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Examining the influence of Middle and Late Holocene shorelines and tidal zones on shell ring locations along the lower Southeastern coasts.

Author(s): Thaddeus Bissett ; Martin Walker

Year: 2015

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Summary

This study examines the interplay of Holocene sea level change and the locations and timing of construction of Archaic coastal shell rings. Based on 161 radiocarbon dates from 32 shell rings located on the lower Atlantic and Gulf coasts, most shell ring construction took place from 5000—2750 cal BP, with the greatest intensity occurring during a roughly 1,000 year window between 3500 and 4500 cal BP. We use a high-resolution reconstruction of past sea levels (Balsillie and Donoghue 2004) and GIS to model shoreline migration and the average area of intertidal zones near locations of radiocarbon-dated shell rings at 250-year intervals from 6000-2500 cal BP. By roughly 5000 cal BP, sea levels had begun to approach modern elevations. However, moderate fluctuations (e.g., over 2 m between 3900 and 3750 cal BP) continued during that period. Combined with the relatively gentle slope of the continental shelf along much of the lower Atlantic and Gulf coasts, these fluctuations could produce shoreline movement by tens of meters in a decade, and in some cases by 2 km or more in a single 250-year interval, while daily tidal ranges could have produced intertidal zones of as much as 2 km wide.

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Examining the influence of Middle and Late Holocene shorelines and tidal zones on shell ring locations along the lower Southeastern coasts.. Thaddeus Bissett, Martin Walker. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398348)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America