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Key Marcolocked

  • David S. Brose

Extract

Prehistoric village site on the west coast of Florida, south of Fort Myers. It was one of dozens of such shell midden sites, first occupied c.ad 700 and abandoned after c.ad 1300 (perhaps destroyed in a hurricane). At the time of the arrival of the first Spanish explorers, the Calusa Indians lived in the area. The builders of Key Marco netted and speared marine fish and sea mammals, molluscs, local estuarine reptiles and small mammals, and collected the starchy root of several native plants to support a densely populated town. The plain ceramics from Key Marco and similar sites were derived from types found at earlier, less complex ‘Big Circle’ earthworks to the north and east in the Everglades (e.g. Fort Center). On sites on the Florida keys, dozens of tool types were made of conch and whelk shell and deep middens of shells were combined into mounds or house platforms, and built into revetments for dikes, canals and boat slips along the coast. The good preservation conditions of the Key Marco middens and coastal mud has yielded large quantities of normally perishable wooden, fibre and bone artefacts (Philadelphia, PA, Acad. Nat. Sci.). Most are commonplace bowls, tools, nets, weapons, paddles or boat and house parts and furniture; but there are also hundreds of personal ornaments (shell and wooden beads, bracelets, pins or ear ornaments—most of the latter with zoomorphic or anthropomorphic carved features) and scores of modelled, carved and painted ceremonial plaques and masks....

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