Department at the University of Georgia. Her focus is interdisciplinary in nature combining the practices the paleontology and archaeology to understand the resource use of scallops by native communities along the gulf coast of Florida. Her project is being funded by the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeology Research and Education, Inc. (AWIARE)/ Levitt Foundation. She currently works as a research assistant at the Laboratory of Archaeology working on an NSF-funded project. She completed her undergraduate geology degree at the University of Georgia as well in 2013.

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

April 2020 Speaker

Deep Sea Archaeology

Dr. James Delgado, Maritime Archaeologist


The deep ocean is one of the last unexplored frontiers in archaeology. Maritime archaeologist James Delgado takes us on a tour of the technology, expeditions and discoveries, including Titanic, lost World War II wrecks, and 19th century ships at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. These include sites he has explored and expeditions he has led or participated in, which he will share as part of a personal tour of the “great museum of the sea.”


James Delgado, Ph.D. is among the world’s leading experts in maritime archaeology and cultural heritage. Dr. Delgado joined SEARCH, Inc. in 2017 and serves as Senior Vice President. He is responsible for ensuring operational and research excellence, implementing strategic initiatives, and expanding the firm’s international footprint. Dr. Delgado also serves as a public speaker, international delegate, documentary host, and major project spokesperson. Prior to joining SEARCH, Dr. Delgado served as the Director of Maritime Heritage in the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries for NOAA for seven years, where he implemented heritage programs and active research in the nation’s waters, as well as promoted outreach and education on America’s underwater and marine heritage. Previously, he served a four-year term as President and CEO of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, the world’s leading scientific and educational organization dedicated to the understanding of humanity’s seafaring history through the excavation and scientific study of shipwrecks. Dr. Delgado was the Executive Director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum in British Columbia, Canada for 15 years, and he served as Maritime Historian and Head of the US government’s Maritime Heritage Program for the US National Park Service for four years in Washington, DC. Dr. Delgado also served as the first historian for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the San Francisco Bay Area where he participated in the restoration and interpretation of Alcatraz.

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

February 2020 Speaker

Investigations into the Archaeology of the Anclote River Region

Phyllis E. Kolianos, AWIARE


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.

January 2020 Speaker

Remembering Tocobaga: Recent Archaeology at the Safety Harbor Site in Philippe Park

Dr. Thomas Pluckhahn is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida

The Safety Harbor archaeology site (8PI2) in Philippe Park is widely assumed to represent the ruins of the Native town of Tocobaga, where the Spanish briefly established a mission and fort in the 1560s. However, the site has only been minimally investigated, and much of the work is under-reported. This talk describes the goals and preliminary results of recent archaeological investigations by the University of South Florida.

Dr. Thomas Pluckhahn is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida. His research focuses on the understanding of small-scale social formations, particularly on the Native American societies of the Woodland period (ca. 1000 BC to AD 1050) in the American Southeast and those of the Swift Creek and Weeden Island cultures of the Gulf Coast.

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

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.

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.