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Challenging the Evidence for Prehistoric Wetland Maize Agriculture at Fort Center, Florida

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Victor D. Thompson
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, 250A Baldwin Hall, Jackson St. University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602 (vdthom@uga.edu)
Kristen J. Gremillion
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, 4078 Smith Laboratory, 174 W. 18th Ave. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210 (gremillion.l@osu.edu)
Thomas J. Pluckhahn
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, 4202 E Fowler Ave, SOC107, Tampa, Florida 33620 (tpluckhahn@usf.edu)
Corresponding

Abstract

The early evidence (2400 ± 105 B.P.) for wetland maize agriculture at the archaeological site of Fort Center, a large earth-work site in South Florida, USA, is frequently cited in discussions of the emergence of agriculture in the Eastern Woodlands of North America. The evidence for maize, however, rests on controversial pollen data; some researchers accept it, others remain skeptical of its identification or chronological placement. We present microbotanical data (pollen and phytoliths), macrobotanical data, and radiocarbon dates from recent excavations from this site. We argue that maize agriculture did not occur until the historic period at this site and that the identification of maize in earlier deposits is likely a result of contamination.

Resumen

Resumen

La evidencia temprana (2400 ± 105 A.P.) para la práctica de agricultura de maíz (Zea mays L.) en humedales del sitio arqueológico de Fort Center, una gran obra construida en tierra en el sur del estado de Florida en Estados Unidos, es frecuentemente citada en las discusiones sobre la emergencia de la agricultura en los bosques del sureste de Norteamérica. Sin embargo, la evidencia de la presencia de maíz está basada en análisis de polen que han sido objeto de controversia. Si bien algunos investigadores aceptan esta evidencia, otros han permanecido escépticos sobre su correcta identificación o acerca de su contexto cronológico. En este artículo, nosotros presentamos los datos del análisis de restos de plantas microscópicos (polen y fitolitos), restos botánicos macroscópicos y dataciones radiocarbonicas de nuestras excavaciones recientes en el sitio. A partir de estos nuevos datos, nosotros argumentamos que la agricultura de maíz no ocurrió en este sitio hasta el Período Histórico y que la identificación de maíz en los depósitos más antiguos del sitio es probablemente el resultado de contaminación.

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Copyright
Copyright © 2013 by the Society for American Archaeology.

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References

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