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Refining the ceramic chronology of Northeastern Florida



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The Florida
Volume 61 Number 3-4
September - December 2008
Table oF ConTenTs
From the Editors 119
Rening the Ceramic Chronology of Northeastern Florida. 123
Keith Ashley
Reexamining an Archaeological Survey of Big Talbot Island. 133
Keith Ashley and Robert L. Thunen
The Thornhill Lake Archaeological Research Project: 2005-2008. 149
Jon C. Endonino
An Analysis of Seminole Artifacts from the Paynes Town Site (8AL366), Alachua County, Florida. 167
Jane Anne Blakney-Bailey
2008 Florida Field sChool summaries 189
Fas 2008 award reCipienTs 199
William M. Goza. Jeffrey M. Mitchem 205
Arthur R. Lee. George M. Luer 207
book reviews
Chang-Rodríguez: Beyond Books and Borders: Garcilaso de la Vega and La Florida del Inca. John E. Worth 215
Simmons and Ogden: Gladesmen: Gator Hunters, Moonshiners, and Skiffers. Hope Black 216
White: Gulf Coast Archaeology: The Southeastern United States and Mexico. Wm. Brian Yates 217
Morrow and Gnecco: Paleoindian Archaeology: A Hemispheric Perspective. Robert J. Austin 218
About the Authors 221
Cover: (Left) The St. Marys region of northeast Florida, (Top Right) a topographic map of the Thornhill Lake
Complex, (Bottom Right) glass trade beads from the Paynes Town site. See articles for more information.
Copyright 2008 by the
ISSN 0015-3893
reFining the CeramiC Chronology oF northeastern Florida
keiTh ashley
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of North Florida, 1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32224-2659
Over the past decade and a half archaeologists have been
working diligently to establish a ceramic chronology specic
to northeastern Florida—an area I dene narrowly as coastal
northern St. Johns, Duval, and Nassau counties (Figure 1). In a
way this has been an uphill climb because many archaeologists
continue to subsume northeastern Florida within the broader
boundaries of East and Central Florida, as dened by Milanich
(1994:xix). As a result, pottery types and ceramic trends
apparent in the St. Johns heartland are extended a priori to all
reaches of East and Central Florida, obscuring intraregional
ceramic differences (Milanich 1994:348). The situation,
however, is beginning to change. Greater attention to ceramic
paste characteristics, emphasis on pottery assemblages (not
just types), and a growing number of radiometric dates are now
affording us the opportunity to rene the ceramic chronology
of northeastern Florida with more precision than ever before.
But this is still an ongoing process. In this brief paper I build
upon the work of earlier researchers (e.g., Bullen and Grifn
1952; Goggin 1952; Russo 1992; Sears 1957) and propose an
updated chronology for northeastern Florida, with emphasis
at this time placed squarely on the temporal aspect of pottery
types and assemblages.
In a 1992 article in The Florida Anthropologist Michael
Russo openly questioned the applicability of the long-
established St. Johns region ceramic chronology to northeastern
Florida and southeastern Georgia, an archaeological region
he coined St. Marys. The St. Marys region stretches from the
south side of the St. Johns River, Florida north to the Satilla
River, Georgia and includes northern St. Johns, Duval, and
Nassau counties, Florida and Camden County, Georgia.
Russo (1992:107) further stated that “[i]n terms of ceramic
chronology, subsistence, and settlement, the region displays a
unique culture history from those surrounding it.” Bettingly
he eschewed the conventional “Orange (ber-tempered) - St.
Johns I (chalky plain dominated) - St. Johns II (chalky plain and
check stamped)” ceramic sequence rst alluded to by Wyman
(1875:52-56), later formally dened by Goggin (1952), and
rened by Milanich (1994; Milanich and Fairbanks 1980).
