Junior Archaeologists Dig in at Weedon Island in St Petersburg

By: Kassie Kemp

As summer comes to an end so do two weeks of fun in the sun with our Junior Archaeologist summer campers. For the past six years FPAN staff have partnered with the Alliance for Weedon Island Research and Education (AWIARE) to offer two, week-long camps at the Weedon Island Cultural and Natural History Center in St. Pete. The Weedon Island Preserve is the perfect setting for campers to learn about the past residents of Florida, how they interacted with their environment, and the techniques archaeologists use to study them. Each day, campers learned about a different aspect of archaeology through hands-on activities, experiments, and hikes.

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USF PhD student Kendal Jackson taught the campers about a different type of archaeological study with an experiment about how we study past environments. Kendal took two soil samples, one from a mangrove swamp and the other from an upland environment, had the kids mixed them with water, and pour them through a fine mesh screen to capture any macrobotanicals in the soil. The kids then compared the different types of plant remains that were gathered in each environmental zone.

Campers started the week off with archaeology basics, learning how to record an archaeological site, draw a map, use a compass, and even how to measure distance just using their feet. Other camp activities focused on the stuff, or artifacts, archaeologists find and use to learn about people in the past. The campers learned all about how Native Americans used plants, stone, shells, and clay to make tools for everyday life. They even got to try out prehistoric hunting techniques and make their own pottery to take home with them. The rest of the campers time was filled with hikes, visits to the amazing museum exhibit at the Center, and (most campers’ favorite part of camp) participating in a real archaeological dig out at Weedon Island.

The Junior Archaeologist summer camp is a fun, hands-on experience for the kids, but it is also important to us here at FPAN that the campers walk away with a better understanding of what archaeology is and why it’s important. The kids really showed us what they learned through their creative and absolutely adorable drawings they did during camp.

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Camper drawings show what the kids learned during camp. They drew their experiences digging, in the lab, and what they learned from camp (archaeologists want to learn about people in the past, not dinosaurs!).

 

Many of our campers that return summer after summer are aging out of camp this year, so to help them continue in their archaeology summer fun, we are happy to announce we will be offering a camp for children ages 12-14 in summer 2018! In this new camp, students will dabble in similar topics as our Junior Archaeologists, but go more in depth into archaeological research and technology.  We hope this new camp will help interested kids keep their curiosity and wonder for the past alive.

 

Kassie is an archaeologist working at the West Central Regional Center of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, located at the University of South Florida in Tampa. If you would like more information about public archaeology or have some ideas please contact her at kkemp@usf.edu

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A Rising Tide of Advocacy at Tidally United

By: Jeff Moates

Sea Level Rise is a major issue in Florida. A recent piece by the Washington Post put the Tampa Bay area in the crosshairs of a major tropical event and detailed the amount of destruction that could occur should a Category 4 or 5 type storm make a direct hit. This had the locals talking, especially the area’s government and elected officials specifically about the issue of Sea Level Rise. FPAN staff has prioritized efforts to be a part of the conversation too. The Heritage Monitoring Scout program and its annual meeting, known as Tidally United, are important pieces of FPAN’s programmatic response to coming impacts on coastal archaeological and heritage sites.

Just this month, our colleagues from FPAN’s Southeast and Southwest Centers co-hosted the Second Annual Tidally United Summit in Hollywood, FL. For this go-around FPAN teamed up with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Ah-Tha-Thi-Ki Museum to accommodate participants and attendees at the Tribal Learning Center.

The Summit commenced with a warm welcome from a Junior Tribal member and wrapped up with a succinct and poignant response from Betty Osceola, a member, farmer, and educator of the Miccosukee Tribe about Native People’s resiliency in South Florida. In between archaeologists, researchers, Tribal members, and members of the general public shared information and discussion about climate change, environmental and social justice, community, and efforts aimed at restoration and tracking changes at coastal sites.

