Part I – General Statement of Research Problem
The Archaic Period of the Southeast is marked by dramatic change in the climate, flora, fauna, and landscape. For most, the Archaic has been broadly described as a time of localized adaptations to particular environmental niches resulting in a restriction in both logistical and residential mobility, and the types of resources that were utilized. While environmental adaptations do play their role in explaining material culture and resource exploitation, it does not explain or necessitate monumental architecture or the incredible Louisiana Late Archaic site Poverty Point. Neither does this type of environmental determinism adequately explain either the Late Archaic shell ring complexes or mound building mortuary complex that was contemporaneously occupying the south Florida Gulf Coast and continuing north into the southern North Carolina Atlantic Coast. Simply put, data on corresponding changes in social organization, economy, and ritual behavior are severely limited.
The Poverty Point culture has long been held to be a relatively short lived transitional cultural manifestation in the Mississippi River Valley. It is the consensus of many who study the Southeastern Archaic that it represents the developmental period between the Archaic-band ways of life to the semi-sedentary ceremonial complex combined with social stratification on a level of the Woodland chiefdom complexity.
What does Poverty Point culture entail? What classifies a site as a Poverty Point site? Poverty Point, if recognized only by massive earthworks, is an anomaly that does not fit with the accepted culture history of the Archaic Southeastern United States. In this this context the culture itself does not have any implications or affects outside of a 30 to 60 kilometer radius. The enigma of Poverty Point earthworks is only rivaled by the debate of its geographical and sociopolitical boundaries. Gibson has argued (1996:288-305) that Poverty Point as a taxonomical unit had an affected only the immediate countryside, and that smaller sites surrounding the earthworks as temporary camps inhabited to perform particular tasks, while sites located at a greater distance are linked Poverty Point only by trade.
This approach however, is severely limited in scope when considering the sourcing of the types of artifacts that are found at Poverty Point and at sites temporally contemporaneous. As a taxonomic use Poverty Point is most useful in extending its use to the regional social organization linked by extensive trade networks that by necessity require cooperation. There are many examples of artifact types that overlap stylistically. The lithic point types that are located within close proximity to the Louisiana earthworks are found all along the riverine systems of the southeast; as far north as the Missouri boot heel to the south towards the Gulf of Mexico stretching from Avery Island, Louisiana to present day Naples, Florida.
The baked clay objects, which have been come to be identified under the umbrella term Poverty Point Objects (PPO’s) are ubiquitous throughout the Late Archaic southeast. These objects have been shown through present day experimentation to be capable of being heated in hearths in then transferred into baskets in order to boil water. Also, PPO’s can be arranged in earthen pit hearths and subsequently covered in order to act as a convection oven to cook larger game (Wheeler and McGee 1994:380-389). It has also proposed that differences in the sizes and shapes of PPO’s reflect a difference in function, that is, modifications of form are adjustments for temperature control and duration of heat retention. This has yet to be demonstrated in actual experiments (Wernecke 1993:282-289).
There are numerous other examples of artifact types that identify the Archaic Florida Gulf Coast as typologically an element of the broader Poverty Point culture. The general problem concerning the Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in Florida is the extreme paucity of Late Archaic sites. Due to the nature of Archaic sites in the area sites that had the potential to be identified as Archaic have, in the past, been either misidentified as lithic scatters or have not been reported on due to these particular site types ephemeral nature.
As such, that makes the Downtown Technical Campus (8ES3427) an extremely important site in our understanding of life in the Late Archaic Florida Gulf Coast. A detailed analysis of lithic tool production and function in tandem with a detailed paleoethnobotanical analysis can inform of us of what types of activities were conducted at the site. A detailed examination of wear patterns and lithic sourcing microlithic perforators recovered at the site may answer questions about logistical mobility and what types of functions they served. In addition, a paleoethnobotanical analysis can answer questions about what seasons the site was occupied.
