Florida’s Native Indians
Before the first melting of the ice caps, Florida was inhabited by lively species of plants and mega fauna. Once the ice caps moved through North America, cutting off life to the plants and resources of the area, the mega fauna were unable to survive. Fortunately, the melting also caused new rivers, marshes, and estuaries to form due to the rising aquifers beneath Florida’s geography. These new water sources were excellent places for animals to gather; therefore, they were also excellent places for humans to hunt.
Although Native Americans were strong, the Europeans depicted them as massive and scary in comparison to themselves. In this way, European explorers were able to show their countries that the Native Americans needed to be eradicated—by insisting that they were all savage and beastly creatures.
Eventually, Europeans forced Native Floridians to work for them, sowing, planting, and harvesting corn and other crops year-round. With a new life marked by sedentary work and stationary Indian groups, there was a population boom among the Native Floridians. A bigger population meant larger kin groups that needed more land—this led to violence among groups and competition for arable land and coastal resources, eventually beginning a period of warfare and dominance. This change in lifestyle and increased subordination gradually led to the decline of Indian populations and the increase of European culture in the area. Now we are left with only artifacts and remains of the life and culture of Native Floridians. With careful excavation and analysis, however, archaeologists are able to piece together the rich history of life in Florida. An overview of the processes involved and the importance of archaeology in relation to historical preservation are given in the essay at the link below.
Upon discovering an artifact, archaeologists perform test digs to determine whether the artifact belongs within an entire archaeological site. Once it has been confirmed that the area was once inhabited by Native Floridians, archaeologists map the topography and determine where to draw plots and conduct digs. Mapping of this type helps to determine where to excavate in order to find the most saturated areas of artifacts. Above is an example of a topographical map, which helped archaeologists to determine the possible locations of mounds and buildings under the surface of Mound Key.
Read more: Relating Archaeology to Historic Preservation, [Unpublished], [Date unknown].