Betty Osceola of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians and Panther clan, addressing the importance of partnerships, community, and most importantly hope and positivity in facing the inevitable challenge of sea level rise and climate change.

 

Across the state of Florida the Heritage Monitoring Scout program is building capacity. Recent data show over 250 registered scouts are actively monitoring over 220 archaeological and heritage sites all along our extensive coastlines in Florida. We look forward to highlighting more of the scouts and monitoring projects at next year’s conference. In the coming year, we are excited to plan for and host the next Tidally United Summit in the Tampa Bay area and are looking to build on the successes of the first two conferences. Tidally United 2018 will continue the tradition of creating a space for stakeholders, community, and researchers to share information and learn more about how we can each have a role in shaping our quality of life here in Tampa Bay and across Florida.

Join us next year at Tidally United in the Tampa Bay area!

 

Jeff is the Director of the West Central Regional Center of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, located at the University of South Florida in Tampa. If you would like more information about the Heritage Monitoring Scout program or Tidally United please contact him at jmoates@usf.edu

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From the #PubArch Trenches: Building a Better World with Mounds and Middens

By: Becky O’Sullivan

How do archaeologists use their work to build a better world today? How did Native peoples work together to build a better world in the past? This summer we created a new program to explore these questions and share what we can learn from mounds and middens throughout Florida.

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Using only a projector, some cut out pieces of paper, and tape participants in our “Building a Better World” summer library program built their own neighborhood of mounds and middens. Then they learned about what would be left behind thousands of years later for archaeologists to find. When people think about archaeology they often focus on the objects or artifacts. But those objects are important only in terms of what they can help us find out about people who lived in the past.

summer lib midden

How did Native peoples build mounds and middens? With teamwork! Here kids learn that middens build up from the meals that people ate in the past. A few family will create a little garbage, but when people come together they create great big middens over time!

The purpose of this lesson is to help participants start to think of artifacts as clues to past human activities, not just interesting objects or “treasures” to be discovered on their own. When we begin to look at artifacts in their larger context – the other artifacts found nearby, their location on the landscape, the natural environment – we move from a narrow focus to one where we can start to learn about past ways of life.

summer lib building

Kids come together to help build a “neighborhood” like we might find in prehistoric Florida. First we add the natural resources like fish, shells, and deer. Then we add the houses that make up the community, as well as tools like pottery and arrowheads in areas where they would be used. When I take away the houses, kids can still see the pattern of how people were living through the other artifacts that are left behind!

Becky is an archaeologist working at the West Central Regional Center of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, located at the University of South Florida in Tampa. If you would like more information about public archaeology or have some ideas please contact her at rosulliv@usf.edu 

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From the Public Archaeology Trenches: Using Art as Evaluation

By: Becky O’Sullivan

Each summer during the last two weeks in July, staff from the West Central Regional Center of the Florida Public Archaeology Network put on a Junior Archaeologist summer camp for children between the ages of 7 and 11 at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center in St. Petersburg, FL. It is both extremely rewarding, and extremely tiring, to teach 20 kids about archaeology for a week, but we wondered what actual messages were getting across to our campers from the educational activities and archaeology hikes we were leading them through. No kid wants to participate in a pre- and post-test at summer camp, so how could we get a better idea of what the kids were taking away from our Junior Archaeologist camp curriculum without resorting to more formal testing methods?

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As an “ice breaker” activity at the beginning of camp we ask the kids to draw what they think about archaeology. This serves as a good “pre-test” to see what knowledge the kids come in with, versus how their ideas change by the end of the session.

Over the past few years, FPAN staff has used art as a means of assessment at our summer camps as a way to gauge the effectiveness of our message. This is a simple method to get some immediate feedback on what the kids have learned, as well as what messages we need to do a better job of getting across. Each day of camp we have one or two art competitions where campers draw a picture based on one of the themes we have covered during the day. The kids have fun being creative and competing against one another for a small prize, and we get good feedback on what they have learned (as well as a stack of adorable archaeology-related pictures).

