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Applying a coastal-geoarchaeological approach, we synthesize stratigraphic, sedimentological, mollusk-zooarchaeological, and radiometric datasets from recent excavations and sediment coring at Harbor Key (8MA15)—a shell-terraformed Native mound complex within Tampa Bay, on the central peninsular Gulf Coast of Florida. We significantly revise the chronological understanding of the site and place it among the relatively few early civic-ceremonial centers in the region. Analyses of submound contexts revealed that the early first millennium mound center was constructed atop a platform of sand and ex situ cultural shell deposits that were reworked during ancient storm landfalls around 2000 BP. We situate Harbor Key within a seascape-scale stratigraphic and paleoenvironmental framework and show that the shellworks comprise an artificial barrier protecting the leeward estuary basin (and productive inshore wetlands) from high-energy conditions of the open bay and swells from the Gulf of Mexico. The sedimentary and archaeological records attest to the long-term history of morphodynamic interaction between coastal processes and Indigenous shell terraforming in the region and suggest that early first millennium mound building in Tampa Bay was tied to the recognition and reuse of antecedent shellworks and the persistent management of encompassing cultural seascapes.
In November 1995, the Laboratory of Archaeology at the University of Georgia submitted inventories and summaries of Indigenous ancestors and funerary objects in its holdings to comply with the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). However, after this submission, the Laboratory attempts at consultation with federally recognized descendant Tribal communities who have cultural ties in the state of Georgia were not successful, and NAGPRA-related activities essentially stalled at the Laboratory. Beginning in 2019, the Laboratory's staff recognized a lack of formal NAGPRA policies or standards, which led to a complete reevaluation of the Laboratory's approach to NAGPRA. In essence, it was the Laboratory's renewed engagement with NAGPRA and descendan tribal communities that became the catalyst for change in the Laboratory's philosophy as a curation repository. This shift in thinking set the Laboratory on a path toward building a descendant community–informed institutional integrity (DCIII) level of engagement with consultation and collaborative efforts in all aspects of collections management and archaeological research. In this article, we outline steps that the Laboratory has taken toward implementing meaningful policies and practices created with descendant Tribal communities that both fulfill and extend bounds of NAGPRA compliance.
Democratic cooperation is a particularly complex type of arrangement that requires attendant institutions to ensure that the problems inherent in collective action do not subvert the public good. It is perhaps due to this complexity that historians, political scientists, and others generally associate the birth of democracy with the emergence of so-called states and center it geographically in the “West,” where it then diffused to the rest of the world. We argue that the archaeological record of the American Southeast provides a case to examine the emergence of democratic institutions and to highlight the distinctive ways in which such long-lived institutions were—and continue to be—expressed by Native Americans. Our research at the Cold Springs site in northern Georgia, USA, provides important insight into the earliest documented council houses in the American Southeast. We present new radiocarbon dating of these structures along with dates for the associated early platform mounds that place their use as early as cal AD 500. This new dating makes the institution of the Muskogean council, whose active participants have always included both men and women, at least 1,500 years old, and therefore one of the most enduring and inclusive democratic institutions in world history.
The goal for many PhD students in archaeology is tenure-track employment. Students primarily receive their training by tenure-track or tenured professors, and they are often tacitly expected—or explicitly encouraged—to follow in the footsteps of their advisor. However, the career trajectories that current and recent PhD students follow may hold little resemblance to the ones experienced by their advisors. To understand these different paths and to provide information for current PhD students considering pursuing a career in academia, we surveyed 438 archaeologists holding tenured or tenure-track positions in the United States. The survey, recorded in 2019, posed a variety of questions regarding the personal experiences of individual professors. The results are binned by the decade in which the respondent graduated. Evident patterns are discussed in terms of change over time. The resulting portraits of academic pathways through the past five decades indicate that although broad commonalities exist in the qualifications of early career academics, there is no singular pathway to obtaining tenure-track employment. We highlight the commonalities revealed in our survey to provide a set of general qualifications that might provide a baseline set of skills and experiences for an archaeologist seeking a tenure-track job in the United States.
Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon (14C) dates in North American archaeology is increasing, especially among archaeologists working in deeper time. However, historical archaeologists have been slow to embrace these new techniques, and there have been only a few examples of the incorporation of calendar dates as informative priors in Bayesian models in such work in the United States. To illustrate the value of Bayesian approaches to sites with both substantial earlier Native American occupations as well as a historic era European presence, we present the results of our Bayesian analysis of 14C dates from the earlier Guale village and the Mission period contexts from the Sapelo Shell Ring Complex (9MC23) in southern Georgia. Jefferies and Moore have explored the Spanish Mission period deposits at this site to better understand the Native American interactions with the Spanish during the 16th and 17th centuries along the Georgia Coast. Given the results of our Bayesian modeling, we can say with some degree of confidence that the deposits thus far excavated and sampled contain important information dating to the 17th-century mission on Sapelo Island. In addition, our modeling of new dates suggests the range of the pre-Mission era Guale village. Based on these new dates, we can now say with some degree of certainty which of the deposits sampled likely contain information that dates to one of the critical periods of Mission period research, the AD 1660–1684 period that ushered in the close of mission efforts on the Georgia Coast.
