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USF Libraries Exhibits

Site Study--Crystal River

The figures below show various maps of the Crystal River archaeological site. This site was excavated in 1903 by C. B. Moore, and later revisted by Ripley Bullen in the 1960s.

Using the work of Moore along with his own maps and topographic research, Bullen was able to determine the locations of previously undiscovered middens, or old dumping grounds for domestic waste and shells. Within test pits such as the one shown below, Bullen found layers of soil with high concentrations of shells—possibly where the refuse from a Native Floridian community was deposited.

When excavating burial mounds, Bullen and his team found layers of soil, or strata, that were undisturbed from pre-Columbian times. The undisturbed strata were located above the burial site zone of the mounds and sometimes contained pot shards, which were most likely pieces from pottery buried with the deceased person.

Within the Crystal River archaological site, archaeologists have found styles of pottery from different cultural periods, the most abundant being sand-tempered plain. This name means that the clay was tempered with sand (sand was added for stability and durability) and it has no markings—it is plain. Because of kinships and marriage between members of different communities, pottery was often moved around in Florida. Therefore, what may be typical of one area could be found in small quantities in another area. Above is a table of the types of pottery found in Crystal River.

The Crystal River site is an all-encompassing example of archaeological possibilities in Florida. Middens, burial mounds, ceremonial mounds, artifact concentrations, and buildings have all been mapped through excavations in Crystal River. Fortunately, this area is protected by the state as an archaeological site; many areas in Florida are undiscovered archaeological sites and are only discovered after their accidental destruction. By understanding the importance of archaeology, we will be able to slowly piece together the history of our state and recognize the ingenuity of our native ancestors.