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Biocultural Histories in La Florida

A Bioarchaeological Perspective

Written by Christopher Stojanowski

Publication Year: 2005

Indigenous populations respond to colonial expansion.
This book examines the effects of the Spanish mission system on population structure and genetic variability in indigenous communities living in northern Florida and southern Georgia during the 16th and 17th centuries. Data on tooth size were collected from 26 archaeological samples representing three time periods:  Late Precontact (~1200-1500), Early Mission (~1600-1650), and Late Mission (~1650-1700) and were subjected to a series of statistical tests evaluating genetic variability. Predicted changes in phenotypic population variability are related to models of group interaction, population demo-graphy, and genetic admixture as suggested by ethnohistoric and archaeological data.

Results suggest considerable differences in diachronic responses to the mission environment for each cultural province. The Apalachee demonstrate a marked increase in variability while the Guale demonstrate a decline in variability. Demographic models of population collapse are therefore inconsistent with predicted changes based on population geneticsl, and the determinants of population structure seem largely local in nature. This book highlights the specificity with which indigenous communities responded to European contact and the resulting transformations in their social worlds.

"Stojanowski's work is like man's DNA, the structure of a lifeform, but here it is the structure or glue that holds together the historic puzzle with its Apalachee, Timucua, Guale, and Spanish pieces that other scholars have been trying to put together."--Keith P. Jacobi, author of Last Rites for the Tipu Maya

Christopher Stojanowski is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and a specialist in bioarchaeology.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-ix

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p. xi

The list of acknowledgements for this project is extensive. The following individuals accommodated me during the data collection phase of this project: Clark Spencer Larsen, Jerald Milanich, Dale Hutchinson, Bram Tucker, Christophe Rodning, David Hally, James Krakker, and David Hunt. I would also like to thank my dissertation committee members, Jane Buikstra, Joseph Powell, Lyle...

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1. Historical Bioarchaeology

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pp. 1-4

In 1763, Spanish ships set sail from the Atlantic Coast of Florida heading toward Havana, thus ending two centuries of Spanish colonization and proselytizing of the region. These ships carried the few remaining individuals from the indigenous colonial populations (the Apalachee, Guale, and Timucua) that had survived decades of social upheaval and alterations in traditional lifeways....

Part I. The Archaeology

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2. The Setting: The Spanish Mission System of La Florida

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pp. 7-25

Founded by Ponce de León in 1513 and colonized by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565, Spain’s La Florida colony (Figure 2.1) represented the beginning of permanent European colonization of North America, a process that would ultimately result in widespread ethnocide of myriad indigenous cultures. In its most general sense, this book considers the processes responsible for the ...

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3. Bioethnohistory

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pp. 26-56

Exploration of regional ethnohistories is a fascinating endeavor for a biological anthropologist. Paleographers, those doing the direct translation of original source material, do not have vested interests in evolutionary research questions, nor might they know what to look for if they did. Because I myself am not a historian, let alone a paleographer, I cannot add substantially to the ...

Part II. The Bioanthropology

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4. Evolution and Transmission of Human Tooth Size

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pp. 59-79

Because this book considers changes in phenotypic variation and relates such changes to evolutionary mechanisms and historical processes, the goal of this chapter is to establish the connection between patterns of odontometric variation and the social and demographic processes previously outlined. I address three topics in this chapter. First, the nature of phenotypic variation and its ...

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5. Conceptual and Research Methods

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pp. 80-99

Chapter 5 presents the research methodology and outlines strategies adopted to reduce error and increase the resolution and veracity of the analytical results. Methods for dental phenotypic data collection are discussed as well as justification for using the particular battery of metric variables. Pre-analysis data treatments designed to minimize the effects of random and environ-...

Part III. The Synthesis

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6. Demographic Transformations among the Apalachee

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pp. 103-126

As detailed in chapters 2 and 3, the Apalachee were generally distinct from their neighbors in terms of language, culture, subsistence strategy, settlement pattern, and political organization. They also likely weathered the rigors of the contact period better than their contemporaries, which influences hypothesized microevolutionary changes for the province ...

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7. Aggregation and Collapse on the Georgia Coast

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pp. 127-152

To generate predictions for the Guale, I must consider the previous work of Griffin and colleagues (Griffin 1993; Griffin et al. 2001) that documented an initial increase in trait variability during the early mission period followed by a dramatic decline in trait variability during the later years of the Spanish period. These data were interpreted as reflecting the processes of population ...

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8. Local and Global Histories

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pp. 153-164

Consideration of the comparative experience of the Apalachee and Guale during the early phases of missionization produces discordant results. For the Apalachee, the transition from the precontact to mission period had fewer biological consequences. Overall variability in the population does not change significantly, suggesting neither a decline in population size nor increasing popu-...


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pp. 165-166


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pp. 167-184


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pp. 185-193

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384340
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817352677

Page Count: 207
Publication Year: 2005

OCLC Number: 656728190
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Biocultural Histories in La Florida

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Southern States -- Antiquities.
  • Florida -- History -- Spanish colony, 1565-1763.
  • Missions, Spanish -- Southern States -- History.
  • Ethnoarchaeology -- Southern States.
  • Indians of North America -- Southern States -- Population.
  • Human remains (Archaeology) -- Southern States.
  • Dental anthropology -- Southern States.
  • Indians of North America -- Missions -- Southern States.
  • Indians of North America -- Anthropometry -- Southern States.
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