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  1. 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
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  3. Abstract Historical ecology has revolutionized our understanding of fisheries and cultural landscapes, demonstrating the value of historical data for evaluating the past, present, and future of Earth’s ecosystems. Despite several important studies, Indigenous fisheries generally receive less attention from scholars and managers than the 17th–20th century capitalist commercial fisheries that decimated many keystone species, including oysters. We investigate Indigenous oyster harvest through time in North America and Australia, placing these data in the context of sea level histories and historical catch records. Indigenous oyster fisheries were pervasive across space and through time, persisting for 5000–10,000 years or more. Oysters were likely managed and sometimes “farmed,” and are woven into broader cultural, ritual, and social traditions. Effective stewardship of oyster reefs and other marine fisheries around the world must center Indigenous histories and include Indigenous community members to co-develop more inclusive, just, and successful strategies for restoration, harvest, and management. 
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  4. Gillikin, David P. (Ed.)
    Circular shell rings along the South Atlantic Coast of North America are the remnants of some of the earliest villages that emerged during the Late Archaic (5000–3000 BP). Many of these villages, however, were abandoned during the Terminal Late Archaic (ca 3800–3000 BP). We combine Bayesian chronological modeling with mollusk shell geochemistry and oyster paleobiology to understand the nature and timing of environmental change associated with the emergence and abandonment of circular shell ring villages on Sapelo Island, Georgia. Our Bayesian models indicate that Native Americans occupied the three Sapelo shell rings at varying times with some generational overlap. By the end of the complex’s occupation, only Ring III was occupied before abandonment ca. 3845 BP. Ring III also consists of statistically smaller oysters harvested from less saline estuaries compared to earlier occupations. Integrating shell biochemical and paleobiological data with recent tree ring analyses shows a clear pattern of environmental fluctuations throughout the period in which the rings were occupied. We argue that as the environment became unstable around 4300 BP, aggregation at villages provided a way to effectively manage fisheries that are highly sensitive to environmental change. However, with the eventual collapse of oyster fisheries and subsequent rebound in environmental conditions ca. post-3800 BP, people dispersed from shell rings, and shifted to non-marine subsistence economies and other types of settlements. This study provides the most comprehensive evidence for correlations between large-scale environmental change and societal transformations on the Georgia coast during the Late Archaic period. 
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  5. ABSTRACT We sampled individual growth rings from three ancient remnant bald cypress ( Taxodium distichum ) trees from a massive buried deposit at the mouth of the Altamaha River on the Georgia Coast to determine the best technique for radiocarbon ( 14 C) dating pretreatment. The results of our comparison of traditional ABA pretreatment and holocellulose and α-cellulose fractions show no significant differences among the pretreatments (<1 sigma) thereby suggesting that ABA pretreatment will prove sufficient for the development of a high-resolution 14 C tree-ring chronology based on these ancient bald cypresses which will indicate whether the U.S. Southeast is subject to a regional radiocarbon offset. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    The eastern oyster ( Crassostrea virginica ) is an important proxy for examining historical trajectories of coastal ecosystems. Measurement of ~40,000 oyster shells from archaeological sites along the Atlantic Coast of the United States provides a long-term record of oyster abundance and size. The data demonstrate increases in oyster size across time and a nonrandom pattern in their distributions across sites. We attribute this variation to processes related to Native American fishing rights and environmental variability. Mean oyster length is correlated with total oyster bed length within foraging radii (5 and 10 km) as mapped in 1889 and 1890. These data demonstrate the stability of oyster reefs despite different population densities and environmental shifts and have implications for oyster reef restoration in an age of global climate change. 
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  7. In the 16th century, the Calusa, a fisher-gatherer-hunter society, were the most politically complex polity in Florida, and the archaeological site of Mound Key was their capital. Based on historic documents, the ruling elite at Mound Key controlled surplus production and distribution. The question remains exactly how such surplus pooling occurred and when such traditions were elaborated on and reflected in the built environment. Our work focuses on the “watercourts” and associated areas at Mound Key. These subrectangular constructions of shell and other sediments around centralized inundated areas have been variously interpreted. Here, we detail when these enclosures were constructed and their engineering and function. We argue that these structures were for large surplus capture and storage of aquatic resources that were controlled and managed by corporate groups.

     
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