Part II - History and Definition of Problem, Background Information, Orientation
Unfortunately, limited research into the geoarchaeology and the mid-Holocene has been conducted. This has less to do with a lack of interest into the subject but can be attributable to the fact that retrieving data from the Coastal Plain proves to be extremely difficult. Much of the geological record for this time period is either submerged on the coastal shelf or is inaccessible due to depth or groundwater. The stratigraphy for the dynamic landscape and the light accumulation of sediment can often be imperceptible on the Coastal Plains region (Schuldenrein 1996). Gunn (1997: 134-51) offers future research for geoarchaeological methods for the mid-Pleistocene that could emanate from various astronomical and geophysical influences.
What is known is the onset of Holocene and the gradual warming trend that accompanied it brought the Pleistocene (approximately 13,000-10,000 B.P.A) epoch to a close (Gunn 1996:415). This occurred concurrently with the people of the prehistoric southeast becoming actively engaged in a process of localized specializations in the exploitation of natural resources (Ward and Davis 1999:74). The vast expanse of time, approximately 10,000 to 3,000 B.P.A., has been demarcated as the Archaic Period. The Archaic Period is subsequently broken down further into three sub-periods the Early, Middle, and Late Archaic. The people of the Early and Middle Archaic, approximately 10,000 to 5,000 B.P.A., carried on a lifestyle similar to the Pleistocene people of the Paleoindian period. People of the Early and Middle Archaic Southeast lived in small bands, consisting upwards from 50 to 150 individuals (Anderson 1996:39). The extinction of megafauna and increases in population led to a restriction of territorial boundaries and the retrieval of lithic raw materials (Sassaman and Anderson 1996:57-74). This was a period of great mobility albeit somewhat reduced from the Paleo-Indian people of the Pleistocene where aggregation and open marriage networks were the means by which society reproduced itself (Anderson 1996:53-57).
By the time of the Late Archaic the fauna and climate stabilized into essentially the same climate as the present. The rise in the sea level had risen but still somewhat lower than the present day level (Watts et al. 1996:29, Thompson and Worth 2011:55) allowing for estuarine environments along the Georgia coast to develop. Also along the Coastal Plain the temperate oak and herb forests had been replaced by pine and swamp plants (Watts and Hansen 1988:307-323).
Due to the poor preservation at coastal sites, little is known of plant foods that were incorporated into Late Archaic diets resulting in large gaps of data missing in the paleoethtnobotanical record. There is almost no data of any domesticates in the coastal plain and very little data confirming the exploitation of wild species (Anderson 1995:155). Most of what is known from the mid-Holocene comes from the Middle Archaic wet site Windover. Abdominal contents from human remains have revealed that grape (Vitis sp.), hackberry (Celtis sp.), persimmon (Diopyros virginiana), and maypops were consumed (Passiflora incarnate) (Gremillion 1996:106). Alongside the human remains evidence of the domesticated bottle gourd was recovered (Gremillion 1996:107). The occasional use of both hickory and acorn dating from 4,000 B.P.A. has been excavated from shell midden along the South Carolina coast (Trinkley 1976:64-67).
The faunal remains from the coast during the Late Archaic exhibit a dramatic increase in the utilization of estuary resources, mostly in the form of oyster (Crassostrea virgica), quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria), Whelk (Busycon), and stone crab (Menippe mercenaria) (Warring 1968:155) . There is also evidence for the consumption of fish species that inhabit brackish waters, mostly sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus), but also including signifigant amounts of requiem shark species (Carcharhinidae) and salt water catfish (Ariopsis felis) consumption (Rietz 1982:65-88). There has been little in the way of faunal analysis of larger mammals from Late Archaic Coastal Plain. Larger game that has been identifiable has been recognized as white tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), raccoon (Procyon lotor), and alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) (Redmond 1999; Thompson and Worth 2011:66).
In the Florida Gulf Coast, and the Escambia county area specifically, there is a large gap in operational theoretical frameworks of interpreting the socio-political aspect of the Archaic period. The typical view of the archaeologists studying the Late Archaic Southeast is that the Florida Panhandle is a cultural “dead zone” operating on the peripheries of two broader cultural patterns operating during this time. Whether this idea of the region being a “prehistoric third world” stems from a lack of data, research, or publications originating from the area or whether it is the result of the types of research designs being implemented is debatable. Previous research demands that due to the increase of the stresses and demands of population increases, that both social stratigraphy within and between groups was developing during the terminal Late Archaic.