As discussed below, even after synthesizing and assessing a
variety of data by broad archaeological periods Russo was still
unable to partition his chronology of northeastern Florida into
distinct phases or subperiods based on ceramic, subsistence,
and social information. In the end he suggested that the mixing
of different pottery types might be reective of local groups
“involved with more than one pottery tradition” (Russo
Interestingly, Russo was not the rst researcher to
challenge the use of the St. Johns chronology in northeastern
Florida. In fact, similar arguments were made four decades
earlier, immediately following Goggin’s (1952) seminal
publication on northern St. Johns archaeology. On the heels
of their non–systematic site survey of areas of Amelia Island
(Nassau County) in which they recorded 46 sites, Ripley
Bullen and John Grifn (1952:50) asserted that “in no case
is there an[y] suggestion of a plain chalky period (St. Johns I)
before the advent of [St. Johns] check stamping.” They further
bemoaned the fact that they were unable to “correlate the
archaeological situation at Amelia Island” with the chronology
proposed by Goggin (1952) for the St. Johns area to the south
(Bullen and Grifn 1952:62). To Goggin’s credit, however, he
too noted that “plain gritty wares” and “cord marked sherds”
distinguished St. Johns II sites in extreme northeastern Florida
from those to the south (Goggin 1952:56).
A few years later William Sears (1957) sank excavation units
into a series of shell middens on six sites (8DU58-62, 8DU66)
along the south side of the lower St. Johns River. The results led
him to virtually the same conclusion as Bullen and Grifn. He
compared his site-specic seriations to the ceramic chronology
outlined by Goggin for the broader St. Johns region, but failed
to nd a good t. Sears (1957:2) thus concluded that “due to
the fact that the mouth of the St. Johns River seems to have
been on the boundary between the Georgia coast and Northern
St. Johns culture areas, we have replacement of, additions to,
or modications of the ceramic complexes in all periods.”
With respect to the Woodland period, rather than nding
a classic St. Johns I pottery assemblage, Sears’ (1957:33)
excavations yielded a low incidence of St. Johns Plain sherds
in midden contexts dominated by sand tempered plainwares.
Dissatised with Goggin’s chronology, Sears formulated a
region-specic ceramic sequence for the lower St. Johns region
based on ceramic seriations in the absence of radiocarbon
dates. His Woodland period ceramic chronology opened with
the Deptford complex, followed by a lengthy sand tempered
plain complex, and concluded with a sherd tempered complex
known as Colorinda. Swift Creek Complicated Stamped was
seen as a minor, yet persistent, part of the late sand tempered
plain complex. The St. Johns II complex supplanted Colorinda
and marked the beginning of the local Mississippi period,
which according to Sears terminated in the mid-sixteenth
A reading of the many archaeological survey and
excavation reports penned since Sears’s work leaves one
somewhat perplexed with regard to the region’s ceramic
chronology. The archaeological record reveals a lot of sand
tempered plain pottery mixed with small amounts of check
vol. 61(3-4) The Florida anThropologisT sepTember-deCember 2008
Figure 1. The St. Marys region.
stamped and complicated stamped wares along with some
chalky plainwares. But the one thing that stands out is that
there is only one reported secure context, with appreciable
quantities of pottery, in which St. Johns plainwares dominate
and it dates surprisingly to ca. 1000 B.C. (discussed below).
Also the dominance of sand tempered plainwares on sites in
northeastern Florida has typically been downplayed, since such
generic-looking wares provide little temporal aid. As a result,
sites have been assigned a cultural afliation based on recovered
minority wares (e.g., Deptford, Swift Creek, St. Johns), with
St. Johns often given primacy. In fact, it is not uncommon to
see a Florida Site Form in which a northeastern Florida site
containing a single St. Johns Plain sherd is classied as having a
St. Johns I component. Other than citing Sears’s aforementioned
comments and possibly noting that the area might represent a
frontier, transitional zone, or cultural ecotone, most authors
until Russo (1992) continued to present a local culture history
in which a classic St. Johns I period followed early Deptford.
Returning to the insightful—and often overlooked—
observations made years earlier by Sears, Bullen, Grifn,
and others, Russo (1992) took the next logical step and
systematically addressed many of the discrepancies between
existing chronologies and actual archaeological data. His study
further spotlighted the need for radiometric dates from secure
contexts for all cultural periods. In the 15 years since Russo’s
eye-opening article the ceramic chronology of northeastern
Florida has been further honed and bolstered by more than
100 calibrated radiometric dates from sites throughout
124 The Florida anThropologisT 2008 vol. 61(3-4)
ashley CeramiC Chronology oF ne Florida 125
Table 1. Aboriginal ceramic chronology of northeastern Florida.