Hernando de Soto's expedition through the southeastern United States between 1539 and 1543 is often regarded as a watershed moment for the collapse of Indigenous societies across the region. Historical narratives have proposed that extreme depopulation as a result of early contact destabilized Indigenous economies, politics, networks, and traditions. Although processes of depopulation and transformation were certainly set in motion by this and earlier colonial encounters, the timing, temporality, and heterogeneous rhythms of postcontact Indigenous histories remain unclear. Through the integration of radiocarbon and archaeological data from the Mississippian earthen platform mound at Dyar (9GE5) in central Georgia, we present a case of Indigenous endurance and resilience in the Oconee Valley that has long been obfuscated by materially based chronologies and typologies. Bayesian chronological modeling suggests that Indigenous Mississippian traditions persisted for up to 130 years beyond contact with European colonizers. We argue that advances in modeling radiocarbon dates, along with meaningful consultation/collaboration with descendant communities, can contribute to efforts that move us beyond a reliance on materially based chronologies that can distort and erase Indigenous histories.
We sampled individual growth rings from three ancient remnant bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) trees from a massive buried deposit at the mouth of the Altamaha River on the Georgia Coast to determine the best technique for radiocarbon (14C) dating pretreatment. The results of our comparison of traditional ABA pretreatment and holocellulose and α-cellulose fractions show no significant differences among the pretreatments (<1 sigma) thereby suggesting that ABA pretreatment will prove sufficient for the development of a high-resolution 14C tree-ring chronology based on these ancient bald cypresses which will indicate whether the U.S. Southeast is subject to a regional radiocarbon offset.
Formally established in the fall of 1947, the Laboratory of Archaeology at the University of Georgia is an archaeological research and collection repository. It is considered one of the premier institutions for curation of archaeological collections from the American Southeast. For over 70 years, the Laboratory has served as a repository for objects and associated records generated from archaeological projects and research undertaken by faculty, students, CRM professionals, and state and federal agencies. The Laboratory curates over 20,000 cubic feet of artifacts as well as paper and digital archives. In addition, the Laboratory houses the Georgia Archaeological Site File and manages data from more than 59,000 archaeological sites, including over 11,500 archaeological reports. In this paper, we explore implementation procedures for bringing legacy collections up to modern curation standards. We also outline how we migrate the data on paper records into the digital realm, articulating them within a comprehensive framework.
In coastal and island archaeology, carbonate mollusk shells are often among the most abundant materials available for radiocarbon (14C) dating. The marsh periwinkle (Littorina irrorata) is one of these such species, ubiquitously found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States in both modern and archaeological contexts. This paper presents a novel approach to dating estuarine mollusks where rather than attempting to characterize the size and variability of reservoir effects to “correct” shell carbonate dates, we describe a compound-specific approach that isolates conchiolin, the organic matter bound with the shell matrix of the L. irrorata. Conchiolin typically constitutes <5% of shell weight. In L. irrorata, it is derived from the snail’s terrestrial diet and is thus not strongly influenced by marine, hardwater, or other carbon reservoir effects. We compare the carbon isotopes (δ13C and Δ14C) of L. irrorata shell carbonate, conchiolin, and bulk soft tissue from six modern, live-collected specimens from Apalachicola Bay, Florida, with samples that represent possible sources of carbon within their environment including surface sediments, marsh plant tissues, and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in water. Ultimately, this paper demonstrates that samples obtained from wet chemical oxidation of L. irrorata conchiolin produces accurate 14C dates.
Over the past 30 years, the number of US doctoral anthropology graduates has increased by about 70%, but there has not been a corresponding increase in the availability of new faculty positions. Consequently, doctoral degree-holding archaeologists face more competition than ever before when applying for faculty positions. Here we examine where US and Canadian anthropological archaeology faculty originate and where they ultimately end up teaching. Using data derived from the 2014–2015 AnthroGuide, we rank doctoral programs whose graduates in archaeology have been most successful in the academic job market; identify long-term and ongoing trends in doctoral programs; and discuss gender division in academic archaeology in the US and Canada. We conclude that success in obtaining a faculty position upon graduation is predicated in large part on where one attends graduate school.
