Monuments From The Sea: The Prehistoric Shellscapes of the Ten Thousand Islands, Fl

Author(s): Margo Schwadron

Year: 2016


The Ten Thousand Islands, Everglades, Florida contain an impressive maritime landscape, composed of entire islands constructed and terraformed with shell midden. These shell work sites are the tangible and complex vestiges of hunter-fisher-gatherer communities. Shell work formations include extensive complexes of mounds and features. Similarities in temporal and spatial patterning among shell islands suggest that communities were interrelated across a broad region. Shell work islands and their various features were formed and constructed to create new land, functional activity spaces, habitable places and dwellings, and to support fish/shellfish production and other subsistence activities. Other terraforming of shell work islands created architecture, sacred places, ceremonial landscapes, and monuments to memorialize significant people, places and memories tied to the landscape. Though shell work sites are complex sites analogous to palimpsests, they are more than just shell midden accumulations, amalgamations of shell mounds, or assemblages of features; they are distinct and socially constructed prehistoric landscapes. In order to understand these complex histories, they need to be examined on several complementary temporal and spatial scales, and I incorporate a multi-scalar landscape approach, including examining sites as individually constructed features, as human centered social landscapes, and within a larger, regional settlement pattern context.

Cite this Record

Monuments From The Sea: The Prehistoric Shellscapes of the Ten Thousand Islands, Fl. Margo Schwadron. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403610)

Spatial Coverage

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