Nassau, Duval, and northern St. Johns counties1. Although
transitional dates between ceramic phases are in need of further
clarication, a solid sequence appears to be falling into place.
Building upon Russo’s (1992) work and that of other
archaeologists currently working in the region, I attempt to
outline the Late Archaic chronology as best as possible with
available evidence and to divide the Woodland and Mississippi
periods into ceramic phases2. It must be kept in mind, however,
that partitioning ceramic assemblages into neatly stacked
vertical blocks can conceal short-term, stochastic events
and mask episodes of cultural pluralism. Although slightly
modied and better dated, the Woodland through Mississippi
period ceramic chronology forwarded here is strikingly similar
to that rst suggested by Sears fty years ago (1957:30). Vis-
à-vis the accepted St. Johns region chronology (Milanich
1994:247), I believe the two most salient aspects of the
proposed northeastern Florida sequence are the recognition
that there is no St. Johns I phase and that the St. Johns II phase
is temporally restricted to A.D. 900-1250/1300 (Table 1).
Late Archaic Orange (ca. 2500-1000 B.C.)
As is the case for the broader St. Johns River basin, the
ceramic history of northeastern Florida began with the Late
Archaic Orange phase. Around 2500 B.C., the inhabitants of
the St. Johns River and adjacent Atlantic seaboard were among
the rst natives of North America to make red-clay pottery
to cook, serve, and store the foods they hunted, shed, and
gathered. The earliest pottery in northeastern Florida, called
“Orange” by archaeologists, was made of clay tempered with
vegetal bers, either thin palmetto bers or Spanish moss
(Grifn 1945:219; Bullen 1972:9). Early ceramic pots were
fashioned by hand and tended to be thick, at-bottomed
rectangular containers, although later vessels often showed
more variety in shape and were produced by stacking coils of
clay (Sassaman 2003). After being formed, some vessels were
adorned with incisions, punctations, or combinations thereof,
while others were merely smoothed and left undecorated. As
pots were red, vegetal bers added to the clay burned away
leaving worm-like grooves in the ceramic body, a dening
characteristic of ber-tempered pottery.
The production of Orange pottery was a pan-St. Johns
River phenomenon, involving groups from its mouth south to
its headwaters. Differences did exist, however. For example,
in the heartland region the paste of some late Orange pottery
appears to have included sponge spicules, while those near the
river’s mouth lack these inclusions3 (Cordell 2004; Rolland
2004; Rolland and Bond 2003; Russo and Heide 2002;
Sassaman 2003). Perhaps this was a portent of things to come,
with spicule tempered St. Johns replacing Orange pottery in
the heartland and sand and grit tempered wares supplanting
ber tempered wares in northeastern Florida.
Late (Orange) 2500 – 1000/500 B.C.
Deptford 500 B.C. - A.D. 100
Sand tempered Plain1 A.D. 100 - 300
Early Swift Creek A.D. 300 - 500
Late Swift Creek A.D. 500 - 850
Colorinda A.D. 850 - 900
St. Johns II A.D. 900 – 1250/1300
St. Marys II A.D. 1250/1300-1450/1500*
San Pedro A.D. 1450/1500 – 1625/1650*
San Pedro A.D. 1562 – 1625/1650*
San Marcos/Altamaha A.D. 1625/1650 – 1702*
1sand tempered plain dominates during this phase, although check stamped and complicated
stamped sherds occur in minor amounts
* ending and beginning dates for these phases are tentative
Transitional Late Archaic – Early Woodland
(1000 – 500 B.C.)
This is not a formal temporal phase but represents a
still nebulous half millennium or so in the chronology of
northeastern Florida. Traditionally, archaeologists have set
the cutoff date for the Late Archaic period at 1000 B.C. and
the emergence of Early Woodland Deptford phase at ca. 500
B.C. (Milanich 1994:94, 114; Stephenson et al. 2002). This
leaves an approximately ve century gap (ca. 1000 - 500 B.C.)
between Late Archaic Orange and Early Woodland Deptford
phases. Russo (1992:113-114) suggests that sea levels might
have retreated during this time, meaning sites would most
likely be located in today’s tidal marshes, as is the case for
Refuge phase sites along the Georgia coast (DePratter and
Howard 1980).
