Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

Archaic Period Faunal Use in the West-Central Florida Interior

Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

Archaic Period Faunal Use in the West-Central Florida Interior

Article excerpt

Archaic period research in Florida has emphasized the importance of aquatic resources (both marine and freshwater) as a crucial factor in the development of greater cultural complexity, regionalization, and the establishment of permanent settlements. These interpretations are based on data primarily from coastal and lacustrine settings where aquatic invertebrates are especially abundant. Two recently investigated sites in west-central Florida-West Williams (8HI509) and Enclave C (8PA1269)-have produced well-preserved faunal samples from Late Archaic (5000-4000 B.P.) contexts at interior upland locales. Although associated with expansive freshwater marsh and swamp environments, these samples are distinguished from other reported Archaic period sites by the presence of a significant terrestrial component. These data have caused us to rethink current models of Archaic subsistence and settlement. Specifically, we argue that subsistence and settlement strategies were regionally diverse and temporally flexible in order to contend with variable local conditions. Within west-central Florida's interior, a broad-spectrum foraging strategy appears to have been practiced after about 5000 B.P.

Most studies of Archaic period subsistence in Florida have focused on shell midden sites located in coastal or lacustrine settings (e.g., Cumbaa 1976; Quitmyer 2001; Quitmyer and Massaro 1999; Russo 1987, 1991; Russo et al. 1992; Sassaman 2003; Wheeler and McGee 1994). Marine or freshwater shellfish remains constitute a large proportion of the sample volume from these sites as well as the total amount of meat weight consumed. A few descriptions of interior, Archaic period faunal assemblages from nonshell midden sites have been published, but these typically come from projects where faunal sampling was uncontrolled (e.g., Luer 2002), was tangential to the primary research goals (e.g., Dickel and Doran 2002:Table 2.2), or was not firmly associated with human exploitation (e.g., Peres 1998).

In this paper we describe the faunal samples from two preceramic Late Archaic (5000-4000 B.P.) sites located in the interior of west-central Florida: the West Williams site (8HI509) and the Enclave C site (8PA1269) (Figure 1). Both sites were the focus of compliancelevel investigations pursuant to Section 106 requirements associated with the permitting of two natural gas pipelines by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Phase I survey, Phase ? testing, and Phase ?? data recovery projects were conducted at West Williams in 2000, 2001, and 2002, respectively (Austin et al. 2001; Austin et al. 2004b; Southeastern Archaeological Research, Inc. 2000). At the Enclave C site, Phase I and limited Phase II investigations were conducted in 1999 and 2000 (Estabrook 2000; Estabrook et al. 2000; Estabrook et al. 2001).

In the following sections we describe the samples from both sites and discuss these in terms of several specific questions: (1) What animal species were consumed and what types of environments were exploited? (2) What evidence is there for seasonality? and (3) How do subsistence practices in the interior differ from tiiose in coastal and lacustrine environments? Analysis of these samples and their comparison with samples from other Archaic period sites suggest that terrestrial mammals were an important food source for Late Archaic peoples who inhabited westcentral Florida's interior, and that a foraging strategy emphasizing a broad spectrum of terrestrial and aquatic resources may have been practiced after 5000 B.P.

Models of Archaic Period Subsistence and Settlement in Central Florida

Models of Archaic period subsistence in Horida have relied primarily on faunal data from marine and freshwater shell middens where preservation tends to be excellent. In the interior uplands, acidic soil conditions render organic preservation nearly nonexistent and discussions of subsistence and settlement patterns must rely on inferences made from lithic artifact assemblages. …

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