Archaeology of Precolumbian Florida

Archaeology of Precolumbian Florida

Archaeology of Precolumbian Florida

Archaeology of Precolumbian Florida

Synopsis

This record of precolumbian Florida brings to life the 12,000-year story of the native American Indians who lived in the state. Using information gathered by archaeological investigations, many carried out since 1980, Jerald Milanich describes the indigenous cultures and explains why they developed as they did. In a richly illustrated book that will appeal to professional and avocational archaeologists, scholars, tourists, and local history buffs, Milanich introduces the material heritage of the first Floridians through the interpretation of artifacts and archaeological sites. Weaving together discoveries from such sites as the Lake Jackson mounds in the panhandle, Crystal River on the Gulf coast, and Granada on the Miami River, he relates the long histories of the native groups whose descendants were decimated during the European conquest of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Milanich begins with an overview of the history of archaeology in Florida. He then describes the earliest aboriginal cultures:,the Paleoindians and the people of the Archaic period. The later, regional cultures (Weeden Island, Fort Walton, Glades, Caloosahatchee, and many others) are correlated with geographical and environmental regions and then compared to provide insights about the nature of chiefdom societies, the effects of wetlands on precolumbian settlement systems, and the environmental history of the state. Maps and illustrations document this history of archaeological research in Florida and of the sites and artifacts (including spectacular Weeden Island pottery vessels and Belle Glade wooden carvings) left behind by the precolumbian people.

Excerpt

Today the mounds and villages of the precolumbian native American Indians who once lived in Florida are still very much in evidence. In parks like Lake Jackson in the panhandle, Turtle Mound on the Atlantic coast, and Crystal River on the Gulf coast, modern Floridians can visit archaeological sites--shell and earthen middens and mounds--left by the native inhabitants of Florida. Remnants of thousands of other sites exist, although countless others have vanished under the onslaught of roads, buildings, and parking lots that are built each year in Florida to accommodate a continually growing population. Where Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami, and Disney World exist today, precolumbian populations once flourished.

Who were these native Florida Indians? How long were they here? How did they live? These are questions that we can answer using information gathered from a century or more of archaeological investigations.

From such research we know that at least several hundred thousand people, possibly more, were living in Florida in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century when Europeans first sighted the peninsula's coasts. Ancestors of those native Floridians had been here for 12,000 years. Over the millennia many different cultures had developed, adjusting to different environments and dealing with the problems and challenges presented by increasing populations, new ideas, and innovations. In 1492, at the time of Christopher Columbus's first . . .

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