In northeastern Florida, contexts with ber tempered
ceramics have been radiocarbon dated as recent as 1000-500
B.C. Saunders’s (2004:253) excavations at the Rollins Shell
Ring (8DU7410) have yielded two radiometric dates in this
range. In addition charcoal from a deeply buried sand zone
containing Orange ceramics at the Sandy Branch Bluff site
(8DU13283) and shell from an Orange phase ceramic scatter
at Buckhorn Bluff (8DU7473) also produced post-1000 B.C.
dates4 (Vicki Rolland, personal communication 2007). Though
limited, these four radiometric dates suggest the production
of Late Archaic Orange pottery might have lingered on for
several centuries after 1000 B.C.
Another site dated to the early part of this transitional
period is the unique Wood-Hopkins Midden (8DU9185), which
represents the only recorded site in northeastern Florida with a
St. Johns I cultural afliation (Johnson 1994, 2003). This small
(15 x 25 m) freshwater shell midden is situated on the north side
of the St. Johns River, approximately 14 km from the mouth.
St. Johns Plain pottery dominated, and no Orange pottery was
recovered during survey and secondary testing. Two calibrated
radiometric assays on shell from the site fall between 1300
and 900 B.C. at the two-sigma level (Johnson 2003). Not only
is the Wood-Hopkins Midden the only St. Johns I site in the
region, but it is also the only recorded freshwater shell midden
(banded mystery snail, Viviparus georgianus) along the lower
St. Johns River.
The presence of a small St. Johns I site well outside its
normal range of distribution combined with evidence of the
procurement of a food source (mystery snail) for which St. Johns
I groups were accustomed suggests the site might represent a
one-time encampment by a nonlocal St. Johns I band from the
south. Perhaps due to environmental conditions related to sea
level uctuations, occupations in northeastern Florida during
ca. 1000-500 B.C. were intermittent and conned to small
nomadic groups living in more backwater locations. Clearly,
more radiometric dates are needed to securely determine when
ber tempered pottery ceased to be produced in northeastern
Woodland Period (500 B.C. – A.D. 900)
Deptford traditionally has been viewed as the rst
Woodland-period archaeological culture in northeastern
Florida. Pottery made at that time consisted mostly of plain,
check stamped, and simple stamped types tempered with either
coarse sand or grit-sized particles (Bullen and Grifn 1952;
Cordell 1993; Russo 1992:115; Sears 1957). Simple stamping
appears more prevalent on early sites than on later ones. St.
Johns pottery is also known to occur on some northeastern
Florida Deptford sites (Kirkland and Johnson 2000). Along the
Atlantic coast of Georgia and South Carolina, Deptford has
been dated to 600 B.C. - A.D. 400, although 10 radiometric
assays from two sites (8DU59, 8DU5541) in northeastern
Florida suggest a more restricted local timeframe of ca. 500
B.C. to A.D. 200 (Kirkland and Johnson 2000; Stephenson et
al. 2002; John Whitehurst, personal communication 2005).
A review of regional survey and excavation reports gives the
impression that over time classic Deptford assemblages gave
way to ones in which ne sand tempering became the norm and
plainwares began to dominate. But short-lived experimentation
with other tempering agents (e.g., charcoal, grog) occurred at
various times as well.
What immediately followed the Deptford phase in
northeastern Florida is uncertain. Available evidence suggests
that, beginning around A.D. 100, the region witnessed a span
of several centuries in which nondescript sand tempered
pottery was the primary domestic ware (Ashley 1998:200;
Hendryx and Wallis 2007; Russo 1992:115; Sears 1957:29;
Thunen 2007; Thunen et al. 2006). Small quantities of
similarly tempered check stamped and complicated stamped
types also were manufactured (or imported) as was St. Johns
Plain. This phase, tentatively labeled “Sand Tempered Plain,”
falls between Deptford and Early Swift Creek, and the three
appear to represent a local continuum. Determining precisely
when Deptford ends and Early Swift Creek begins within this
sequence is difcult with the data at hand.
The production of Early Swift Creek Complicated Stamped
pottery appears to have been underway in northeastern Florida
by at least ca. A.D. 300 (Ashley and Wallis 2006). Swift Creek
is a distinctive pottery with intricate curvilinear and rectilinear
designs created by pressing a carved wooden paddle onto
the damp, unred body of a clay pot. This pottery style was
widespread throughout northern Florida and Georgia, although
specic designs varied by region (Williams and Elliot 1998).
