December 16, 2021 Speaker: Liz Southard

Feasting and Fishes: An Investigation into Seasonal Patterns, Labor Organization, and Monumental Architecture from Florida’s Crystal River Site and Roberts Island Shell Mound Complex

In recent decades, archaeological research has provided evidence that some mounds in the southeastern United States were constructed in short episodes. A large work force would have been required to accomplish these monumental projects. Shell mounds, in particular, provide an opportune type of architecture to investigate whether seasonal aggregations of laborers gathered at sites to engage in large-scale work projects because these mounds are primarily constructed of aquatic resources that leave signatures for what time of year they were caught or harvested. This study investigates whether the residents of the Crystal River site (8CI1) and Roberts Island Shell Mound Complex (8CI40 and 41) on Florida’s Gulf Coast were participating in seasonal deposition events involving the construction of monumental architecture and if feasting acted as a mechanism to attract the needed labor force. Marginal increment analysis was performed on red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) and spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) otoliths to determine what time of year these fishes were captured and eventually deposited in midden and mound contexts. The results of this investigation suggest fish remains recovered from mound contexts during excavations at these sites were primarily caught during winter months and could have been a feasting resource that aided in the Crystal River and Roberts Island communities’ ability to attract the labor force needed to accomplish the construction of the monumental architecture observed on the landscape today.

Liz Southard has ten years of archaeological field experience including two years of experience doing Cultural Resource Management. Liz received her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of South Florida Saint Petersburg and her M.A. in Applied Anthropology from the University of South Florida Tampa. She currently works at TerraXplorations, Inc. as a principal investigator and serves as Vice President for the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education (AWIARE). Most of her experience comes from Florida and Georgia projects where she has worked as a project archaeologist and field director. Her main areas of interest include subsistence practices, seasonality studies, and settlement patterns during the Woodland period in the Southeast.

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

November 2021 Speaker: Katharine Napora

Five Millennia of Environmental Changes in the Coastal Southeast U.S.

Katharine Napora, Ph.D., University of Kentucky
Webb Museum of Anthropology

Dr. Napora presents insights into over 5000 years of coastal paleoenvironmental changes based on analyses of ancient buried bald cypress trees recovered from the Georgia Coast. Information from tree rings and chemical analyses, supported by other lines of environmental proxy data, reveals changes in rainfall, sea-level, hurricane frequency, and ecological stability in antiquity. This information about the ancient environment provides a long-term comparative framework for understanding cultural changes in the Southeast U.S. through time.

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

October 21, 2021, 7pm Speaker: Uzi Baram

Finding Angola: A Visual Tour of the Manatee Mineral Spring Site in Bradenton, Florida

Uzi Baram, Professor of Anthropology, New College of Florida

Freedom-seeking people found a haven of liberty on the Manatee River from the 1770s until 1821. The maroon community known as Angola, destroyed just as Spain transferred Florida to the United States, had its memory nearly lost. Looking for Angola launched a public anthropology program in 2004 involving local and descendant communities culminating in a Network to Freedom designation, recognizing the place now known as Bradenton as part of the southern route of the underground railroad. This presentation offers a 2021 hour-long film following the lead archaeologist on a tour of the Manatee Mineral Spring, the location of January 2020 excavations revealing details for the daily life of the maroons, also known as Black Seminoles or African Seminoles. Questions and discussion with the archaeologist after the film.

A professor of Anthropology at New College of Florida since 1997, Uzi Baram teaches a wide range of archaeology and cultural anthropology course. His academic efforts focus on the politics of the past in the Eastern Mediterranean and public archaeology in Florida. He has published and contributed to four edited volumes, dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters and delivered many conference papers on topics ranging from the archaeology of the Ottoman Empire to marketing heritage as well as giving public lectures based on archaeological insights into heritage; his current book project is "Historical Archaeology of the Sunshine State" for the University Press of Florida. As founding director of the New College Public Archaeology Lab, Professor Baram has experimented with “radical openness” for collaborations, undergraduate research opportunities, and representations for the ancient and recent past of the communities around Sarasota, Florida. Recent projects in the region include recovering an early 19th century maroon community, heritage interpretation for a county park, and building community resilience through heritage in an age of rising sea levels.

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

September 16, 2021 Speaker: Jon Endonino

The Ancient Mound-Builders of Tomoka: Ecology, Migration, and Ritual

Jon Endonino, Ph.D, Eastern Kentucky University

Dr. Endonino will present excavation and analyses results from Phase 2 of the Tomoka Archaeology project where ecological data was collected in order to determine the environmental conditions that existed when Mount Taylor hunter-gathers settled and constructed the mounds, earth- and shell-works, and the attending rituals during the Thornhill Lake phase (5600-4700 cal BP). Environmental data are combined with radiocarbon dates and analyses of artifacts in order to situate mound-building in time and in relation to other people across Florida and beyond.

Jon has been engaged in archaeological research for over two decades in Florida and elsewhere in the Southeastern United States. Among his long-standing research interests are the social and ecological conditions associated with mortuary monumentality among Mount Taylor groups in the St. Johns River Valley (SJRV) and along the Atlantic coast of northeast Florida. Additionally, Jon researches regional social interactions, notably the exchange of stone tools and lithic raw materials between groups inhabiting chert-bearing regions in the interior uplands of peninsular Florida and those inhabiting the stone-deprived SJRV and Atlantic coast.

