TAPHONOMY OF CULTURAL LANDSCAPES OF THE CENTRAL GULF COAST
The Withlacoochee and Crystal River estuaries are home to a dense assemblage of Woodland Period shell middens. However, centuries of natural and anthropogenic stressors have degraded the integrity of this cultural landscape. The conditions of the prehistoric sites are inherently linked to the ecological and geomorphological condition of the landscape. Ecological regime change, soil loss, and karstification are actively transforming the Gulf Coast and destroying the shell middens in the process.
This presentation discusses the Rapid Midden Assessment program used to examine the taphnomic features of coastal shell middens. This method combines site-level and landscape-level analysis to evaluate site “health” and ecological stability. The resulting projects provide land managers with the information necessary for prioritizing the protection of cultural and natural resources. By understanding the degradational processes impacting our coastline today, we can better plan to preserve the archaeological record in the future.
Sean Norman received a B.A. in History from Columbus State University before receiving a M.A. in Applied Anthropology and a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems from the University of South Florida. He specializes in the geoarchaeology of prehistoric coastal landscapes examining sites such as the Crystal River mounds and the Tomoka Mound Complex. He currently serves as the Acting Executive Director of the Gulf Archaeology Research Institute (GARI) in Crystal River, Florida. In addition to coastal prehistory, he collaborates with his associates at GARI on the archaeology of the Seminole Wars. For more information on the Gulf Archaeology Research Institute, visit: gulfarchaeology.org