May 2, 2016
New Insights into the Artificial Islands of the Calusa
Researchers have been working on the artificial islands constructed by the Calusa culture at Mound Key and Vineland in Florida. The Calusa were terraforming islands from heaps of shells, bones and midden. Researchers used coring, test and block excavations and radiocarbon dating. They have found that some of the older material was on top of younger material, indicating the Calusa were reworking their deposits to create new landforms. The tallest of the mounds is 32 feet above sea level. This would have taken hundreds of millions of shells. When sea levels fell, the Calusa abandoned the island. When sea levels rose, they returned. The Calusa economy was based on fish, shellfish and seafood. 1000 people would have lived on Mound Key. The researchers also studied the second largest artificial island city, Vineland. The Calusa built canals, water storage facilities, and traded widely. The researchers will continue at these sites during the summer. The research is published in PLOS One.
“From Shell Midden to Midden-mound: The Geoarchaeology of Mound Key, an Anthropogenic Island in Southwest Florida, USA,” PLOS One, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0154611
PhysOrg has the report here;
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