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ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS AT

THE FAMOUS CRYSTAL RIVER SITE (8CI1)


(2008 FIELD SEASON), CITRUS COUNTY, FLORIDA

by

Thomas J. Pluckhahn, Victor D. Thompson, Nicolas Laracuente, Sarah Mitchell,


Amanda Roberts, and Adrianne Sams
ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION AT
THE FAMOUS CRYSTAL RIVER SITE (8CI1)
(2008 FIELD SEASON), CITRUS COUNTY, FLORIDA

Prepared for:

Bureau of Natural & Cultural Resources


Division of Recreation and Parks
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
3900 Commonwealth Blvd. MS # 530
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

by

__________________
Thomas J. Pluckhahn, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

and

Victor D. Thompson, Ph.D.


Nicolas Laracuente
Sarah Mitchell
Amanda Roberts
Adrianne Sams

Department of Anthropology
The University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Ave, SOC 107
Tampa, FL 33620

February 19, 2009


ABSTRACT

This report describes recent archaeological investigations of the Crystal River site (8CI1) in
Citrus County, Florida. Crystal River is among the most famous sites of the Middle Woodland
period (ca. 300 B.C. to A.D. 500) in the southeastern United States. However, it remains poorly
understood. Investigations of the site in the early twentieth century (Moore 1903, 1907, 1918) were
unsystematic and poorly documented. Subsequent work (Bullen 1951, 1953, 1965, 1966; Weisman
1985, 1987, 1995; Ellis 1999, 2004; Ellis and Martin 2003) has been more systematic, but of limited
scope and in some cases also under-reported. Given the limitations of previous research, the
purpose of this present study was to provide new information about the internal structure and
chronology of Crystal River, while respecting the need to minimize disturbance to the site. The
investigations consisted primarily of detailed topographic mapping and geophysical survey. Limited,
minimally-invasive coring was also conducted to “ground truth” the geophysical data and to provide
materials for relative and radiometric dating.

The fieldwork for this project was conducted between June 9 and 19, 2008 under the
direction of Principal Investigator Dr. Thomas Pluckhahn (University of South Florida) and Dr.
Victor Thompson (University of West Florida), with the able assistance of University of West
Florida graduate students and report co-authors Nick Laracuente, Sarah Mitchell, Amanda Roberts,
and Adrianne Sams. The field crew included undergraduate students from the University of South
Florida, the University of West Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Florida State University.

Chapter 1 provides context for the project. We review the environmental setting, cultural
historical context, and the history of research at Crystal River. Much of this discussion is drawn
from Weisman’s (1995) thorough synthesis, but we also provide new insights drawn from the
reexamination of published and unpublished primary sources.

In Chapter 2, we present new maps of Crystal River based on detailed topographic mapping.
We also describe the grid system that was created to track past, present, and possible future
investigations. Comparison of our map to those that have been produced by C.B. Moore, Ripley
Bullen, and others reveals both points of similarity and difference.

The results of the geophysical survey are summarized in Chapter 3. Briefly, the geophysical
survey provides new insight into the composition, construction, and use of several of the mounds
and off-mound areas. Mound H, for example, appears to have been expanded at least twice, each
time retaining the same basic shape and proportions. In contrast, Mound K appears to have been
constructed in a single episode. The geophysical survey data also confirm the presence of a plaza
between Mounds G and H and the Main Burial Complex. Resistance data demonstrate that this area
was kept free of the shell debris so common elsewhere on the site. Nevertheless, we noted several
intriguing anomalies in the plaza that could represent features. Finally, the geophysical survey data
reveal (with varying degrees of confidence) the locations of several test units excavated by Ripley
Bullen, Hale Smith, and Brent Weisman.

As summarized in Chapter 4, five small-diameter cores were excavated in off-mound areas


of the site. These cores help clarify the nature of the Area B Midden and produced materials for
relative and chronometric dating. Although the artifact assemblage from the cores is limited, they
produced an extensive faunal assemblage, including a molar from a Florida panther that was heavily
ground for use as an ornament or tool.

In the final chapter, we summarize our and previous work at Crystal River into a narrative
history of the site. We also present the results of recent radiocarbon dating of materials from the
site. Much remains to be learned about Crystal River, so this reconstruction is subject to revision.
We hope that it provides a series of working hypotheses for future investigations at the site.

i
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The successful completion of this project owes much to the help of a number of individuals
and organizations. First and foremost, we thank Nick Robins (Park Manager, Crystal River
Archaeological State Park) for his support of the research. For permission to work at the park, we
also thank Parks Small (Chief, Bureau of Natural and Cultural Resources), Dr. Ryan J. Wheeler
(Chief, Bureau of Archaeological Research and State Archaeologist), Louis Tesar (Archaeologist,
Bureau of Archaeological Research), and William Stanton (Archaeologist, Bureau of Natural &
Cultural Resources).

Our stay at Crystal River was greatly facilitated by the staff of Crystal River State
Archaeological Park. We are particularly indebted to Chris (Paula) Carpenter, Jamie Gridwain, Mike
Petellat, and Leroy Smith. Rich Estabrook of the Crystal River office of the Florida Public
Archaeology Network provided crucial logistical support.

Grateful appreciation is also extended to the sponsors of the testing. This work was
supported, in part, by the University of South Florida Office of Research through the New
Researcher Grant Program. Additional support was provided by the Departments of Anthropology
of the University of South Florida and the University of West Florida. The Bureau of Natural and
Cultural Resources of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection provided space for us to
camp, for which we are also grateful.

Advice and encouragement were extended by a number of colleagues, including Brent


Weisman, Nancy White, Lori Collins, and Gary Ellis. Laboratory assistance was provided by Jana
Futch and Shannon McVey, graduate students at the University of South Florida.

Donna Ruhl and Irv Quitmyer were instrumental in the retrieval of radiocarbon dates from
material curated at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Donna was additionally helpful in
providing access to unpublished notes, photographs, and other documentation.

Finally, we are indebted to the students on the field school for their hard work and for
making our stay at Crystal River a fun and rewarding experience. Keyed to their order of appearance
in the photograph on the front cover, the field crew included, on the front row, from left to right:
Victor Thompson and Tom Pluckhahn; on the second row, from left to right: Adrianne Sams, Sarah
Mitchell, Amanda Roberts, Nick Laracuente, and Brett Briggs; on the third row, from left to right:
Joseph McCormack, Michelle Moretz, Stephanie Lonergan, Stephanie Nelson, and Janna Clevinger;
on the fourth row, from left to right: Daniel Lowery, Shawn Westerman, Kristopher Head, and Erin
Rosenthal; on the fifth row, from left to right: Daren Hoffman, Jessica Stanton, and Kevin
Hageman; and on the top row, from left to right: Robert Taylor, Jacob Rouden, and Timothy
Avalos.

ii
TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ii

LIST OF FIGURES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iv

LIST OF TABLES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vi

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Environmental Setting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Culture History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Previous Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Theoretical Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

CHAPTER 2: TOPOGRAPHIC MAPPING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17


Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

CHAPTER 3: GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36


Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

CHAPTER 4: CORING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64

CHAPTER 5: SUMMARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66

REFERENCES CITED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75

iii
LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1-1. Location of the Crystal River site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2


Figure 1-2. Location of Crystal River in relation to major physiographic sections
of the Coastal Plain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Figure 1-3. Typical vegetation in a “Shell Mound” area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Figure 1-4. Crystal River and an Estuarine Tidal Marsh area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Figure 1-5. Portion of the original 1847 survey plat map showing house and field immediately
east of the Crystal River site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Figure 1-6. Comparison of 1952 (top) and 1969 (bottom) aerial photographs
of Crystal River . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Figure 2-1. Topographic mapping of Mound A at Crystal River, view to the
west-northwest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Figure 2-2. Topographic map of Crystal River based on total station survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Figure 2-3. “Three-dimensional” view of topography at Crystal River . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Figure 2-4. Comparison of Moore's (1903) sketch of Crystal River with our
recent topographic map. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Figure 2-5. Comparison of Bullen's (1966) sketch of Crystal River with our recent
topographic map. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Figure 2-6. Possible astronomical alignments of mounds at Crystal River . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Figure 2-7. Possible patterns in the alignment and spacing of mounds at Crystal River. . . . . . 25
Figure 2-8. Locations of previous excavations at Crystal River . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Figure 2-9. Topographic map of Mound A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Figure 2-10. Topographic map of Area B Midden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Figure 2-11. Topographic map of the Main Burial Complex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Figure 2-12. Topographic map of the Mound G . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Figure 2-13. Topographic map of Mound H . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Figure 2-14. Topographic mapping of Mound H . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Figure 2-15. Topographic map of Mounds J and K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Figure 2-16. Topographic map of the presumed plaza . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Figure 3-1. Resistance survey in the “plaza” northwest of the Main Burial Mound
Complex, view to the southeast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Figure 3-2. GPR survey on the summit of Mound H, view to the east-southeast . . . . . . . . . . 38
Figure 3-3. Composite map of resistivity survey grids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Figure 3-4. Resistance data from Mound G . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Figure 3-5. Resistance data from the plaza area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Figure 3-6. Resistance data from the area of the Main Burial Complex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Figure 3-7. Resistance data from the area of Mounds J and K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Figure 3-8. Resistance data from the Feature B Midden area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Figure 3-9. View to the southwest of GPR Grid 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Figure 3-10. Locations of GPR collection grids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Figure 3-11. GPR data from Grid 1, on the eastern half of the summit of Mound H . . . . . . . . 46
Figure 3-12. GPR data from Grid 2, on the western half of the summit of Mound H . . . . . . . 47
Figure 3-13. GPR data from Grid 3, on the ramp of Mound H . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Figure 3-14. GPR data from Grid 4, on the summit of Mound K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Figure 3-15. GPR data from Grid 5, east of Mound A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Figure 3-16. GPR data from Grid 6, in the Feature B Midden north of Mound A . . . . . . . . . . 53
Figure 3-17. View to the north-northeast of GPR Grid 7, on the slope of Mound A . . . . . . . . 54
Figure 3-18. GPR data from Grid 7, on the slope of Mound A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
Figure 4-1. Excavation and screening of Core Sample 1, view to the north . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Figure 4-2. Example of a core section . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Figure 4-3. Locations of core samples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
Figure 4-4. Excavation of Core Sample 3, view to the west . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

iv
LIST OF FIGURES (CONTINUED)

Figure 4-5. Three views of modified mammal tooth recovered from Section 6 of Core 5 . . . 63
Figure 4-6. Selected lithics and ceramics from core samples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
Figure 5-1. Plot of radiocarbon dates from Crystal River . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

v
LIST OF TABLES

Table 2-1. Grid Locations and Elevations for Datums Employed at Crystal River . . . . . . . . . 18
Table 2-2. Summary Data for Previous Excavations at Crystal River . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Table 4-1. Grid Locations and Elevations for Core Samples Excavated at Crystal River . . . . 57
Table 4-2. Material Recovered from the One-Quarter Inch Screening of Core 1 . . . . . . . . . . 59
Table 4-3. Material Recovered from the Fine Screening of Core 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Table 4-4. Material Recovered from Fine Screening of Core 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
Table 4-5. Material Recovered from the One-Quarter Inch Screening of Core 3 . . . . . . . . . . 60
Table 4-6. Material Recovered from the Fine Screening of Core 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
Table 4-7. Material Recovered from the One-Quarter Inch Screening of Core 4 . . . . . . . . . . 62
Table 4-8. Material Recovered from the Fine Screening of Core 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
Table 4-9. Material Recovered from the One-Quarter Inch Screening of Core 4 . . . . . . . . . . 63
Table 4-10. Material Recovered from the Fine Screening of Core 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
Table 5-1. Radiocarbon Dates from the Crystal River Site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

vi
CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

This report summarizes recent archaeological investigations of the Crystal River site (8CI1)
in Citrus County, Florida. Crystal River is among the most famous sites of the Middle Woodland
period (ca. 300 B.C. to A.D. 500) in the southeastern United States. The site has produced exotic
trade goods in greater numbers, and of a greater variety, than any other Middle Woodland site in the
region (Brose 1979; Greenman 1938; Milanich 2007; Ruhl 1981; Seeman 1979; Weisman 1987, 1995;
Willey 1966). It was also home to one of the largest civic-ceremonial constructions of this time
period—Mound A rises almost 10 m, with a summit once measuring more than 30 m long.

The importance of Crystal River is widely recognized—the site is designated as a National


Historic Landmark and preserved as a Florida State Park. However, it remains poorly understood.
Early investigations by C.B. Moore (1903, 1907, 1918) were unsystematic and poorly documented.
Later work by Ripley Bullen (1951, 1953, 1965, 1966) was more systematic, but also under-reported.
Contemporary investigations by Weisman (1985, 1987, 1995) and Ellis (1999, 2004; Ellis et al. 2003)
have contributed significant new information but have been limited in scope.

Given the limitations of previous research, the purpose of this present study was to provide
new information about the internal structure and chronology of Crystal River, while respecting the
need to minimize disturbance to the site. The investigations consisted primarily of detailed
topographic mapping and geophysical survey. Limited, minimally-invasive coring was also
conducted to “ground truth” the geophysical data and to provide materials for relative and
chronometric dating.

The fieldwork for this project was conducted between June 9 and 19, 2008 under the
direction of Principal Investigator Dr. Thomas Pluckhahn (University of South Florida) and Dr.
Victor Thompson (University of West Florida), with the assistance of University of West Florida
graduate students Nick Laracuente, Sarah Mitchell, Amanda Roberts, and Adrianne Sams.

The testing, which was conducted by field schools from the University of South Florida and
the University of West Florida, was sponsored by a grant from the University of South Florida New
Faculty Research Program. Institutional support was provided by the Department of Anthropology
of the University of South Florida, the Department of Anthropology of the University of West
Florida, and the Bureau of Natural and Cultural Resources of the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection (FDEP). This was not a Section 106 project, since no federal monies
were expended on the research and no federal permits were required.

The remainder of this chapter is devoted to a brief sketch of the physiographic setting of the
Crystal River and an outline of previous research conducted at the site. Chapter 2 describes the
mapping of the site . Chapters 3 and 4 describe the geophysical survey and coring, respectively.
Finally, Chapter 5 syntheses these investigations and a series of new radiocarbon dates from Crystal
River into a narrative history of the site.

Environmental Setting
The Crystal River archaeological site is located in Citrus County, Florida, approximately 3
km west and 1.5 km north of the town of Crystal River (Figure 1-1). The Crystal River, which
directly borders the site to the south, originates a short distance to the southeast at a series of springs
in Kings Bay (FDEP 2000:14). It flows northwest for about 8 km before emptying in the Gulf of
Mexico.

1
Crystal River (8CI1)

0 ¢
Kilometers
2

Figure 1-1. Location of the Crystal River site. Map source: USGS 7.5' Series Red Level and Crystal
River, reproduced from National Geographic TOPO!.
2
The Crystal River site lies within what
has been described as the “Coastal Lowlands”
(Cooke 1945) or “Terraced Coastal Lowlands”
(Vernon 1951:17) section of the Coastal Plain
Province. These lowlands, which border the
entire Florida Coast at elevations of less than
30.5 m (100 ft), are widest in southern Florida
but narrow somewhat in Citrus and Hernando
Counties (Cooke 1945:10). To the east of the
Coastal Lowlands in the vicinity of the Crystal
River site is the Brooksville Ridge section. To
the west is the Coastal Swamps section.

Composed of a series of marine


terraces formed as Pleistocene shorelines, the
Coastal Lowlands can be described as very
gently sloping plains with escarpments that
face seaward (Cooke 1945:11; FDEP 2000:10).
The Crystal River site lies on the Pamlico
terrace, found at elevations less than 7.6 m (25 Figure 1-2. Location of Crystal River in relation to
ft) above sea level. This is the most extensive major physiographic sections of the Coastal Plain.
plain in Florida, covering most of southern
Florida, as well as broad strips along both
coasts to the north.

The Pamlico terrace is composed of sand and clayey sand, and is underlain by limestone and
dolomite of Eocene and Oligocene age (FDEP 2000:10). Eight soil types have been mapped within
the boundaries of Crystal River Archaeological State Park (FDEP 2000:10; Pliny et al. 1988). These
can be generally described as poorly drained to very poorly drained sands and mucks. The dominant
mapped soil type on the archaeological site is Quartzipsamments, which is usually attributed to
modern earthmoving operations. While this interpretation may be partially correct, most of the soils
at the Crystal River site were created by the activities of native people during the prehistoric era
(FDEP 2000:10-14).

The archaeological state park consists of 50.37 upland acres and 10.77 acres of wetlands
(FDEP 2000:1). The upland environment within the park has been characterized as “shell mound”
under the Florida Natural Areas Inventory System (FDEP 2000:18). This “natural” community,
which is obviously anthropogenic in origin, consists of an elevated mound of mollusk shells and
other aboriginal garbage on which a hardwood, closed-canopy forest develops (FDEP
2000:Addendum 4) (Figure 1-3). Typical plants include cabbage palm, red cedar, hackberry, live oak,
coral bean, coontie, and sageteria, among others.

The shell mounds at Crystal River, which are now covered by exotic turfgrass, were probably
created within hydrick hammock or prairie hammock communities (FDEP 2000:18). Hydrick
hammocks, examples of which still survive in the northern limits of the archaeological park, are
characterized by a well-developed hardwood and cabbage palm forest with a variable understory
generally dominated by palms and ferns (FDEP 2000:Addendum 4). Typical plants include cabbage
palm, diamond-leaf oak, red cedar, red maple, swamp bay, sweet bay, water oak, southern magnolia,
wax myrtle, and saw palmetto. Hydrick hammocks are found on low, flat sites. Limestone outcrops
are frequent. Soils are generally sandy with considerable organic material.

The extreme southwestern portion of the archaeological park is comprised of estuarine tidal
marsh (FDEP 2000:18) (Figure 1-4). These natural areas are comprised of expanses of grasses,
rushes, and sedges along coastlines of low wave-energy rivers (FDEP 2000:Addendum 4). Typical
plants include saltgrass, cordgrass, rushes, marsh elder, cattail, and bulrushes. Animals characteristic

3
Figure 1-3. Typical vegetation in the “Shell Mound” area. View to the north in the vicinity of Main
Burial Complex.

Figure 1-4. Crystal River and an Estuarine Tidal Marsh area. View is to the west-southwest from
the top of Mound A.

4
of these environments include marsh snail, periwinkle, fiddler and marsh crabs, diamondback
terrapins, osprey, rails, marsh wrens, seaside sparrows, muskrat, and raccoon. Various types of
fishes are also common in tidal marshes.

Temperatures in Citrus County range from an average of 81/ F in summer to an average of


58/ F in winter (Vernon 1951:10). High relative humidity combined with high temperature can
make for a physiological effect described as “close and muggy” (Vernon 1951:10), although this is
often moderated by afternoon rains and coastal winds. Vernon (1951:9) suggests that sharp changes
in climate occur at about the latitude of the Citrus-Levy county line. Citrus County enjoys a more
tropical climate, averaging about 7 in more rain per year and 20-30 additional days each year without
a killing frost.

Culture History
Florida has a long history of human occupation, beginning at least 14,000 years ago. This
section provides a very general overview of human settlement in the region, beginning with the
earliest definitive evidence for occupation and continuing to the historic era.

The Paleoindian Period (ca. 12,000-8000 B.C.)

Artifacts and radiocarbon dates from the Page-Ladson and Little Salt Spring sites provide
possible indications of human presence in Florida before 12,000 radiocarbon years B.P. (Dunbar
and Webb 1996; Clausen et al. 1979). However, the earliest definitive evidence of human
occupation in Florida and throughout the region came at approximately 12,000 B.P., during the
interval defined by archaeologists as the Paleoindian period (Anderson et al. 1996a; Milanich 1994).
Sea levels were substantially lower at the beginning of this period, and the Gulf Coast would have
extended some 40-70 miles further west than at present (Milanich 1994:38).

The Paleoindian Period was an interval marked by dramatic environmental changes,


corresponding to the transition from the Pleistocene to the early Holocene (Anderson et al. 1996a).
Many genera of animals, including horses, camels, mammoths, and mastodons, became extinct by
about 10,000 years ago. The rapid and continuously changing biotic environment strongly influenced
human group size, organization, and mobility patterns (Cable 1982; Anderson and Hanson 1988).
The patchy vegetational environment would have been well-suited to what Binford (1980) calls
logistically-organized collector adaptations (Anderson et al. 1996b). Patchy environments are best
exploited by groups radiating out from central base camps, and staying at short-term camps as long
as necessary to collect resources prior to returning to the home base.

