SHELL TOOL ANALYSIS FROM SNAKE ISLAND
New College of Florida undergraduate student and WMS/LSSAS member Michelle Calhoun will be the speaker at our April 14 meeting. Her topic, “A Preliminary Analysis of Columella Tools and Gastropod Hammers from Snake Island, Sarasota County, Florida (8So2336).
Snake Island is a small island situated near the Venice Inlet in Sarasota County, Florida and is owned by the West Coast Inland Navigation District (WCIND). It was used as a spoil site for dredged material in 1907 during initial dredging to facilitate navigation between Sarasota and Venice, and in 1965 during the construction of the bypass canal and Intracoastal Waterway improvements and realignment. In 1994, a shell midden was identified and recorded with material actively eroding from the southwest shore of the island.
Steve Koski conducted a salvage collection project intermittently from 1994 to 2012. Diagnostic ceramic artifacts indicated a Safety Harbor period occupation, around CE 1,200 – 1,400 (AD), but initial occupation was likely several hundred years earlier in the late Manasota/Weeden Island periods. While the majority of shell tools eroding from the midden were type C and D gastropod hammers centered along the southwest shore, columella hammers were most plentiful and more widely distributed along the entire north and west shores where the erosion was most severe, suggesting a different origin. Archaeologist George Luer indicated that columella hammers were more indicative of the Archaic period, and type C and D hammers more indicative of the Safety Harbor period sites, something testing and radiocarbon dating substantiated.
It was found that the midden lay beneath the spoil and layer of mangrove mud. This occurrence has the potential to lend insight into the effects of sea level rise on archaeological sites and conditions that facilitate site preservation.
Michelle became interested in the shell tool collection during an internship and Independent Study Project (ISP) for her New College professor Dr. Uzi Baram. The intern position and Independent Study Projects were done at Sarasota County Historical Resources (SCHR) through 2019 and continued into 2020, working with Sarasota County archaeologist Steve Koski, where the Snake Island specimens are curated. Her first project was to update the NAPGRA inventory in the SCHR collections for submittal to the Florida Division of Historical Resources and the National Park Service. During the fall 2019 semester, she decided that the collection would be appropriate for her Method and Theory in Archaeology class at NCF.
She spent months working on the collection and collaborating on hypotheses with Koski regarding use, hafting methods, breakage patterns, and overall variability; recording, updating the field specimen log, taking measurements, photographing, and illustrating a sample of the more than 200 shell artifacts.
FINDING OVERTOWN – SARASOTA’S FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY
Few newcomers to Sarasota County would know that the Rosemary District in Sarasota was once known as Overtown and part of the original plat of the Town of Sarasota in 1885. Beginning in the 1890’s African Americans settled there. It was north just north of downtown Sarasota and known as “Black Bottom,” later to be change to Overtown in the mid-1920s. It was a vibrant community with a rich history to many of its residents and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District in 2003. It became officially named the Rosemary District in honor of the Rosemary Cemetery, established in 1886 and a historic marker was first dedicated there in 1985.
It became officially named the Rosemary District in honor of the Rosemary Cemetery, established in 1886 and a historic marker was first dedicated there in 1985. It was a segregated community and through time Overtown was lost to expanding downtown Sarasota and most of its residents relocated to Newtown. While a few of its original historic structures relate to the Overtown community remain, most were demolished and lost to time.
Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Assistant Professor, William Locascio, will be the speaker at our February 11 meeting. His topic will cover recent excavations by his FGCU students in the Everglades Agricultural Area. He has shown that the Everglades was inhabited for thousands of years in the Archaic Period and was not a sterile, uninhabited area as many have postulated. His work there is changing how we view the prehistoric populations and their subsistence base. He views his research as a way to teach the next generation of archaeologists and advance archaeological knowledge of this region, which reveals remains of life among the people that settled the region over three thousand years ago.
William Locascio received his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010 and was an assistant professor at Flagler College from 2011–2014. He is currently an assistant professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. His Ph.D. dissertation focused on pre-Columbian societies of Panama and addressed how and why societies became hierarchical after millennia of successful organization as egalitarian and semi-egalitarian groups. Over the last twenty years, he has been very fortunate to do archaeology in many regions of the Americas, from Alaska to Ecuador. “I came to Florida several years ago and have fallen in love with the archaeology and the archaeology community.”
Upon retiring to Charlotte County in 2016, author Ted Ehmann was curious why after over twenty-five years of researching and visiting the Indian mounds of the Hopewell and Mississippian cultures of North America, there was not one mention of the Calusa and the mound building cultures in Charlotte Harbor and the entire south Florida Region. He claims, the Calusa and their neighbors have received very little archaeological investigations. Ehmann argues that the evidence reveals that the mound-building epoch in south Florida and the hunter-gathering societies responsible constitute a unique cultural epoch spanning twenty-five centuries, and is of global importance. Ehmann applies new models and connects the archaeological record to an earlier epoch in Louisiana, the latter epochs of the Hopewell and Mississippian mound builders, and the research by archaeologists outside of Florida.
He has a Master of Teaching degree and a B.A. degree , with a minor in Social Science and Anthropology College of New Jersey and studied for two years at the Philadelphia College of Art.
THE MAGICAL SPRINGS OF OLD FLORIDA
(Presentation Description Provided by Speaker)
“As I traveled the state while working on my book, Finding the Fountain of Youth, I observed that many Florida springs shared a similar history. First, the Native Americans who inhabited the state considered the pristine waters of springs to be sacred. As European settlers arrived, they found the limitless supply of pure water provided by the springs to be an invaluable resource. Near the end of the 19th century, affluent travelers began visiting Florida and many springs become health spas where wealthy patrons could take the waters.”
“In the twentieth century, tourists started to arrive by car and some springs became roadside attractions with fanciful features like water-skiing elephants and underwater mermaids. Eventually, interstate highways bypassed many of these roadside roadside attractions and they often found new lives as state and county parks. Today many of our state’s “fountains of youths” are at risk, as development threatens our springs and their source, the Floridan aquifer, the origin of most of the state’s drinking water.”
“With many colorful images throughout the presentation, I will explore the history of our springs and how these Fountains of Youth became an important part of the state’s early development. I will also examine some the challenges facing these spectacular natural resources as the population of Florida continues to expand rapidly.”
Rick grew up in Gainesville, Florida, looking for shark’s teeth, swimming in springs, and wading through swamps. He has earned his living as a graphic designer since 1986, launching his own company, Kilby Creative, in 2000. His first book, “Finding the Fountain of Youth: Ponce de León and Florida’s Magical Waters,” was published by the University Press of Florida in 2013 and won a Florida Book Award in the Visual Arts category. His mission is to motivate Floridians to appreciate the natural and historic wonders of their state.