Two broad varieties of Swift Creek Complicated Stamped
have been reported in northeastern Florida.
The earliest Swift Creek ceramic variety is a locally
produced charcoal tempered plain and complicated stamped
ware with lip forms that include round, scalloped, and notched
types (Ashley and Wallis 2006:6). Sand was also used to
temper some wares, and the ratio of sand to charcoal tempered
pottery tends to vary by site. This ceramic type was used in
both domestic and mortuary capacities, and thus is found in
middens and burial mounds. The quality of design execution,
both in terms of paddle carving and vessel application, is
often less procient compared to that of the Late Swift
Creek style of the Atlantic coast (Ashley and Wallis 2006:7).
Weeden Island pottery is rarely found associated with charcoal
tempered ceramics in domestic contexts (Hendryx and Wallis
2007:194). The charcoal tempered complex was short-lived,
probably dating to ca. A.D. 300-500, and restricted mostly to
sites along the lower St. Johns River.
126 The Florida anThropologisT 2008 vol. 61(3-4)
From A.D. 500 to 850, mineral tempered plainwares
continued to predominate, but Late Swift Creek Complicated
Stamped assumed a more conspicuous role in pottery
assemblages. With regard to paste, most Swift Creek pottery
of this era from sites on the south side of the St. Johns River is
sand tempered, but grit tempering occurs on sites to the north,
where it was the favored tempering agent in southeastern
Georgia (Ashley and Wallis 2006:9). Carabelle Punctated and
other Weeden Island wares are recovered in small numbers
in mounds and middens (Ashley 1998; Wallis 2004). Poor
design workmanship and application, grog tempering, and the
presence of stamped herringbone designs (cf. Crooked River
Complicated Stamped) appear to represent a cluster of reliable
attributes that mark ninth century waning Late Swift Creek
along the Atlantic coast (Ashley and Wallis 2006; Ashley,
Stephenson, and Snow 2007; Hendryx 2004); referred to as
Kelvin by some in southeastern Georgia (Cook 1979). Ongoing
research by Neill Wallis (2007, 2008) is opening new vistas
into Swift Creek manifestations in northeastern Florida.
The Colorinda phase represents the terminal Late
Woodland period (ca. A.D. 850-900) in northeastern Florida.
It appears to have been a time of change for local natives as the
production of elaborately decorated Swift Creek pottery gave
way to more mundane types and participation in long distance
trade networks diminished as a more insular lifestyle ensued
(Ashley 2006). Hallmark Colorinda pottery is tempered with
crushed St. Johns (spicule tempered) sherds (Sears 1957).
Colorinda pottery assemblages also include sand tempered
plain, St. Johns Plain, and small amounts of St. Johns Check
Stamped (Ashley 2006). The presence of Swift Creek sherds
in Colorinda contexts indicates that production of the two
types overlapped during the ninth century. Colorinda pottery
is sparsely scattered across extreme northeastern Florida from
Amelia Island down to the river’s mouth and upriver (west and
south) as far as the Jacksonville University campus, although
a few sites contain high-density concentrations (Ashley 2006;
Hendryx and Wallis 2007; Russo et al. 1993; Sears 1957).
Mississippi Period (A.D. 900-1450)
The Early Mississippi period in northeastern Florida,
known locally as the St. Johns II phase, is signaled by the
dominance of St. Johns pottery and the introduction of
the type St. Johns Check Stamped. St. Johns has a unique
ceramic paste that contains disarticulated microscopic sponge
spicules, needle-like rods that are part of a sponge’s skeleton
(Milanich 1994:246). Controversy currently surrounds how
these biosilicate inclusions got into St. Johns pottery. Some
researchers suggest they naturally occur in certain Florida
clays (Borremans and Shaak 1986; Cordell and Koski 2003),
while others argue that sponges were intentionally added as
temper (Rolland and Bond 2003). The latter interpretation
has gained strength and acceptance in recent years. Local St.