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By looking through their pictures we can get an idea of the main ideas that are getting across to the kids, then tweak our approach and activities in order to make sure that they aren’t missing out on the important preservation-related messages we are trying to impart. Artistic expression works much better than written questions and answers in this context because it is more informal, and easier to accomplish for the relatively wide age range we have in our camp groups.

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Kids’ perceptions of stone tool manufacture and hunting technology.

This method has also been useful at public archaeology days as a means to assess the public’s perceptions of specific archaeology topics that are on display. So the next time you are planning an archaeology related school visit, public day, or event, make sure to bring some blank paper and crayons so you can see for yourself what messages you are really getting across!

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By the end of camp, kids often have a broader view of what archaeologists actually do as well as how we piece together clues to past ways of life.

 

 

Becky is an archaeologist working at the West Central Regional Center of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, located at the University of South Florida in Tampa. If you would like more information about public archaeology or have some ideas for how to assess educational programming please contact her at rosulliv@usf.edu 

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Archaeology at the DeSoto National Memorial Tabby Ruins

By: Becky O’Sullivan

 

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SEAC archaeologists begin excavations at the Tabby Ruins site in Bradenton, FL.

During the last week in May 2016, archaeologists from the Southeast Archeological Center (SEAC) of the National Park Service were down in Bradenton to work at an amazing archaeological site at De Soto National Memorial. Hernando De Soto actually never set foot on the property, so we didn’t find any conquistador related artifacts, but the authentic history of the area is much more intriguing.

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I was really lucky to get to come out and volunteer with the crew from SEAC! From left to right: SEAC archaeologists Alex Parsons and Satin Bowman, and Becky O’Sullivan.

The Tabby Ruins site, as it is known, is located within De Soto National Memorial along the Manatee River. Historical accounts have linked the structure to William Shaw who lived in the area from 1843 – 1856, but archaeological work done in the 1990s found evidence of an earlier occupation of the structure. So who really lived there? What was the “Tabby Ruin” actually used for? Could it be the remains of an early 1800s Cuban fishing rancho? Or could it be related to the maroon community of Angola, which was located somewhere along the Manatee River from 1812-1821? These are all questions that archaeology can help answer.

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Broken bits of historic ceramics can help us figure out when a site was in use. The plain, brown fragment in the middle is a piece of olive jar (probably the oldest ceramic type out of those shown). Pearlware and mochaware (late 18th early 19th century ceramics) were also recovered from the site.

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Glass seal from a style of bottle known as a “case gin bottle”. These bottles were mouthblown by a glassmaker into a mold to give them their distinctive shape, then this glass seal would have been added to denote the maker of the liquid inside. This seal reads “Van Den Bergh & Co” and probably dates from the 1870s to the 1890s.

Beyond wanting to learn more about who was living there, part of the reason SEAC archaeologist Dr. Margo Schwadron and her crew are working at the site now is because of a looming threat to all of Florida’s coastal areas: sea level rise. Due to its low elevation and fragile nature this site will likely be destroyed in 50 years given current projections. So what can archaeologists do to mitigate the damage we know will occur to this important piece of Florida Gulf Coast history? Dr. Schwadron and her crew will be returning to the site over the next two years as part of a project to excavate and document the site before any damage from sea level rise can occur. We hope to work with them to assist in this effort, and will share with you what we find out about the Tabby Ruins and the multi-layered history of Shaw’s Point and De Soto National Memorial!

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Fieldwork scenes at the Tabby Ruins, clockwise from left: Zan Rothrock sets up an excavation unit, Dr. Schwadron takes notes on a completed excavation level, investigating an interesting feature in the corner of one of the units.

 

Becky is an archaeologist working at the West Central Regional Center of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, located at the University of South Florida in Tampa. If you would like more information about archaeology in the Bradenton or Manatee County area please contact her at rosulliv@usf.edu .