There were several innovations and cultural traditions that distinguish the Late Archaic Period from the two previous Archaic sub-periods. At this time native societies grew and the people traveled long distances to trade for exotic goods. Their territories shrank in size, and some built more permanent seasonally occupied settlements which they would return to. Settlements in the Late Archaic Period shifted in concentration from upland during the Middle Archaic and were often located near riverheads and also within close proximity to estuarine resources. (Anderson 1996:165-166;169-170).
What is apparent in that the strategies of lithic technological organization were taking place. What I intend to propose is an examination of the theoretical relationships that exists between technology, mobility, resource extraction and exploitation, and settlement patterning in order to better understand Poverty Point culture in the Pensacola area and how those people fit into the broader framework of the Late Archaic Poverty Point phenomena.
Additionally a paleoethnobotanical analysis will supplement the lithic study in order to determine what seasons during the year the site was occupied and reoccupied. A paleoethnobotanical sample will be analyzed in order to make comparisons of plant species that were harvested and utilized by other Poverty Point groups. If analyses indicates that the remnants were of only mature wild seeds of a type of plant that grows locally, it could be inferred that the site was only visited seasonally. Such an inference could be supported by a lack of other features that would suggest that no permanent shelters were built at the site.
Part III – Study Area, Domain, and Population
The Downtown Technical Campus Survey (8ES3427) was a cultural resource management project that was contracted out to the University of West Florida Archaeology Institute for the Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce. The initial Phase I cultural resource assessment was conducted in 2008 on a small parcel of land, approximately half an acre, in downtown Pensacola, Florida. The Phase I of the DTC project was designed to locate and assess the significance of any archaeological deposits within the proposed project area. Subsurface investigations evidenced considerable early 20th century disturbances produced during repeated episodes of construction and demolition. Shovel testing and mechanical stripping revealed no evidence of burials or significant historic structural features.
There was, however, a small pocket of intact prehistoric midden deposits in the southwest portion of the land parcel below the foundations of condemned 20th century federal government housing projects. The prehistoric component contained evidence of subsistence, PPO’s, an incised bone pin, tallahatta sandstone lithic tools, and both tallahatta sandstone and coastal plain chert debitage. The assemblage of these artifact types recovered during the Phase I cultural resource assessment survey were indicative of a terminal Late Archaic site existing approximately 3,000 to 4,000 years before the present era (B.P.E.).
Given the seemingly intact integrity of the prehistoric deposits, and the poorly understood nature of the Gulf Coast Late Archaic component, a Phase II evaluation of 8ES3427 was undertaken. Focusing on and 30mX30m area of the land parcel, archaeological testing was conducted in order to better delineate the horizontal and vertical dimensions of this archaeological component, evaluate and document its archaeological integrity and data potential in terms of the National Register of Historic Places and to generate Phase II level cultural resource management recommendations.
Phase II archaeological research design and methodologies were guided by the horizontal and vertical distribution patterns of prehistoric materials as revealed during the systematic Phase I shovel testing, while limiting needlessly destructive impacts to the potentially intact archaeological deposits. In combination with Phase I information, Phase II test trenches revealed an intact Pre-columbian midden deposit marked by dark, organically stained soil, along with large refuse pits and post holes that extended below the dark, organically stained soil. Intact midden deposits encompassed an area of less than 10 m2 while terminating at a maximum depth of approximately 1.5 m. The midden deposits and refuse pits yielded shell fish, fish and deer bone and carbonized plant remains; microlithic stone perforators associated sewing, stone tool maintenance debitage, ground stone tool fragments, and a fired clay object. In one feature was recovered a long narrow deer bone pin exhibiting an incised design along its side, as well as large quantities of fish and shell fish, large mammal bone, carbonized seeds and other faunal remains. The formation of the post mold features suggested a structure, although its exact function has yet to be determined.
