Oyster Mariculture on Florida’s Northern Gulf Coast: The Intensification of a Ritual Economy

Author(s): Jessica Jenkins

Year: 2016


Subsistence intensification among small-scale societies results from myriad circumstances, some of which involve demands that go beyond the scale of household production and consumption. The creation and use of ritual facilities, for instance, often entail large gatherings of persons that require provisioning. On the northern Gulf Coast of Florida, civic-ceremonial centers with elaborate mortuary facilities were established at about A.D. 200. A well-established subsistence economy of fish, turtle, deer, and shellfish—notably oyster—may have been stressed by both the greater demand of larger residential populations, as well as changes in sea level documented at this time. Oyster shells from one such center, Shell Mound (8LV42), register changes in the location and intensity of harvesting over a two-century period. Comparable to clam gardening of the Northwest Coast, Shell Mound residents appear to have manipulated oyster beds to enhance the production and sustainability of oysters. Evidence for oyster mariculture at Shell Mound is evaluated in light of a ritual economy that gathered participants from the greater region and thus intensified demand for not only communal provisioning but also the raw material (oyster shell) for constructing ritual facilities.

Cite this Record

Oyster Mariculture on Florida’s Northern Gulf Coast: The Intensification of a Ritual Economy. Jessica Jenkins. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404222)


Spatial Coverage

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