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Pine Level Townsite makes it to the National Register of Historic Places!
Originally published in the Arcadian
Date: Oct 9, 2014; Section: Arcadian; Page: AS11
For images from the original story click this link

By CAROL MAHLER
DESOTO CO. HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The Pine Level townsite was listed on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places on Sept. 17. A ceremony to celebrate this honor — and unveil a commemorative marker— will be held at 2 p.m. on Oct. 18 at the Pine Level United Methodist Church, 9596 N.W. Pine Level Street. The ceremony will be the conclusion of the Pine Level Public Art and Archaeology Day, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., cosponsored by the DeSoto County Historical Society, DeSoto Arts and Humanities Council, and Florida Public Archaeology Network West Central Region. The events are free and open to the public.

The historical marker at the Old Pine Level site will soon be joined by a plaque commemorating its listing to the National Register of Historic Places!

The Historical Society will offer guided walking tours of the townsite and an exhibit of artifacts. The Arts Council will display landscapes and streetscapes of Pine Level between 1866 and 1900, as imagined by children and adult artists, as well as “fat quarter” quilts made from fabrics reproduced from the same era. FPAN will provide hands-on archaeological activities. Crowley Museum will feature the “Pine Level Trail” which bisects their property in Myakka. Food and beverages will be available.

Pine Level was founded in 1866 as the new county seat of old Manatee County. Established in 1855, the county extended nearly 5,000 square miles, including the modern counties of Charlotte, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee and Sarasota. Although no settlement existed at that time, Pine Level was chosen as the county’s geographical center. It was conveniently distant from the Village of Manatee, the former county seat and ally of the Confederacy. An African-American family was one of the first four to live at Pine Level, and it may have been considered a freedman’s town. It was a frontier “wild West” settlement with saloons and shoot-outs as well as a courthouse, jail, school, churches, stores, boarding houses and a newspaper. Union Veteran John F. Bartholf served as the first postmaster in 1871.

This two-story structure was first used as a school and then the sanctuary for the Pine Level United Methodist Church. Image courtesy of the DeSoto County Historical Society.

When DeSoto County was founded in 1887, Pine Level became the county seat. Voters did not choose Arcadia as the government center until November 1888. It had the advantage of transportation by river or rail. The first train arrived in 1886 — the same year that the town was incorporated. Bypassed by the railroad and abandoned by the county government, Pine Level declined. The only physical witnesses of the town are a Florida Historic Marker and the original Pine Level School. The Pine Level Methodist Church purchased the school in 1923, and after a 1930 hurricane damaged the second floor, the church was re-roofed as a one-story structure. It has since been remodeled, and other buildings have been added.

Archaeologists and volunteers work to find evidence of the historic town of Pine Level in DeSoto County.

Members of the Historical Society participated in the archaeological field work in Pine Level conducted in 2010 by Jana Futch, a student seeking a Master of Arts degree in anthropology from the University of South Florida. Now a professional archaeologist with Brockington and Associates of Atlanta, Ga., she prepared the National Register application. It was financed in part by a grant from the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State, assisted by the Florida Historical Commission. The Florida National Review Board unanimously approved the Pine Level nomination, noting that the town is one of only seven Reconstruction-era sites recognized in the state.

For more information, call Carol Mahler at 863-445-0789 or email carolmahler3@gmail.com.

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FPAN West Central Summer 2014 Newsletter

To check out the latest edition of the FPAN West Central Newsletter click this link: FPAN West Central Summer Newsletter

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From the Public Archaeology Trenches: Talking about Stone Tools

By: Becky O’Sullivan

How do you make a concept like stages of lithic reduction interesting to the public? How do you convince people that tiny flakes of stone (not even arrow heads or stone knives) can be important to understanding people in the past? For public archaeologists such as myself, this is the sort of quandary we face on a daily basis. One good way is to give people a simplified visual to interact with. In general, when you give people a simple model to start with it tends to be much easier for them to think about more difficult or abstract concepts…. such as lithic reduction! Below are instructions for an easy to make puzzle to get the point across (sorry…) as well as tips on how to use it when talking to the public.