In the summer and fall of 2009, a Phase III data recovery was conducted at 8ES3427. During Phase III an area of 54.2 square meters of intact Pre-columbian midden deposits were recovered, marked by dark, organically stained sediments. A total of 64 cultural features were excavated. During Phase III we collected radiocarbon samples and 26 soil samples for floral analysis. Uncovered midden deposits ranged in depth between approximately 20 cm to 75 cm. Among the documented features are one linear, probably architectural feature and an associated hearth, 15 large hearths (dark ovoid ash-laden stains), several large refuse pits and numerous post holes. Possibly utilized for food processing, many of the hearths were lined with pieces of rectangular abraded ferrous sandstone. The possible structural feature, refuse pits, and many of the hearths, along with faunal material occurred in the southern block (Block 1). Block 1 midden deposits and features yielded shell fish, fish and deer antler, carbonized plant remains, distinctive small lithic perforators, lithic debitage, ground stone tool fragments and a PPO. Of special note, the microlithic tool assemblage consists of in excess of 100 perforators. The northern excavation block (Block 2) yielded shallower midden depths, fewer features, mostly post holes and a few hearths, a decrease in the frequency of lithic material and flora and faunal remains. Near the end of our planned Phase III excavations we discovered another small area (approximately 30-35 m²) of intact deposits 10m west of the southern block. Close interval shovel testing was conducted at 5m to define the horizontal and vertical boundaries of this area. Our subsurface test pits uncovered a midden deposit extending to maximum depths of about 50cmbs. Substantial disturbances were documented above this deposit. The deposit yielded small flakes; no features or subsistence remains were recovered
Lab work will concentrate on a detailed analysis of a selected for sample size of the 311 tallahatta sandstone and coastal chert microlith perforators. Microscopic wear patterns in will be observed to determine what types of actions were performed and the density of material being worked or the type of material (bone, wood, shell, etc.). The examination of wear patterns will determine whether the materials worked by the perforators were used in a scraping, slicing, or chopping manner.
The 28 soil samples collected on site will be analyzed for botanical remains. Identification of wild plant remains will be the primary focus. Soil samples were recovered from multiple contexts; hearths, organically stained midden, and surrounding matrix. This will produce a representative example of plant species collected and harvested. From the species identified, seasonality of the site’s occupation may be determined.
Part IV – Methods and Schedule
The first step in preparing this thesis is to engage in a complete and exhaustive literature review. This literature review will involve a synthesis of literature on Poverty Point culture and closely associated sites located within the Mississippi River Valley. Also recent literature published on Archaic sites Florida, particularly in the Apalachicola, Santa Rosa, and Walton County areas of Florida will be heavily relied upon. Also taken into account will be literature on the Late Archaic southeast as a whole.
A sample of lithic artifacts will be examined in order to determine site function. The confidence interval (also called margin of error) is the plus-or-minus figure usually reported in newspaper or television opinion poll results. For my purposes I have chosen a confidence interval of four. The confidence level indicates how sure I can be that the sample size is representative of the entire population, in this case wear pattern on lithic perforators. It is expressed as a percentage and represents how often the true percentage of the population lies within the confidence interval. For my purposes I have chosen a 95 percent confidence level. Using the sample size formula I have determined that out of a population of 309 lithic perforators a sample size of 172 should be sufficient to determine artifact function, based on the assumption that perforators performed a particular function:
Z 2 * (p) * (1-p)
Where Z = Z value (confidence level); p = population; and c = confidence interval.
A stereomicroscope will be used to observe and determine wear patterns on the perforators. Wear traces that will be discerned are striations, polishes, and microchipping. Striations result from the contact of worked material and the tool that occurs when debris is introduced during the operation of the tool, resulting in scratches on the tool’s surface. Polishes are produced by abrasion and deposition of silica on the tool. Microchipping is the result from the detachment of small flakes from the tool surface, as a consequence of using the toll (Andrefsky Jr. 2005:196).
There are several trends in microscopic use wear and artifact functions will be recorded. These concepts were formed mainly through the works of Kooyman (1985), Vaughan (1985), and Adrefsky Jr, (2005:197):
· Flake scars on the edge of a tool greater than 3mm are cultural in origin. Smaller flake scars and larger flake scars are results from post depositional activities.