In the Southeast, the Paleoindian period is characterized by highly formalized tool kits,
including superbly made lanceolate bifaces (such as the Clovis, Simpson, Cumberland, Quad,
Suwannee, Dalton and Hardaway types), hafted end and side scrapers, gravers, spokeshaves, adzes,
denticulates, and other tool forms (Anderson et al. 1996a; Milanich 1994). These tools were usually
made of high quality lithic materials, and were highly curated. Population density during the
Paleoindian period is thought to have been fairly low, since sites are infrequent and generally contain
few artifacts, compared to later periods.

Evidence for Paleoindian settlement in the immediate vicinity of the Crystal River site is
limited. A Folsom point on display at the Crystal River Museum was reputed to have come from
the area (Bullen 1967), but the provenience of this artifact is questionable (Neill and McKay 1968).
A mammoth or mastodon rib bone, possibly used as a digging tool, was recovered from
Withlacoochee River near Inverness (Dunbar and Webb 1996).

5
The Archaic Period (8000-1000 B.C.)

The Archaic period, which begins with the onset of the Holocene and post-glacial climatic
conditions, is characterized as a long and successful adaptation based on collecting wild foods,
hunting and fishing. Technology became more diversified, possibly in response to the uncertainties
of a changing environment (Anderson et al. 1996a). Ground stone woodworking and plant
processing implements, carved and polished stone bowls, atlatl weights, and stone pipes and beads
appear for the first time during the Archaic period. Regional differentiation in projectile points and
other tool styles also occurred, suggesting territorial conscription.

The transitional period from late Pleistocene to early Holocene brought changes in
subsistence strategies, which are marked archeologically by the appearance of new diagnostic
projectile point types, including many corner notched and side notched varieties such as Kirk,
Wacissa, Hamilton, and Arredondo (Anderson et al. 1996a; Milanich 1994). While the increase in
the number of sites and density of artifacts on Early Archaic sites suggests an increase in population
from the earlier Paleoindian period, it is thought that social structure did not change significantly.
The Middle Archaic period (6000-3000 B.C.) corresponds roughly with a period of warmer,
drier climate in the southeastern United States, an interval which lasted approximately 2000 years
(Milanich 1994:75). In the Eastern Woodlands, subsistence strategies became increasingly
diversified, incorporating more aquatic food sources and a greater variety of small game. Population
continued to increase, while settlement range decreased. The transition from Early Archaic to the
Middle Archaic is characterized by an increase in the occurrence of stemmed points, and by an
increased incidence of bone and ground stone tools, including atlatl weights, axes, and grinding
implements (Chapman 1975, 1977; Coe 1964; Milanich 1994). Projectile points diagnostic of the
Middle Archaic in Florida include the Newnan, Putnam, Levy, Marion, and Alachua types (Bullen
1975; Daniel and Wisenbacker 1987; Milanich 1994:76)

During the Late Archaic period (3000-1000 B.C.), regional population appears to have
grown markedly. By the end of this interval essentially modern vegetational conditions had
appeared. Shifts in subsistence and technology continue to be evident during the Late Archaic
period. The first evidence of horticulture (including the cultivation of squash, sunflower, and
chenopodium) appears in Late Archaic contexts in some parts of the Southeast (Cowan 1985;
Gremillon 2002, 2003; Scarry 2003). In Florida, however, subsistence focused primarily on marine
and riverine resources such as mollusks and fish, supplemented by hunting and gathering of
terrestrial resources. Large shell midden complexes are found in many areas of the state (Milanich
1994:85; Russo 1991).

Grinding implements and polished stone tools are more common in Late Archaic
assemblages, suggesting increased use of plant resources, possible changes in cooking technologies,
and increased sedentism. The range and diversity in projectile point forms are greatest during the
Late Archaic and Early Woodland periods, possibly reflecting dramatic changes occurring in
subsistence technologies and social structure. Projectile point forms include an assortment of large
points with straight, contracting, or expanding stems, as well as smaller stemmed and side-notched
types (Milanich 1994:85-104).

The first pottery in North America, consisting of crude bowls, was produced in some parts
of the Southeast around 2500 B.C. (Claflin 1931; Sassaman 1993). Fiber tempered pottery appears
for the first time in the archaeological record for Florida around 2000 B.C. (Milanich 1994:86). In
the Tampa Bay area, both plain and decorated fiber tempered pottery occur in Late Archaic contexts
in association with Culbreath and Lafayette points (Daniel 1982; Milanich 1994:100-101)

6
The Woodland Period (1000 B.C.-A.D. 900)

The Woodland period in the Southeast is generally characterized by increased use of


ceramics, greater reliance on horticulture, widespread ceremonialism, and increased permanence of
occupation (Anderson and Mainfort 2002). As with the Archaic, the Woodland is typically divided
into Early, Middle, and Late sub-periods.

The Early Woodland period (1000 - 200 B.C.) represents a transition from the Archaic
period (Anderson and Mainfort 2002). Horticulture was practiced on a small scale in much of the
Southeast, but the gathering of wild foods (especially marine fish and shellfish) continued to
dominate subsistence strategies in Florida. The replacement of fiber with sand and grit for temper
enabled potters to create larger vessels that were better suited to direct cooking. Pottery of the
Deptford series, which is found in the earliest occupation levels at Crystal River, first appeared
around 500 B.C. and continued in use until around A.D. 200 (Milanich 1994:114).

During the Middle Woodland period, the decorations on pottery grew more elaborate.
Pottery of the Santa Rosa-Swift Creek series gradually replaced Deptford during the Middle
Woodland period on the Gulf Coast (Milanich 1994; Willey 1949a). Swift Creek pottery is, in turn,
gradually replaced by the Weeden Island series. Ceramics of all of these series are found at the
Crystal River site, suggesting intensive occupation over the course of the Middle Woodland period.

Economic and religious influence from Hopewell cultures of the Mississippi and Ohio River
valleys entered portions of the Southeast during the Middle Woodland period (Caldwell 1958;
Jefferies 1976). Small villages—often with burial mounds—are found along the Gulf Coast and the
major streams of the interior (Willey 1949a). Crystal River is the largest Hopewell-related settlement
in Florida, and one of the largest in the Southeast.

A new cultigen, maize, was introduced sometime during the Woodland period (Gremillon
2002, 2003; Scarry 2003). However, there is no definitive evidence for maize in Woodland contexts
in Florida. The crop apparently did not gain prominence until the Mississippian period, and then
only in the northern part of the state.

Our knowledge about life during the Late Woodland period (A.D. 500-1000) is limited by
the general sparsity of sites and the additional scarcity of investigations focusing on this period
(Anderson and Mainfort 2002). This lack of information affects our understanding of subsistence,
ceremonial life, social and political structure. In much of the Southeast, the Late Woodland was
marked by a decline in mound construction and a deterioration of long distance trade. However,
such does not appear to have been the case with the Weeden Island cultures of the Gulf Coast,
where mound construction continued into the Late Woodland.

Weeden Island pottery continued to be manufactured into the Late Woodland period along
the Gulf Coast. The Weeden Island phase on the northern peninsular Gulf Coast remains
undefined (Milanich 1994:205-215). In contrast with Weeden Island cultures immediately to the
south (Manasota) (Luer and Almy 1982) and to the interior (Cades Pond) (Milanich 1994:228), the
pottery from Weeden Island sites in this area (including Crystal River) is primarily limestone
tempered (Bullen 1953).

The Mississippian Period (A.D. 1000-1540)

Of all the Native American societies that were present before the arrival of Europeans, those
of the late prehistoric period in the American South are widely acknowledged by archaeologists as
the most socially and politically complex (Hudson 1976). Archaeologists refer to this era of political
development as the Mississippian period (A.D. 1000 to 1540) and to these societies as chiefdoms.
Mississippian chiefdoms were characterized by a ranked social hierarchy, in which social status was

7
determined largely by the closeness of relation to the chief. Chiefs themselves inherited their
positions and were considered semi-divine, a belief they reinforced through the manipulation of
iconographic symbols inscribed on exotic materials. Commoners paid tribute to the chief, in the
form of labor, staple goods, or craft items. At world-famous archaeological sites such as Cahokia in
Illinois, Moundville in Alabama, and Etowah in Georgia, enormous earthen mound complexes built
a basketful of dirt at a time stand as testament to the power of generations of Mississippian chiefs
(Hudson et al. 1985).

The Mississippian period on the Peninsular Gulf Coast is defined as the Safety Harbor
complex, after a site on Tampa Bay (Griffin and Bullen 1950; Willey 1949a). Mitchem (1989) has
more recently divided the Safety Harbor period into two prehistoric phases: Englewood (A.D. 900-
1100) and Pinellas (A.D. 1100-1500). Ceramics associated with these phases are primarily limestone-
tempered plain, along with some sand tempered plain, St. Johns Plain and Check Stamped, and cord-
marked pottery (Milanich 1994:392). In contrast with elsewhere in the Mississippian Southeast, and
even with the Safety Harbor complex in the Tampa Bay region, settlement during this period in
vicinity of Crystal River was relatively dispersed and included little mound construction. Subsistence
continued to favor the gathering of wild resources over horticulture.

The Historic Period (1492-present)

After Columbus “discovered” the New World in 1492, the conquest of Hispaniola, Cuba,
and other Caribbean Islands was completed in roughly another twenty years (Hudson 1997:32).
Juan Ponce de León sighted the eastern coast of the continent of North America on Easter (Pascua
Florida) of 1513, and thus named the land “La Florida.” León returned to La Florida in 1521 and
attempted to found a colony somewhere in the vicinity of Charlotte Harbor. However, the colony
quickly failed and León was mortally wounded.

As the native populations of the Caribbean colonies declined due to the introduction of Old
World diseases, the Spanish looked north to La Florida for slave labor (Hudson 1997:32). In 1528,
Pánfilo de Narváez led another effort to establish a colony in La Florida. Narváez’s fleet overshot
the entrance of Tampa Bay and landed near present-day John’s Pass (Hudson 1997:37). He and his
army of 40 horsemen and 260 footmen marched northward, paralleling the Gulf Coast until they
eventually reached the Apalachee chiefdom in northern Florida. After encountering fierce resistance
from the Apalachee, Narvaez and his men retreated again to the coast and built boats to sail to
Mexico. Several of the boats were lost at sea, but others eventually made it as far as the Texas coast.
Cabeza de Vaca and three others managed to walk west to Mexico, enduring years of extreme
hardship.

Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto landed on the south side of Tampa in 1539 (Hudson
1997). His expedition of about 600 men (as well as a number of horses, dogs, and pigs) passed well
to the east of Crystal River as it moved north into the interior of the Southeast. Soto moved
between many of the larger chiefdoms in the Southeast in search of riches and, more practically,
food to feed his army. The expedition ended in failure in 1542 when Soto died somewhere near the
Mississippi River. The remaining members of the expedition (about half of the original party) built
boats and sailed down the Mississippi River and across the Gulf of Mexico to the Spanish
settlements in Mexico.

Spanish interest in the colonization of La Florida declined sharply following the failure of
the Soto expedition (Tebeau 1971:25). Finally, in 1559, Tristán de Luna y Arellano led an attempt to
establish a colony near present-day Pensacola (Tebeau 1971:26). The attempt was marked by
calamity almost from its inception, as several ships were lost in stormy seas en route to La Florida.
The colony lasted only a few short years before it was abandoned.

8
French attempts at establishing a settlement in La Florida faired little better than those of the
Spanish. In 1562, Jean Ribault established a small garrison (Fort Charlotte) on a bluff above the St.
Johns River (Tebeau 1971:29). Fire and mutiny destroyed the fort and foiled this attempt. Two
years later, the French founded another garrison under the leadership of René Goulaine de
Laudonniére. Fort Caroline lasted only about a year before it was attacked by Spanish forces led by
Pedro de Menéndez de Avilés (Tebeau 1971:32). Menéndez renamed the fort San Mateo.

Menéndez was charged with establishing Spanish settlements in strategic locations in La


Florida and with Christianizing the natives (at least partly for the purpose of making allies of them)
(Tebeau 1971:32). However, of the settlements founded under the direction of Menéndez, only St.
Augustine would survive.

Florida’s Mission era lasted from 1567 to 1705 (Hann 1996:78). Over the course of this
period, missions were attempted or established among at least 11 distinct Native American peoples
at about 80 mission centers. The mission system peaked by the mid 1630s, when 44 missions were
active across northern Florida and southern Georgia. The lack of settlers at most of the Florida
missions, coupled with the absence of close supervision by the Crown, spared the native peoples of
Florida from some of Spain’s most expoitative colonial institutions. Nevertheless, the native
populations of Florida and most of the Southeast experienced dramatic declines in population soon
after European contact (Smith 1987). Mitchem (1989) has defined the Tatham (1500-1567) and
Bayview (1567-1725) phases of the Safety Harbor period to describe the material culture of the
native peoples who remained in the Tampa Bay area.

Many of the missions were abandoned in the 1650s, when a series of epidemics struck the
native peoples of the region (Hann 1996:92). Indian revolts in 1656 dealt a further blow to the
missions. The establishment of Charleston in 1670 brought a new threat from Indian groups allied
with the British, culminating with the complete destruction of the Spanish mission system in 1704-
1705.

With the settlement of Georgia in the contested lands between Florida and Carolina in 1733,
the English seriously challenged Spanish control of Florida (Arnade 1996:109-111; Tebeau 1971:67).
General James Oglethorpe led intermittent attacks against the Spanish settlements along the Atlantic
Coast, but never managed to take St. Augustine (Tebeau 1971:67-70). However, in 1763 the British
achieved through diplomacy what they had been unable to accomplish through direct military action.
Under the terms of the Treaty of Paris negotiated to conclude the French and Indian War, Spain
ceded Florida in exchange for Havana, which had been captured by the British (Tebeau 1971:72-73).
Anxious to attract settlers, the British government quickly began issuing land grants of up to
20,000 acres (Tebeau 1971:80). Development was generally slow, however, as many of the grants
were obtained for speculation rather than settlement. In addition, there was competition for settlers
from other, more favored, areas like Carolina and Georgia (Fabel 1996:136; Tebeau 1971:80).
Nevertheless, large and prosperous plantations were established in eastern Florida (Tebeau 1971:81).
With the support of slave labor, these plantations produced rice, indigo, oranges, and turpentine.

Hitchiti-speaking Lower Creek Indians from southern Georgia and Alabama began moving
into Florida in the 1700s, first at the invitation of the Spanish and later as allies of the English
(Mahon and Weisman 1996:187-188; Tebeau 1971:152). Muscogean-speaking Upper Creeks first
migrated to the region in 1767. In the period of British rule, these disparate groups came to be
referred to as Seminoles, but they retained many Creek traditions.

The conclusion of the American Revolution in 1783 returned Florida to Spain (Tebeau
1971:89). However, the second Spanish occupation, lasting from 1784 to 1821, was only nominally
Spanish. English influence was difficult to remove, and land-hungry citizens of the United States
moved into Florida with the expectation that it would eventually become part of that country (Coker

9
and Parker 1996:161; Tebeau 1971:89). In addition, Spain was distracted by both wars in Europe
and among its colonies in the Americas (Tebeau 1971:103).

Under the ineffectual rule of the Spanish, Florida became a refuge for runaway slaves,
renegade white Americans and Indians, and foreign adventurers and pirates (Tebeau 1971:115).
The situation precipitated General Andrew Jackson’s invasion of Spanish Florida in 1817-1818, now
known as the First Seminole War (Tebeau 1971:151). In an attempt to recapture slaves living among
the Seminole, Jackson and his men burned a number of villages. They also seized Pensacola from
the Spanish.

In 1821, Spain ceded Florida to the United States. President James Monroe offered the
governorship of the Florida territory to Andrew Jackson (Tebeau 1971:117). Although a single
territory, administration was divided between Pensacola and St. Augustine until a new capitol was
created between the two cities at Tallahassee in 1824 (Schafer 1996:210; Tebeau 1971:122). The site
of a former Indian town, there were few or no whites living at Tallahassee at the time.

Acquisition of Florida by the United States led to increased conflict between white settlers
and Indians, especially in north-central Florida (Tebeau 1971:151). Under the terms of the Treaty of
Moultrie Creek negotiated in 1823, four million acres north of Charlotte Harbor and south of Ocala
were set aside for the Seminoles (Tebeau 1971:154). The Indians received compensation for the
lands they abandoned in northern Florida. For their part, the Seminoles agreed to prevent the
reservation from becoming a haven for runaway slaves.

Even before the treaty went into effect, the U.S. government had begun moving toward a
position favoring general Indian removal to lands west of the Mississippi (Tebeau 1971:151). With
the election of Andrew Jackson to the presidency in 1829, proposals for Indian removal received
official support (Tebeau 1971:156). Under the terms of the Treaty of Payne’s Landing, the Seminoles
agreed to move west. However, the treaty was signed by only a small number of Seminole chiefs,
and several of these later repudiated their action.

Small-scale skirmishes between Seminoles and white settlers began in earnest in 1835. The
Second Seminole War, lasting from 1835 to 1842, was fought principally in eastern and central
Florida (Tebeau 1971:125). Osceola emerged as the leader of the Seminoles, but was captured under
a flag of truce in 1837 (Mahon and Weisman 1996:193; Tebeau 1971:125). Osceola died of malaria in
confinement at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, the following year (Tebeau 1971:164). Fighting
dragged on until an informal truce was negotiated in 1842. While most of the surviving Seminoles
were removed to Indian territories in the West, a number disappeared into the Everglades and the
Big Cypress swamp (Mahon and Weisman 1996:201; Tebeau 1971:170).

A bill to admit Florida as a state was passed by Congress and signed by President Tyler in
1845 (Tebeau 1971:131). It was only 16 years, however, before Florida seceded from the Union and
entered the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy. Although a sizable proportion of Floridians
opposed the War, and although desertion had become very common by 1864, Florida provided the
Confederacy with two important commodities—salt and cattle (Brown 1996:239-241; Tebeau
1971:232). Although military actions in Florida were limited, the state suffered many of the same
deprivations as the rest of the Confederacy during the war and throughout Reconstruction (Brown
1996; Shofner 1996).

Settlement of Florida by non-native peoples increased after statehood and accelerated greatly
after the Civil War (Kendrick and Walsh 2007:5). There was initially little or no industry in the state,
so early settlers began clearing the forests for farming and cattle raising. Turpentine operators and
loggers arrived gradually.

10
The 1847 survey plat map shows a
few houses and fields in the vicinity of
Crystal River (Figure 1-5) (FDEP 2003;
Dunn 1977:25). Several of the landowners
are identified by name, including Patrick
McFeely, Neil Ferguson, and John Beggs.
The latter appears to have owned the
property immediately east of the Crystal
River site. The survey plat shows a house
and field that probably stood somewhere
in the vicinity of the park ranger’s home.

By 1870, the population of Citrus


County reached 2098 (Dunn 1977:74). By
1885, the population had expanded to
4260. An 1882 guide to Florida noted
Crystal River as one of the principal “little
farming or lumbering settlements” of the Figure 1-5. Portion of the original 1847 survey plat
Gulf Coast (Barbour 1964 [1882]:147). map showing house and field immediately east of the
Cotton, vegetables, and cedar pencil wood Crystal River site. Reproduced from FDEP (2003).
were the principal exports from Crystal
River in the later 1880s (Dunn 1977:92).

Citrus County was created by the Legislature on June 2, 1887 (Vernon 1951:11). The
county, which was formed from a part of Hernando County, reportedly took its name from an
abundance of fruit groves in the area, particularly in the northern latitudes along the coast. After a
hard freeze in the winter of 1894-1895 dealt a serious blow to the burgeoning citrus industry
(Hughes n.d.), the dead trees were removed to make more room for cattle.

Mannfield (south of present-day Lecanto), named for State Senator Austin Mann, served as a
temporary county seat (Hughes n.d.). After some debate, the county seat was moved to Inverness in
1891. In 1889, a railroad line was built from Ocala through Crystal River to Homosassa (Dunn
1977:30). The town of Crystal River was officially incorporated in 1903 (Hughes n.d.).

As described in more detail in the section that follows, C.B. Moore visited the Crystal River
mounds for the first time in 1903. The property was then “...on property under the control of Mr.
R.J. Knight of Crystal River” (Moore 1903:379). Dunn (1971:91) mentions that Knight purchased
property in the town of Crystal River in 1900. Knight’s wife was the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. J.B.
Bennet, who built the Crystal River Inn in 1898.