Johns pottery assemblages consist mostly of St. Johns Plain
and Check Stamped varieties, although various incised and
punctated types also occur (Ashley 2003; Ashley, Rolland,
and Marrinan 2007; Rolland 2004, 2005). The presence of
Ocmulgee III Cordmarked is another dening characteristic
of St. Johns II sites in northeastern Florida. Ocmulgee sherds
are mostly grit tempered, although grog and sand inclusions
can occur (Rolland 2004). A low percentage of rims exhibit
classic Ocmulgee III folds, or more accurately, an added coil
or appliqué strip (see Snow 1977 for a discussion of Ocmulgee
Cordmarked pottery). Neutron activation analysis suggests
that Ocmulgee Cordmarked vessels were both imported from
southern-central Georgia and manufactured locally (Ashley
For the broader St. Johns River basin, the St. Johns II
phase apparently began around A.D. 750 and continued into
the early 1600s (Milanich 1994:247). In northeastern Florida,
however, the St. Johns II phase is restricted to ca. A.D. 900-
1250/13005. The emergence of St. Johns II sites in northeastern
Florida appears to reect a settlement shift within the river
basin, in which some St. Johns II people from the south
moved closer to the river’s mouth (Ashley 2003). It is unclear
whether Colorinda populations abandoned the region or were
absorbed into the emerging St. Johns II culture. Regardless,
shortly after A.D. 900 autonomous settlements, dependent on
the procurement of local resources, were scattered along the
lower (northern) St. Johns River and up the coast to Amelia
Island, and possibly into southeastern Georgia. The St. Johns
II inhabitants of northeastern Florida soon became active
participants in far-ung Mississippi-period exchange relations
that resulted in the importation of a variety of nonlocal metal,
stone, and minerals. It is important to note that this was the
only time in native history when spicule tempered St. Johns
pottery was produced throughout the broadly dened East and
Central Florida region (see map in Milanich 1994:xix).
By the mid-thirteenth century, changes were underway in
northeastern Florida. Pottery assemblages once marked by the
dominance of St. Johns chalky wares were replaced by ones
consisting mostly of thin, sand tempered plainwares and St.
Marys Cordmarked (formerly known as Savannah Fine Cord
Marked in northeastern Florida) (Ashley 2003:96-104; Ashley
and Rolland 2002; Bullen and Grifn 1952; Cordell 1993;
Russo 1992; Saunders 1989). Micaceous inclusions are often
observed in the paste of these wares. Impressions in the wet clay
pot were made either by stamping it with a cordage wrapped
paddle or rolling it with a cordage-wrapped dowel. As Russo6
and others have noted, St. Johns pottery can occur in minor
amounts on some sites. The shift in pottery technology and
style coincided with distinct changes in refuse disposal patterns
and mortuary treatment, which has led some researchers to
infer a southward movement of St. Marys groups from coastal
southeastern Georgia (Ashley 2003; Ashley and Rolland 2002;
Russo 1992; Saunders 1989). This immigration may have been
fueled to some extent by a southward out-migration of many
St. Johns peoples in northeastern Florida, as local involvement
in interregional trade faded. I use the temporal designation St.
Marys II to refer to this phase of northeastern Florida history
(A.D. 1250/1300 – 1450).
Protohistoric and Contact-Mission Periods
(A.D. 1450-1700)
Some time during the fteenth century, St. Marys II pottery
assemblages underwent changes in which wares became
thicker, tempering became coarser (sand or grog), and cordage
ashley CeramiC Chronology oF ne Florida 127
width became wider (Ashley 2009). Eventually grog tempering
became the norm and cobmarking replaced cordmarking as the
dominant surface decoration. The result is what archaeologists
now refer to as San Pedro pottery. This was the signature ware
of the Mocama-speaking Saturiwa and Tacatacuru Timucua
of northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia during the
contact and early mission periods (Ashley and Rolland 1997;
Milanich 1971, 1972). In addition to cobmarked, San Pedro
pottery occurs in a variety of surface decorations including
check stamped, cordmarked, textile impressed, complicated
stamped, and roughened. Often decorated surfaces were
intentionally obliterated in areas creating patches or streaks
that lack decoration.
Coupled with the emergence of San Pedro pottery is the
rst-time appearance of preserved maize in the archaeological
record of northeastern Florida (Ashley 2009). It now appears
that the natives of northeastern Florida did not add corn
farming to their estuary-based economy until the late fteenth
or early sixteenth century. Following the establishment of
Spanish missions along the Atlantic coast, the production
of San Pedro wares in northeastern Florida eventually gave
way to San Marcos (often classied as Altamaha in coastal
Georgia) pottery during the rst half of the seventeenth century.
