Tuesday, January 10, 2023: Michelle Calhoun

Michelle Calhoun

Lightning whelk is a fairly common sight on our southwest Florida, Gulf coast beaches. In fact, eastern Gulf of Mexico lightning whelk population studies show that 82% can be found between Charlotte Harbor and Ten Thousand Islands. Interestingly, the shells of this particular mollusk were sought out in vast quantities starting around 8,000-10,000 years ago, formed into various forms of what are known as gorgets, and were interred with Native Peoples as far north as Canada.

Calhoun’s presentation will discuss the significance of this carnivorous, bottom-dwelling gastropod to Archaic and subsequent Native Peoples (ca. 8,000-1,000 B.C./ 10,000-3,000 B.P. to present), the routes most likely taken by those moving the shells, and an understanding of who these people likely were and what their purpose was in transporting these shells over such immense distances. These routes snaked all across the eastern U.S., even reaching into Texas. The shell tool assemblages of Texas and Florida during the Archaic show an undeniable connection. So too do the freshwater shell mounds of the Green, Cumberland, Tennessee, Tombigbee, and Ohio River valleys (Shell Mound Archaic) to those Archaic marine shell heaps and rings of the central to eastern Gulf of Mexico.

This work is still in progress after nearly four years of almost continuous research into, first, columella and gastropod tools, then into the movement of the sandal-sole type, and also of other whelk shell gorgets across eastern North America. These insights come from a fairly comprehensive literature review spanning forty states and five Canadian provinces, dozens of academic publications, paper and poster presentations, over 200 journals-both avocational and professional, cultural resource management (CRM) reports, informants from local archaeological societies, conversations with subject matter experts, and Indigenous histories.

Michelle Calhoun received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from New College of Florida in 2021 with her undergraduate thesis titled “An Analysis of Prehistoric Shell Tools (Columella Tools and Gastropod Hammers) from Snake Island, Sarasota County (8So2336).”

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October 11: Crystal Diff


Dive into the legend of the infamous pirate Gasparilla and the lasting impact it's made on southwest Florida’s coast. While exploring the local origins of the legend, we'll uncover the historical background of how a "big fish" story captured a railroad tycoon and made its mark on our coast forever.

Crystal Diff is the Executive Director for the Boca Grande Historical Society. She has spent over a decade working with cultural institutions across southwest Florida in history, art, archives, anthropology, and archaeology. Previously to BGHS, she provided public education programs and exhibits for Charlotte County History Services and was co-founder of our local International Archaeology Day event in the southwest region.


September 13: Rachael Kangas


This presentation will cover a project in Collier County, FL that devised a system for prioritizing cultural sites based on when they are likely to flood due to sea level rise, how vulnerable they are to flooding, and the consequences if the sites are lost. Hopefully this project will start more discussions about how sites should be prioritized and what matters when it comes to deciding where to invest limited resources.

Rachael Kangas, M.A., RPA is the Director, West Central & Central Regions Florida Public Archaeology Network.  Rachael is the Region Director for the West Central and Central Regions of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, and she conducts public archaeology and outreach in the regions. She earned her M.A. from the University of Central Florida (UCF) in 2015 and is certified as a member of the Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA).

May 10 Speaker: Dr. Bruce McFadden


The sedimentary sequence in Florida began in the Eocene during the Cenozoic period, which is Earth’s current geological era. The Pleistocene era, commonly known as “The Ice Age,” began approximately 2.6 million years ago and lasted until approximately 12,000 years ago, with megafauna, described as those species over 100 lbs., existing across the peninsula. Prior to the Pleistocene, volcanic activity created a series of islands between North and South America, which eventually coalesced to form the Isthmus of Panama, enabling travel between the continents during what has been termed the Great American Biotic Interchange (GABI).

Fossils of South American immigrants, such as giant ground sloth, glyptodonts, and giant armadillos can be found across much of Florida, including within our own local springs and rivers. Native megafauna such as horses, camels, llamas, zebras, saber-tooth cats, dire wolves, and mastodons roamed the plains of Florida at the beginning of the Pleistocene. In the areas where one can find fossils of tapirs and deer, the local environment is interpreted to have been heavily forested. Swampy areas contained alligators, as is the case in the present-day.

However, as the Pleistocene progressed, the types of megafauna began to diversify as new immigrants to North America, such as the Columbian mammoth arrived from Asia and Africa via the Bering land bridge, which allowed access to new territory approximately 1.8 mya. There are three theories of megafaunal extinction: climate cycles and failed adaptation, resource competition and selection, and the overkill hypothesis. Changing climate cycles could have resulted in the loss of vegetation upon which massive herbivores depended. Pressures on herbivores would, in turn, affect the viability of the carnivore population.