Recently Jon has initiated the Tomoka Archaeology Project (TAP), a program of site mapping at testing at the Tomoka Mound and Midden Complex along the Atlantic coast of northeast Florida. Additional ongoing research includes the characterization of lithic source areas throughout peninsular Florida, the modeling of the organization of lithic technology in stone-deprived landscapes such as the SJRV, and experimental archaeology programs designed to investigate issues related to the manufacture and use of fiber-tempered pottery and the function of Expanded Base Microliths.

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

April 15, 2021 Speaker: Christopher Hunt

Florida’s Forgotten City: The Archaeology of the Lost City of St. Joseph

Christopher Hunt, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida

Situated along the banks of St. Joseph’s Bay in northwest Florida, the antebellum city of St. Joseph played a foundational role in Florida’s early political and economic history. Unfortunately, little is known about its inhabitants or why this important coastal city never recovered after the 1840 yellow fever epidemic and subsequent hurricane. Only after the turn of the 20th century was this area resettled into what is today modern Port. St. Joe. Through archaeological excavation and archival research, a new narrative is forming around the once lost city of St. Joseph.

Christopher Hunt is an archaeologist with over ten years of experience in the private and public sectors. Chris is currently focusing on the antebellum history of Florida through his dissertation research at the lost city of St. Joseph in Northwest Florida. As a Graduate Fellow at the University of South Florida’s Institute for the Advanced Study of Culture and the Environment, Chris is interested in understanding the role culture plays at the intersection of human resilience and critical environmental changes. He hopes that through our understanding of the past, we can better prepare for future challenges. Chris’s research and professional experience also include cultural resource management, geospatial analysis, bioarchaeology, remote sensing, political economy, and archaeological landscapes.

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

March 18, 2021 Speaker: Patrisha Meyers-Gidusko

Bioarchaeological Investigations of The Red House Archaeological Site, Port of Spain, Trinidad:
A pre-Columbian Mid-Late Ceramic Age Caribbean Population

Patrisha L. Meyers-Gidusko, M.A., RPA

In 2013, structural assessments associated with ongoing renovations of the Red House, Trinidad and Tobago’s Parliament building, revealed human remains buried beneath the foundation. Excavations and radiocarbon dating indicate the remains are pre-Columbian with 14C dates ranging between approximately AD 125 and AD 1395. Patty’s graduate research provided the first bioarchaeological assessment of the excavated graves and associated human skeletal material. Her analyses included determining the demographic profile and the pathological conditions exhibited by the collective skeletal sample. While not a representative population, the reconstruction of health, lifestyle and disease for these ancient peoples makes a significant contribution to the limited osteological research published on the Caribbean’s pre-contact period.

*Due to the sensitive nature of the information provided during this lecture, this talk was not recorded for future viewing.

Patty is the project manager for FPAN’s Heritage Monitoring Scouts program. She holds an MA in Anthropology from the University of Central Florida and a Graduate Certificate in Forensic and Biological Anthropology from Mercyhurst University. Her research interests include Forensic Anthropology, Bioarchaeology, Human Paleopathology, Historical Marginalization of Social Groups, and Differential Burial Practices.

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

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Tampa Bay Archaeology

Kendal Jackson, Ph.D. Candidate, USF

Searching for Ancient Seascapes: Preliminary Results of Ongoing Geoarchaeological Investigations in Tampa Bay Estuary

Abstract: Like all estuaries, Tampa Bay is an exceptionally dynamic environment where the encroaching sea has transformed once-terrestrial landscapes into littoral ecosystems conditioned by patterns in salinity, surf, and tide. This history of near-constant change makes it difficult for archaeologists to understand the character and distribution of the ancient habitats utilized and managed by ancestral Native American communities. However, estuaries are also places of deposition where accumulating sediments often preserve a record of past environmental transformations. My present research in Tampa Bay is focused on reconstructing the ancient landscapes and seascapes that encompassed and surrounded habitation sites. In this talk, I’ll discuss an ongoing program of vibration coring, percussion coring, and excavation centered at well-preserved Woodland-period (ca. 1000 BC – AD 1050) midden-mound sites in Upper Tampa Bay, Cockroach Bay, and Weedon Island Preserve. Preliminary results reveal complex histories of marine flooding, seascape development, and transformation that contextualize archaeological patterns and inspire novel hypotheses for interpreting ancient shellworks.

Kendal Jackson is a Ph.D. candidate in Applied Anthropology at the University of South Florida. His research focuses on paleoenvironment and how past societies have shaped the trajectory of long-term ecological processes. His dissertation research is focused on understanding the roles that ancestral Native American societies played in the establishment and transformation of nearshore estuarine ecosystems across the late-Holocene.

Heather Draskovich, M.A. Student, USF

Rethinking Settlement Patterns at the Weeden Island Site (8PI1)

Abstract: The Weeden Island site (8PI1), despite its importance as a Weeden Island period (AD 200-900) ceremonial center and type site for the ceramic series bearing its name, has largely remained poorly-dated. With a limited amount of dates available to archaeologists, yielded from an intensive focus on only small portions of the site, there has continued to be a lack of the temporal and spatial control needed to answer many of the big questions involving change at the Weeden Island site. Through the execution of shovel testing in previously uninvestigated areas of the site, as well as analysis of material from past excavations, new radiocarbon dates have been obtained to help build a better chronology of the site. This research models newly acquired radiocarbon dates with those from previous research to aid in further understanding of the settlement patterning and landscape use of the Weeden Island site.

Heather Draskovich is a master’s student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on landscape use on a site-level scale around Tampa Bay. Her master’s research centers around the pre-Columbian settlement patterning and use of the Weeden Island site.

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.