Hard rock phosphate was discovered near Dunnellon in 1889 (Dunn 1977:109-113). Over
the next two decades, phosphate mining became one of the principal industries in the area. By 1909,
there were 34 phosphate plants operating in Citrus County. The new communities that formed
around this industry were said to resemble the gold-rush towns of the western U.S. in regard to
lawlessness and vice. Much of the phosphate mined in the region was exported to Germany for use
as fertilizer (Hughes n.d.). The industry declined with the outbreak of World War I, when trade with
Germany was suspended. The later discovery of phosphate near Tampa furthered this decline.

Tourism began to increase in Florida after World War I, when more automobiles became
available (Wynne 1999). The Tin Can Tourists Association formed in Tampa in 1919. The Dixie
(or “Miami to Montreal”) Highway was completed in 1915, and the Tamiami Trail was finished in
1928. By 1930, Florida had 3000 miles of paved roads. New hotels appeared in Crystal River in the
1920s to serve the tourist industry, including the Dixon Hotel, the Willis House, and the Crystal
River Inn (Hughes n.d.).

11
By the late 1920s, however, the boom was over in Citrus County and Florida in general
(Tebeau 1971:385). During the Great Depression, as much as 40 percent of the population of some
Florida counties was receiving direct relief (Tebeau 1971:401). On the bright side, New Deal
programs led to dramatic improvements in infrastructure, including the construction of over 800
public buildings, as well as numerous roads, and bridges (Rogers 1996:317). World War II hastened
the end of the Depression in Florida. Thanks to political fortunes and pleasant weather, the state
became popular for military training; 172 military installations were present in Florida during the war
(Mormino 1996:323-324).

With the end of World War II, the population of Florida expanded dramatically (Tebeau
1971:431). Citrus County, however, remained sparsely populated into the 1950s (Vernon 1951:11).
The average population for the period from 1900 to 1950 was only 5811, with a peak of population
in 1905. Vernon (1951:11) notes that although the population of Florida increased by 417 percent
from 1900 to 1950, that of Citrus County increased by only 12.9 percent. Employment in the region
centered primarily on phosphate mining, timber cutting, and the raising of livestock, crops, fruit
trees and nuts. A 1945 agricultural census listed the dominant fruit crops as oranges, grapefruit and
tangerines (Vernon 1951:Table 4). Tung nuts appear to have been an important nut crop. Row
crops were dominated by corn, peanuts, and sweet potatoes. Sugarcane syrup was also important.
Cattle, hogs and chickens were the most important livestock.

In 1951, Vernon (1951:6) described Crystal River as “a small port for pleasure boats.” Like
many of the towns in Citrus County, Crystal River grew rapidly after U.S. Highway 19 was
constructed as the coastal route to St. Petersburg in response to the demands of the growing tourist
industry (Vernon 1951:6-7). Vernon (1951:7) wrote glowingly of the landscape along the highway in
the vicinity of Crystal River:

This highway passes through very beautiful, flat land and skirts a jungle of highland
swamps, called hammocks, that teem with bear, turkey, wild hogs, mink, otter, and
other game. The trees are majestic hardwoods and the hammocks are truly tropical
and preserve much of the wild beauty typical of Florida. Several large springs are
easily reached from U.S. 19. The springs of Crystal River well up from deep canyons
and fissures to make Crystal River and may be seen from glass-bottomed boats.

Nevertheless, by this time most of the uplands in the county had been stripped of their large pine
forests and were covered by scrub oak and young slash pines (Vernon 1951:10-11). Further, while
Vernon observed that the coastal areas were still “choked with hardwoods,” most of the large trees
had been cut for timber.

Citrus County began to boom in the 1960s. In 1970, the population of the county was
19,196, up more than 100 percent from 1960 (Dunn 1977:430). The effects of this growth are
evident in aerial photographs of the Crystal River site and adjoining properties (Figure 1-6). A 1952
aerial photograph shows minimal development. By the time of the 1969 aerial photograph, new
canals had been excavated and a housing subdivision was completed to the east of the site. In
addition, a mobile home park was constructed directly on top of the site, east of Mound A.

The state of Florida commenced acquisition of the Crystal River site in 1962, with the
donation of 14.5 acres by S.M. and E.A. Whitcraft and G.C. and I. Dyer (FDEP 2000:1, Addendum
1). The archaeological site, as defined by the limits of the archaeological park, was listed on the
National Register of Historic Places in 1970 (FDEP 2000:7). The property was designated as a
National Historic Landmark in 1990. The White property (the mobile home park) was added to the
park in 1997 (FDEP 2000:20).

12
Mound A

Mound A

Figure 1-6. Comparison of 1952 (top) and 1969 (bottom) aerial photographs of Crystal River.
Photo credits : aerial photograph DCP-7H-69, flown 1-8-52, and aerial photograph DCP-ILL-252,
flown 12-4-1969, Aerial Photography: Florida project, http://web.uflib.ufl.edu/digital/collections/
FLAP/.

13
Previous Research
Weisman (1987, 1995) has admirably summarized the long and complicated history of
archaeological investigations at Crystal River. The brief outline that follows draws primarily from
his overview, but also from Milanich (1999) and primary published and unpublished sources.

The earliest published description of Crystal River dates to 1859 (Brinton 1859; Weisman
1995:19). This account, by F.L. Dancy of the U.S. Coast Survey, describes the largest mound at the
site (what would later be designated Mound A or the “Spanish Mound”) as 12.2 m (40 ft) high, with
a nearly level summit about 9.1 m (30 ft) across.

C.B. Moore (1903, 1907, 1918) conducted the earliest archaeological excavations at Crystal
River. Despite the limitations in his field methods and reporting, Moore’s excavations remain the
most intensive work ever conducted at Crystal River, and the baseline for all subsequent
interpretations of the site (Weisman 1995:12-14).

Moore began work at Crystal River in the spring of 1903, as part of a season of field work
on the Gulf Coast that began in Tampa and extended as far west as Mississippi (Moore 1903,
Weisman 1995:12). As was noted above, the property was then under the control of Mr. R.J. Knight
of Crystal River. Moore (1903:382) reported that “though the shell-heap [Mound A] on Crystal
River is a famous one, the sand mound [the Main Burial Complex, as described below] was
unknown to the inhabitants of the town of Crystal River, even the owner being unaware of the
existence of this mound.”

Moore spent a week at the site in 1903, focusing his excavations on the Main Burial
Complex, which he labeled Mounds C-F (Moore 1903). While work was conducted in all parts of
the complex, he concentrated on the central sand mound (Mound F). The excavations here
produced many of the exotic artifacts for which the Crystal River site has become famous. Moore
also produced the first map of the site, assigning the letter designations that are still used today for
the major features of the site (Moore 1903; Weisman 1995:12-13). Notably, Moore’s map does not
mention the two earthworks known today as Mounds J and K, nor any of the presumed stelae.

Moore returned to Crystal River in 1906 (Moore 1907; Weisman 1995:13). As before, he
focused on the main burial complex, but this time directed his efforts to the “elevation” or platform
(Mound E) surrounding the central burial mound (Mound F), and to a lesser extent the circular
embankment (Mound C). He found a number of burials in both locations, but most here lacked the
exotic artifacts of copper and quartz crystal found in Mound F.

Moore made his final visit to the site about a dozen years later (Moore 1918). Weisman
1995:13) puts the last season of fieldwork in 1917, while Milanich (1999:7) reports that it took place
from April 9-12, 1918. Given that Milanich examined the field notes firsthand, a 1918 date seems
more likely. Whatever the precise year, Moore continued working in the circular embankment
(Mound C), where he identified a number of burials with shell and limestone. He also investigated a
mound to the north of the present-day state park.

In all, Moore and his crew spent 34 days at Crystal River, about 25 of which were likely
spent conducting excavations (Milanich 1999:7). Despite this relatively limited amount of time, they
recovered the skeletal remains of at least 429 individuals. As Milanich notes, this would be
impossible employing modern standards of excavation. Human remains and artifacts must have
been removed very quickly. Moore did not keep detailed field drawings, and no grid system was
employed. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to suggest that Moore’s work at Crystal River may have
spared the site from destruction through looting or development, by making its importance evident
to a later generation of archaeologists.

14
There were no archaeological investigations at Crystal River for more than three decades
following Moore’s final field season in 1918. Nevertheless, the site was occasionally visited and
mentioned in print. In 1924, botanist John Small toured Crystal River and described the “Spanish
Mound” (Mound A) as between 25 and 30 ft tall (Small 1924; Weisman 1995:25). More importantly,
during the 1930s and 1940s archaeologists began assessing the significance of the site through
studies of its material culture, chronology, and apparent connections with the Hopewell
phenomenon. Greenman (1938) recognized the affinities between artifacts from Crystal River (as
reported by Moore) and those from Hopewell sites in Ohio. Willey (1948a; Willey and Phillips 1944)
puzzled over the pottery from Crystal River and its relationship to Mississippian types. After some
confusion, he eventually concluding that the pottery from Crystal River was ancestral to
Mississippian types (Willey 1948c). In 1949, Willey published his landmark synthesis of the
archaeology of the Florida Gulf Coast, in which he identified the pottery from Crystal River as
belonging to the Deptford, Santa-Rosa Swift Creek, and Weeden Island complexes (Willey 1949a).

Also in 1949, Willey visited Crystal River for a day with Antonio Waring, Jr., and Rufus
Nightingale. Willey’s investigations were limited to a surface collection of Mounds C and F
(Milanich 2007:22; Weisman 1995:28; Willey 1949b). In his report of this work, Willey described the
sherds as belonging to the Weeden Island, Pasco, and St. Johns series. Willey pointed out that the
dating of Mound A was still unresolved, but suggested the possibility that the mound could date to
the Santa Rosa-Swift Creek or Weeden Island I periods.

A complicating factor in these early attempts to situate Crystal River in the prehistory of the
Southeast was the shortened chronology of the day and the related assumption that Weeden Island
was contemporaneous with fully developed Mississippian cultures in the interior. Indeed, as Knight
and Schnell (2004:3-4) have pointed out, in the 1940s the Woodland and Mississippian sequence for
the Gulf Coast was compressed into the interval after A.D. 500: Fort Walton was posited to have
been essentially protohistoric in age (ca. A.D. 1500 to 1650), late Weeden Island (or Weeden Island
II) was assumed to date as late as A.D. 1500, early Weeden Island (Weeden Island I) was thought to
post-date A.D. 1000, and Swift Creek culture was assumed to have a long duration that began
around A.D. 500 and extended as late as A.D. 1250 or 1300.

A second complicating factor in the dating of Crystal River was the presence of flat-topped
mounds. The thinking of the day was that such mounds dated predominantly or exclusively to the
Temple Mound, or Mississippian period (Phillips et al. 1951). Only within the last twenty years has
the existence of pre-Mississippian platform mound construction become widely accepted (e.g.,
Jefferies 1994; Knight 1990; Pluckhahn 1996, 2003).
To resolve questions about the relative ordering of the pottery series and mound
construction at Crystal River, Hale Smith conducted limited work at the site in February, 1951
(Smith 1951; Weisman 1995:14, 28-29). His investigations included one 2 foot by 2 foot test in the
midden area (Mound B), another test of equal size in Mound H, several test in Mounds C and E, and
a surface collection of Mound A. Smith’s analysis suggested that at least a portion of the Mound C
embankment was constructed late in the Weeden Island period, refining Willey’s earlier temporal
assignment.

A short time later, in June, 1951, Ripley Bullen initiated the first of several seasons of field
work at Crystal River (Bullen 1953; Weisman 1995:28-29). The 1951 investigations included two
stratigraphic excavations in the midden (Mound B) to test his idea that the site (and particularly the
burial mound complex) was in use for more than one period (Bullen 1951) . On the basis of this
work, Bullen postulated three periods of occupation and mound construction: Santa-Rosa Swift
Creek (lower levels of Mound F), Weeden Island (the Mound E platform and Mound C
embankment), and late Weeden Island or Safety Harbor (the upper levels of Mound F).

Bullen completed extensive excavations at Crystal River in 1960 (Weisman 1995:37-38).


Perhaps most significantly, these investigations included topographic mapping that led to the

15
identification of two additional mounds and an extension of the midden area (Mound B) to the
north of Mound A. Bullen described Mound J as an “irregularly shaped imminence of shell”
(Weisman 1995:37), while Mound K was described as a flat-topped deposit resembling a small
temple mound. Tests were excavated into these two mounds. Another test was excavated into
Mound G, where 35 burials were identified in a 10 foot by 20 foot trench. Finally, Bullen identified
undisturbed burials in the Mound F platform and Mound C embankment. Unfortunately, the 1960
investigations by Bullen have never been thoroughly reported.

As was previously noted, the state of Florida commenced acquisition of the Crystal River site
in 1962 (FDEP 2000:1, Addendum 1). In 1964, as the site was being cleared for the creation of the
state park, two limestone stelae were discovered (Bullen 1966; Weisman 1995:31-32). Bullen
excavated the area around Stela 1 (south and east of the main burial complex), which is pecked and
incised with a representation of a human face. The identification of these two, plus a third possible
stela (Hardman 1971) have fueled speculation about connections between Crystal River and
Mesoamerica (Bullen 1966, Ford 1966, 1969; Hardman 1971).

Contemporary fieldwork at Crystal River has been limited. In 1985, Brent Weisman and
Jeffrey Mitchem excavated core samples and two 2-x-2-m test units in the midden north of Mound
A, with the goal of obtaining samples from the Safety Harbor component on the site (Weisman
1995:35-36). These excavations have never been thoroughly reported.

More recently, Gary Ellis has conducted work at Crystal River in response to natural
disasters and general park maintenance (Ellis 1999, 2004; Ellis and Martin 2003). Perhaps most
significantly, Ellis has identified intact midden deposits buried below fill in the area east of Mound
A.

Theoretical Perspective
Technical reports are, by definition, comprised mainly of data and generally contain little in
the way of theory. This technical report will be no exception. However, we feel it important to
briefly outline the theoretical perspective that we bring to our investigations of Crystal River.

Much of the previous work at Crystal River can be characterized as either diffusionist or
neo-evolutionary in perspective. Under the former, the mounds, stelae, and non-local goods were
interpreted as evidence of the movement of people or ideas from Mesoamerica (Ford 1966, 1969;
McMichael 1960, 1964). The neo-evolutionary perspective, on the other hand, downplayed the
possibility of influences from Mesoamerica, as well as contact with Hopewellian societies in the
Midwest. Instead, similarities between Crystal River and sites elsewhere were viewed as the product
of concordant evolutionary change and similarities in socioeconomic adaptation. Perhaps more
damaging for ongoing attempts to interpret Crystal River, the pyramidal mounds were taken as
evidence of a Mississippian occupation and a chiefdom level of sociopolitical development (Bullen
1951, 1953; Smith 1951).

Our work is guided by the view that monuments of earth and shell such as those at Crystal
River—as well as less monumental material remains such as artifacts and features—represent
cultural practices not reducible to general evolutionary types and not explainable through broad-
brushed, cross-cultural comparisons. Instead, we follow a line of thinking termed “historical
processualism” (Pauketat (2001a, 2001b) that emphasizes the value of considering “genealogies of
cultural practices” (Pauketat 2004:38-39) within specific localities. The limited scope of our and
previous investigations at Crystal River restricts our ability to describe specific cultural practices.
Nevertheless, we see our work at Crystal River as the first step toward such a genealogy of place and
practice.

16
CHAPTER 2
TOPOGRAPHIC MAPPING

Almost sixty years ago, Gordon Willey (1949b:45) noted the need for a detailed topographic map
of the Crystal River site to supplement the original sketch map by C.B. Moore (1903:Figure 17):

The Crystal River site is an ideal spot for intensive research at our present stage of
knowledge in Floridian and Southeastern archaeology. First, a new map of the site
should be made. As we have stated, the Moore map seems to be correct as to the
features we were able to check; but even if it is perfectly accurate it is not sufficiently
detailed.

Despite Willey’s plea, Moore’s sketch provided the foundation for most of the later maps of the site,
with additions and relatively slight modifications by Bullen (1966). Comprehensive mapping of the site
using modern mapping methods would not take place until 2007, when Weisman and colleagues (2007)
conducted a High Definition Documentation Survey (HDDS). The HDDS mapping employed a
combination of three-dimensional laser scanners, global position systems, and total stations. While the
work by Weisman and colleagues (2007) has the potential to provide highly detailed representations of
the topography of the Crystal River site, the site maps included in the report still lack significant detail.

The lack of detailed topographic mapping at Crystal River has created another, related problem:
the lack of a site-specific grid system. Previous investigations by Bullen and Smith, while referenced to
relatively permanent site features such as the corners of mounds, were apparently not placed with
respect to a grid system. More recent excavation units by Weisman and Mitchem were placed on a grid
relative to a transit station near Mound K (Weisman 1995:51), but the precise location of this station
is now unknown. Thus, previous excavations at Crystal River can only be relocated very generally.

Although maps are valuable for descriptive purposes, they also have the potential to test
interpretive hypotheses and to guide the development of new research questions. In the Southeast, this
is exemplified by the recent mapping of the famous Poverty Point site in Louisiana by Kidder (2002).
Kidder’s work demonstrated that previous maps of the site had over-emphasized the symmetry of the
earthworks, which had been used to bolster claims for the presence of a large and sedentary community
with centralized leadership.

The principal goals of our mapping were, therefore, three-fold. First, we wanted to create a
detailed topographic map that could be used to describe important site features, as well as the overall
plan of the site. Secondarily, we wanted to create a site-specific grid system to reference previous
excavations and to guide our present and future investigations at the site. Finally, we hoped our
mapping would provide a basis for testing previous hypotheses regarding the Crystal River site.

Methods
Detailed topographic mapping of the Crystal River site was accomplished using three laser
total stations, including one Leica and two Sokkia models (Figure 2-1). First, however, we used an
optical Sokkia transit with a compass to establish a grid system oriented with magnetic north. The
optical transit was set up over a control point established by Wesiman and colleagues (2007). This
point, marked by a nail in the parking lot of the museum, is located at East 454944.5 and North
1663963 on the Florida State Plane HARN grid system, and has an elevation of 5.434 ft above mean
sea level (amsl) (Lori Collins, personal communication, 2008).

17
Figure 2-1. Topographic mapping of Mound A at Crystal River, view to the west-northwest.

For the purposes of our mapping and subsequent investigations, the control point in the
parking lot of the museum was given the arbitrary grid designation East 1000.000 m North 1000.000
m. Grid locations increased to the east and north of this point, and decreased to the west and south.
Elevations were taken in meters amsl relative to this control point. Both horizontal locations and
elevations were measured to the nearest millimeter. However, in this report we generally present
measurements to the nearest centimeter.

Using the three total stations, we Table 2-1. Grid Locations and Elevations for Datums
collected approximately 18,000 Employed at Crystal River.
elevations across the site. The survey
data was downloaded from the total Datum # East North Elevation
stations daily. Maps were created using (see Figure 2-2)
ArcGIS 9.1 (ESRI, Inc.) and SURFER
(Golden Software, Inc.) GIS and 1 1000.000 1000.000 1.656
mapping software. 2 980.000 1000.000 1.271

Figure 2-2 is the detailed 3 1000.000 980.000 1.371


topographic map created as a result of 4 1035.072 776.553 2.175
our survey work. This map documents
the location of the control point 5 1020.860 852.296 1.479
established by Weisman and colleagues, 6 1098.710 830.646 1.310
as well as several other permanent
datums that we placed on the site to
facilitate any future reconstructions of the grid system. These points, which are fully documented in
Table 2-1, were marked with iron spikes so that they may be more easily relocated with a metal
detector. Figure 2-3 presents the same elevation data in “three-dimensional form,” with modern
features such as roads removed and with a 2X vertical exaggeration.

18
0 Ñ 45 m Mound H

contour interval = 20 cm
#
* = datum
$ = stele

Mound G

plaza
2 1
#
* #
*
3
#
*

3
$
2
$

Mound J

Mounds C-F

5 1
#
* $
e

6
fenc

#
*
Feature B

Mound K

4
#
*

Feature B (Midden)

Mound A

Crystal River

Figure 2-2. Topographic map of Crystal River based on total station survey. See Table 2-1 for the
grid coordinates and elevations of datum points.
19
20

Figure 2-3. "Three-dimensional" view of topography at Crystal River. Vertical exaggeration is 2x. View is to the northeast.
Results
Topographic mapping presents new insights into size and configuration of features at Crystal
River, as well as the spatial relationships between features. We begin with general observations
regarding the general layout of the site and the locations of previous excavations before turning to
more detailed descriptions of individual features.