Mastodons and mammoths successfully coexisted across Florida, as their teeth were different, allowing the mammoths to graze on more grassy vegetation and the mastodons to browse on more shrubby vegetation. Once bison arrived approximately 500,000 years ago, and spread out across much of North America, stable isotope studies indicate that several types of grazers at that time, mammoths, horses, zebras, and bison, competed for the same resources--grass. A bison skull from the Wacissa River, with a projectile point embedded in its forehead, dated to approximately 13000 years ago, demonstrates direct interaction between megafauna and humans in Florida. A cast of this skull is on display at the Florida Museum. These topics and much more will be discussed and we hope you’ll join us either in person or by Zoom.

Dr. MacFadden is a distinguished professor at the Florida Museum, is director of the University of Florida Thompson Earth Systems Institute, and is a leading researcher in the fields of vertebrate paleontology and evolution. He received his Bachelor's degree from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in geology from Columbia University, with a specialization in paleontology.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022, 7 pm – 8 pm Eastern Time  IN PERSON: North Port Community United Church of Christ 3450 South Biscayne Boulevard. Our guest speaker, Dr. McFadden, cannot attend in person, but we still plan to meet live and have the presentation projected on the screen for a hybrid/Zoom Live meeting.

Image: Early Florida hunter stalking a bison, courtesy of The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature

April 12 Speaker: Dr. William H. Marquardt


When Spaniards first arrived, the Calusa, a fishing people, were the most powerful native society in Florida. We now have evidence from Mound Key of mound-building, monumental architecture, large-scale food processing, watercourt use and construction, and the sixteenth-century Spanish fort and mission of San Antón de Carlos. These new findings allow us to refine our understanding of Calusa history and describe how their complex society developed. During A.D.500-1500, periods of overall prosperity were dampened by times of uncertainty when short-term climate changes diminished resources in the shallow estuaries and bays on which the Calusa depended. Involvement in long-distance trade, and competition with the Tocobaga, were factors in Calusa political developments. The Spanish invasion in the early 1500s stimulated further adjustments in Calusa political economy, leading them to become a tribute-based state.

Dr. Marquardt holds the Ph.D. degree from Washington University, St. Louis. He has done archaeological research in New Mexico, Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Burgundy (France). He is co-founder of the Randell Research Center at Pineland and from 1985, until his retirement in 2018, was director of the Southwest Florida Project, focused on the ancient domain of the Calusa Indians (present-day Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties). He is the author of books and articles about the archaeology and history of southwest Florida, including Culture and Environment in the Domain of the Calusa, The Archaeology of Useppa Island, and The Archaeology of Pineland (with co-author and co-editor Karen Walker). He is co-author (with Darcie MacMahon) of The Calusa and Their Legacy. He was the curator of the 6,000-square-foot Hall of South Florida People and Environments in the Florida Museum of Natural History’s exhibit facility in Gainesville.


March 8, 2022 Speaker: George Colvin


Although rare, fossil shark teeth from outside of Ohio have been recovered from Ohio archaeological sites and as surface finds throughout much of the state. The source of these fossil shark teeth has been the subject of debate since first published by Squier and Davis in 1848. This debate has centered on the Hopewell culture and its acquisition of shark teeth as “exotic” mortuary items. Through a combination of age, species distribution, frequency of occurrence, and preservation characteristics, southwestern Florida is believed to be the source of most of the Ohio Hopewell teeth, including those from the well-known Scioto River valley Hopewell sites. Recent data indicate that fossil shark teeth were utilized in Ohio prior to and after the Hopewell time frame and from sites outside of the large Ohio Hopewell centers. For these sites, multiple sources of fossil shark teeth appear to have been utilized.

George H. Colvin is a geologist and co-founder of the consulting firm, Cox-Colvin & Associates, Inc. He received a Bachelor of Science in geology from Ohio University and a Masters of Science in geology from Vanderbilt University. George has served as Trustee, Executive Secretary, Vice President, President, and Past President of the Archaeological Society of Ohio. He has researched shark teeth from Ohio archaeological sites for nearly 15 years. He is now an empty nester residing in Plain City, Ohio with his wife, Tsui-Ling, and dog, Boone. He is an active scuba diver and enjoys swimming, biking and running.


