by Jason D. Moser

Next week is the beginning of 2012 Florida Archaeology Month. It is an annual event that is sponsored by the Florida Anthropological Society, the Florida Archaeological Council, the Department of State, Division of Historical Resources, the Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Recreation and Parks, and the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Together, these and other organizations from across the state will bring the story of Florida’s rich archaeological heritage to the state’s citizens and visitors. This month-long event is part promotional, part educational, and part advocacy-oriented. It is designed to bring attention to some of the things that most people don’t often think about—the past—and more specifically—the past which lies beneath their feet.

There are many reasons why people don’t pay much attention to archaeology. Many of the folks that live in Florida today have moved here from other states and they are unfamiliar with the state’s cultural heritage. Also, many Florida residents receive only an overview of the Florida history and archaeology in elementary school, and later in school they occasionally revisit the subject. For the most part, Florida students spend more time studying the rise of civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece than they do studying the indigenous cultures of the Americas. Humans have lived in Florida for over 12,000 years and Europeans have been in Florida for just over 500 years. In order to know about the majority of the human occupation of Florida, archaeological excavations are the only way that we will ever know about Native peoples.

Currently, Florida has 187,000 previously documented cultural resources. These include over 150,000 historic structures, 32,000 archaeological sites and 1,000 historic cemeteries. Some of these resources have been painstakingly recorded over the last four decades-while others were quickly recorded before bulldozers arrived to begin construction.

Each recorded site contributes to our knowledge of the past. Some of them are very significant and have contributed knowledge in ways that have helped to “write” or “re-write” what we knew, or thought we knew about Florida’s past. A few examples of these excavations include the Windover site, the Crystal River site, Warm Mineral Springs, and Key Marco site. Similarly, important excavations at historic sites such as Ft. Mose, Presidio Santa Maria de Galve, and Mission San Lois have also greatly expanded our knowledge about living on the frontier and interactions with the European and American Indians, and the formation of new cultural groups and ethnicities during the Spanish, British, and American settlement of Florida. Together, the information that excavated and collected by archaeologists aggregate to form greater knowledge than the simple sum of all its parts.

More than 32,000 sounds like a large number of archaeological sites—but there are many more sites out there. There are thousands more sites that have not yet been found. Also, just because an archaeological site is recorded doesn’t mean that it has been excavated. Most archaeological sites are never completely excavated. Indeed, many of the recorded sites are often later destroyed by development, erosion, and sometimes even by looting.
Florida archaeology month highlights some of the important archaeological excavations within the State. It helps tell the story of those people that were here before history was recorded in writing, people who were excluded from the history books, and about many of the things that have been lost from history. We hope that you will join us for one of the many archaeology month events that will occur in your region.

The following is a list of archaeology month events in FPAN’s Central Region;

March 3rd and 4th Silver River Knap-In and Stone Age Arts Festival. Please join the Silver River Museum & State Park from 9 AM to 4 PM. Expert flint knappers, archaeologists, potters, hide tanners, bow makers and other specialists in prehistoric skills will demonstrate and sell their arts. Admission is $5.00 per person. For more information call 352.236.5401 or visit www.SilverRiverMuseum.com.

March 3rd Competition and Cooperation at Crystal River, a presentation by Dr. Tom Pluckhahn, Dept. of Anthropology at USF. Join us Saturday, at 10:30 AM at the Crystal River Archaeological State Park. This presentation will discuss recently completed field investigations, including geophysical survey, coring, and excavations. This event is free and open to the public. The talk will be followed by an exclusive guided tour of Roberts Island at 12:00 PM (weather permitting). Contact Beverly at 352.795.0208 to reserve your seat on the boat (space is limited).

March 9th Join the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) at the Crystal River Archaeological State Park on Friday, March 9th, 2012 from 4:00 and 6:00 PM for atlatl demonstrations (an early prehistoric weapon). Afterwards, the Friends of Crystal River State Parks will host a Moon over Mounds Event (torchlight tour of the Crystal River mound complex) from 8:00 and 10:00 PM. The park is located at 3400 North Museum Point, Crystal River just north of the Crystal River Mall. This event is free and open to the public.