The Crystal River Site Plan

As noted above, Moore’s (1903:Figure 16) sketch map has long served as the principal base
map for Crystal River, with only slight modifications and additions by later investigators. It is
therefore instructive to compare Moore’s map with the topographic map we completed in 2008.
Using a GIS, we scanned Moore’s map, reproduced it at approximately the same scale as our own,
and made it 20 percent transparent so that the two maps could be more easily compared. To anchor
the two maps, we focused on Moore’s depiction of the northern slope and summit of Mound A,
given that these features are reasonably well-preserved (in contrast with Mounds C-F, which were
completely excavated and rebuilt). We then rotated Moore’s map to get a “best fit” with our own.

Figure 2-4 shows the results of this analysis. What is immediately apparent is the degree to
which Moore’s map must be rotated to bring the major site features into alignment with our own
map. Only after Moore’s map is rotated about 9/ east of north do the two maps roughly coincide.
The reasons for this discrepancy are unclear. Certainly, some variation in north might be expected
in the more than 100 years between Moore’s mapping and our own. According to the National
Oceanic and Space Administration Satellite Information Service (2008), the current magnetic
declination at Crystal River is 4/ 42' West, while in 1903 the magnetic declination was 2/ 18' East.
Thus, a difference of approximately 6/ might be expected.

Notwithstanding the orientation of Moore’s map, it is otherwise remarkably in agreement


with our own. Our mapping indicates that the main burial mound complex (Mounds C-F), as well
as Mounds G and H, are located slightly further west (relative to Mound A) then as mapped by
Moore. Perhaps the greatest discrepancies between Moore’s map and our own are, first, in the
placement and orientation of the shell midden he designated as “B” (particularly along its eastern
end), and, second, in the depiction of the topography immediately north of Mound A. In general,
however, Moore mapped the relative distances and orientations of these mounds with astonishing
accuracy, given the simple mapping technology of the day, as well as the dense vegetation that
covered the site at the time of his visit.

We can also compare our map against one completed by Bullen (1966:Figure 2) (Figure 2-5).
This is the most detailed of several maps completed by Bullen, in that it includes Stelae 1 and 2,
Mounds J and K, and the causeway connecting Mounds G and H. Not surprisingly, given that
Bullen appears to have based this site map on Moore’s, it also needs to be rotated significantly to
bring it into alignment with our own. Once this is done, however, the two maps correspond nicely,
particularly in regard to Mounds J and K. Bullen may have corrected the locations of Mounds G
and H, given the closer correspondence of these features to our map (vis-a-vis Moore’s sketch).

Two major discrepancies standout in the comparison of our map with Bullen’s. The first is
his placement of Stela 2, which he depicts about 12 m south of its current location, as documented
by our mapping. Some of this discrepancy may be attributed to errors in scale and orientation. The
second major discrepancy is in the placement of the eastern end of the shell midden (Feature B). It
is notable that Bullen considerably revised the appearance of this end of the shell midden from
Moore’s original sketch. Modern house construction may have altered the shape of the midden in
this area after Bullen’s map was completed.

21
Crystal River

Figure 2-4. Comparison of Moore's (1903) sketch of Crystal River with our recent topographic map.

22
Crystal River

Figure 2-5. Comparison of Bullen's (1966) sketch of Crystal River with our recent topographic map.

23
Our recent mapping casts doubt on
some of the assertions put forth by Hardman
(1971) and Williamson (1984) (Figure 2-6)
concerning the alignments of several of the key
features of the site with the cardinal directions
and solar events such as the solstices and
equinoxes. For example, these authors claim
that a line between Stela 2 and the top of Mound
F is oriented due east (90/), the direction of the
rising sun at the equinox. Our map shows the
actual alignment at 96/. Of course, in judging
the veracity of this and previous analyses, it must
be kept in mind that the burial mound complex
was completely excavated and rebuilt. It should
also be kept in mind that the dense vegetation
that surrounds the site now—and presumably
also in the past—would have obscured the view
of the sun along the horizon unless special
sighting lines were cleared.

Hardman (1971) and Williamson (1984)


also claim significance to the alignment between
Stela 2 and the top of Mound J, and again
between Stela 2 and the northern end of the
Mound C embankment. They associate these
with the setting sun at the winter solstice and the Figure 2-6. Potential astronomical alignments of
rising sun at the summer solstice, respectively. mounds at Crystal River. Reproduced from
According to our map, these three features do Williamson (1984:261).
not form a straight line, and thus at the very least
cannot represent both of the phenomena they
describe (the angle from Stela 2 to Mound J is 246/, while the angle from Stela 2 to northern end of
Mound C is 72/).

Some of the presumed solar observations at Crystal River come closer to the mark. For
example, Hardman (1971) and Williamson (1984) suggest that a line between Stelae 2 and 1 could be
utilized to mark the position of the rising sun at the winter solstice. Our calculations place the angle
between the two stelae at around 119/. This is about 2-3/ from actual azimuth of the sun at dawn
on the winter solstice today (Hardman 1971:155; National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory 2009), but close enough for a general
observation of this solar phenomenon (bearing in mind the same caveats we raised above).

While the two stelae could conceivably have been important for observations of the winter
sunrise, our map casts serious doubt on the purported alignments of Mound F and Stela 2 with the
western and eastern ends of the Mound H platform, respectively (Hardman 1971; Williamson 1984).
In fact, a line extending north from Mound F passes near the base of the slope at the western edge
of Mound H, while a line north from Stela 1 intersects Mound H near the top of the ramp.

Bullen’s (1966:233) observations on the relationships between Stela 1 and Mound A and
again between Stela 2 and Mound H are also at least partially challenged by our map. Bullen
suggested that the ramps of these mounds pointed “a little east” of the corresponding stela. While
this is true of Mound H and Stela 2, the ramp of Mound A appears to have pointed substantially east
of Stela 1. Our mapping also suggests that the distances between mounds and stelae are further than
described by Bullen. Nevertheless, Bullen’s general point—that the two platform mounds each
roughly face a stela and that the distances between the mounds and stelae are comparable—is valid.

24
While our mapping does not support
several of the astronomical alignments of
mounds and stelae described by previous
researchers, we agree with Hardman
(1971:138) that the placement of these
features was probably not random. Indeed,
we believe that there are several elements of
the site plan at Crystal River that can—with
perhaps a certain amount of imagination—be
taken as possible indications of deliberate,
grand design in the placement of mounds at
Crystal River (Figure 2-7). First, a line
between Mounds F and G is more or less
parallel with a line between Mounds A and K
on an azimuth of 142/ (Stela 1 also falls in
alignment with Mounds G and F). A line
between Mounds K and F is roughly at a
right angle to these at 62/—the approximate
bearing of the rising sun at the summer
solstice (Hardman 1971:146). The distances
between the tops of these mounds may have
also been comparable; it is roughly 110 m
between Mounds G and F, and
approximately 100 m from the top of Mound
K to the former center of Mound A.

Of course, analyses such as this—as Figure 2-7. Possible patterns in the alignment and
well as those of Hardman (1971) and spacing of mounds at Crystal River.
Williamson (1984)—are fraught with
difficulties. As Vogel (2006) notes in his
critique of similar studies, the mounds have changed appearance since they were in use, and the
precise points of measurement that are utilized by contemporary investigators are often arbitrarily
determined. Moreover, as Weisman (1995:34) points out, demonstrating that mounds and other
features could have functioned in the manner proposed does not necessarily mean that they did so
function. Nevertheless, as noted above, it seems reasonable to suppose that the spatial arrangement
of mounds and stelae at Crystal River was not random.

Locations of Previous Excavations

As noted at the beginning of this chapter, previous excavations at Crystal River have
generally not been placed with respect to a permanent grid system, and are thus very difficult to
precisely relocate. One exception is the work by Weisman and Mitchem (Weisman 1995:51). These
units were placed on a grid relative to a transit station north of Mound K, but the precise location of
this station is now unknown. Thus, these units too can only be relocated very generally.

By georeferencing previous maps of Crystal River to our own, it is possible to approximate


the locations of many of the earlier excavations. Figure 2-8 maps the locations of all previous
excavation units that can be determined with some degree of accuracy. Table 2-2 provides summary
data for the size of these units and the sources for our placement of them. The primary sources for
these data include maps by Moore (1903:Figure 16) and Bullen (1966:Figure 2), as well as a variety of
published and unpublished descriptions (Bullen 1953; Smith 1951; Weisman 1995). Another useful
source—albeit of unknown accuracy—is a map on display at the Crystal River Museum. Ripley
Bullen was responsible for many of the displays at the museum (Brent Weisman,

25
Table 2-2. Summary Data for Previous Excavations at Crystal River.
Investigator, Year Unit Designation/Description Size Source
Moore, 1903 Mounds C-F - Moore (1903) and park map1
Moore, 1906 Mounds C, E - Moore (1907) and park map1
Moore, 19182 Mound C - Moore (1918) and park map1
Smith, 1951 excavation in Area B Midden 5 x 5 ft1 Smith (1951)
Mound H excavation 2 x 2 ft location undetermined
Mound C-F excavation ? location undetermined
Bullen, 1951 Test I 5 x 5 ft Bullen (letter to G.L. King, June 6, 1951,
on file at the FMNH; 1953) and park map1
Test II 3 x 7 ft3 Bullen (1953) and park map1
Bullen, 1960 Mound G excavation 10 x 20 ft?4 park map1
Mound G excavation 5 x 5 ft5 location undetermined6
Mound H excavation (summit) 5 x 5 ft?7 park map1
Bullen, 1964 Test 1 or 2? (northern-most) 5 x 5 ft?8 park map1
Test 1 or 2? (southern-most) 5 x 5 ft?8 park map1
includes C14 dates R2 and R3
C14 date R1 - park map1
Mound H excavation (ramp) ? park map1
Location I ? Bullen’s 1960 sketch map9
Location II 8 x 8 ft Bullen’s 1960 sketch map9
Bullen, 1965 Mounds C-F excavation ? park map1
Weisman and 510N/498E 2x2m Weisman 1995:51
Mitchem 1985
500N/535E 2x2m Weisman 1995:51
Weisman, 1993 unidentified test in Mound K ? park map1
Location B-1 ? Weisman’s field map
Location B-2 ? Weisman’s field map
Notes
1. Map on display at the Crystal River Museum.
2. Weisman (1995:13) puts the last season of Moore’s fieldwork in 1917, while Milanich (1999:7) reports that it was
April 9-12, 1918. Given that Milanich examined the field notes firsthand, a 1918 date seems more likely.
3. Bullen also described this as 7 x 4 ft (letter to Hale G. Smith, June 22, 1951, on file at the FMNH).
4. Bullen (letter to George Dyer, November 11, 1960, on file at the FMNH; see also Weisman 1995:59) described
this as 10 x 20 ft. However, in an unpublished manuscript he noted the dimensions as 15 x 15 ft (Bullen 1960).
Our geophysical survey suggests it may have measured 20 x 20 ft (see Chapter 3).
5. Wesiman (1995) describes this as a 2 x 2 ft test, but Smith (1951) states that it was 5 x 5 ft.
6. In a 1960 letter to George Dyer, Bullen reported this was located to east of the larger cut (see Weisman 1995:59)
7. Weisman’s (1995:60) estimate based on a photograph of the excavation (see Weisman 1995:Figure 16). A 5 x 10
ft trench also seems plausible.
8. Weisman (1995:50) estimated this at 4 x 5 ft based on examination of photos at the FMNH. A 5 x 5 ft test,
similar to those of Smith (1951) and Bullen’s elsewhere on the site (Weisman 1995:59), seems more likely.
9. See Weisman (1995:Figure 7).

26
0 Ñ 50 m
Mound H (summit)
excavation
contour interval = 20 cm

Moore's 1903 and 1906 seasons


Moore's 1918 season
Mound H (ramp)
Smith's 1951 season
excavation
Bullen's 1951 season
Bullen's 1960 season
Bullen's 1964 season
Mound G excavation
Bullen's 1965 season
Weisman and Mitchem's 1985 season
Weisman's 1993 storm assessment

Mound C-F excavations

510N/498E Mound K test

Location B-1

500N/535E

Test I
Stela 1 excavation
Unit B

Mound K test Test 1 or 2

Test II

Location B-2 Test 1 or 2

C14 date R1

Crystal River

Figure 2-8. Locations of previous excavations at Crystal River. Units not shown to scale (see Table
2-2 for actual sizes). Locations are approximate.
27
personal communication, 2008) and this map may be based at least in part on his first-hand
knowledge. However, the map also contains more recent data, such as the locations of units
excavated after the 1993 tornado. The 1985 excavations by Weisman and Mitchem are not depicted.

The locations of some of the older units can be pin-pointed with a high degree of accuracy.
For example, Weisman’s “Location B-1" (where a tree was uprooted during a 1993 tornado) is still
visible. Unfortunately, most of the other previous excavations can only be located to within
approximately 10 m. However, the fact that these can now be tied to a grid system should facilitate
their relocation with additional field investigations. In Chapter 3, we describe specific grid locations
for several older excavations that we relocated with the geophysical survey.

Mound A

Figure 2-9 presents the


results of our mapping of
Mound A at Crystal River. As
noted in Chapter 1, Mound A
has been described a number of
times, beginning in 1859
(Brinton 1859; Weisman
1995:19). This account, by F.L.
Dancy, describes the mound as
12.8 m (40 ft) high, with a nearly
level summit about 9.1 m (30 ft)
across. Subsequent accounts
have tended to revise the
estimates of the height of
Mound A downward, and the
width of the summit upward.
Moore (1903:379), for example,
described Mound A as 8.7 m (28
ft 8 in) high, with a summit 32.6
x 15.2 m (107 by 50 ft). He
estimated the basal diameter as
55.5 m (182 ft) by 30.5 m (100
ft). Moore also described a
graded way or ramp 24.4 m (80 Figure 2-9. Topographic map of Mound A. Red lines indicate
ft) long and from 4.3 to 6.4 m former outline of mound and ramp as described by Moore
(14 to 21 ft) wide. (1903)
Willey (1949b:41) noted
the general accuracy of Moore’s description. He described the summit as “exceedingly level
although not well squared.” At that time, the ramp approach was still “perfectly preserved” and
Willey noted that the only comparably well-preserved ramp was at the largest mound at Moundville.
A few years later, Bullen (1953:11) observed that Mound A remained as described and illustrated by
Moore and Willey, “except for a small hole in the top and some erosion by the river at its southern
corner.” Adding to the previous descriptions of the ramp, Bullen noted the presence of a “clearly
defined ridge or walkway of shells and midden material extending northeasterly towards the eastern
end of the shell ridge or midden.” Unfortunately, the southeastern two-thirds of the Mound A
(including the ramp) were removed for construction fill in 1960 (Weisman 1995:45). The removed
material was redeposited to the east of the mound to fill in a lagoon-like area.

28
Our mapping demonstrates a maximum elevation of 9.39 m amsl for Mound A. This is
about 8.2 m above the ground surface to the east and about 7.9 m above the ground surface to the
north, consistent with Moore’s (1903) description. The better-preserved, northwestern end of the
summit is about 12 m wide (northeast-southwest), within approximately 3 m of Moore’s description.
The mound is about 28 m wide at its base at the northwestern end, about 2 m off Moore’s estimate.
The consistency of our measurements with Moore’s general estimates suggests that at least the
northwestern end of the mound was little disturbed by the 1960s borrowing.

The Area B Midden

Perhaps no other feature at Crystal River has been so variously described as the shell midden
referred to by Moore (1903) as “B” (Figure 2-10). Moore (1903:379) described it as a “low, irregular
shell deposit,” beginning at the northwest corner of Mound and extending north before curving
east and “extending for some distance along the riverbank.” Willey (1949b:41) concurred with
Moore’s description of this mound as over 304.8 m (1000 ft) in length and 30.5 m (100 ft) in width.
He noted the height as 0.6 to 0.9 m (2 to 3 ft) in some places. Willey described the composition of
the midden as “shells and rich black midden” and suggested that “it undoubtedly represented the
refuse remains of prehistoric houses or occupation.”

Bullen (1951) provided the most literary description of the Area B Midden with his comment
that it was “...a curving shell ridge, shaped like a fishhook with a temple mound where the barb of
the fishhook would be...” He reported that the shell midden did not seem as wide as Moore had
indicated, attributing this discrepancy to the “...natural growth of soil, muck, humus, etc, over the

Figure 2-10. Topographic map of Area B Midden. Red lines show Moore’s (1903) depiction, blue
lines show Bullen’s (1966) plan.
29
lower portions of the sides of this midden...” Bullen also described for the first time a ridge
“extending nearly 200 feet northward from the bend of the shell midden.” He described this as “a
low, irregular ridge, wider towards the north” ending at low area filled with standing water. He
reportedly excavated a small test at the northern end of this ridge that demonstrated it to be a shell
midden deposit covered with 15 to 23 cm (6 to 9 in) of dirt.

As noted in Chapter 1, much of the Area B Midden was at least partially destroyed for the
construction of a mobile home park in the 1960s. The former boundaries of the mobile home park
are visible in our map as the sharp contour break extending north from Mound A to a point just
south of a park road, and from there continuing east-southeast to an existing fence. However, areas
of higher elevation within the former boundaries of the mobile home park, particularly in the
northwestern corner, suggest that some portions of the Area B Midden may survive even here.

Outside of the limits of the former mobile home community, the Area B Midden appears to
be reasonably intact. The northern extension of the midden is elevated approximately 1.8 m above
the wetlands to the west, making it somewhat higher than described by Moore and Willey. The
eastern end of the midden has been impacted by the construction of several homes (the park
supervisor’s home is shown on our map) and was the focus of only relatively limited mapping in
2008. However, the elevation here (about 60 cm above the surrounding ground surface) suggests
that portions of the midden may be intact. Inspection of soil profiles below the park supervisor’s
home by archaeologist Gary Ellis provides some corroboration for this observation (Nick Robbins,
personal communication, 2008).

The Main Burial Complex (Mounds C-F)

Given that they have been completely


excavated and were partially reconstructed in
1964-65 (Weisman 1995:53), Mounds C-F
(Figure 2-11) were not a high priority for the
2008 mapping program. Nevertheless, we will
consider briefly the correspondence between
early accounts of these earthworks and their
present states.

The only detailed description of the


Main Burial Complex was provided by Moore
(1903:379). He described Mound C as a circular
embankment 1.8 m (6 ft) high and 22.9 m (75
ft) wide. Within this was an area denoted as
“D” and described as “territory on the general
level,” meaning the same elevation as the
original ground surface. In its current, partially
reconstructed form, the Main Burial Complex
measures approximately 86 m east-west and 92
m north-south. The embankment (Mound C)
reaches a height of about 1.4 m above the Figure 2-11. Topographic map of the Main
surrounding ground surface on its southern Burial Complex. Red lines indicate Moore’s
end, somewhat lower than described by Moore. (1903) depiction.
It is about 27 m wide, within a few meters of
Moore’s estimate.

30
Moore (1903:379) described Mound E as “an artificial elevation of sand, irregularly sloping.”
No doubt for the sake of brevity, he often shortened this to simply “the elevation” (1903:382), “the
slope” (Moore 1907:407) or “the rise” (1918:571). Later observers referred to this feature as a
“platform,” “annex,” or “apron” (Bullen 1953:12; Willey 1949b:42). Although Moore did not
provide a height for Mound E, Bullen (1953) estimated this at about 1.1 m (3.5 ft), based on
Moore’s profile of the complex. The Mound E platform currently measures about 38 m north-
south and 40 m east-west. We estimate the height at around 1.2 m relative to the ground surface
within the enclosure, very close to that suggested by Bullen.

Mound F, the main burial mound, was built on the Mound E platform. According to Moore
(1903:379), Mound F was about 21.3 m (70 ft) across at its base. He estimated the height at 3.3 m
(10 ft 8 in). These figures correspond closely with the reconstruction of the mound. Our mapping
demonstrates a diameter of around 21 m, and a height of approximately 3.8 m measured relative to
the ground surface to the west.

