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Liquid Landscapes: Submerged Archaeological Sites in Florida and the Terminal Pleistocene Settlement of a New Continent
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This dissertation presents geological, chronological, archaeological, and geophysical datasets from two excavations of submerged precontact archaeological sites in the state of Florida, USA. Geoarchaeological excavations at the Ryan-Harley site (8Je1004) in north Florida demonstrate that the locality represents a discrete Suwannee occupation which occurred during the Younger Dryas (~12,900-11,500 years ago). At this time, the landscape of the Wacissa River basin was a coppice dune field, and overall conditions in the basin were windy and arid. Freshwater availability was seasonally variable, and the location of high-quality toolstone was difficult to predict. Fluctuating environmental conditions required hunter-gatherer groups to maintain a residentially mobile provisioning strategy dependent on lightweight, flexible, and standardized tool types due to uncertainty in resource availability. At the Guest Mammoth site (8Mr130) in central Florida, similar environmental conditions existed in the Silver River basin during the terminal Pleistocene. Geoarchaeological excavations at the site replicated results from earlier excavations in 1973, demonstrating that humans opportunistically scavenged carcasses of young Columbian mammoths that died at the edge of a small pond ~12,700 years ago. Both the Silver and Wacissa River basins remained arid and lacked reliable freshwater until ~8,000 years ago when fluvial sediments appear at both sites indicating perennial flowing water and a shift from arid, sandy basins toward lush, ecologically diverse, spring-fed rivers that attracted human groups.
Smith, Morgan F (2019). Liquid Landscapes: Submerged Archaeological Sites in Florida and the Terminal Pleistocene Settlement of a New Continent. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from