Long Leaf, Fire and Hunter-Gatherers of the Carolina Sandhills


In presettlement times long leaf pine forest dominated the Carolina Sandhills, where frequent wildfire, sandy soil and steep hydrologic gradients produced high biodiversity, but low hunter-gatherer carrying capacity. Land-use models based on the results of systematic shovel testing across 162 square miles at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, indicate continuous occupation throughout prehistory, small group size and short terms of residential tenure. Although the archaeological site is the unit of resource management, most sites comprise multiple components, and comparing component spatial density across presettlement vegetation communities and wildfire-frequency zones provides a means for exploring prehistoric land use. Archaic components are more dense in Xeric Longleaf Pine–Wiregrass Sandhills communities where upland flats offer long sight lines and minimal topographic relief, ideal for overland travel, logistical procurement, large game hunting and family-band migration. The spatial density of Woodland components is higher in Mesic Longleaf Pine–Wiregrass Slope, Small Stream Swamp and Depression Pond communities where less frequent, lower intensity wildfire encourages deciduous mast-bearing trees and richer soil for horticulture. Quantifying cultural component spatial density across vegetative community type also provides a standard for evaluating the research potential of resources, determining NRHP eligibility, and ranking potentially eligible resources for further testing.

Cite this Record

Long Leaf, Fire and Hunter-Gatherers of the Carolina Sandhills. Joseph Herbert, Jonathan Schleier, William Feltz. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445065)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.735; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -73.389; max lat: 39.572 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21426