February 8, 2022 Presentation


Students from the University of the Bahamas involved in the photo documentation project on San Salvador (Lucayan Guanahani) include (from left to right above), Sanchin Lewis, UB Student, Durnique Bostwick, UB Student; Savanna Dean- Architect with Antiquity Museums & Monuments Corp.; Ebyan Munroe, UB Student; Natecia Taylor, UB Student; Ayoka Seymour, UB Student; and Didacus Uba, UB Student.

With funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), a heritage tourism development project originally scheduled for 2020, was put on hold due to the Covid pandemic. However, with the possibility of funding being withdrawn, six students from the University of The Bahamas rushed to San Salvador in early January of 2022 to undertake recording as many buildings as possible on two plantation sites on the island.

These plantations were studied by Kathy Gerace in the 1970’s, but over the last 50 years, most of the buildings have deteriorated further, and a detailed record of what is there presently was desperately needed to plan for future tourism development on this historically significant island. Besides being the landfall site of Columbus’s 1492 voyage, the island is the site of several large cotton-growing plantations developed by British Loyalists from the southern states after the American Revolution. With the IDB funding, the clearing of nearly 50 years of overgrowth was undertaken, allowing access to two of these plantations, and the ability to obtain a photographic record of the buildings as they are today. The Bahamian students, who resided at the Gerace Research Centre during their stay, will present the result of their one-week work, with photographs of all the buildings, some with video, and others with 3D images. The presentation will also include their suggestions on how these sites can become major heritage attractions for visitors to the island in the future.


January 11, 2022 Speaker: Michelle Calhoun


The lightning whelk is a sinistral (left)-coiling mollusk which can be found along the North American continental shelf from Cape Cod to the Yucatan peninsula. Whelk have morphological differences in their shells depending on their region of origin: Yucatan, the western Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Gulf coast, and the Atlantic. These differences and their implications on sourcing methods will be discussed.

Pre-Contact cultures utilized and traded the whelk’s shells throughout the eastern 2/3 of the United States, Mexico, and southern Canada. The whelk’s sinistral coils held a spiritual significance for many of these cultures, as movement to the left is seen as bringing the world into balance.

Michelle is a 2021 graduate of New College of Florida, who presented her undergraduate thesis research on the gastropod and columella tools from Snake Island, Florida, at our September 2020 meeting. She is now an independent researcher and has expanded her interests to studying the extent of whelk shell utilization throughout North America prior to Contact, and the sourcing of whelk artifact types. 

December 14, 2021 Speaker: Jono Miller


Miller's topic will follow the title of his new book, The Palmetto, Histories and Mysteries of the Cabbage Palm. In his discussion, Jono will address some basic questions about our state tree, basically, everything you always wanted to know about our state tree, such as: Are cabbage palm trees? How long do they live? What is their natural range? How did early Europeans use the cabbage palm and how did Florida Indians and other Southeast Native American groups use cabbage palm? A charred cabbage frond fragment was found on the 27 m ledge at Little Salt Spring in 2008, which dated to 12,300 rcybp, which is almost 14,000 years old! And they go back tens, if not hundreds of millennia.

Jono Miller is the retired former Director of the New College of Florida Environmental Studies Program, his undergraduate alma mater. He is a natural historian and activist with 49 years experience in Southwest Florida. Since 1982, he has exhibited a particular interest in our state tree, the cabbage palm, which resulted in his Master’s thesis: A Humble Vulgar Tree: Explorations of the Natural and Cultural History of the Cabbage Palm, Sabal Palmetto.

November 9, 2021 Speaker: John Whittaker


Florida excavations in 1895 by a pioneering archaeologist produced famous finds of prehistoric art, and an early recognition of a forgotten weapon, the atlatl or spear thrower. We know a lot more about atlatls today, and re-examining Cushing's finds shows some of the problems and promises of reconstruction and experimental archaeology. John Whittaker teaches anthropology and archaeology at Grinnell College in Iowa.  Much of his work has been in the American Southwest, but experiments with prehistoric technology are a favorite source of archaeological information, contact with the public, and fun. He is the author of two books on making and understanding stone tools and modern flintknappers, and coaches the Grinnell College Raging Cows, the world's first collegiate atlatl team. 

John Whittaker teaches anthropology archaeology Grinnell College in Iowa. Much his work has been American Southwest, but experiments with prehistoric technology favorite source archaeological information, contact public, fun. He is author two books on making understanding stone tools modern flintknappers, coaches Raging Cows, world's first collegiate atlatl team.