Mound G
Although it was noted by Moore (1903:379) and partially excavated by Bullen (1965), Mound
G has been minimally described in published sources. Moore described it only as a low and irregular
ridge of shell. Willey (1949b:43) reported being unable to find the mound due to the heavy
vegetation that covered the area at the time of his visit, but nevertheless repeated and augmented
Moore’s description of this feature as a “...low irregular shell mound about 100 by 150 feet [30.5 by
45.7 m] in extent.” Bullen almost completely omitted Mound G from his early publications on
Crystal River, describing it only in passing as a “....shell deposit mentioned by Moore...” (Bullen
1953:11). His later excavations revealed the presence of a number of burials and a shell causeway
connecting Mound G to Mound H (Bullen 1965).

We were fortunate to conduct


mapping soon after park personnel had
cleared the remaining vegetation from Mound
G. Perhaps as a result of our unobstructed
access, the resulting map (Figure 2-12) differs
from previous accounts (surprisingly, the
previously-published rendition that comes
closest to our own is the otherwise cartoon-ish
map of the site by Williamson (1984)).
Specifically, the mound summit appears
roughly triangular, with a long axis oriented
roughly east-west. The slopes to the north
(toward the marsh) and southeast (toward the
plaza) are relatively clearly defined, while the
slope to the southwest is more gradual. The
mound trails gradually to the northwest in a
manner vaguely suggestive of a ramp. Based
on our mapping, Mound G measures roughly
51 m east-west and 34 m north-south at its
base. This is considerably larger than
estimated by Willey based on Moore’s map.
The mound’s height, which has never been Figure 2-12. Topographic map of Mound G.
described in print before, is approximately 1.5
m measured relative to the plaza to the east.

31
Mound H

Mound H (Figures 2-13, 2-14) has


also been only minimally described in
previous accounts of Crystal River. This is
surprising, given that it is a well-preserved
example of a type of prehistoric
construction that is rare in central and south
Florida, particularly on sites dating primarily
to the Woodland period. As with Mound
G, Moore (1903:379) expressed little interest
in Mound H, describing it only as a ridge of
shell “...12 feet in height, with a graded
way.” This disinterest can probably be
related to the Moore’s recognition that
platform mounds generally held few or no
burials, and thus little of the exotic items in
which he was most interested.

Subsequent accounts of Crystal


River also generally neglected Mound H.
Willey (1949b:42) was unable to find the
mound, noting that “the whole site area
lying back inland from the big mound, A, Figure 2-13. Topographic map of Mound H.

Figure 2-12. Topographic mapping of Mound H, view to the northeast from plaza.
32
and the riverbank is an extremely dense, mucky swamp.” Bullen (1953:12) was also unable to find
the mound at the time of his first visits to the site. Smith (1951) was apparently more successful,
having excavated a 2-ft-square test on the summit. Unfortunately, however, Smith provides no
additional description of the mound. Bullen later excavated tests on the summit and ramp of
Mound H (Weisman 1995:60). He described a causeway linking Mound H to Mound G (Bullen
1965), but—like Smith—provided no additional details about the mound itself.

Based on our mapping, Mound H measures about 73 m by 25 m at its base (not including
the ramp). The mound has a well-defined, rectangular summit approximately 55 m long and 8 m
wide, and about 3.7 m above the plaza area to the southwest. On the northern flank of the mound
opposite the plaza there is a small but distinct apron extending into the adjacent marsh. The ramp
on Mound H, which is almost equally as well-defined as the summit, extends about 31 m southwest
from the summit to the plaza. It measures about 6 m wide.

Mounds J and K
Mounds J and K (Figure 2-15) are
the only mounds at Crystal River that
were never mentioned by Moore (1903).
Weisman (1995:60) reports that this has
prompted some speculation that the
mounds could have been constructed
recently, perhaps using a bulldozer.
However, as Weisman also notes, the
large trees that appear on the mounds in
photographs taken in the 1960s would
seem to argue against modern
construction of these features. It seems
more likely Moore simply missed the
mounds due to the heavy vegetation that
then covered this portion of the site.
Some support for this interpretation
comes from the fact that Moore also
missed the northern extension of the
Area B Midden, on which these mounds
reside (Weisman 1995:62).

Curiously, however, both Bullen


(1951, 1953) and Smith (1951) also failed Figure 2-15. Topographic map of Mounds J and K.
to mention Mounds J and K in their
initial published reports of Crystal River, despite the fact that both archaeologists excavated units
nearby. Weisman (1995:60) reports that the mounds were first noted by Bullen in 1960. A sketch
map completed by Bullen that year shows the two mounds in minimal detail (Weisman 1995:Figure
7). In the version of this map that was later published, Bullen (1966) labeled the southernmost of
the two mounds as “J”, the reverse of his earlier designation (as well as the accepted designation
today). Bullen never described these mounds in print.

Mound J, the northernmost of the two mounds, by our calculations measures approximately
27 m northeast-southwest by 12 m northwest-southeast at its base. It must be noted, however, that
the base of this mound is somewhat in distinct and the mound could be said to extend farther on the
northeast-southwest line. The same can be said for the summit, which we measured at roughly 12
by 4 m. The top of the mound is elevated about 1.7 m from the ground surface to the south.

33
As Weisman (1995:62) has noted, Mound K is considerably more regular in shape than
Mound J. The mound is nearly square at its base, measuring about 21 m north-south and 19 m east-
west. The summit is more rectangular, extending about 12 m north-south and 7 m east-west.
Mound K is about 40 cm taller than Mound J, measuring about 2.1 m high relative to the ground
surface to the north. There are few or no indications of the ramp extending northeast, as drawn by
Bullen (1966). Weisman (1995:62) suggests that the ramp might have been added to bolster Bullen’s
case that this mound, as well as Mound J, were substructures for buildings associated with chiefs or
priests.

The Plaza

Bullen was the first to note that


the relatively flat area bounded by
Mounds G and H and the Main Burial
Complex resembles a plaza, as
documented on his 1960 sketch map
(Weisman 1995:Figure 7). In his 1965
note on the site, Bullen described this as
an area “...where people could assemble
to watch ceremonies conducted on the
top of Temple Mound H” (Bullen
1965:225). However, the plaza has
never been described in more specific
terms.

Today, the plaza appears as an


area of relatively uniform, low elevation
between Mounds C-F, G, and H (Figure
2-16). The plaza-like effect is enhanced
by the shell causeway linking Mounds G
and H (first noted by Bulen), which
appears to frame the northern end of the
plaza in a roughly rectangular fashion
extending south to the Main Burial Figure 2-14. Topographic map of the presumed plaza.
Complex. So interpreted, the plaza
would measure about 88 m long (north-
south) and 57 m wide (east-west). This is a substantial plaza, although not as large as the plazas at
several other Middle Woodland mound sites. For comparison, the plaza areas at the Kolomoki and
McKeithen sites measure 200 to 300 m long (Milanich et al. 1997; Pluckhahn 2003).
Nevertheless, one can easily imagine the plaza at Crystal River extending much further along a
northeast-southwest axis from Mound H to Stela 2, or perhaps even as far as Mounds J and K and
the Area B Midden. However, the southwestern end of this longer “plaza” is today low and
swampy.

The plaza is now broken and bounded by a number of paved park trails, most of which
appear to have been constructed in fill. One section has been built on top of the causeway between
Mounds G and H. The remnants of an old road are also visible as a finger of slightly higher
elevation extending northwest from a point near the northern end of the Main Burial Complex. The
ground surface becomes slightly elevated near the Main Burial Complex. As discussed in the
following chapter, the geophysical data suggest that this slight increase in elevation could reflect the
addition of backdirt from the excavations of the burial complex.

34
Summary
Considering the fame of Crystal River among archaeologists of the Southeast, the published
descriptions of the site are surprisingly brief and incomplete. Many of the site’s basic features,
including Mounds G, H, J, and K, have been only minimally detailed in previous publications and
reports. Much of this relates to the paucity, until very recently, of detailed topographic mapping of
the site. As Milanich (1999:14) has noted, Moore’s (1903) map of Crystal River has served as the
basis of most of the later maps that have been published. While the accuracy of Moore’s map is
commendable (particularly considering the technology of the day and the condition of the site at the
time of his visits) it is lacking in detail. Thus, a significant contribution of the mapping conducted
during the 2008 field season is the creation of detailed topographic maps and descriptions of some
of the site’s principal features.

As was noted at the beginning of this chapter, previous work at Crystal River has generally
not been conducted with reference to a site-specific grid system. As a result, many of the previous
excavations at the site can only be very generally relocated. A second significant contribution of our
mapping was thus the creation of a grid system. This grid system can be used to reference past,
present, and future investigations of the site.

Our mapping demonstrates that the site plan at Crystal River is both more, and less,
complex than envisioned by previous commentators. Many of the hypotheses regarding the
presumed solar alignments of features do not stand up to closer scrutiny. However, there are clearly
other elements of the site that argue for deliberate planning. As the focus of this report is primarily
descriptive, we will withhold speculation regarding the social implications of this planning.

35
CHAPTER 3
GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY

As noted several times in preceding chapters, contemporary archaeological investigations at


the Crystal River site have been limited in both number and scope. Sampling of the off-mound
areas has been less than systematic. In addition, in many cases the results have never been
adequately reported.

Geophysical survey provides a means to achieve a greater understanding of the site, while at
the same time recognizing the need for site preservation. More specifically, we initiated the
geophysical survey with three goals in mind. First, we hoped to identify the internal structure of the
mounds, including basic methods and materials of construction. Next, we planned to delineate the
spatial extent of the domestic occupation, focusing mainly of the horizontal distribution of the
midden deposits. Finally, we intended to locate previous excavation units.

Methods
Detailed descriptions of geophysical equipment and techniques are found in numerous
sources (Clark 1990; Dalan et al. 1992; Gater and Gaffney 2003; contributors to Johnson 2006;
Kvamme 2003). Briefly, many of these machines work in similar ways by detecting local physical
differences in the soil. These differences, termed “anomalies” by geophysicists, may or may not
represent human-induced disturbances (e.g., hearths, structures, walls, pits etc.). While each of these
machines works to characterize those physical changes in the soil, they do so in distinctive ways.
Therefore, each of these instruments provides a different perspective of the archaeological deposits
at a given site. Ideally, researchers should use a variety of archaeological instruments on a site as they
offer complementary ways to evaluate near-surface geophysical data (Clay 2001:42). As Clay
(2001:42 a 42) states, ‘‘the use of multiple techniques on a given site can vastly expand our
understanding of its geophysical characteristics and its archaeological structure.’’ The geophysical
program at Crystal River included resistance and ground penetrating radar (GPR) surveys.

Resistivity Survey

Resistance surveys induce a known electrical current to measure ease of flow or resistance
(Somers 2006:113). Archaeological features, such as pits, house basins, etc., can either be of higher
or lower resistance than the surrounding soil matrix, thus allowing detection. In this case, the shell
deposited as midden or used as a construction material at the site should impede the flow and thus
have higher resistance values (Dalan et al. 1992:51; Thompson 2007; Thompson et al. 2004:195).

We used a Geoscan RM RM-15 Advanced Resistance Meter to conduct the resistance


survey. Resistance data were collected in 50 cm intervals along transects spaced 1 m apart using a
twin electrode array (Clark 1990:44). The twin electrode array uses two pairs of current and
potential electrodes; one pair of probes was mobile, and the other was inserted in the ground 20 to
30 m away from the survey grid. The instrument’s mobile probes were mounted 50 cm apart on a
single frame. This arrangement recorded information up to a depth of approximately 50 cm below
surface.

Resistivity collection grids generally measured 20 x 20 m. However, in some cases we


imposed smaller grids (10 x 20 m) to conform to site features or to avoid obstacles. The resistivity
grids were oriented with grid north (and thus also magnetic north).

36
Figure 3-1. Resistance survey in the “plaza” northwest of the Main Burial Complex, view to the
southeast.

The project used ArcheoSurveyor® to process all resistance data. Following the procedure
outlined in Gater and Gaffney (2003:104, Figure 49), we first reviewed the raw resistance data.
Next, we used a high pass filter and de-spiked the readings. Finally, we enhanced the data by
smoothing and interpolating the values. Although a number of operations were performed,
processing did not significantly alter the raw data.

GPR Survey
GPR survey was used to complement the resistance survey. Unlike the resistance survey, the
GPR survey provided information on both the horizontal and vertical distribution of archaeological
deposits at the site (see Conyers 2004, 2007 for an in-depth discussion of GPR in archaeology).
Essentially, GPR propagates a series of radar pulses from a surface antenna. These waves travel
through the near surface and then are reflected back to the antenna upon encountering a physical
change in the medium. Buried objects, features, and differences in soil characteristics are all
examples of things that might cause reflections (Conyers 2007).

We used the Geophysical Survey Systems, Inc. (GSSI) SIR-3000 GPR with a 400 MHz
antenna to complete the survey (Figure 3-2). As with the resistivity survey, we collected the GPR
data in transect lines spaced 50 cm apart. However, the GPR collection grids were selectively sized
and oriented according to the feature being surveyed. For example, grids on the summit of Mound
H were oriented with the long axis of the mound, and sized to cover the platform.

Following collection, GPR data were processed using GPR-SLICE ® software. Radar data
are presented either as individual time slices or as a series of time slices showing how anomalies vary
according to depth. Time slices are shown as plan view images that are based on the thickness of
anomalies and the radar wave travel time.

37
Figure 3-2. GPR survey on the summit of Mound H, view to the east-southeast.

Results
The resistance and GPR surveys provide complementary, but varying data. We thus
consider the results separately before integrating them in a final summary section.

Resistance Survey
The resistance survey covered 49 20-x-20-m collection grids and two 10-x-20-m collection
grids, resulting in coverage of 2 ha (about 4.9 ac). We estimate this covers approximately one-half of
the site’s core area. In placing the collection grids, we emphasized areas and features that have been
less intensively excavated and which are not obviously constructed of shell, thus excluding for the
most part the Main Burial Complex and Mound A, respectively . Our survey blocks were generally
contiguous, allowing for a broad view of the distribution of archaeological deposits at the site.

Figure 3-3 is a composite map showing the locations of all of the resistivity survey grids
superimposed over our topographic map. Even at this relatively broad scale of analysis,
comparisons between the resistance survey and topographic maps show a striking correspondence;
topographic relief generally corresponds with higher resistance readings (i.e., the dark grey to black
areas). This generally reflects the use of shell as a building material, and as principal component in
the accretion of middens. However, there are some exceptions to this pattern. In addition, there are
a number of anomalies that bear closer scrutiny at fine scales.

38
0 Ñ 50 m Mound H

contour interval = 20 cm

Mound G

plaza

Mounds C-F
Mound J

e
fenc

Mound K
Feature B (Midden)

Mound A

Crystal River

Figure 3-3. Composite map of resistivity survey grids.

39
Perhaps some of the most
interesting resistance data comes from the
Mound G area (Figure 3-4). The western
half of this mound appears as an area of
very high resistance, no doubt reflecting
the use of shell as building material (recall
that Moore (1903:379) described Mound
G as a low and irregular ridge of shell).
More notable is the sharp break between
these high resistance values and the lower
resistance values to the east (Anomaly 1
in Figure 3-4). The latter undoubtedly
reflects the bulldozing of this portion of
the mound in 1960 (Weisman 1995:37-
38). Bullen’s 1960 sketch map of the site
(see Weisman 1995:Figure 7) shows a
path—possibly the bulldozer
cut—running almost directly north-south
across Mound G. It seems possible, given
the strong north-south orientation, that
Bullen cleaned the profile of the
bulldozer cut. We can place this line
Figure 3-4. Resistance data from Mound G. Red arrow between the apparent disturbed and
refer to anomalies discussed in the text. undisturbed portions of Mound G at East
1084.30 on our grid system.

Even more intriguing is the square-shaped area of lower resistance that extends to the west
of this line (Anomaly 2 in Figure 3-4). This area measures almost exactly 20 x 20 ft. Bullen’s
excavation into the undisturbed portions of Mound G has been reported as measuring 10 x 20 ft
(letter of Bullen to George C. Dyer, November 11, 1960, on file at the FMNH; Weisman 1995:37-
38). However, in several unpublished manuscripts, Bullen (1960, 1965) referred to this as a 15 x 15
ft hole. Assuming this anomaly does indeed represent Bullen’s excavation, the pit obviously
measured larger than has been reported in any of the previous accounts. We can place the corners
of this presumed excavation unit approximately as follows: 1) Northeast: East 1084.31, North
1003.05; 2) Northwest: East 1078.42, North 1003.24; 3) Southwest: East 1078.42, North 996.46; and
4) Southeast: East 1084.12, North 996.65.
Resistance data from the presumed plaza also merits closer examination. In the Southeast,
plazas are identified as flat areas that evidence no domestic occupation and are usually flanked by
some form of architecture (domestic or monumental) (Kidder 2004:515-516). As was noted in the
previous chapter, Bullen (1965:225) referred to the low, flat area southwest of Mound H and flanked
by Mound G and the Main Burial Mound Complex (Mounds C-F) as a plaza. This area is obviously
well-defined architecturally, but the lack of domestic occupation has been assumed, rather than
demonstrated.

The resistance data lend support for the assumption of a plaza (Figure 3-5). The area is
remarkably free of anomalies indicative of shell middens or other domestic features. This strongly
suggests that it is not merely an empty space, but rather “one of the central design elements of
community planning and intrasite spatial organization” (Kidder 2004:515). Plazas have been
identified at a number of Middle Woodland sites in the region, perhaps most notably at McKeithen
(Milanich et al. 1994) and Kolomoki (Pluckhahn 2003; Sears 1956). However, the plaza at Crystal
River differs from these in that is offset from the most prominent architectural element at the site,
Mound A. While unusual, an offset plaza such as this is without precedent. Fort Center, another
Middle Woodland center, also has an offset plaza (see Sears 1982).

40
While the plaza at Crystal River
displays homogeneously low resistance
values, there is one small, but
nevertheless very intriguing, anomaly
present (Anomaly 3 in Figure 3-5).
This area of relatively higher resistance
is positioned midway between Mound
G and the Main Burial Complex.
Further, it aligns relatively closely with
a line between the ramp to Mound H
and Stela 2. We are unable to interpret
this anomaly, but it is not unreasonable
to suggest that it could represent a
cultural feature such as a large post or
perhaps even another stela. Large
posts are frequent features on Middle
Woodland mounds in the region
(Jefferies 1994; Knight 1990, 2001). At
Kolomoki, Sears (1956:10) identified a
number of postholes on the edge of Figure 3-5. Resistance data from the plaza area. Red
the plaza below Mound B. Posts were arrows refer to anomalies discussed in the text.
commonly placed at the centers of
plazas at Mississippian sites (e.g.,
Boudreaux 2007; Hally 2008).

Several other small areas in the plaza that display slightly higher relative resistance (such as
Anomaly 4 in Figure 3-5) could also represent cultural features. However, most of these correspond
with areas of slightly higher topographic relief, perhaps as a result of trees or other natural
disturbances. The much larger anomaly (5 in Figure 3-5), corresponds with the northern portion of
Mound C, the circular embankment of the Main Burial Complex. In this case, however, it is difficult
to determine if the higher resistance values are indicative of shell or simply of disturbed fill, which
would produce a similar signature. The latter might be more likely, given that the Main Burial
Complex was almost completely excavated by Moore and Bullen. The trailing edge of this anomaly
leading northwest from the Main Burial Complex corresponds with an old road bed.

As was noted above, we did not make the


Main Burial Complex a primary target for
geophysical survey, due to the fact that it has been
extensively excavated and rebuilt. Nevertheless, it is
instructive to look at the resistance grids that
overlapped the mound (Figure 3-6). As with several
of the mounds, the Main Burial Mound Complex is
generally marked by high resistance values. In this
case, however, we believe that these higher values
represent disturbed fill used to recreate the mound,
rather than high shell content. Photographs of
Bullen’s excavations in Mounds C and F show
relatively little shell in the soil profiles (FMNH
negatives no. 889, 1466, 1262). The diffuse edges of
these areas of high resistance would also seem to be
consistent with disturbance.

Figure 3-6. Resistance data from the area of


the Main Burial Complex.

41
We devoted greater attention to
surveying Mounds J and K, given that they
went untouched by Moore and have
witnessed only limited excavations by later
archaeologists. As indicated in Figure 3-7,
both mounds show up as areas of high
resistance. In the case of Mound K, the
resistance values are almost uniformly
strong, and also discrete relative to
surrounding areas. This suggests to us that
at least the upper levels of this mound are
comprised of dense shell (see further
discussion below in the context of the GPR
data) and that the mound is well-preserved.
Notably, the resistance data suggest a more
direct north-south orientation to Mound K
than is apparent today.
The sloping sides of Mound K
display distinctly less resistance (less shell?)
than the mound summit. Bullen depicted a Figure 3-7. Resistance data from the area of Mounds
ramp on this eastern slope of the mound in J and K. Arrows refer to anomalies discussed in text.
his 1960 sketch map (see Weisman
1995:Figure 7). The low resistance values
for this area would seem to cast doubt on this interpretation, although it is possible that such a ramp
was a later addition constructed from different, less resistant, fill.

