We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Evolution of Calusa

A Nonagricultural Chiefdom of the Southwest Florida Coast

Written by Randolph J. Widmer

Publication Year: 1988

The aims of this study are twofold: compile, for the first time, all the archaeological, environmental, and geological data pertinent to the evolution of the aboriginal inhabitants of southwest Florida; and, using this basis, develop a specific, integrated, and dynamic model of cultural adaptation that will serve as a stimulus for hypotheses that go beyond simple culture-historical concerns for future archaeological research in this region.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

List of Tables

pdf iconDownload PDF (44.2 KB)
pp. viii-ix

List of Figures

pdf iconDownload PDF (57.4 KB)
pp. x-xi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (214.4 KB)
pp. xiii-xv

Southwest Florida is a unique region of the United States. Having grown up in south Florida, I took for granted many of the special features of the unusual environment of the area. The extraordinarily good fishing had always impressed me, and I silently observed on many occasions that it would be impossible for anyone who could fish to starve in coastal south...

read more

1. Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF (776.6 KB)
pp. 1-11

On Friday, June 4, 1513, just two months after Ponce de Leon made his historic landing on the east coast of Florida, the earliest landing by Europeans in the southeastern United States (Lowery 1911), he arrived in the vicinity of Charlotte Harbor on the southwest Florida coast, where he encountered a hostile aboriginal group which we know as the...

read more

2. Theoretical and Methodological Considerations in a Study of Coastal Adaptation

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.8 MB)
pp. 12-35

The paradigm followed in this study is cultural materialism (Harris 1968, 1979; Price 1982). Its underlying principle maintains that "the causes of behavior are most parsimoniously sought with consistent reference to the material conditions of life" (Price 1982:709). As a paradigm, cultural materialism subsumes within it a number of theoretical positions, the most important...

read more

3. The History of Archeological Research in Southwest Florida

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.4 MB)
pp. 36-54

Professional archaeological interest in southwest Florida began about a hundred years ago and started as a result of the area's use as a winter vacation area (Milanich and Fairbanks 1980). Simmons's (1884) description of the extensive shell mounds in the Port Charlotte area was the first acknowledgment of the archaeology of southwest Florida. He observed in...

read more

4. The Prehistory of Southwest Florida

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.9 MB)
pp. 55-97

The specific phase and period names and artifact markers introduced here will be integrated in the subsequent chapters with the geology, ecology, demography, and subsistence and settlement patterns, and so no mention of these characteristics will be presented in this chapter. The taxonomy will follow typical usage developed for the eastern United States for the preceramic...

read more

5. The Environment and Ecology of Southwest Florida

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.4 MB)
pp. 98-137

The environmental characteristics of southwest Florida described here pertain to the premodern land-use conditions that were established about 2500 B.P. In recent times, land-use practices have drastically altered the environmental conditions (see Thomas 1974; Alexander and Crook 1984; DeGrove 1984; Gleason 1984; Parker 1984). The environment...

read more

6. The History of Environmental Change in South Florida

pdf iconDownload PDF (3.6 MB)
pp. 138-188

The static view of the physiography and ecosystem described in the previous chapter may not have pertained to the past, since paleoenvironmental and geological conditions were much different in the Late Pleistocene through Middle Holocene than currently found in the coastal area of southwest Florida. The coastal zone of southwest Florida was influenced by...

read more

7. A Dynamic Model of the Prehistoric Coastal Adaptation in Southwest Florida

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.4 MB)
pp. 189-223

The evolution of the prehistoric coastal adaptation in southwest Florida and the specific timing of the stages in its development are the result of the interplay of environmental, ecological, demographic, geological, and sociopolitical variabies. These variables have been schematically presented in...

read more

8. The Subsistence and Settlement Characteristics of the Calusa Adaptation

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.5 MB)
pp. 224-260

The settlement and subsistence characteristics of the post-A.D. 800 occupation of southwest Florida are reconstructed from archaeological data generated through past field research. Unfortunately, archaeological survey data necessary for the precise phasing and reconstructing of settlement patterns are absent for many areas of southwest Florida. Thus, the settlement...

read more

9. The Sociopolitical Evolution of the Calusa Chiefdom

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 261-276

The key to the evolution of ranking-that is, chiefdoms-has to be grounded initially in demography. Such hierarchically organized systems are not tolerated in societies with small populations, since differential access to material goods carry a higher energetic cost to the members of a society, and small numbers usually are unable to create the energy surplus to maintain...

read more

10. Summary and Conclusions

pdf iconDownload PDF (364.8 KB)
pp. 277-281

I have tried to show how environmental characteristics tended to shape the type of adaptation that emerged in southwest Florida and how the adequate implementation and maintenance of the adaptation required a series of behavioral responses of a sociopolitical nature. I have attempted to demonstrate the roles of various cultural and biological processes in this adaptation...

References Cited

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.6 MB)
pp. 282-310

Appendix: Radiocarbon Determinations for the Middle and Late Holocene Sea-Level Position

pdf iconDownload PDF (108.8 KB)
pp. 311-312


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.5 MB)
pp. 313-334

E-ISBN-13: 9780817380991
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817303587

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 1988