Silver Glen Archaeological Site, National Forests in Florida

Silver Glen Archaeological Site, National Forests in Florida


Hi, I’m Tonee Davis, recreation program manager for the Ocala National Forest and this is Silver Glen Springs. A popular recreation area and archealogical site that was acquired by the USDA Forest Service in 1990. We are interested in balancing recreation and resource protection. To do so, we initiated a watershed restoration project to address the erosion and compaction concerns of Silver Glen recreational area. I’m Ray Willis, archeaologist for the Ocala National Forest. Thousands of years ago people deposited shell at this site, accumulating massive amounts over time. Much of this shell is the by-product of shell fish harvesting but some could be from purposeful construction. The base of this tree now perched several feet above the current ground surface shows where these deposits once were. Historically, shell from this site and others like it in Florida was mined for fill material to pave roads. This tree demonstrates how extensive shell deposits once were at this site. Even though much has been removed there is still a lot to be learned from what remains. To put today’s Silver Glen Springs recreational area, its topography, (Asa Randall, Archaeologist, University of Florida) and its heritage into perspective, we can go back to 1875 when Jeffries Wyman an archeaologist from up at Harvard visited the site and described it as an amphitheater of shell surrounding the spring boil. In terms of cultural history, we now know that Silver Glen Springs was used for at least ten thousand years in our own excavations across the watershed we found hints of what we would call either late paleoindian or early archaic settlement. These folks did not use shell fish and because that much of their material culture, all that’s left of their material culture, are stone knives, scrapers and lithic flakes. Beginning around six to seven thousands years ago we have the beginning of the Mount Taylor period, which is when communities throughout northeast Florida including very much so here at Silver Glen Springs began collecting and depositing shell fish. We also identified at least one if not two prehistoric villages lacking shell on the upslope component. In order to document these cultural resources we used a variety of different techniques and methods. Including testing across large areas, including both in the upland terrace which lacks shell, as well as in the area around the spring. We also used small diameter augers across much of the land form in addition to stratagraphic testing so that we could secure radiocarbon samples as well as samples of vertebrate fauna, so we could back in the laboratory understand what people were eating and what they were depositing on the land form. The hope of this project is that we can do two important goals; one, is to better understand how Pre-Colombian peoples utilized, experienced and understood this landscape; and the other is to protect it; and by knowing what cultural resources remain we’re in a much better position to protect these resources.

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