· Uniform flake scars found along a tool edge less than 1 mm in length and with no polish over the surface are usually the result of excavation technique or curation wear.
· The action of scraping tends to produce unimarginal flake scars on the edge of a tool.
· As the material being worked becomes harder, flake scars produced on the worked edge become larger. Softer materials produce smaller and fewer flake removals given the same working conditions.
· As the material being worked becomes harder, the flake scars produced on the worked edge are more likely to end with step terminations. Softer materials that result in flake removals tend to have more feathered terminations.
· As the material being worked becomes softer, a greater amount of polish develops on the worked edge. Harder materials tend to have fewer points of contact and as a result have less opportunity to deposit silica and form a polish
· As the material being worked becomes harder, a greater amount of striations develops on the worked edge more than softer materials, adding greater amounts of debris to the working area and resulting in potentially more striations. Softer materials produce fewer striations.
In addition the 26 provenienced soil samples collected on site will be analyzed for paleoethnobotanical remains. The method that will be used to recover plant remains will be to capture in “cheese cloth” excavated material (soil midden) in a water bath in order to allow the organic material to float to the surface. This method is known as flotation. The soil from a suspected archaeological feature is slowly added to mechanically agitated water. The soil, sand, and other heavy material, known as heavy fraction, will sink to the bottom. The less dense organic material such as charred seeds, wood and bone will tend to float to the surface. The material that floats to the top, called light fraction is filtered through with the cheese cloth. The organic light fraction is then available for examination. Identification of macroremains is then usually carried out under a stereomicroscope, using morphological features such as shape and surface features in the case of seeds. Samples of the heavy fraction are also gathered for later analysis and will be incorporated into the final results.
The light fraction will be analyzed in order to observe the occurrence of the remnants of wild seeds that mature throughout the year. If a high number of containing a large variety of species that mature throughout the year is recovered, in conjunction with what may be structural features, an inference of yearly or of almost continual occupation may have occurred. Conversely, if a smaller variety of species is recovered that mature during a specific time of the year, a short term continual reoccupation can be inferred.
Part V – Significance of Study
One of the ways that archaeologists have incorporated human behavior into their interpretations of archaeological sites is by determining the function or functions that have taken place at a site. Traditionally this has been done by identifying feature and artifact functions. Since a great majority of prehistoric sites from the Late Archaic southeast do not exhibit well-preserved features (such as living structures, storage facilities, or occupation floors) the interpretation of site function often falls to the recognition of lithic artifact function. Artifact functions are then used to make inferences about site functions. This is an intuitively reasonable and very logical approach to determining prehistoric site function. As such the prevalence of and coastal chert tallahatta sandstone perforators may be analyzed microscopically to determine the manner in which they were created. In addition wear marks on the lithic tools will also indicate on what materials and in what manner they were utilized. Without an accurate interpretation of lithic artifact function, the logic behind DTC’s functional interpretations may be flawed. In addition, the overwhelming population of these two artifact types in comparison to other lithic tool forms will also help to better inform us as to the function of Late Archaic coastal sites in the panhandle.
A paleoethnobotanical analysis will supplement the lithic study in order to determine what seasons during the year the site was occupied and reoccupied. If an analysis indicates that the remnants were of only mature wild seeds of a type of plant that grows locally, it could be inferred that the site was only visited seasonally. . Such an inference could be supported by a lack of other features that would suggest that no permanent shelters were built at the site. In addition determining the specific taxonomy of plant species may indicate the time of year in which they are ripe for utilization.
In addition, artifact variability is sensitive to relative sedentism in some cases. It is also shown that other factors related to lithic raw-material qualities can affect artifact variability regardless of relative sedentism. Raw-material characteristics such as size, shape, quality, and abundance are shown to be important influences upon the kind of lithic technology practiced by stone tool makers and users. Within this theoretical framework a more complete picture of life in the Floridian Gulf Coast Archaic may be viewed.
Part VI – Timeline and Chapter Outline
Fall 2013 – Complete and compile previous research; Complete environmental context sections.
Spring 2014- Conduct lab analysis of lithics and flotation samples.