 

MAKING THE PUZZLE

What you’ll need:

  • Round, flat piece of wood, preferably with bark still on. These can be purchased at most craft stores
  • Jigsaw
  • Sandpaper or a Dremel
  • Clear coat or shellac

 

Draw out a design for your puzzle pieces onto the wooden round. Make sure that your pieces aren’t too complicated but that they will end up with differing amounts of bark on one edge. Some pieces should have lots of bark (primary flakes), while others have a little (secondary flakes), and a few should have none (tertiary flakes). You can model the “tool” in the middle after the outline of your favorite projectile point. We went with a Clovis point because of our Paleoindian theme for Florida Archaeology Month, and its simple outline.

Once you get your pieces cut out, carefully sand the edges. I used a Dremel tool to add a little “chipped stone” effect to each piece, this also helps you remember which side is up for each piece and makes the puzzle easier to put back together. Finally, add a few layers of clear coat and let dry.

TIPS ON USING THE PUZZLE

  • Have your participant take the puzzle apart, not put it together. Stone tool making is all about careful reduction so by having people take the puzzle apart you will make them mimic some of the basic stages.
  • Have some actual stone tools, flakes, or pieces of raw stone like chert or flint on hand to compare to the puzzle pieces. People often learn best when they can compare things they know and understand to the new things you are trying to teach them about.
  • Use other everyday comparisons to help them understand what you are talking about. For instance, when I talk about cortex I often compare it to the outside of a potato. If you were going to make french fries out of a potato you would probably want to get rid of the gross looking skin of the potato to get to the starchy goodness inside. It’s the same with stone tool manufacture. The gross, weathered outer layer of the rock (cortex) is no good for making stone tools so you need to carefully remove it to get to the siliceous goodness inside.

Compare the known of you puzzle to the unknown of stone tools. The bark on the outside of the puzzle is the same as the cortex on the outside of the flakes.

Take the puzzle apart step-by-step. First remove the pieces with lots of cortex (primary flakes), then those with less (secondary flakes), then those with no cortex (tertiary flakes).

Explain that often these leftover pieces are just as important to understanding a site as the tool itself. They can reveal important information about the type of stone tool making that was going on in a specific location. Were people collecting raw stone? Working stone to make blanks and rudimentary tools? Sharpening tools that were already made? Debitage is the key to answering these questions.

 

People love to see and touch artifacts, but sometimes they are fragile or sharp (like stone tools). Using models like this puzzle helps to get people’s interest and gives them a visual to interact with that is tough to break.

 

Becky is an archaeologist working at the West Central Regional Center of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, located at the University of South Florida in Tampa. If you have some public archaeology resources you’d like to share, please contact her at rosulliv@usf.edu .

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The Stars at Night are Big and Bright…. but are they the same ones the Paleoindians saw?

By: Brittany Yabczanka

This year’s Florida Archaeology Month posters featuring photos by Curt Bowen of Little Salt Spring and Warm Mineral Springs are beautiful. We have learned that the coastline of Florida has changed dramatically, but you may be surprised to learn that the sky we see now is also not quite the same as the one the Paleoindians would have seen when they were living near the springs.

Earth’s axis is not completely stable. It “wobbles” due to a “precession cycle” that completes a rotation about every 26,000 years. This means that what we call the North Star, has not always been the North Star and that the apparent position and movement of all the stars and constellations has changed since the first Floridians got here. We call Polaris our North Star because it stays in the same place all night while the other stars seem to move around it. It is a stationary point that can be used to navigate. In the year 10,000 BC, however, the most stationary point would have been somewhere in the middle of what we call the Hercules constellation. In 7,000 BC, it was between Hercules and Draco, moving closer toward Polaris.

