Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

Chronology, Site Formation, and the Woodland-Mississippian Transition at Bayshore Homes, Florida

Academic journal article Southeastern Archaeology

Chronology, Site Formation, and the Woodland-Mississippian Transition at Bayshore Homes, Florida

Article excerpt

The development of Woodland societies and their transition to Mississippi period societies have been issues of longstanding interest for Southeastern archaeologists (e.g., Anderson and Mainfort 2002; Emerson et al. 2000; Nassaney and Cobb 1991; Smith 1990). This is particularly true on Florida's west-central Gulf Coast, the home of Weeden Island (8PI1), the type site of perhaps one of the best known Woodland cultures, and Safety Harbor (8PI2), the type site of the region's Mississippi period culture. While the relative chronological sequence of developments linking these two cultures has been established and continues to be refined, the causes for this transition remain obscure. The use of platform mounds, increased interaction with Mississippian cultures to the north, and the integration of Mississippian iconography and trade goods by local Weeden Island-related groups beginning around A.D. 900 have been documented (Mitchem 1989, 2012), but many details remain to be worked out. Research has focused primarily on mounds (e.g., Bullen 1952; Fewkes 1924; Griffin and Bullen 1950; Mitchem 1989; Sears 1960, 1967) with little attention to the domestic sphere; detailed dietary reconstructions are limited, radiocarbon dates are few, and linkages between cultural developments and environmental change have yet to be explored.

The Bayshore Homes site complex has the potential to rectify some of these problems. It is a large mound and midden complex located on Boca Ciega Bay near the mouth of Long Bayou on Florida's western coast (Figure 1). Temporally, it spans the period between the Middle Woodland (Weeden Island-related Manasota) and Early Mississippian (Englewood phase of Safety Harbor) periods. Originally, it consisted of a large, flattopped, pyramid-shaped mound with a ramp (Mound A), a 6-m-high burial mound (Mound B), a small burial mound less than 1 m in height (Mound C), and a linear midden paralleling the bay shore. William Sears (1960) conducted salvage work in Mound B and the shoreline midden prior to development as a subdivision in the 1950s. Today the site is criss-crossed by modem streets and capped by homes. Mounds A and B have been largely leveled, and Mound C, although still extant, was badly damaged by collectors prior to and immediately following Sears's work at the site. Nonetheless, large portions of the midden containing rich deposits of artifacts and faunal remains are still intact in residential yards and an adjacent park.

From 1999 to 2009, the authors conducted survey, test excavations, and soil coring at the site to address questions regarding site formation, chronology, cultural affiliation, subsistence, and settlement patterning (Austin 2011; Austin and Mitchem 2009; Austin et al. 2008). In the following sections we present the initial results of this work. We begin with a summary of Sears's excavations and then describe the results of our research as it relates to the site's chronology and cultural affiliation, site formation, and settlement layout. Our work has resulted in an expansion of the physical boundaries of the complex to encompass a nearby shell mound, several midden areas that were not identified by Sears, and interior areas that are relatively devoid of artifacts (see Figure 1). A series of 16 radiocarbon dates (calibrated at 2 sigma) in combination with diagnostic ceramics have enabled us to identify two temporally distinct components, Woodland period Manasota (cal. A.D. 140-565) and transitional late Weeden Islandrelated through early Safety Harbor (cal. A.D. 890-1390). The radiocarbon dates also have allowed us to resolve one of the site's biggest controversies-a "reversed" ceramic sequence in the midden-by demonstrating that it is the result of redeposition that occurred sometime after A.D. 1220. We conclude the paper with a discussion of our results within the context of the region's culturehistorical framework and briefly consider future research directions.

William Sears at Bayshore Homes

Local residents and professional archaeologists have known about the Bayshore Homes site (also known as the Lighthouse site) for over a century. …

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