San Marcos is a grit tempered ware that became the primary
pottery made by all Mocama-speaking Timucua, Guale, and
Yamassee Indians living in Atlantic coastal missions north of
St. Augustine (Hann 1996:86; Rolland and Ashley 2000:38,
41; Saunders 2000; Worth 1995, 1997:13-14).
I am emphatic in my belief that the ceramic chronology
for northeastern Florida outlined in this paper is far from the
nal word on the topic. Clearly more radiometric dates are
needed to rene transitional dates between ceramic phases
and assess nuances and the potential for the contemporaniety
among distinct pottery assemblages, particularly during the
Woodland period. My primary objective has been to bring
together information relevant to the development of an up-to-
date chronology for northeastern Florida. Regardless of one’s
theoretical proclivity, archaeological research is contingent
upon a solid chronological framework itself predicated on
stratigraphic evidence, radiocarbon assays, and temporally
diagnostic artifacts. We need such a framework to place the
events and cultural dynamics of our respective study areas into
proper perspective.
1. Not all of these radiometric dates have been generated
in the past decade. Some are previously reported
dates buried in CRM reports that have recently been
calibrated by Beta Analytic, Inc. and made available.
The following references can be consulted for lists of
radiometric dates by phase: Orange (Saunders 2004),
Deptford (Stephenson et al. 2002; Whitehurst n.d.), Sand
Tempered Plain (Hendryx and Wallis 2007; Thunen 2007,
Thunen et al. 2006), Swift Creek (Ashley and Wallis
2006; Hendryx and Wallis 2007), Colorinda (Ashley
2007), St. Johns II (Ashley 2005), St. Marys II (Ashley
and Rolland 2002), and San Pedro (Ashley 2009).
2. Traditionally, blocks in time characterized by distinctive
traits (including pottery) have been designated “periods”
in Florida (e.g., Goggin 1952; Milanich 1994). I tend
to use the designation period for broader spans of time
recognized throughout the Southeast such as Paleoindian,
Archaic, Woodland and Mississippi. For briefer
intervals I use the term “phase.” As dened by Willey
and Phillips (1958:22), a phase is “an archaeological
unit possessing traits sufciently characteristic to
distinguish it from all other units similarly conceived…
[and] spatially limited to the order of magnitude of
a locality or region and chronologically limited to a
relatively brief interval of time” (see Thomas and Kelly
2006:223-227 for a discussion of period vs. phase)
3. An earlier claim that Orange ber tempered pottery
with spiculate paste was recovered from 8DU76 on
Fort George Island in northeastern Florida (Johnson
2000:72) has been refuted by Vicki Rolland’s (Rolland
and Bond 2003:92, 95) reanalysis of the sherds.
4. The 2-sigma radiometric date from the
Sandy Branch Bluff site (8DU13283) is 790
380 BC or 2740 -2330 BP (Beta 186560).
5. Presently 30 radiometric assays from St. Johns II contexts
have been run indicating a date range of A.D. 900-
1250/1300. Two recently acquired radiocarbon dates
on shell suggest that the previously suggested terminal
date of A.D. 1250 may need to be adjusted to A.D. 1300.
6. For the period A.D. 800-1500, Russo (1992:116-119) noted
that St. Johns and Savannah Fine Cord Marked wares co-
occurred on sites throughout the St. Marys region. Though
he attempted to reconcile the perceived Savannah-St.
Johns II dilemma, in the end he opted to treat the two
contemporaneously over the 700-year span of time that
he referred to as “Savannah/St. Johns II.” Our ceramic
chronology acknowledges mixing but differentiates an
early St. Johns II phase and a later St. Marys II phase.
Though I never met them I am indebted to Ripley Bullen,
John Goggin, John Grifn, and William Sears whose early
work in northeastern Florida set a solid foundation upon which
we build our chronologies. More recently, Buzz Thunen, Greg
Hendryx, Myles Bland, Neill Wallis, Becky Saunders, Mike
Russo, John Whitehurst, Jerry Milanich and others working
in the area have continually shared information with me,
although they may not necessarily agree with the way I put
it all together. Vicki Rolland has been a great sounding board
and I have beneted from her ideas and analyses. Vicki, Buzz,
and Greg provided insightful comments on an earlier draft of
this paper. Finally, I extend a hearty thanks to Deborah Mullins
for all her help getting the manuscript to press.