As the Earth moves through its precession cycle the star we think of as the “North Star” changes.

To picture how this affects the night sky, try pointing to a wall. Now imagine the room spinning around your arm. Next, point to a different wall and do the same thing. Everything in the room still stays in the same place, but their movement relative to you changes in appearance based on where you are pointing. Of course, it is actually Earth that rotates, but in this case it is easier to picture the room moving like the sky appears to do throughout the night. This is important because this shift affects which stars are visible, when they are visible, and where they rise and set. For people using the stars for navigational, calendric, and/or spiritual purposes, all of these factors are important.

Using a program called Stellarium (free at Stellarium.org), it is possible to turn back the clock at any location and see what the sky would have looked like. In the location window I entered the GPS coordinates of Little Salt Spring and Warm Mineral Springs. At each location, I then opened the time and date window and adjusted it to reflect when some of the first people would have been at each site. For Little Salt Spring, a wooden stake through an extinct tortoise was found that dates to about 12,000 years ago. I used the year 10,000 BC (Stellarium does not use BC or AD, so it would be written as -10,000) because based on the archaeological evidence it is likely that people were occupying the area at that time. For Warm Mineral Springs, I used the year 7,000 BC because artifacts there have been dated to about 9,000 years ago. For all of the images below I used a date in March so that you can go outside tonight and see how the sky has shifted! All pictures represent March 18th at 8:00 pm, but for different years in the past or in 2014.

The stars over Little Salt Spring 12,000 years ago. No, the dock would not have been there 12,000 years ago….

 

The stars over Little Salt Spring today.

 

Looking at the picture of Little Salt Spring (facing NE) 12,000 years ago compared to the one today, the most obvious difference is that the modern one has more sunlight on the horizon. This is because, while the sun’s position in the sky does not change dramatically over time, minor changes in the time of day that it rises and sets do occur. Next, you probably notice that none of the same stars appear from the ancient sky to the modern. It is not because of the time of day, it is because of the precession. If you were able to see through the earth in the modern picture (which you can do by clicking the ground icon in the bottom settings bar when using Stellarium), you would see the same stars that are in the ancient picture, just below the horizon. In a 12,000 year span, Hercules goes from being mostly circumpolar (visible all night, revolving close to the North Pole) to rising late in the night, further East in the sky.

The stars over Warm Mineral Springs 9,000 years ago (Buildings and lawn chairs not included).

The stars over Warm Mineral Springs today.

Warm Mineral Springs (facing NW) has similar differences between ancient and modern as the pictures for Little Salt Spring in terms of sunlight and the change in stars. A good eye can pick out, though, that Polaris (our North Star) is not anywhere near being due North. In fact, it would not even visible all night 9,000 years ago! This means that if the Paleoindians were using the stars for navigation, they would have had to use a different star or group of stars than we use to find North today. Most likely, they would have used a star or group of stars that are part of what we call the Hercules constellation.

While looking at these pictures, it is also important to remember that the stars would not have had the same names and myths that we associate with them today. We primarily use the ancient Greek system, but the Paleoindians obviously would not have done the same. They would have had their own names and stories that were important to them connected with the stars. Do you have any names for stars or groups of stars that are not part of the official catalog? Some cultures focused on the sun (the cycle of which is relatively unchanged). Others, like the Inca used the dark spaces between the stars as constellations. Known Native American star lore, like that of the Lakota and Navajo, have names for only a few stars and they tend to be associated with certain stories.