March 10th Tatham Mound: Hernando de Soto in Citrus County and Tatham Mound Revisited: The Rest of the Story, presentations by Dr. Jeff Mitchem, excavator of Tatham Mound. Join us Saturday at the Old Courthouse Museum to see and hear the highlights of the 1980s archaeological excavations at the prehistoric Tatham Mound near Lake Tsala Apopka. At 10:30 Dr. Mitchem will discuss the archaeological evidence of the encounter(s) between native Floridians and Hernando de Soto expedition. At 1:00 PM Dr. Mitchem will discuss older components of the mound and their reburial. This event is free and open to the public. For more information call 352.341.6427 or visit http://www.cccourthouse.org/index.php.

March 9-11th Nature Coast Civil War Reenactment The 2012 Nature Coast Civil War Reenactment will be held on the property of the Holcim Mine, located 7 miles north of Crystal River (just south of the Barge Canal bridge). Reenactments for the general public will be held on Saturday and Sunday, March 10th and 11th. Gates open at 9:00 AM and activities are continuous throughout the day, culminating in a clash of forces each afternoon at 2 PM. For more information on this event please visit http://crystalriverreenactment.org/wordpress/

March 17th and 18th Fort Cooper Days. Fort Cooper State Park will host a Second Seminole War re-enactment and living history exhibit from 9 AM to 4 PM. Re-enactments will be held twice daily at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. There will be period arts & crafts, exhibits, demonstrations, entertainment, great food and refreshments. Visitors should arrive an hour prior to the reenactment times to ensure full viewing. For more information call 352.726.0315.

March 17th Ancient Shell Cities of the North Gulf Coast of Florida, a presentation by Dr. Ken Sassaman, Univ. of Florida Anthropology Depar. Please join The Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN), Central Region, and the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday March 17, at 2:00 PM at the Cedar Key Library to hear Dr. Sassaman present the results of his most recent investigations of the archaeology of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge. For more information, call 352.493.0238. This event is free and open to the public.

March 20th Words from the Earth: Uncovering Our First Colony through Archaeology, a presentation by Dr. Kathleen Deagan, Ph.D., Florida Museum Distinguished Research Curator, Historical Archaeology. Join the Florida Museum of Natural History on Tuesday, March 20, from 6:30-8:00 PM at Leonardo’s 706, Gainesville, Florida. Space is limited; please contact Stephanie Kelley skelly@flmnh.ufl.edu or 352.273.2085 to reserve your space.

March 29th Historic Archaeology at Second Seminole War Sites: What’s New, What’s Important, Why Bother?, a presentation by archaeologist, Gary Ellis, Director of the Gulf Archaeological Research Institute. This presentation will discuss the archaeology of Second Seminole War Period sites. Please join us Thursday March 29th, from 4:00 to 6:00 PM for the Silver River Museum Open House followed by the presentation at 6:00 PM. Space for this event is limited. Please call 352.236.5401 to reserve seats for the presentation. This event is free and open to the public.

March 30th The Invisible Sex: Some Thoughts on the Role of Women in Prehistory, a presentation by Dr. James Adovasio, Director, Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute. Please join the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) on March 30th at the University of Central Florida, Psychology Building, Room 108, Orlando, Florida. For more information about this event visit http://www.archaeological.org/lectures/abstracts/5770. This event is open to the public.

March 31st Sweet Cane—Florida Sugar Prior to the Civil War, a presentation by Dr. Lucy Wayne, archaeologist and architectural historian at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park. Dr. Wayne will give her presentation at 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM. and will discuss a presentation which will include a brief history of sugar, and an explanation of how it was raised and processed in Florida prior to the Civil War. The presentations will be followed by Sweet and Sour, a guided tour and presentation at the Yulee Sugar Mill State Park between 11:00 and 3:00 PM. For more information about this presentation or other Homosassa Heritage Day events, please contact the Homosassa State Wildlife Park at 352.628.5343. These events are free and open to the public.
If you are interested in a schedule of Florida archaeology month events in other regions then go to http://www.flarchmonth.com/

Other sites of interest
Florida Department of State http://flheritage.com/archaeology/
If you want to follow archaeology events in the FPAN Central Region

http://www.flpublicarchaeology.org/crc/

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/FPANcentral

http://twitter.com/FPANcentral

Florida archaeology http://www.floridamemory.com/photographiccollection/photo_exhibits/archaeology/

If you live in another state and want to find out more about archaeology month events in your state then go to

http://saa.org/publicftp/PUBLIC/resources/ArchMonth_2005.html#Florida