Type of Document Thesis Author Lawson, Ariana Slemmens URN etd-08262005-130349 Title Vertebrate Fauna from the Refuge Fire Tower Site (8Wa14): A Study of Coastal Subsistence in the Early Woodland Period Degree Master of Science Department Anthropology, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Rochelle A. Marrinan Committee Chair Glen Doran Committee Member Michael Russo Committee Member Keywords
- Swift Creek
Date of Defense 2005-08-19 Availability unrestricted AbstractDavid S. Phelps, of Florida State University, excavated the Refuge Fire Tower Site between 1968 and 1970 during a regional study of prehistoric settlement patterning on Florida’s northern Gulf Coast. A preliminary report of these excavations and subsequent citations characterized the site as a seasonally occupied special-use site for the procurement of fish and shellfish. A number of large, articulated fish recovered from the midden led Phelps to further speculate that particular species of fish were targeted and filleted at the site, possibly for trade inland. This remains unverified, however, as in-depth analysis of fauna from the Refuge Fire Tower Site has not been reported to date.
The purpose of this thesis was to test Phelps’ characterization of the Refuge Fire Tower Site through zooarchaeological analysis of fauna from the midden. I proposed that use of the Refuge Fire Tower Site for fish and shellfish procurement and processing during the spring, summer, and fall months would be reflected in the modal class sizes of fish remains from the midden, and that specialization would be evidenced by large numbers of particular fish species and/or repeated size ranges of fishes. I also suggested that, if indeed a special-use procurement site, patterns of vertebrate exploitation at the Refuge Fire Tower Site would differ from those of contemporaneous coastal village sites in the region, and instead resemble subsistence patterning of coastal campsites. Vertebrate fauna from ten midden samples and one feature were analyzed. Problems encountered in this study included limited excavation data, an incomplete artifact assemblage, and biased archaeological recovery techniques.
Results of the analysis indicate the Refuge Fire Tower Site was not a specialized resource procurement site, but rather a small habitation site occupied nearly year-round during the Late Deptford and Early Swift Creek periods. Quantified analysis of vertebrate fauna the site indicates resource exploitation focused on marine resources, mainly fish, and, to a much smaller degree, terrestrial and freshwater fauna. Though several large fish were identified in the samples analyzed, a wide range of fish sizes was present in each sample, suggesting a broad pattern of marine fish exploitation in the estuary, bay, and offshore. Articulated fish vertebral columns suggest overabundance, possibly associated with feasting. Subsequent comparison of the data with contemporaneous sites in the Deptford/Swift Creek culture region revealed a relatively uniform pattern of coastal subsistence throughout, with minor differences reflecting local environmental resource variability.
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