Unfortunately, there is not yet any archaeological evidence for whether the Paleoindians used the stars for navigational or spiritual purposes. A deer antler found at Little Salt Spring with 28 notches in it could be an intriguing clue. One possibility is that this artifact was used as a way of tracking the lunar cycle, which is 28 days long. Dr. John Gifford, who recently gave a talk about his archaeological work at Little Salt Spring at the University of South Florida, spoke about this possibility during his lecture. The moon’s cycle was important to many cultures all over the world as a way to track time and the seasons, as well as for spiritual reasons. Notably, the moon was used by the Hopewell who measured and used the lunar cycle for planning major events and to track the seasons, and interacted with later Native Floridians.

 

*Note: Some of the stars visible in Bowen’s photos are there because of the type of lens and effects he used, that I was not able to replicate in Stellarium. Orion, for example, in the Warm Mineral Springs picture, is actually almost directly overhead.

 

 

To download Stellarium visit: http://www.stellarium.org/

For more information on Hopewell lunar importance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OJ1yVs0aQE

 

Brittany Yabczanka graduated from the University of South Florida in 2012 with her B.A. in Anthropology. She focused on Archaeology and minored in Astronomy, and has since built her own telescope. Brittany currently works at the West Central office of the Florida Public Archaeology Network.

 

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Site Seeing: Paleoindians at the Harney Flats Site

By: Becky O’Sullivan

You might not know it, but there is a good chance you recently drove over the earliest known archaeological site in the Tampa Bay area. But don’t worry, it happens thousands of times every day!

 

The Harney Flats site was discovered during road construction for I-75, today you can visit a small park nearby.

 

While some of the most famous documented Paleoindian sites in Florida are located either to our north in the panhandle or to our south at Little Salt and Warm Mineral Springs an equally important one is located right here in our area: underneath I-75. In the late 1970s, archaeologists working for the State of Florida excavated the Harney Flats site ahead of road construction along I-75. Deep beneath the surface they uncovered evidence of a stone tool workshop and possible camp dating back more than 10,000 years. Harney Flats is unique because of its location; many of the Paleoindian sites found in other parts of Florida are in rivers or springs while Harney Flats is high and dry.

 

A view of I-75 as it travels over the Harney Flats site.

 

During the Paleoindian period the location of the Harney Flats site would have looked much different than today. The site sits on an ancient sandy ridge that today over looks dry land and the Tampa Bypass Canal, but thousands of years ago would have been on the edge of a large, low drainage area larger than present day Hillsborough Bay. The ridge would have been a great place to live for Paleoindians not only because of the higher elevation, but also because of the rock outcrops located nearby that would have provided the raw materials for their stone tools.

 

A natural ridge running through the area (visible here as a rise in the road) would have been a great place for Paleoindian people to collect the stone they needed to make some of their tools.

Archaeologists have been able to date the Harney Flats site because of the types of stone tools found there, as well as information obtained from optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. Chert cores used to produce stone flakes, as well as stone scrapers, abraders, and points at different stages of the production process were all recovered. Suwannee and Simpson points typical of the Paleoindian period were also found there, along with a distinct new subtype recently identified by archaeologist Dr. Jim Dunbar. Next time you are driving north on I-75 near the 301 exit take a moment to think about what life would have been like for people living in Florida more than 10,000 years ago!

 

A replica cast of a Simpson point found during excavations at the Harney Flats site.

 

Top: View of the Tampa Bypass Canal looking south. Bottom: View to the north looking at a small dog park near the site. Bring your pooch here to experience some of Florida’s archaeological heritage!

 

Sources:

 

Daniel, Randy and Michael Wisenbaker

1983     A Preliminary Report on the Excavations at Harney Flats, Hillsborough County. The Florida Anthropologist 36(1-2), pgs 67-79.

 

Daniel, Randolph I, Michael Wisenbaker, and George Ballo

1986     The Organization of a Suwannee Technology: The View from Harney Flats. The Florida Anthropologist 39(1-2), pgs 24-54.

 

Dunbar, James S.

2013     Mental Templates and a Revised Typology for Florida Paleoindian Points. Paper presented at the Southeastern Archaeological Conference, Tampa.

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