Antiquarians of the nineteenth century referred to the largest monumental
constructions in eastern North America as pyramids, but this usage faded
among archaeologists by the mid-twentieth century. Pauketat (2007) has
reintroduced the term pyramid to describe the larger, Mississippian-period
(A.D. 1050 to 1550) mounds of the interior of the continent, recognizing
recent studies that demonstrate the complexity of their construction. Such
recognition is lacking for earlier mounds and for those constructed of
shell. We describe the recent identification of stepped pyramids of shell
from the Roberts Island Complex, located on the central Gulf Coast of
Florida and dating to the terminal Late Woodland period, A.D. 800 to 1050,
thus recognizing the sophistication of monument construction in an earlier
time frame, using a different construction material, and taking an
Archaeologists interested in radiocarbon dating shell midden sites express concern regarding the accuracy of shell dates and how such determinations should be interpreted. This article discusses the problem of dating shells from sites in the southeastern United States. New results are presented comparing shell, bone, and soil-charcoal age determinations from the Crystal River site, located along the west-central Gulf Coast of Florida. Crystal River is a large multimound site whose occupants engaged in long-distance exchange throughout eastern North America during the Woodland period (∼1000 BC to AD 1050). In the summer of 2012, test units were excavated in several contexts at the site, including both mounds and occupation areas. Samples were collected for 14C dating, which were then processed at the University of Georgia Center for Applied Isotope Studies. This article focuses on samples from the stratified shell midden, from which it was hoped to construct a local correction for marine shell that could be used to date other contexts. The soil-charcoal and bone collagen from these samples have very similar ages (bone samples ranging from about 100 cal BC to cal AD 530 and soil-charcoal from cal AD 345 to 560); however, the shell samples collected from the same stratigraphic units are significantly older than the terrestrial dates (ranging from 1300 to 390 cal BC). The difference in calibrated ages between organic materials and the shells ranges between 560 to 1140 yr. This phenomenon cannot be explained solely by the marine reservoir effect. It appears that all the shell samples formed in mixed marine (∼50–60%) contexts, as indicated by the stable isotope ratios and the amount of atmospheric carbon remaining in the samples. The age of the shell samples cannot be used to date archaeological events as they are influenced not only by the marine reservoir effect, but also the local hardwater effect, which makes them significantly older.
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.
Two of the most salient anthropological questions regarding southeastern shell ring sites are related to the season(s) that they were occupied and whether or not the deposits represent monumental constructions and/or feasting remains. This paper addresses these questions through the analysis of growth band of clams (Mercenaria spp.) (N = 620) and stable oxygen isotope ratios of clam and oyster shells (Crassostrea virginica) (N = 58) at the Sapelo Island Shell Ring complex located on the Georgia coast, USA. The season of death and the samples' position in the shell matrix at Sapelo provide important information on the rate of shell deposition and the season(s) the site was occupied. These data support the view that at least some portion of the human population at Sapelo occupied the site year-round. Additionally, while it appears that two shell rings at the site formed through the gradual deposition and accumulation of daily subsistence, other areas evidence short term, large-scale, shellfish processing and may lend credence to the view that at some point shell rings become monuments, commemorating rituals and gatherings.
Along the southeastern Atlantic coast of Georgia, hunter-gatherer groups substantially altered the landscape for more than three millennia (ca. 4,200-1,000 B.P.) leaving behind a distinct material record in the form of shell rings, middens, and burial mounds. During this time, these groups experienced major changes in sea level and resource distribution. Specifically, we take a resilience theory approach to address these changes and discuss the utility of this theory for archaeology in general. We suggest that despite major destabilizing forces in the form of sea-level lowering and its concomitant effects on resource distribution, cultural systems rebounded to a structural pattern similar to the one expressed prior to environmental disruption. We propose, in part, the ability for people to return to similar patterns was the result of the high visibility of previous behaviors inscribed on the landscape in the form of shell middens and rings from the period preceding environmental disruption. Finally, despite a return to similar cultural formulations, hunter-gatherers experienced some fundamental changes resulting in modifications to existing behaviors (e.g., ringed villages) as well as the addition of new ones in the form of burial-mound construction.
Ultramicrotomy, the technique of cutting nanometers-thin slices of
material using a diamond knife, was applied to prepare transmission
electron microscope (TEM) specimens of nanoporous
poly(methylsilsesquioxane) (PMSSQ) thin films. This technique was compared
to focused ion beam (FIB) cross-section preparation to address possible
artifacts resulting from deformation of nanoporous microstructure during
the sample preparation. It was found that ultramicrotomy is a successful
TEM specimen preparation method for nanoporous PMSSQ thin films when
combined with low-energy ion milling as a final step. A thick, sacrificial
carbon coating was identified as a method of reducing defects from the FIB
process which included film shrinkage and pore deformation.
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