October 12, 2021 Speaker: Dr. Jeb Card


Archaeologists are depicted as searching for lost cities and mystical artifacts in news reports, television, video games, and in movies like Indiana Jones or The Mummy.  This fantastical image has little to do with day-to-day science, yet it is deeply connected to why people are fascinated by the ancient past. Exploring the development of archaeology helps us understand what archaeology is and why it matters. The trail of clues leading us into spooky territory includes famous archaeologists, self- proclaimed explorers, haunted museums, mysterious hieroglyphic inscriptions, of a lost continent that never existed, the origin of ideas about ancient extraterrestrials, and even a Scotland Yard investigation into magic, murder, and witchcraft.

These ideas don’t come from Hollywood; they come from how humans have tried to understand the past from the earliest ancient Egyptian delvers into ruins to the modern profession of archaeology. If archaeologists want to explain why the past is important to our present, they need to understand why archaeology continues to mystify, and why there is an ongoing fascination with exotic artifacts and eerie practices. 

Dr. Jeb Card is an Assistant Teaching Professor for the Department of Anthropology, Miami University. He holds his degrees from Tulane University (Ph.D. and M.A.) and the University of Pittsburgh. His areas of specialization include Mesoamerican archaeology and archaeology of the colonial Americas, particularly European colonization and its impact on indigenous Americans and their societies, as seen from early sixteenth-century Ciudad Vieja, El Salvador. Dr. Card is also interested in current public and media perceptions of archaeology as being a science of fantastical claims of ancient aliens or lost continents. This is the subject of his most recent publication, Spooky Archaeology: Myth and the Science of the Past (University of New Mexico Press, 2018).

September 14, 2021 Speaker: Dr. Victor Thompson


We welcome Dr. Thompson, to our September 14 Zoom meeting. His topic is of local and familiar interest, the Calusa of Mound Key, Charlotte Harbor, and the bays and estuaries of southwest Florida.

In 1566, Pedro de Menéndez de Aviles arrived at the capital of the Calusa kingdom. During that same year Menéndez issued the order to construct Fort San Antón de Carlos, which was occupied until 1569. We now can confirm what archaeologists and historians suspected, that the location of the Fort, and the capital of the Calusa, was the site of Mound Key, (8LL2), located in Estero Bay in southwestern Florida.

In this talk, Dr. Thompson will present the detailed work their team conducted to find evidence of structures and fortifications associated with the sixteenth century Spanish fort and mission of San Antón de Carlos. In addition, he will discuss the insights that their excavations revealed regarding the broader histories of the Calusa people at Mound Key.

I am an archaeologist who specializes in the application of archaeological science to the study of collective social formations and the historical ecology of wetland and coastal environments. In this work I strive more and more to connect to issues related to community archaeology and the descendent communities whose ancestral lands that I study. I engage globally with scholars who share research interests in archaeological science, as well as island and coastal archaeology. Broadly, my research utilizes approaches derived from collective action, cooperation, political ecology, and historical ecology. Specifically, I seek to understand Native American histories and how these histories experienced ruptures and continuities at the moment of European contact and colonialism. I employ a number of methods in my research including the analysis of monumental architecture, radiocarbon analysis, shell midden archaeology, stable oxygen isotopes, remote sensing, and Geographic Information Systems. As Director of the Laboratory of Archaeology at the University of Georgia, I am engaged with NAGPRA to make sure that ancestors cared for by UGA are treated respectfully and repatriated to the their descendent communities.

May 11, 2021 Speaker: Dr. April Watson

Dr. April Watson

How do archaeologists investigate the ways people have eaten through time? The study of these leftovers give us a powerful tool for understanding past human behavior. Leftovers such as bones, scales, and shells can help archaeologists explore the ways that people might have different social and/or cultural eating practices, what the environment was like thousands of years ago, how people might maximize resources both on the land and the sea, celebrations such as feasting, and more! This presentation focuses on coastal sites in South Florida and the dietary choices these costal dwellers made from the Atlantic Ocean, the first 'grocery store'.

April Watson completed both her undergraduate degree and her master's degree in anthropology with a focus in archaeology. Watson’s undergraduate research centered on south Florida prehistoric mound sites, particularly looking at the use of ceramics and shell tools. Her graduate studies focused on the coast of Cuba, where she created a predictive model of prehistoric archaeological sites. Watson finished her graduate education with a PhD in Geosciences from Florida Atlantic University. Watson’s current research interest include prehistoric ceramics’ usage, landscape utilization by past and present peoples of the Southeastern United States, environmental sustainability, GIS based map inquires, and mathematical modeling of human/environmental spatial relationships. 