128 The Florida anThropologisT 2008 vol. 61(3-4)
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... The Guale people of coastal South Carolina and northern Georgia produced sand and grit-tempered stamped wares known as "Altamaha" or "San Marcos" during the 16th century (see DePratter, 2009;Saunders, 2009;Thomas, 2009) (Fig. 3B). In between the former two, in the area known as the St. Marys region (Russo, 1992), the Mocama Timucua produced a grog or sherd-tempered ware known as "San Pedro" (Ashley, 2008) (Fig. 3C). These three ceramic traditions make up most of the aboriginal pottery at the FOY site (Deagan, 2009b). ...
A case study is presented to test the notion that minority pottery types from 16th century contexts at the Fountain of Youth (FOY) site in St. Augustine reflect population movements from the north that preceded major political reorganizations in the region. Petrographic methods are employed to trace the manufacturing origins of early historic period aboriginal pottery in northeast Florida. Fragments of siliceous microfossils, including sponge spicules, opal phytoliths, and, most notably, diatoms, were identified in the matrix of some early historic period aboriginal pottery from FOY, as well as in some clay samples from the coastal region of northeast Florida and southeast Georgia. Diatom taxa are identified and their spatial distribution is assessed. The distribution of microfossils supports the nonlocal manufacturing origins of some samples from St. Augustine and conform to expectations about the historic movement of certain aboriginal groups to the settlement.
... The Guale people of coastal South Carolina and northern Georgia produced sand and grit-tempered stamped wares known as "Altamaha" or "San Marcos" during the 16th century (see DePratter, 2009;Saunders, 2009;Thomas, 2009) (Fig. 3B). In between the former two, in the area known as the St. Marys region (Russo, 1992), the Mocama Timucua produced a grog or sherd-tempered ware known as "San Pedro" (Ashley, 2008) (Fig. 3C). These three ceramic traditions make up most of the aboriginal pottery at the FOY site (Deagan, 2009b). ...
The prehistoric peoples living along the Georgia coast fabricated and used shell beads for millennia. Out of a number of mollusk species inhabiting the region, only a few were selected for the fabrication of beads. The knobbed whelk (Busycon carica) was the most common species used, and it represents the most common whelk found in Atlantic coastal waters. The lightning whelk (Busycon sinistrum), the second most common whelk in the region, was occasionally used in the production of beads. Small numbers of beads were made from marginella and olive shells and, rarely, from bivalve species. Small beads were manufactured from the body whorl of whelks, while larger beads were fabricated from whelk collumella. Shell beads appear in small quantities in Late Archaic period contexts, and then almost disappear during the Woodland period. Beads reappear in quantities at about AD 800 in the Early Mississippian period. More shell beads have been recovered from Mississippian period archaeological contexts along the northern Georgia coast than along the southern coast, reflective of cultural differences between these two geographic areas in the post-Woodland period era.
The lower reaches of the St. Johns River, the longest river within the State of Florida, USA, form an extensive estuarine/tidal marsh system. Within this resource-rich region are numerous pre-Columbian sites. This paper presents a synthesis of zooarchaeological research conducted at eight of these sites. All sites considered here are shell middens that yielded large substantial faunal samples and that represent different periods of human occupation, ranging in time from ca. 5600 to 450 BP. In all faunal assemblages examined, estuarine fish is the predominant vertebrate resource represented. Fish constitute from 74 to 98% of the minimum number of individuals, or MNI, among the vertebrates in the various site samples. Dimensional measurements of a sample of skeletal elements show a range in fish sizes represented, indicating that mass capture techniques, such as nets, were probably used. Moreover, a number of these fish size estimates indicate that certain species were harvested in particular seasons. Similarities in the kinds and quantity of fish taxa represented in faunal assemblages from different time periods show that pre-Columbian peoples living in the lower St. Johns region continued to use the same local fish resources in the estuarine/tidal marsh ecosystem over several millennia.