Surprisingly, Bullen’s test in Mound K is not obvious in our resistance data. It is possible
that his test was located on the western portion of the summit, in the area we did not survey.
However, the map of previous excavations on display at the Crystal River Museum places Bullen’s
excavation almost dead-center on the summit. Two factors may be at work. First, the unit was
terminated at a depth of only five feet (Weisman 1995:60). Second, probably very little of the shell
from Bullen’s excavation was kept. Assuming the unit was backfilled thoroughly, it would thus not
be surprising if the unit did not stand out against the undisturbed portion of the mound.

Mound J displays uneven resistance values. This suggests either that the mound was
constructed of less homogenous fill (perhaps growing more by accretion than by deliberate
construction) or that the mound has been disturbed. The undulating appearance of the surface of
the mound could be consistent with either of these interpretations. In possible support of the
notion that this mound has undergone some disturbance, it is worth noting the depression to the
south of the mound.

It is also possible—although perhaps not likely—that some of the areas of low resistance in
Mound J (e.g., Anomaly 6 in Figure 3-7) represent old archaeological excavations. Although
Weisman (1995:62) reports that there have been no excavations in Mound J, it is worth noting that
Bullen (1953) reportedly excavated a small test at the northern end of the shell ridge extending north
from Mound A. The reported location would seem to place this test in the vicinity of Mound J.

An area of slightly higher resistance (Anomaly 7 in Figure 3-7) runs between Mounds J and
K. This could represent a scatter of shell near the surface associated with the Area B Midden or
perhaps some modern-era disturbance associated with the depression to the west. There is also a
much stronger anomaly (8 in Figure 3-7) to the east of these mounds. This anomaly, which
corresponds to a slight rise in elevation, could represent a denser concentration of shell near the
surface, perhaps a relatively discrete midden pile within the larger Area B Midden, or perhaps
formerly buried material pushed nearer to the surface by bioturbation. It could also represent the

42
location of a former archaeological excavation; our calculations place Weisman and Mitchem’s unit
510N 498E in this area. While the anomaly is larger than the 2 x 2 m excavation unit, it seems
possible that the dispersal of backdirt could create a broader anomaly such as this one.

Mounds J and K and the previously described anomalies are located on top of the northern
extension of Area B Midden. It is worth also examining the resistance data for the main section of
the Area B Midden to the east of these mounds and Mound A. As was noted in the previous
chapters, the integrity of this area of the site was seriously compromised by the creation of a mobile
home park in the 1960s. However, surface topography suggests that a number of small areas of the
midden may remain intact (as could much larger areas of subsurface midden).

The resistance data from the Area B Midden lend support to the hypothesis that portions of
the midden remain intact (Figure 3-8). The largest of such areas is located along the former property
line that extends north from Mound A (see Anomaly 9 in Figure 3-8). Higher resistance values just
west of the property line correspond to greater topographic relief, and suggest the presence of intact
shell midden near the surface. These resistance values continue east of the property line in the
corner of the former mobile home park, suggesting that shell midden may survive in this area too.
There are a number of smaller, discrete areas of high resistance within the former limits of
the mobile home park (see, for examples, Anomalies 10 and 11 in Figure 3-8). Almost without
exception, these also correspond to areas of higher topographic relief. As with the anomaly
described above, we suggest that these too may represent intact shell midden deposits.

Figure 3-8. Resistance data from the Feature B Midden area. Arrows refer to anomalies discussed
in the text.

43
GPR Survey

We completed seven GPR grids


at Crystal River in 2008 (more precisely,
six grids and one single transect “grid”).
In contrast with resistivity survey,
which moves quickly and permits broad
areal coverage, the GPR investigations
are relatively slow. Thus, our GPR grids
were smaller and more targeted. We
focused particular attention on several
of the mounds that have been less
intensively excavated and thus remain
little known, in order to gain insight
into the methods and materials of
construction, as well as an enhanced
understanding of how the mounds
were used. However, we also
conducted several GPR grids in off-
mound areas (Figure 3-9). Figure 3-10
documents the locations of the seven
GPR grids.

The first three GPR grids were


placed on Mound H. As was noted in
Chapter 1, limited excavations were
completed on the summit and ramp of
Mound H, but the results have never
been reported. As a result, little is
known of the timing or method of
construction of this mound. Grids 1
and 2 focused on the eastern and
western halves of the summit platform
of Mound H, respectively. Figure 3-11
presents vertical profile “slices” from
Grid 1, which measured approximately Figure 3-9. View to the southwest of GPR Grid 5.
19.5 x 7 m. Vertical profiles from Grid
2, which measured roughly 18 x 5 m,
are displayed in Figure 3-12.

The radiogram profiles from both of these grids indicate a highly reflective layer at around
50 cm below the surface of the mound. Yet another highly reflective layer is indicated in Grid 2 at
around 90 cm. This layer is also present in the Grid 1, but is less clear due to the presence of other
highly reflective anomalies just above this layer. Although we cannot say for sure at this time, we
suggest on the basis of these data that Mound H was constructed in at least three stages. The highly
reflective layers represented in the GPR data likely represent construction fill containing higher
quantities of shell and/or limestone boulders. This interpretation in based on our knowledge of shell
layering at other shell bearing sites (e.g., Thompson et al. 2004) and photographs at the FMNH of
Bullen’s excavation that clearly show layers of dense shell deposits in this mound (see also Weisman
1995:Figure 16). Layers containing less reflective material probably represent stages of construction
or use composed of greater amounts of sand than shell. The fact that these levels are represented in
the profiles from both collection grids support a view that, in terms of the length of the platform,
Mound H was conceived as we see it today and expanded twice in the same general shape and
proportions.

44
0 Ñ 50 m Mound H

contour interval = 20 cm 2
1
3

Mound G

plaza

Mound J

Mounds C-F
e
fenc

4
Feature B

Mound K
6

5
7 Feature B (Midden)

Mound A

Crystal River

Figure 3-10. Locations of GPR collection grids.

45
Figure 3-11. GPR data from Grid 1, on the eastern half of the summit of Mound H. These are
vertical profile "slices" oriented east-west (east is to the right). The profiles progress from north
to south down the first column, and then continuing down the second column (i.e., the northern-
most profile is at top left, the middle profiles are at bottom left and top right, and the southern-
most profile is at bottom right).
46
Figure 3-12. GPR data from Grid 2, on the western half of the summit of Mound H. These are
vertical profile "slices" oriented east-west (east is to the right). The profiles progress from north
to south down the first column, and then continuing down the second column (i.e., the northern
-most profile is at top left, the middle profiles are at bottom left and top right, and the southern-
most profile is at bottom right).

47
Other anomalies can be discerned in the profiles from Grids 1 and 2. As noted above,
several highly reflective anomalies are apparent in the profiles from Grid 1, in the area just above the
lower-most highly reflective surface that we have tentatively identified as the first construction layer.
These anomalies could represent structural remains on this lowermost mound surface or perhaps
features such as pits or posts extending down from the later, higher mound surface. However, they
could also represent construction fill, as the fill in this mound was said to include large limestone
boulders (Bullen 1953).

Visible on the easternmost portion of the radiogram profiles from Grid 2 is a strong
anomaly that extends from the surface of the mound to a depth of over a meter. We suggest that
this represents Bullen's excavation on the mound summit, as the anomaly falls in the general vicinity
of his test, as indicated on a map at the Crystal River Museum and in photographs of the excavation
on file at the FMNH (see also Weisman 1995:Figure 16). A slight depression is apparent on the
surface of the mound in this area today, as indicated also on our topographic map (see Figure 2-13).
Grid 3, which was placed on the ramp to Mound H and measured approximately 16.5 x 7.5
m, lends additional credence to some of our interpretations concerning the construction of Mound
H. Specifically, the profiles from this grid (Figure 3-13) again display two buried reflective surfaces.
The first begins near the current ground surface at the base of the ramp (to the right in Figure 3-13).
Near the mound summit, it is buried about 40-50 cm below the surface. A second reflective surface
parallels this one at greater depth, beginning around 45 cm below the modern ground surface at the
base of the ramp and continuing upwards to the summit where it has an apparent depth of around
60-80 cm. Thus, we suggest that, like the mound summit, the ramp of Mound H was constructed in
at least three stages, each retaining the same general shape and proportions.

The last five Grid 3 profiles show a very prominent anomaly beginning approximately 2 m
from the western end of the ramp (near the summit) and continuing about 3-4 m to the east (down
slope). The strength of this anomaly, combined with its very regular shape, strongly suggest that this
represents the test pit that Bullen excavated in the ramp in 1964. If this is correct, Bullen’s unit
would be positioned within the range of East 1169-1174 and North 1053-1058 on our grid system.
This is slightly further north of, and upslope on the ramp from, the position indicated on the map
on display at the Crystal River Museum. As Weisman (1995:60) notes, however, the exact location
of this test is unknown.

The data from Grid 4, placed on the summit of Mound K, provides an interesting contrast
with the results from Mound H. As indicated in Figure 3-14, the profiles from this ca. 12 x 8.5 m
grid reveal that with the exception of the uppermost 40-50 cm of soil, it is composed almost
exclusively of highly reflective materials, which we interpret to be high-density shell deposits. The
absence of any layering suggests to us that this mound, rather than being constructed in stages, was
built in a single episode. The less reflective layer at the top of the profiles could represent the
buildup of soil on the surface of the mound during the period of use, or after use through the
decomposition of organic matter. Alternatively, and perhaps less likely, it could represent the
deliberate addition of a capping layer of relatively shell-free soil. In any case, if our interpretation is
correct, this mound was constructed using a different technique—and perhaps also under different
circumstances—than Mound H.

As with the resistance survey, we see no anomalies in the GPR data from Mound K that can
be definitively associated with Bullen’s excavation into the mound. As discussed above, the unit was
terminated at a relatively shallow depth, and we suspect that much of the shell was backfilled. It is
also possible that Bullen’s excavation was located just to the west of our grid, on the western edge of
the mound summit. In potential support of this explanation, there does appear to be one sharp
anomaly in the southern-most edge of the western-most profile (see Figure 13-14, upper left).
However, the map display at the Crystal River Museum places Bullen’s excavations near the center
of the summit. We have not identified any photographs of Bullen’s excavation in Mound K in the
FMNH that could be used to more closely pinpoint the location of his test.

48
49

Figure 3-13. GPR data from Grid 3, on the ramp of Mound H. These are vertical profile "slices" oriented roughly north-south with the
long axis of the ramp (north is to the left). The profiles progress from east to west down the first column, and continuing down the
second and third columns (i.e., the eastern-most profile is at top left and the southern-most profile is at bottom right). Note that the data
has not been corrected for topography.
Figure 3-14. GPR data from Grid 4, on the summit of Mound K. These are vertical profile "slices"
oriented north-south (north is to the right). The profiles progress from west to east down the first
column, and then continuing down the second column (i.e., the western-most profile is at top left,
the middle profiles are at bottom left and top right, and the eastern-most profile is at bottom right).

50
Grid 5, measuring 30 x 20 m, was positioned immediately to the east of Mound A, in the
area where the ramp formerly stood. As noted in previous chapters, the ramp was mined away in
the early 1960s and used to fill a low-lying, lagoon-like area. We hoped to determine if any vestiges
of the ramp remain buried beneath the fill.

The data from Grid 5, presented in Figure 3-15 as a series of horizontal planview “slices,”
are difficult to interpret. The first four slices seem to indicate a number of disturbances in the upper
40 cm, as might be expected given the grading of the ramp and subsequent use of this area as a
mobile home park. Higher reflective values below around 40 cm suggest the presence of a
somewhat more homogenous, denser stratigraphic layer. This would seem consistent with a shell
deposit, as corroborated by coring described in the chapter that follows. Whether this shell deposit
represents a surviving basal portion of the ramp to Mound A or simply shell midden associated with
Midden B is impossible to determine.

We are also unable to positively interpret the linear feature that appears along the left
(western) edge of the four lowermost slices. This north-south oriented anomaly runs along the
former property line separating the state park from the mobile home park. It is possible that this
anomaly represents some type of buried utility (sewer and water hook-ups are visible on the surface
in this general area of the site), although its depth (beginning around 60 cm below the ground
surface) would seem to cast doubt on this interpretation.

Grid 6, the largest of the seven GPR grids at 40 x 20 m, was located immediately north of
Mound A in the northern extension of the Feature B Midden. As with Grid 5, the data here (Figure
3-16) are difficult to interpret. The high reflectivity in the uppermost planview slices is consistent
with a midden with a heavy shell content within 40 cm of the surface. This finding is corroborated
by our coring (described in the next chapter).

Below around 40 cm, the planviews display more isolated areas of greater reflectivity. One
possibility is that the lower levels of the midden in this area are comprised of discrete piles or lenses
of shell, rather than the more continuous sheet midden suggested by the uppermost planview slices.

However, several of the anomalies that are visible in the lower planviews begin at or near the
surface. This suggests that these anomalies might instead represent test units, several of which were
placed in this general vicinity. More specifically, we propose that the anomaly in the southwestern
portion of Grid 6 may represent one of the two tests units excavated by Bullen in 1964. If this
hypothesis is correct, and if we assume that the sharpest area of reflectivity represents the location of
the unit, this test would be located somewhere in the range of East 1010-1018, North 782-790 on
our grid system.

A second strong anomaly near the northeastern corner of Grid 6 could represent either the
second of the two test units Bullen excavated in 1964 or one of the units excavated by Smith in 1951
(both were in this general vicinity). If so, this unit would fall at approximately East 1025-1028 and
North 810-813 on our grid.

The final GPR “grid” consisted of a single transect from the summit to the toe of Mound A.
Modern obstacles prevented us from expanding this into a larger grid. The Grid 7 transect was
positioned on the better-preserved, northern side of the mound. The transect began about 2 m on
to the summit, east of the wooden observation platform and continued down the slope east of the
steps (Figure 3-17). The transect measured about 18 m long, extending from East 1042.64 North
760.63 to East 1038.11 North 779.04.

Given that no professional excavations have ever been conducted in Mound A, the radar
profile from the Grid 7 transect (Figure 3-18) provides our only indication of the stratigraphy of the
mound. Not surprisingly—given that the exposed areas of Mound A show fill containing high shell

51
Figure 3-15. GPR data from Grid 5, east of Mound A. These are horizontal planview "slices"
oriented with north to top. The planviews increase in depth left to right and down, as noted
in the caption above each.

52
Figure 3-16. GPR data from Grid 6, in the Area B Midden north of Mound A. These are
horizontal planview "slices" oriented with north to top. The planviews increase in depth left to
right and down, as noted in the caption above each.

53
Figure 3-17. View to the north-northeast of GPR Grid 7, on the slope of Mound A.

Figure 3-18. GPR data from Grid 7, on the slope of Mound A. This is a vertical profile "slice"
oriented roughly south-west (left) to north-east (right). Note that the data has not been corrected
for topography.

54
content—the radar data demonstrates highly reflective fill within the depth of the radar signal (about
1.5 m). What is more intriguing, although difficult to interpret from the radar data alone, is the area
of less reflective fill toward the base of the mound (the area to the right in the profile in Figure 3-
18). This area, defined by a thin, curving lens of more reflective material (probably shell), could be
interpreted as evidence of an earlier, dome- or conically-shaped mound stage composed mainly of
less reflective materials. Obviously, however, this interpretation must remain very tentative until
further investigations can be conducted.

Summary
Geophysical survey provides new insights into the Crystal River site. We can now say with
some confidence that Mound H was constructed in two or three stages but always retained the same
basic shape, with a long, narrow, flat summit and a graded ramp. Some of these mound stages were
comprised of dense shell, while others appear to have had distinctly less shell content. We see no
evidence for the three structures that are reported in park interpretive materials to have stood on the
summit (Weisman 1995:60). However, there is some tentative evidence that features such as posts
or pits may have been present on one of the earlier mound stages.

We have also identified possible evidence for an earlier stage in Mound A. However, in this
case the evidence comes from a single radar profile, and thus must be considered preliminary.
Likewise, we can tentatively suggest that a portion of the ramp to Mound A may also be preserved
below the present ground surface. Additional GPR surveys should be conducted to test these
hypotheses.

In contrast with the results from Mounds A and H, the GPR data from Mound K indicates
that this mound was likely constructed in a single episode from fill composed primarily of shell. The
data do not provide any definitive support that this mound served as a platform for an elite
residence as Bullen suggested (letter to George Dyer, November 11, 1960, on file at the FMNH; see
also Weisman 1995:60-62). However, the strongly reflective shell layer may obscure other
anomalies.

The geophysical data also provide new information regarding off-mound areas at Crystal
River. The existence of a plaza between the Main Burial Complex and Mounds G and H is
confirmed by resistivity data. We cannot say what sort of activities took place in this plaza, but there
is little of the shell debris so prominent in other areas of the site, suggesting that this area was
deliberately maintained. Nevertheless, the resistivity data also point to several small anomalies in the
plaza that might be indicative of features. The most intriguing of these is a small area of high
resistance midway between the Main Burial Complex and Mound G, and roughly in line between the
ramp to Mound H and Stela 2. It is tempting to suggest that this could represent a posthole or
perhaps even a buried stela, but such suggestions are obviously conjectural.

The resistivity data demonstrate that the Area B Midden is largely intact in the area north of
Mound A. The data also suggest that small areas of intact deposits remain even within the limits of
the former mobile home park. These findings are supported by coring in these areas, as described in
the following chapter.

The geophysical survey also allows us to place the locations of some of the earlier test units
at Crystal River, most of which are previously undocumented. We can fix the location of Bullen’s
excavations in Mounds G and H with a fair degree of precision and confidence. Test pits excavated
in the Area B Midden by either Bullen or Smith can be more generally located based on anomalies in
the geophysical data.

55
CHAPTER 4
CORING

Our goals in 2008 were to find out as much as possible regarding the internal structure and
chronology of Crystal River, while respecting the need for site conservation. For this reason, the
majority of our efforts were devoted to topographic mapping and geophysical survey, as detailed in
the two preceding chapters. Geophysical survey data is frequently ambiguous, however. Limited,
small-diameter coring provided a means to check the geophysical data with only minimal disturbance
to the site. Secondarily, coring was initiated to provide materials for dating, including both artifacts
(for relative dating) and charcoal and bone (for possible radiometric dating).

Methods
Core sampling locations were determined largely with respect to the geophysical survey data.
However, no coring was conducted in mounds or other sensitive areas. Once a suitable coring
location was chosen, the grid coordinates and surface elevation were recorded with the total station.
Core sampling locations were numbered sequentially.

We utilized a core or auger measuring 8 cm (3.2 in) in diameter (Figure 4-1). The core
accepts a removable transparent plastic liner that can be capped, so that when the core and liner are
removed the soil profile can be observed and recorded. The core measures about 30 cm long.
When the depth of the core was reached, the sample was removed and the profile of the section was
recorded on project specific forms and photographed (Figure 4-2). The core sections were

Figure 4-1. Excavation and screening of Core Sample 1, view to the north.
56
numbered sequentially with increasing depth;
Section 1 extended from the ground surface to 30
cm below surface, Section 2 from 30 to 60 cm
below surface, and so on.

Soil samples were collected from the core


sections that retained sufficient volume of
undisturbed soil (i.e., soil that was not obviously
redeposited fill). The remaining soil from each
core section was screened in the field through
one-quarter inch (0.64 cm) mesh. Artifacts and
bone were bagged and labeled by the appropriate
provenience. Shell from the one-quarter inch
screening was weighed in the field and then
backfilled with the screened soil.

Artifacts and soil samples were Figure 4-2. Example of a core section.
transported to the Department of Anthropology
at the University of South Florida for processing (washing, sorting, counting, weighing, and
identification). Soil samples were transferred to 800 micron mesh bags and subject to running water
to remove the soil from artifacts. The remaining materials were passed through 1 mm mesh and
sorted to separate artifacts, bone, shell, charcoal, and other materials. USF graduate students Jana
Futch and Shannon McVey processed and sorted the soil samples.