April 13, 2021 Speaker: Jeff Moates

Jeff Moates, Director of the West Central and Central Regional Centers of the Florida Public Archaeology Network

April 13, 2021 Zoom Meeting

In 2020 groups in the Tampa Bay area began a quest to replace, buildover, and destroyed African American cemeteries. These places had been wiped from sight but remained ever-fixed in the consciousness of the communities they had served. Archaeology is one among many tools being utilized to reframe these sacred places and their stories.

"African American cemeteries, whether in the past or today, are at risk due to segregation-era policies. Lawmakers at the State and Federal levels are increasingly aware of this issue and are Jeff Moates, Director promoting legislation to aid in the preservation efforts. Ultimately, it is incumbent on government officials and researcher alike to work with the descendents and local communities to ensure their stories of the sacred places are brought forth in a way that preserves them in place for generation to come." (FAM 2020 poster text).

Jeff earned a MA in History/Historical Archaeology and a BA in Anthropology from the University of West Florida. He worked for Archaeological Consultants, Inc., the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research in the Underwater Archaeology Division, and as museum curator at the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez. Jeff enjoys tinkering with things, watching baseball, eating smoked mullet, and drinking hot coffee. 

March 9, 2021 Speaker: Frank Cassell


As part of our Sarasota County 2021 Centennial Celebration, we welcome historian Dr. Frank Cassell, author of Creating Sarasota County (2017), and Suncoast Empire, Bertha Honore Palmer, Her Family, and the Rise of Sarasota (2019).

Frank will recount the dramatic history and tales of the men and women who led the county independence movement by the citizens of the Sarasota district, leading to the independence from Manatee in 1921 and the creation of Sarasota County. And it’s quite a story. Frank Cassell, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus and President Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. He earned the B.A. degree at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and his M.A. and Ph. D. degrees at Northwestern University. He taught and served as an administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Roosevelt University in Chicago before taking the presidency at Pitt-Greensburg. Dr. Frank Cassell is chair of the Historic Centennial Steering Committee, received the silver award for nonfiction by the Florida Book Awards for Suncoast Empire and this latest 2019 book, Creating Sarasota County was written to provide historic support for the Sarasota County Centennial celebration. So, we are very fortunate to have him speak during the kickoff month of the 100 year anniversary of Sarasota County!

JANUARY 2021 SPEAKER: Dr. Edward González-Tennant


Rosewood was a prosperous African American community hard-won from the swampy hammocks of north Florida. Although the town was destroyed in 1923, the community continued, scattered across the state of Florida and beyond. Now, nearly 100 years after this tragic event the story of Rosewood remains shrouded from public view. Those who have heard of Rosewood are rarely aware of the community’s deeper history, or its relation to other places across the state. Dr. González-Tennant will discuss the role of archaeology and geospatial sciences in unearthing Rosewood’s complex history.  In addition to describing how digital technologies aid traditional archaeological methods, he’ll discuss the importance of outreach and its ability to support a public conversation on racial reconciliation.

Edward González-Tennant, is a lecturer in anthropology at UCF. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Florida. His research explores the use of geospatial and remote sensing technologies to understand how geophysical processes impact heritage sites. He also explores the use of digital and visual technologies to communicate archaeological research with the public.


OCTOBER 13, 2020 SPEAKER: Eric Prendergast


Recent archaeological work in downtown Tampa focused on parts of former Fort Brooke, an important military installation from the Period of Indian Removal in early American Florida. The work uncovered the location of the fort’s lost cemetery, buried under a tangle of city streets and utilities in the shadow of the hockey arena. Excavations unintentionally unearthed a glass swing-top jar stuffed full of love letters written in 1916. The letters were written to the captain of Clarence Bloomfield Moore’s archaeological research vessel, the steamer Gopher. This presentation will discuss the letters, their author, and their recipient, who was a long-time resident and amateur scientist of early Tampa, as well as some findings from other excavations at Fort Brooke.

Eric Prendergast, M.A., RPA. Senior Staff Archaeologist with Cardno. Eric is a transplant from the northeast who has only lived in Tampa since 2012, when he came to graduate school at USF. Since then he has worked in CRM and has recently served as Principal Investigator for major excavations in Downtown Tampa and for the Zion Cemetery Project, Robles Park Village.


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SEPTEMBER 8, 2020 SPEAKER: Michelle Calhoun


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.  

MARCH 10, 2020 SPEAKER: Lindsay Ogles


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. 

FEBRUARY 11, 2020 SPEAKER: William Locascio


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.”

JANUARY 14, 2020 SPEAKER: Ted Ehmann


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.