Many of Florida’s richest and most endangered cultural resources lay submerged under both fresh river and oceanic salt waters. These sites contain unparalleled organic preservation crucial for answering some of the most vehemently debated topics in archaeology. Since the last glacial maximum (24,000 years ago), Florida has lost over half its land mass to rising seas as glacial meltwater was reintroduced into the oceans. This has dramatically limited Florida’s coastal archaeological record from the Paleoindian through the Late Archaic Periods (14,550-5,000 years ago). In fact, not a single unequivocal coastal Paleoindian site has been identified on the East Coast, despite the identification of so many Paleoindian sites near the modern coastline. Much of what archaeologists know about the First Floridians comes from research at submerged river sites, such as Page-Ladson, the oldest archaeological site in the Southeast. Sites such as these extend onto the submerged paleo-landscape, now drowned off Florida’s coastlines.
Threats to these submerged archaeological sites originate from both natural and human impacts. Submerged Paleo-Landscapes Archaeological Survey & Heritage Project (SPLASH) is dedicated to protecting Florida’s cultural resources though education and research. SPLASH is an Archaeological Research Cooperative 501(c)3 project. For additional information visit Arcoop.org
Thorough knowledge of geological processes is important to understand where submerged sites are located and how they may have been protected.
Local Sea-level reconstructions are paramount to understanding where the coastlines were as the glaciers melted after the last glacial period. It also assists in locating where freshwater sources were by determining terrestrial water table depths.
Water sources have always played a vital role to people on the landscape. In fact, 80% of earth’s modern population live near the coast, and most major cities are built on or near major rivers. That fact holds true for modern folks as it did to peoples in the past.
For information on how you can help SPLASH achieve its mission, to volunteer, or to request data from SPLASH’s projects, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org