Lithic debitage was sorted by raw material, the presence or absence of cortex, and size. Only
one stone tool—a chert biface or core tool—was recovered. Pottery was examined for
characteristics of paste, temper, and surface treatment. Pottery types were identified with reference
to established chronologies for the region (e.g., Willey 1948b, 1949a). Sherds smaller than 1 cm
were classified only as “residual.” The senior author analyzed lithics and ceramics. Shell and
charcoal were weighed and retained but have not been further analyzed. Faunal remains from the
one-quarter inch samples were identified by Matthew Compton using the comparative collections at
the University of Georgia Museum of Natural History. Analysis of faunal materials from the fine-
screened samples was ongoing at the time this report was completed.

All artifacts, notes, photographs, analysis forms, and other information from this project will
be submitted to the Bureau of Archaeological Research in Tallahassee for final curation. The
artifacts from each provenience were repackaged in acid free plastic bags with acid free paper tags
identifying provenience.

Results
We excavated five core Table 4-1. Grid Locations and Elevations for Core
samples at Crystal River in 2008. The Samples Excavated at Crystal River (see also Figure 4-3).
locations of these samples are
indicated in Figure 4-3. Table 4-1 Core # East North Elevation at
surface
presents the grid coordinates and
surface elevations of the five core 1 1062.08 762.33 1.12
samples. Brief descriptions of the
stratigraphy and artifacts recovered 2 1110.25 781.11 1.13
from cores follow. 3 1010.87 790.53 1.70
4 1016.91 816.16 1.81
5 989.96 860.03 2.42

57
0 Ñ 50 m Mound H

contour interval = 20 cm
!
( = core location (not to scale)

Mound G

plaza

Mound J

Mounds C-F

5
e
fenc

4 Feature B

Mound K
3
2

1
Feature B (Midden)

Mound A

Crystal River

Figure 4-3. Locations of core samples.

58
Core Sample 1

We placed the first core just west of Mound A to follow up on the data from GPR Grid 5
suggesting that a portion of the former ramp to the mound might survive in this area. Core 1, which
was located just east of the fence surrounding Mound A, provided some additional corroborating
evidence for this interpretation, although the evidence remains largely equivocal.

Soils in Core 1 consisted of a 10YR2/1 black fine sand loam with abundant shell, and were
relatively uniform from the first core section to the fourth and final section. The core terminated at
around 120 cm below the ground surface, where we encountered the water table. There were no
obvious disturbances, suggesting to us that the midden here represents either an undisturbed basal
portion of the Mound A ramp or an earlier midden upon which the ramp was constructed.

As indicated in Table Table 4-2. Material Recovered from One-Quarter Inch Screening of
4-2, there was a good deal of Core 1.
shell in each of the four
sections in of Core 1. The Sect. artifacts bone shell
slight decline in shell in the 1 1 plain limestone/grog tempered sherd 420 g
final core section was likely
due to the fact that some of 2 1 plain limestone tempered sherd 340 g
the sample was lost when we 3 1 residual sherd 3 (0.4 g) Osteichthyes 320 g
reached the water table.
These results are somewhat 4 1 plain limestone tempered 180 g
1 residual sherd
at odds with the GPR data
from Grid 5, which
suggested more reflective
deposits (and thus presumably more shell) at lower depths than near the surface. The discrepancy
could be due to the placement of Core 1 near the property line separating the former trailer court
from the state park, an area where more of the midden appears to have been spared from
destruction.

Soil samples were retrieved from Sections 1, 3, and 4 of Core 1. Processing of these samples
through fine mesh sieves produced a number of small fragments of bone, shell, and charcoal (Table
4-3). The faunal remains from these and other soil samples are currently undergoing analysis. In
general, these samples confirm a higher density of shell in the upper core section, when the weight
and volume of the samples are taken into account. Interestingly, however, the density of bone and
charcoal is significantly higher in the lower core sections.

We recovered a combined total of seven pottery fragments and three lithics from the one-
quarter inch and fine-screened samples from Core 1. Unfortunately, none of these artifacts shed
new light on the temporality of occupation at Crystal River. The plain limestone sherds are generally
consistent with a Middle and Late Woodland occupation, as documented by previous work at the
site.

Table 4-3. Material Recovered from the Fine Screening of Core 1.


Sect Sample Size <1.0 mm >1.0 mm fraction
fraction
weight volume (unsorted) artifacts bone shell charcoal
1 328.7 g 0.25 liter 20.8 g - 7.9 g 88.5 g 1.7 g
3 710.1 g 0.50 liter 61.5 g 1 plain limestone tempered sherd 31.9 g 95.6 g 4.4 g
1 chert cortical flake 1-2 cm
4 794.7 g 0.50 liter 76.6 g 1 plain limestone tempered sherd 52.0 g 57.8 g 7.3 g
2 chert flake fragments <1 cm

59
Core Sample 2

Following up on the results of the first core sample, we elected to excavate a second core in
the area east of Mound A that was formerly used as a trailer park. Core Sample 2 was placed well to
the east of the first core.

The soils in Core 2 differed from those in the first core. The soil was lighter in color,
consisting of a 10YR3/1 fine sand loam. It was also significantly more compacted, so much so that
we were forced to terminate the sample at around 50 cm below surface, before the second core
section could be completed excavated. Shell was present, but was largely broken up into smaller
pieces. Based on these observations, we believe that Core 2 intercepted a layer of fill that was
deposited when the area was leveled to create the trailer park. While it is possible that undisturbed
soils lie below this fill, we were unable to reach them with our coring tool. The contrast with Core 1
reinforces our view that the soils there are relatively undisturbed by modern development.

We recovered no artifacts from the one-quarter inch screening of the two sections of Core 2.
A few small artifacts, as well as bone, charcoal, and shell, were recovered from the fine screening of
two soil samples, as indicated in Table 4-4.

Table 4-4. Material Recovered from Fine Screening of Core 2.


Sect Sample Size <1.0 mm >1.0 mm fraction
fraction
weight volume (unsorted) artifacts bone shell charcoal
1 504.0 g 0.50 liter 48.2 g 1.6 g 91.5 g 0.2 g
2 674.9 g 0.50 liter 68.7 g 1 residual sherd 1.8 g 315.2 g 0.2 g
1 chert flake fragment <1 cm

Core Sample 3

The third core sample was positioned in the Feature B Midden north of Mound A. As
described in the previous chapter, a prominent anomaly is visible in the GPR data from Grid 7 in
this area. We suspect that this anomaly could represent the location of a test unit excavated by
Bullen in 1964.

Table 4-5. Material Recovered from the Core 3 was excavated to a depth of six core
One-Quarter Inch Screening of Core 3. sections. Soils in the first five cores consisted of a
10YR3/1 very dark grey fine sand loam. We reached
Sect. artifacts shell
the water table near the bottom of Section 5, at a depth
1 1 chert biface/core tool 180 g of around 150 cm below the ground surface. An
additional section was attempted. The soil in Section 6
2 200 g
consisted of a 10YR3/2 dark greyish brown,
3 320 g waterlogged sandy silt. Shell was present in all of the
sections of Core 3, although this is not reflected in the
4 280 g
one-quarter inch samples (Table 4-5) because portions
5 of Section 5 were lost in the water and because all of
6
soil that was retrieved from Section 6 was retained for
fine screening.

60
Figure 4-4. Excavation of Core Sample 3, view to the west.

An increase in shell in the lowermost depths of the core is indicated by the data from the
fine-screened samples (Table 4-6). The sample from Section 6 indicates that the shell midden
continues below the water table. Section 1 of Core 3 produced the only artifacts of note. We
recovered a chert biface or core tool from the one-quarter inch screening, and a few very small chert
lithics from the fine screening.
We saw no evidence of disturbances in Core 3 that could be considered indicative of an old
test unit. It is possible that our core missed whatever soil conditions produced the anomaly that is
visible in GPR Grid 6—particularly since the core was positioned in the extreme northwestern limits
of the range of grid coordinates we suggested in the previous chapter for the location of this
presumed test pit.

Table 4-6. Material Recovered from the Fine Screening of Core 3.


Sect Sample Size <1.0 mm >1.0 mm fraction
fraction
weight volume (unsorted) artifacts bone shell charcoal
1 397.2 g 0.25 liter 31.8 g 4 chert flake fragments <1 cm 0.4 g 138.1 g 0.1 g
2 395.0 g 0.50 liter 29.9 g <0.1 g ferruginous stone 0.8 g 251.9 g 0.1 g
3 398.7 g 0.25 liter 39.6 g 0.5 g 237.1 g <0.1 g
4 497.0 g 0.50 liter 41.1 g 0.4 g 318.3 g <0.1 g
6 103.5 g 0.10 liter 10.4 g 0.1 g 51.8 g 0.2 g

61
Core Sample 4

Core Sample 4 was also located in the Area B Midden north of Mound A. This was
something of a “control” sample, in that it was positioned in an area that did not correspond to any
major anomalies in the GPR and resistance data. It was, however, located on a slight rise in
elevation. The core was located about 15 m east-southeast of Mound K.

Soils from Core 4 proved generally comparable to those in other cores in this area. Sections
1-3 consisted of a 10YR2/1 black or 10YR3/1 very dark grey fine sand loam. In Section 4, the
darker soil became mottled with a lighter (10YR6/6 brownish yellow) sand. We terminated this
core sample with Section 4 at a depth of about 123 cm below the ground surface, due to the
presence of an impenetrable root. Although the bottom of the core had not reached the water table,
the soil at the base of the last section had become distinctly wetter.

Table 4-7. Material Recovered from the One-Quarter Inch The density of shell and bone
Screening of Core 4. generally increased with depth in
Core 4, as indicated in the material
Sect. artifacts bone shell recovered from the one-quarter inch
1 1 chert cortical flake 1-2 cm 100 g screening (Table 4-7). Several of the
bones were identifiable to the orders
2 1 plain sand tempered sherd 320 g of turtles (Testudines) and bony
3 1 (0.2 g) Testudines 260 g fishes (Osteichthyes). One bone was
1 (0.4 g) Osteichthyes identifiable as belonging to the genus
1 (0.2 g) Mugil sp. Mugil, which includes various species
4 4 (0.6 g) Osteichthyes 260 g of mullet. Artifacts were limited to a
single chert flake and a plain sherd
from the uppermost core sections.

The material from the fine-screened samples lends additional credence to our field
observations regarding an increase in bone and shell in the earlier, deeper levels of the midden
(Table 4-8), with the greatest density occurring in Section 4. As was previously noted, the faunal
remains from the fine-screened samples were still undergoing analysis when this report was
completed. The species list from Core 4 should be much more extensive when this analysis is
completed.

The large number of sherds in the sample from Section 2 is misleading. One sherd appears
to have broken into a number of very small pieces.

Table 4-8. Material Recovered from the Fine Screening of Core 4.


Sect Sample Size <1.0 mm >1.0 mm fraction
fraction
weight volume (unsorted) artifacts bone shell charcoal
1 209.1 g 0.25 liter 31.9 g 0.4 g 2.5 g
2 349.6 g 0.25 liter 45.3 g 14 residual sherds 8.5 g 46.4 g 0.6 g
1 plain limestone tempered sherd
1 chert non-cortical flake <1 cm
3 460.5 g 0.50 liter 50.3 g 8.8 g 87.8 g 0.2 g
4 457.8 g 0.50 liter 42.7 g 13.8 g 116.9 g 1.5 g

62
Core Sample 5

The fifth and final core sample was in several ways the most successful. First, we were able
to retrieve six core sections and accompanying soil samples. Next, the core produced a number of
artifacts, including one very unusual bone tool or ornament.

Core Sample 5 was excavated in the low area between Mounds J and K. As discussed in
Chapter 3, the resistivity data showed somewhat higher resistance values here relative to surrounding
off-mound areas. We wondered if represented shell displaced from one of the nearby mounds
(most likely Mound J) due to modern disturbances (as the surface topography seems to suggest) or if
instead there was simply denser shell midden near the surface in this location.

We saw no obvious signs of disturbance in the soils from Core 5. As elsewhere, the soil
throughout the core consisted principally of a 10YR2/1 black fine sand loam. We noted some
mottling with a lighter colored (10YR7/2 light grey) sand in Section 4, as was also the case in Core 4.
Excavation of the core was discontinued in Section 6, where we intercepted the water table at
around 180 cm below surface.
Contrary to the resistance Table 4-9. Material Recovered from the One-Quarter Inch
data, the density of shell was Screening of Core 5.
actually lighter in the first few Sect. artifacts bone shell
sections of Core 5 than in several
of the other cores that we 1 1 (0.1 g) Osteichthyes 100 g
excavated (Table 4-9). The 2 2 residual sherds 80 g
density of shell increased
dramatically in the last two core 3 1 plain sand tempered sherd 80 g
sections, however. The one- 4 4 plain limestone tempered sherd 160 g
quarter inch screening of Core 5
also produced bones identifiable 5 1 plain sand tempered sherd 1 (0.1 g) Testudines 320 g
1 (0.1 g) Osteichthyes
as belonging to the genuses of
turtles and bony fish. We also 6 1 modified panther molar 2 (0.2 g) Osteichthyes 320 g
recovered plain sand and
limestone tempered pottery.

By far the most interesting


artifact recovered from the screening of
Core 5, however, consists of a modified
molar from a Florida panther (Puma
concolor couguar) from Section 6 (Figure
4-5). The surface of the tooth has been
extensively ground, perhaps as a result
of its use as a tool or in preparation for
its use as a pendant. The bone socket
also appears to have been ground.
However, neither the tooth nor the
bone socket have been drilled. Moore
(1918) recovered the lower jaw of a
Figure 4-5. Three views of modified panther molar “puma” (presumably also a panther)
recovered from Section 6 of Core 5. Shown from his work at the site.
approximately actual size.

63
Materials recovered from the fine screening of Core 5 are listed in Table 4-10. Because the
deeply buried midden was denser and richer here, the materials from Sections 4-6 are being sorted
by faunal specialist Matthew Compton.

Table 4-10. Material Recovered from the Fine Screening of Core 5.


Sect Sample Size <1.0 mm >1.0 mm fraction
fraction
weight volume (unsorted) artifacts bone shell charcoal
1 286.8 g 0.25 liter 34.3 g 1 residual sherd 3.6 g 29.2 g 0.2 g
2 271.7 g 0.25 liter 27.6 g 4.0 g 36.0 g 1.0 g
3 430.2 g 0.50 liter 47.5 g 4.7 g 36.1 g 1.2 g
4 413.1 g 0.25 liter currently under analysis
5 308.1 g 0.25 liter currently under analysis
6 485.4 g 0.50 liter currently under analysis

Summary
Due to the difficulties encountered in penetrating roots, dense shell deposits, and the water
table, our coring at Crystal River was more limited than we had originally envisioned. Nevertheless,
the coring was at least partially successful in achieving our principal goal of “ground-truthing” the
geophysical survey data.

The soil profile from Core Sample 1, while somewhat at odds with the data from GPR Grid
5, seems to confirm the survival of basal layers of the ramp to Mound A or at least a midden upon
which this ramp was constructed. Core 1 contrasted sharply with Core 2 further to the east in the
location of the former mobile home court. Here, the signs of disturbance were obvious.

Cores 3, 4, and 5 were all located on the Area B Midden north of Mound A. Core 3 was
positioned to investigate the possibility that one of the anomalies in GPR Grid 7 might represent
one of Bullen’s test pits. We saw no obvious indications of such a disturbance, but it is quite
possible that our core missed the precise location of the old unit. Similarly, Core 5 was positioned
to investigate an area of slightly higher resistance that was evident in the resistivity data. We saw no
indications of denser shell near the surface that might have caused these readings.

Nevertheless, Cores 3-5 are generally consistent with GPR data suggesting that the lower
portions of the Area B Midden might be composed of relatively discrete clusters or concentrations,
in contrast with a more sheet-like midden in the upper layers. While shell and bone were present in
relatively large concentrations in the lower sections of all three of these cores, Core 5 was clearly
unique in the density of these materials.

This is also generally consistent with Bullen’s (1953) observations regarding the Area B
Midden. Bullen noted that the highest density of shell was generally found in the upper four feet,
which would correspond with the upper four sections of our cores . However, in one his Test II he
noted a deposit of crushed oyster shell between 7 and 8 feet. This would seem to correspond with
the dense deposits we noted in Section 6 in Core 5.

64
Figure 4-6. Selected lithics and ceramics from core samples. Shown actual size. a: biface; b-d: plain
limestone tempered sherds; e: plain sand tempered sherd. a: Core 3, Section 1 (one-quarter inch); b:
Core 4, Section 2 (fine screen); c: Core 1, Section 2 (one-quarter inch); d: Core 5, Section 4 (one-
quarter inch); e: Core 4, Section 2 (one-quarter inch).

In regard to the secondary purpose of the coring, the five core samples provide ample
material for radiometric dating. We had intended to submit at least one sample from the lower
depths of Core 5 for AMS dating. However, we ultimately decided instead to submit several
samples from one of Bullen’s test excavations in the Area B Midden (as described in Chapter 5), due
to budget constraints and reasoning that the stratigraphic control was probably superior to that of
our core samples. However, the materials from this core section should be a priority for future
radiocarbon dating.

Materials suitable for relative dating are more limited. While we recovered an unexpectedly
high number of sherds in the five core samples (see Figure 4-6 for selected examples), these can only
be generally dated to the Woodland period. Because the sherds are uniformly small and limited to
plain sections of the body, we have avoided assigning them to named types. In general, however,
the limestone tempered sherds could be classified as Pasco Plain (Goggin 1948; Willey 1949a:446-
447). Most of these are tempered with large lumps of limestone, although some exhibit finer
tempering. One sherd appears to be tempered with a mixture of limestone and grog, the latter
aplastic being more frequently associated with pottery of the Santa Rosa series (Willey 1949a:372-
378). The plain sand tempered sherds could be classified as either Franklin Plain (Willey 1949a:392-
393) or Weeden Island Plain (Willey 1949a:409-411).

65
CHAPTER 5
SYNTHESIS OF THE 2008 INVESTIGATIONS

As stated in the introduction to this report, the principal goal of the 2008 investigations at
Crystal River was to define more clearly the internal structure and chronology of the site. Previous
chapters have summarized each phase of our investigations. Instead of restating these summaries
here, we instead take a synoptic approach that draws together the findings of this and previous
investigations into a narrative history of the site.

Of course, there are many gaps in our knowledge of the archaeology of Crystal River.
Despite a long history of archaeological investigations, the sequences of mound construction and
occupation at Crystal River remain largely obscure. Although excavations have been conducted in
most of the mounds and scattered off-mound locations, these investigations have generally been
inadequately analyzed and reported.

Our investigations shed new light on the history of Crystal River. Detailed topographic
mapping (Chapter 2) provides a context for this and previous investigations. The geophysical survey
(Chapter 3) helps illuminate the composition, construction, and use of several of the mounds and
midden areas. The coring (Chapter 4) refines some of the insights from geophysical survey
regarding the midden areas, and provides material for dating.

Nevertheless our work, like most of the previous investigations at Crystal River, is also
limited in scope. Thus, the narrative history we present in this chapter should be considered a series
of working hypotheses for future research, rather than a definitive statement.

This and previous investigations of the Crystal River site have resulted in a total of 12
radiocarbon dates. This total includes five dates retrieved by Bullen (Bullen 1966; Ford 1969;
Weisman 1995:Table 2), three dates reported by Katzmarzyk (1998); and four dates obtained in
association with this project and reported for the first time here. Table 5-1 lists these dates,
including both the uncalibrated radiocarbon years before present and the one sigma calibrated dates
and ranges in calendar years. The latter were obtained using the OxCal 4.0 calibration program and
the IntCal04 calibration dataset (Reimer et al. 2004; Stuiver and Reimer 1993). Figure 5-1 presents
this information in graphical form. The plotted areas in this figure represent the probability
distributions for the dating results. The brackets below the dates indicate the one sigma ranges for
these distributions. In the discussion that follows, we focus on these one sigma calibrated date
ranges, which have a probability of approximately 95 percent.

The earliest radiocarbon date from Crystal River comes from Mound G. This date, with a
calibrated range of 800 to 420 cal BC, was retrieved from Bullen’s Burial 1 and previously reported
by Katzmarzyk (1998). As Jerald Milanich (Katzmarzyk’s major professor) noted in emails to Beta
Analytic (on file at the FMNH), this date is problematic for several reasons. First, the date is
inconsistent with the pottery from the mound—which consists primarily of Middle Woodland types
such as Pasco Plain and Saint Johns Check Stamped (Katzmarzyk 1998)—and also from the site as a
whole. Next, it supercedes two other dates from the Mound G by at least 400 years when the
calibrated ranges are considered. This would also contradict Bullen’s (1965) hypothesis that Mound
G was the result of a mass burial episode, and thus should not have a long time span.
This interpretation is obviously questionable given the radiocarbon evidence. The early date from
Mound G is also surprising because Bullen (1965) believed that this feature dated late in the site’s
history, perhaps even to the Safety Harbor period. However, based on his examination of the
artifacts, Weisman (1995:58-59) argues that there is little reason to believe that the mound dates as
late as Bullen surmised.

