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  1. Although shell middens and mounds often occupy the same intertidal spaces as coastal wetlands, biophysical interactions between these cultural features and wetlands are under-investigated. To this end, our geoarchaeological and zooarchaeological research at three coastal archaeological sites within the Tampa Bay Estuary, USA, sought to understand the interactions between shell-bearing sites, sea-level rise, storms, and migrating wetland habitats. Percussion core transects document the accretion of mangrove peat atop intact shell midden, illustrating the ability of mangrove forests to encroach shell midden and preserve cultural material below. Landward wetland deposits are thicker and muddier than those along the seaward margin of the sites, suggesting that shell-bearing sites attenuate wave energy much like other shoreline stabilization structures. Differences in sedimentology, stratigraphy, and invertebrate species compositions highlight the variability in storm impacts between sites. Storm-driven depositional events are identified by medium-to-fine sand beds with high densities of fragmented shell and small intertidal zone snails. Geospatial analyses indicate that wetland encroachment is already occurring at 247 archaeological sites within the Tampa Bay Estuary. Approximately 100 additional archaeological sites currently located in upland habitats may provide topographic relief for migrating coastal wetlands in the future. We contend that shell middens and mounds constructed by Indigenous peoples are important components within estuarine mosaics, as they have been for millennia. We advocate for further collaboration between archaeologists and estuary managers and the inclusion of descendant communities to co-manage the future of their past. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 15, 2025
  2. Applying a coastal-geoarchaeological approach, we synthesize stratigraphic, sedimentological, mollusk-zooarchaeological, and radiometric datasets from recent excavations and sediment coring at Harbor Key (8MA15)—a shell-terraformed Native mound complex within Tampa Bay, on the central peninsular Gulf Coast of Florida. We significantly revise the chronological understanding of the site and place it among the relatively few early civic-ceremonial centers in the region. Analyses of submound contexts revealed that the early first millennium mound center was constructed atop a platform of sand and ex situ cultural shell deposits that were reworked during ancient storm landfalls around 2000 BP. We situate Harbor Key within a seascape-scale stratigraphic and paleoenvironmental framework and show that the shellworks comprise an artificial barrier protecting the leeward estuary basin (and productive inshore wetlands) from high-energy conditions of the open bay and swells from the Gulf of Mexico. The sedimentary and archaeological records attest to the long-term history of morphodynamic interaction between coastal processes and Indigenous shell terraforming in the region and suggest that early first millennium mound building in Tampa Bay was tied to the recognition and reuse of antecedent shellworks and the persistent management of encompassing cultural seascapes. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  4. Ethnographers have ably documented the great extent and diversity of social institutions that contemporary fishers and shellfishers employ to collectively manage common property resources. However, the collective action regimes developed among ancient maritime societies remain understudied by archaeologists. We summarize research into the development and form of collective action among the maritime societies of the western peninsular coast of Florida, USA, drawing on our own recent work in the Tampa Bay area and previous work elsewhere in the region, especially the Calusa area to the south. Archaeological evidence suggests that collective action became more important in Tampa Bay in the first centuries CE, probably owing to a marine transgression that resulted in more productive estuaries. Groups here staked claims to productive estuarine locations through the founding of villages, the building of mounds, and the construction of relatively simple marine enclosures. Historically, these changes resulted in societies of relatively small scale and limited authoritarian government. In contrast, collective action developed later in the Calusa area, may have begun in relation to resource scarcity than plenty, and may been founded in kinship rather than in public ritual. Collective action in the Calusa area resulted in projects of greater scale and complexity, providing a foundation for more hierarchical and authoritarian social formations. 
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  5. We present digital documentation of the Cockroach Key archaeological site in Tampa Bay on the western coast of Florida, USA. The site consists of a mound and midden complex constructed by Native Americans between around 100 and 900 CE. Although well known to antiquarians of the 1800s and archaeologists of the early 1900s, the site has slowly become “hidden in plain sight” to both archaeologists (owing to the lack of contemporary investigations) and the public (owing to the density of vegetation). We use LiDAR-based mapping and ground-penetrating radar to document the site’s surface and subsurface features. 
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