Summer 2014 – Begin write-up of lithic and flotation sample analysis
Fall 2014- Complete writing of thesis.
1.1 List of Tables
1.2 List of Figures
2. Chapter I – Introduction
3. Chapter II – Environmental Context
3.1 Geological History (Holocene)
4. Cultural Context
5.1 Background research
5.2 Field Methods
5.2.1 Reconnaissance Survey
5.2.2 Phase II Testing
5.2.3 Phase III Testing
5.3 Laboratory Methods
5.4 Analytical Methods
5.4.1 Lithic Analysis
5.4.2 Paleobotanical Analysis
6.1 Lithic Analysis Results
6.2 Paleo Botanical Results
7.1 Site Function
7.2 Seasons of Occupation
7.3 Place in the broader Poverty Point Culture System
Part VII – Bibliography
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Aten, Lawrence E.
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Bense, Judith A.
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Gibson Jon, L.
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Gremillion, Kristen J.
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Gunn, Joel D.
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Johnson, Jay K.
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Miller, J. James
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McGee, Ray M., and Ryan J. Wheeler
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1999 Human Impact on Ancient Environments. University of Arizona Press, Tuscon
Reitz, Elizabeth J.
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Russo, Michael, and Gregory Heide
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Sasaman, Kenneth E.
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Saunders, Joe, et al.
2001 An Assessment of the Antiquity of the Lower Jackson Mound. Southeastern Archaeology 20(1):67-77
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Ste. Claire, Dana
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Thomas Jr., Prentice M., and L. Janice Campbell
1991 Elliots Point Complex: New Data Regarding the Localized Poverty Point Expression on the Northwest Florida Coast, 2000 B.C.-500 B.C. Geoscience and Man 29:103-120.
Thompson, Victor D., and John E. Worth
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Trinkley, Michael B.
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Vaughan, Patrick C.
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Walker, Karen J.
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Ward, Trawick H., and Stephen Davis Jr.
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Warring, Antonio J., Jr.
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Watts, W. A., and B.C.S. Hansen
1988 Environments in Florida in the Late Wisconsinan and Holocene. B. A. Purdy (ed.), Wet Site Archaeology 307-323. Telford Press, West Caldwell.
Watts, W.A., Hansen, B. C. S., and E. C. Grimm
1992 Camel Lake: A 40,000-yr Record of Vegetational and Forest History from Northwest Florida. Ecology 73(3):1056-1066.
Watts, William A.,Eric C. Grimm, and T. C. Hussey
1996 Mid-Holocene Forest History of Florida and the Coastal Plain of Georgia and South Carolina. In Sassaman, Kenneth E. and Anderson (eds.), Archaeology of the Mid-Holocene Southeast 28-38. University Press of Florida, Gainesville
Wernecke, Clark D.
1993 Baked Clay Objects from the Jupiter Midden Site (8PB34): A Literature Search Regarding Distribution and Uses. The Florida Anthropologist 46(4):282-289.
Wheeler, Ryan J., and Ray M. McGee
1994a Report of Preliminary Zooarchaeological Analysis: Groves’ Orange Midden. The Florida Anthropologist 47(4):393-403.
1994b Technology of Mount Taylor Period Occupation, Groves’ Orange Midden (8VO2601), Volusia County, Florida. The Florida Anthropologist 47(4):350-379.
1994c Wooden Artifacts from Groves’ Orange Midden. The Florida Anthropologist 47(4):380-389.
White, Nancy Marie
2003a Late Archaic in the Apalachicola/Lower Chattahoochee Valley, Northwest Florida, Southwest Georgia, and Southeast Alabama. The Florida Anthropologist 56(2):69-90.
2003b Testing Partially Submerged Shell Middens in the Apalachicola Estuarine Wetlands, Franklin County, Florida. The Florida Anthropologist 56(1):15-45.
White, Nancy Marie, and Richard Estabrook
1994 Sam’s Cutoff Shell Mound and the Late Archaic Elliot’s Point Complex in the Apalachicola Delta, Northwest Florida. The Florida Anthropologist 47(1):61-78.