Pioneer in Space and Time: John Mann Goggin and the Development of Florida Archaeology

By Carr, Robert S. | Southeastern Archaeology, Winter 2005 | Go to article overview

Pioneer in Space and Time: John Mann Goggin and the Development of Florida Archaeology


Carr, Robert S., Southeastern Archaeology


Pioneer in Space and Time: John Mann Goggin and the Development of Florida Archaeology. BRENT RICHARDS WEISMAN. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 2002. 176 pp., figs., illus. $49.95 (cloth), ISBN 0-8130-2573-7.

Reviewed by Robert S. Carr

In a masterfully written and well researched biography, Brent Weisman guides the reader from Goggin's childhood and formative years in Miami and the Everglades through his short but productive career as an archaeologist. Throughout Pioneer in Space and Time, Weisman carefully weaves an intricate picture of Goggin's personal life - his travels, personal bouts with alcoholism, many troubled relationships, and his rejection from the military - with Goggin's archaeological career. When turning his attention to Goggin's professional life, Weisman presents chronological highlights of his early career through careful analysis of Goggin's field books and journals - some 25 for Florida alone - as well as through interviews with Goggin's friends and his widow, Margaret Knox Goggin.

The book is divided into seven chapters. The first, "An Everglades Boyhood," examines Goggin's childhood growing up with the Everglades at his backyard. This close proximity to nature provided the stimulus for a wide variety of interests in fauna, particularly the colorful and distinctive Liguus snail, which he intensely collected. Weisman details how Goggin never deviated far from his interest in natural history and exploration. It is not surprising, he suggests, that this boyhood interest would eventually grow to include archaeological sites and the Seminoles.

Chapter 2, "Prelude: Florida Archaeology in the 1930's and Earlier," provides a summary of the principal archaeologists and their various discoveries that set the stage for Florida archaeology before Goggin himself assumed the spotlight. Particularly interesting is Weisman's look at the personalities who dominated the archaeological WPA program of the 1930s. Weisman reconstructs the prevalent theoretical framework and looming questions of the time, such as whether Florida's cultural influences and populations moved in from the south (the Antellian theory of Fewkes) or from the north, and the scholarly debates surrounding the creation of cultural areas and the antiquity of Horida's archaeological deposits. It is interesting to note that the prevalent idea of that time was that Florida's occupation was only several thousand years old, rather than the 10,000 to 13,000 years generally agreed upon today.

Chapter 3, "Desert Interlude, 1935-1942," examines Goggin's academic training at the University of New Mexico, under the guidance of Prof. Donald D. Brand, whose comprehensive anthropological approach to culture area studies would become an important influence on Goggin's development. Wiesman argues that the lectures of Leslie Spier, who developed pottery serration as a dating tool, undoubtedly influenced one of Goggin's most lasting contributions, the ceramic seriation of Glades pottery types - a sequence that has been largely validated since the advent of radiocarbon dating.

In chapter 4, "Space, Time, and Tradition," Weisman recounts Goggin's whirlwind survey of Florida sites, which began in the 1940s, and the numerous visits to the Seminole Reservation at Dania (later known as the Hollywood Reservation), which Goggin conducted along with his first wife Dorothy Field Goggin. Weismann details Goggin's first major archaeological exploration at Upper Matecombe Key and demonstrates how this would provide the basis for a description of changes in material culture in the forming of his Glades tradition. This investigation was sponsored by Yale University (where Goggin was accepted in 1944) under the umbrella of its Caribbean Anthropological Program. …

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