66
Table 5-1. Radiocarbon Dates from the Crystal River Site. Calibrated dates were computed with the
Calib 5.0 calibration program and the IntCal04 calibration dataset (Reimer et al. 2004; Stuiver and
Reimer 1993), and rounded to the nearest decade.
Sample # Context Radiocarbon 1 Sigma Calibrated Date Range Reference(s)
Years BP
Beta-98043 bone from Bullen’s Burial 1 in 2520+/-60 800 to 420 cal B.C. Katzmarzyk 1998:33
Mound G Milanich 1999:23
Beta-254521 human bone from the circular 2490+/-40 780 to 420 cal B.C. this report
embankment
I-1916 unidentified material from 1980+/-100 350 cal B.C. to cal A.D. 250 Ford 1969:29
Mound B midden Weisman 1995:Table 2
I-1366 unidentified material from 1870+/-130 200 cal B.C. to cal A.D. 430 Bullen 1966:861
Mound B midden, “deposits Weisman 1995:Table 2
from the Deptford period,
but...not from the lowest part
of these deposits”
Beta-97072 bone from Bullen’s Burial 2 in 1990+/-40 90 cal B.C. to cal A.D. 120 Katzmarzyk 1998:33
Mound G Milanich 1999:23
I-1464 first of two dates from same 1600+/-210 40 cal B.C. to cal A.D. 870 Bullen 1966:864
charcoal sample from cache of Weisman 1995:Table 2
food remains associated with
Stele 1 (this sample was treated
with hot caustic soda to
remove contaminants and was
run in small counter)
I-1367 unidentified material from 1750+/-130 20 cal B.C. to cal A.D. 570 Bullen 1966:861
Mound B midden, “deposits Weisman 1995:Table 2
from the Deptford period,
but...not from the lowest part
of these deposits”
Beta-98044 bone from Bullen’s Burial 35 1620+/-40 cal A.D. 340 to 540 Katzmarzyk 1998:33
in Mound G Milanich 1999:23
I-1464 second of two dates from 1420+/-125 cal A.D. 350 to 890 Bullen 1966:864
same charcoal sample from Weisman 1995:Table 2
cache of food remains
associated with Stele 1 (this
sample was not treated and
was run in larger counter)
Beta-254523 deer bone from Bullen’s (1951) 1580+/-40 cal A.D. 400 to 570 this report
Test 2 in the Area B Midden,
72-78"
Beta-254520 worked deer bone from 1550+/-40 cal A.D. 420 to 600 this report
Bullen’s Test 1 in Mound H
(1960), 1-2'
Beta-254522 deer bone from Bullen’s (1951) 1460+/-40 cal A.D. 540 to 660 this report
Test 2 in the Area B Midden,
24-30"
I-1365 charcoal lens found in profile 1310+/-100 cal A.D. 560 to 970 Bullen 1966:865
of Mound A, 19 ft below Weisman 1995:Table 2
summit

67
Figure 5-1. Plot of radiocarbon dates from Crystal River. Created using OxCal 4.0.

Milanich suggested the possibility that the sample from Mound G was somehow
contaminated during its time in storage at the FMNH (emails on file at the FMNH, Gainesville).
However, we retrieved a remarkably similar date from a sample of human bone from the Mound C,
the circular embankment of the Main Burial Complex. The calibrated range for this assay (Beta-
254521) is 780 to 420 cal B.C. This is only twenty years removed from the calibrated range for the
sample from Mound G. Moreover, the measured radiocarbon ages for these two samples are only
thirty years apart. This is within the margins of error, leaving open the possibility that the two
samples even date to the same year. It should be noted, however, that these dates fall along a
portion of the tree-ring calibration curve that is relatively flat, and they therefore correspond to a
long range on the calendar scale.

It is possible that both bone samples were somehow contaminated or co-mingled (or both).
Notes on file at the FMNH indicate that the human bone from Crystal River was utilized in at least
one physical anthropology class at the University of Florida under the direction of George
Armelagos, who was on the faculty there from 1990-1993. However, assuming the proveniences
were not somehow mixed, the correspondence between the dates from Mounds G and C is, as we

68
stated above, remarkable. Further, other samples of human bone from Crystal River have produced
dates more in keeping with expectations of an occupation in the Middle Woodland period (as noted
below), arguing against some type of contamination of the collections at the FMNH.

Assuming the two dates are correct, the implications for the history of Crystal River are
profound. First, the dates suggest that at least two individuals were interred on the site during the
Early Woodland period, rather than the Middle Woodland period as has long been assumed.
Perhaps more important, it suggests that the site may have been used as a burial ground before there
was any domestic occupation, given that the earliest calibrated date from the midden is at least 70
years more recent (of course, it is possible that additional dating of the midden will someday
produce correspondingly early dates). Finally, it suggests that the construction of Mounds C and
G—or at least mortuary activities in the areas where these mounds were later built—began around
the same time, perhaps even at precisely the same moment. This would suggest a greater degree of
planning and complexity from the founding of the community than has heretofore been imagined.
Clearly, additional dating of materials from these mounds is called for to resolve this issue.

Early in his work at Crystal River, Bullen suggested that the site was probably first occupied
around A.D. 200 (letter of Bullen to G.L. King, June 22, 1951, on file at the FMNH). He later
amended his estimate to “...a little before the time of Christ” (Bullen 1965). Radiocarbon dates from
the site are more consistent with his second estimation. The calibrated ranges for a number of
radiocarbon assays from the Area B Midden suggest that people began living at the site sometime
during the third to first centuries B.C. The earliest of these samples (I-1916) has a calibrated range
beginning at 350 cal B.C. Unfortunately, we have little information regarding the context for this
date; it was omitted from Bullen’s (1966) publication and only subsequently reported by Ford
(1969:29) (see also Weisman 1995:Table 2). The range for a second date from the Area B Midden
(I-1366) begins at 200 cal B.C. Bullen (1966:861) noted that this date was associated with deposits
from the Deptford period, although not the lowest (earliest) such strata. A third date from the
midden (I-1367), also obtained by Bullen and described in the same manner, has a range beginning
at 20 cal B.C.

All of these early dates from the Area B Midden have relatively large uncertainty values
relative to most radiocarbon dates processed using contemporary protocols. For this reason, we
submitted two samples from the Area B Midden for AMS dating. Both of these samples were
obtained from Bullen’s Test 2, excavated in 1951. We chose one sample from the lower levels of
this unit, at a depth of 183 to 198 cm (72-78 in). Bullen associated the deposits from this depth with
the Deptford/Santa Rosa-Swift Creek occupation. This sample (from a deer bone) produced a date
with a calibrated range from cal A.D. 400 to 570 (Beta-254523). This is somewhat more recent than
expected. However, Unit 2 was excavated to a depth of 213 cm (84 in) and Bullen indicated that the
midden deposits continued still deeper, below the water table. Thus, we clearly did not date the
earliest occupation of the site.

Our second sample (also from a deer bone) was obtained from a depth of 61 to 76 cm (24 to
30 in), within the stratum Bullen associated with the later Weeden Island occupation. This yielded a
date with a calibrated range of cal A.D. 540 to 660 (Beta-254522). Although the calibrated ranges
for the two dates from this unit overlap, the later date from this sample is consistent with its higher
stratigraphic position, lending an additional measure of confidence.

Taken together with those obtained by Bullen, our dates from the Area B Midden suggest a
long span of domestic occupation at the site. We would suggest that people began living at Crystal
River by around 100 B.C., and perhaps even 200 or 300 B.C., near the beginning of the Deptford
period (Milanich 1994:114). The occupation of the site probably continued until at least the A.D.
600s.

The starting date that we have suggested for the village occupation is somewhat earlier than
has been proposed by several of our contemporaries (e.g., Milanich 1999:20; Weisman 1995:5-6). In

69
addition to the radiocarbon dates, we think that there is other evidence to support our
interpretation. The Area B Midden deposits extend below the current water table, as indicated both
by our coring and by Bullen’s test units. While some subsidence has undoubtedly taken place over
the course of the last two millennia, it is reasonable to assume from this evidence that sea levels were
lower than at present at the time the site was initially occupied. Archaeological and geological
evidence from the southwestern coast of Florida is consistent with this hypothesis. Walker and
colleagues (1994) suggest that sea levels were 30-60 cm below their present levels from 1050 to 50
B.C. Beginning around A.D. 100, sea levels rose to 70-80 cm above their current levels, and
remained high until around A.D. 600. Thus, our argument that the earliest occupation of Crystal
River took place in the first century B.C. would seem consistent with the sea level data (c.f. Milanich
1999:20).

If this interpretation is correct, the initial settlement at Crystal River would have been located
further from the Gulf of Mexico, and presumably also from shellfish beds. As sea levels rose over
the course of the site’s occupation, Crystal River may have become better positioned economically
and ecologically. Milanich (1999:20) suggests that, as a result of higher sea levels, the residents of
Crystal River would have been able to gather shellfish from the adjacent estuary, rather than having
to canoe to shellfish beds located closer to the Gulf of Mexico.

We find some evidence for this historical reconstruction in the limited data that is available
for the composition of the Area B Midden. Bullen (1953), summarizing his own stratigraphic
excavations and earlier work by Hale Smith, described the upper 1.2 m (4 ft) of the midden as
consisting of black dirt and shells. He estimated that shell represented about 40 percent of the
debris, and that about 70 percent of the shell was oyster. Below 1.2 m, Bullen noted that shell
declined to about 15 percent by volume. However, some concentrations of shell were noted in the
lower, earlier levels of the midden; in Test II, Bullen encountered a deposit of crushed oyster shell
between 2.1 and 2.4 m (7 and 8 ft) below the modern ground surface.

Our data from the Area B Midden are generally consistent with Bullen’s observations. As
noted in Chapter 3, the resistance and GPR data suggest the presence of a sheet midden with a high
shell composition in the upper levels of the midden. The GPR data, although far from conclusive,
suggest that the lower levels of the midden may be composed of more discrete clusters of shell. We
noted a similar trend in the core samples, as described in Chapter 4. In the fine screened samples
from cores in the Area B midden, the shell content generally increased as we progressed deeper in
Sections 1 to 4 (to a depth of 120 cm). The shell content then generally declined in Sections 5 and 6
(120 to 180 cm). However, we noted a possible increase in shell in Section 6 of Core 5 (these data
are still being processed), perhaps corresponding with the concentration noted by Bullen in the
lowermost levels of his Test II.

In sum, we suggest that the domestic occupation of Crystal River likely began in the first
century B.C. or slightly earlier, at a time when sea level was lower and the Gulf of Mexico was
located further away from the site. The earliest occupants of Crystal River probably practiced a
subsistence regimen focused primarily on terrestrial animals and fish caught in the adjacent river.
Canoe trips would have been necessary to gather oysters. The shells were probably discarded in
relatively discrete piles around the settlements on the low sand ridge adjacent to the Crystal River.
As sea levels rose after around A.D. 100, shellfish beds may have been established nearer the site.
The residents of Crystal River took increasing advantage of these readily available resources,
resulting in a midden with a higher and more continuous shell content. As discussed in greater detail
below, the increasing availability of shell would have also facilitated the construction of monuments.

70
In a unpublished manuscript on file at the FMNH, Bullen (n.d.), imagined the early
community at Crystal River as probably consisting “...of a small shell-ridge village and its
accompanying small burial mound (part of the main burial mound).” As noted above, if the early
dates from Mounds C and G can be trusted, than Bullen’s reconstruction will need to be amended
to reflect the fact that burials may have been placed on the site several centuries earlier.
Nevertheless, we agree with Bullen that the much of the construction of the Main Burial Mound
Complex probably took place after the earliest occupation in the village, perhaps sometime in the
first century A.D. We have no dates yet from Mounds E and F of the Main Burial Complex to
support this assumption. Instead, this interpretation is based on the types of pottery found in these
mounds. Hopewellian artifacts recovered by Moore (1903, 1917, 1918) and identified by Sears
(1962) as markers of the Yent Complex also suggest a date in the range of one or two centuries A.D.
Such is indicated by a number of radiocarbon dates from Mound B at the Mandeville site in
southwestern Georgia, which shares many traits with Mounds E and F at Crystal River (Kellar et al.
1962a, 1962b; Smith 1979). Knight and Mistovich (1984:219) place the Mandeville phase between
A.D. 1 and 300. Finally, but more tentatively, we suggest that the lack of shell in the fill composing
the Main Burial Complex reflects construction before around A.D. 100, when sea levels began to
rise and shellfish beds were established in closer proximity to the site.
Milanich (1999:14) suggests that Mound E probably began as “...a platform mound
containing burials, perhaps with a ramp on the southeast side.” Mound F was subsequently added
on the northeast side of this platform (Milanich 1999:14; Willey 1949:316-323). Both Moore and
Bullen believed that Mounds E and F dated earlier than the surrounding circular embankment
(Mound C). However, later work in the embankment divulged the presence of ceramics as early as
those from Mounds E and F (Bullen 1965; Milanich 1999:18). This suggests, as Weisman (1995:56,
58) has pointed out, that these mounds form a complex, in the sense of “a set of associated features
that had been constructed according to some kind of design” (see also Milanich 1999:18). In fact, it
may even be reasonable to suppose that the embankment was constructed first, given our
radiocarbon date (described above) and the relative lack of Hopewellian items.

Our geophysical work adds no new information regarding the construction and use of the
Main Burial Complex, which was thoroughly excavated by Moore and Bullen. Milanich (1999:21)
interprets the burial mound complex as a lineage facility—a recognizable symbol of lineage
membership associated with ceremonies performed by lineage members and led by elders or priests.
As the lineage became more wealthy over the course of several decades (or even centuries), the
mound may have been enlarged and elaborated with the construction of the embankment (Milanich
1999:22). We generally concur with this interpretation, although we believe that the mound complex
may have been symbolic of a larger corporate identity.

The Main Burial Complex may not have been the only monument at Crystal River to be
constructed during the first and second centuries A.D. We have already mentioned an early
radiocarbon date from Mound G, suggesting at least the presence of some burials in this area at an
early date. A second, more precise date from Mound G has a one-sigma calibrated range from 90
cal B.C. to cal A.D. 120. This would seem indicate that this burial mound was in use as the same
time as Mounds E and F of the Main Burial Complex. A third date from Mound G has a calibrated
range from cal A.D. 340 to 540, suggesting that the mound was in use for a few centuries.

A relatively early date for Mound G may also be supported by the relative paucity of shell in
the mound fill. As we noted above, shell might have been easier to obtain later in the site’s history,
when sea levels were higher. It follows that mounds with less shell—like the Main Burial Complex
and Mound G—might be reasonably dated to earlier periods of occupation. Our resistivity data
showed strong reflective values for Mound G, indicating that shell is present near the surface.
However, photographs of Bullen’s excavations in this mound (on file at the FMNH) indicate that
shell was not a principal component of the fill, as Weisman (1995:59) has also noted. It is also
worth pointing out that stable carbon isotope values from burials in Mound G suggest a diet focused
more on mixed terrestrial and freshwater resources than marine species (Katzmarzyk 1998:37).

71
The resistance survey allows us to pinpoint the location of Bullen’s excavation in Mound G
with a high degree of accuracy, as described in Chapter 3. Re-excavation of this unit, or at least a
portion of it, would allow an appraisal of the stratigraphy of the mound and Bullen’s interpretation
regarding its construction history. For the moment, however, we must defer to the evidence
suggesting that Mound G and the Main Burial Complex were in use at the same time. How do we
explain the contemporaneity of these mounds? It seems possible that these mounds were burial
facilities for different corporate groups within the community that lived at Crystal River, perhaps
distinct lineages or moieties. Their opposition across the plaza would seem to symbolically reinforce
a dual social organization along the lines of the latter. It is also possible that these burial mounds
reflects some larger social division recognized by people who came to the site on ceremonial
occasions from further flung settlements. For a clearly conjectural example, we can imagine that
visitors from outlying communities to the north and south of Crystal River maintained distinct burial
facilities that reflected their geographical division.

As alluded to above and previously summarized in Chapter 3, our geophysical investigations


lend additional support to the interpretation of the area between Mound G and the Main Burial
Complex as a deliberately maintained plaza. The resistivity data demonstrates conclusively that this
area is almost entirely free of the shell midden so pervasive across much of the rest of the site.
Although we cannot date the plaza directly, it is indirectly dated to the same interval as the features
that define it, including Mound G and the Main Burial Complex.

We obtained a radiocarbon date with a calibrated range of cal A.D. 420 to 600 (Beta-254520)
from the third feature that defines the plaza, Mound H. This date was taken on a small sample of a
worked deer bone recovered by Bullen in his Test 1, excavated on the summit of Mound H in 1960.
The bone was recovered from a depth of 31 to 61 cm (1-2 ft). The GPR data from the summit and
ramp of Mound H suggests that this mound was expanded at least twice. Our radiocarbon assay
dated that last mound construction stage, so it reasonable to assume that construction of Mound H
might have begun as early as A.D. 300 or 400. The high density of shell in the fill of the mound, as
indicated by the GPR data and by photographs of Bullen’s excavation, is consistent with a period of
construction after shellfish beds became established nearby.

The GPR data suggest that each time Mound H was expanded, it retained the same basic
shape and proportions. This is a significant new insight. As with the Main Burial Complex, it
suggests continuity in the conception, if not also the use, of this mound. It further suggests that, like
the Main Burial Complex, Mound H and the adjoining were conceived of and used as a complex.
We would note here Bullen’s (1965) suggestion that the plaza was a space for watching ritual
performances on Mound H.

As was noted in Chapter 3, GPR survey on the summit of Mound H revealed possible
evidence for the excavation unit that produced the bone sample submitted for radiocarbon dating.
We are able to pinpoint the location of Bullen’s excavation unit in the ramp of Mound H with a
higher degree of confidence, given its strong signature in the GPR data. Re-excavation of one or
both of these old excavations would help better interpret the geophysical data, and thus also the
construction and use of Mound H.

In Chapter 2, we noted that the ramp from Mound H is roughly oriented to face Stela 2, on
the opposite side of the plaza. In the resistivity data from the plaza, we also observed a small
anomaly in line with the features and midway between the Main Burial Complex and Mound G. We
can only speculate on the nature of this anomaly, but it is interesting to suppose that it could
represent a post mold or perhaps even a buried stela.

There are no radiocarbon dates for Stela 2. However, Bullen (1966) retrieved two
radiocarbon dates on material associated with Stela 1, the more elaborately carved limestone slab
south of the Main Burial Complex. The two assays were conducted on the same sample of charcoal
from a cache of food remains. One portion of the sample was reportedly treated with hot caustic

72
soda to remove contaminants and was run in a smaller (and presumably less accurate) counter. This
date has a very large margin of error and thus also a very broad range in calibrated calendar years.
The second portion of the sample was not treated and was run in a larger (presumably more
accurate) counter. This date is at least somewhat more precise, and has a calibrated range extending
from cal A.D. 350 to 890.

The stelae at Crystal River remain difficult to interpret. Bullen (1966) was convinced that the
stelae were deliberately erected, and that at least the face on Stela 1 had been carved in antiquity (he
suggested that the arms were more recent additions). He pointed to similarities with stelae in the
Maya area. Weisman (1995:62-65) rightly dismisses the latter speculations, but suggests that there
are stylistic similarities between the carved face on Stela 1 and representations of human and animal
figures elsewhere in the prehistoric Southeast. Milanich (1999:23) favors the view that the stelae are
“...simply limestone slabs that eroded up from the surface of the limestone stratum that underlies the
site.” He withholds judgement on the question of whether the carving on Stela 1 was completed
relatively recently or instead is of greater antiquity.

Our coring and geophysical investigations did not extend to the area near Stela 1. However,
coring elsewhere indicated that the Area B Midden extended to a depth of more than 2 m, well
below the bottom of Stela 1 as indicated by Bullen’s (1966) excavations. This would seem to suggest
that the stela was deliberately erected on top of previous midden layers. In this light, the
radiocarbon date for food remains associated with Stela 1 seems reasonable.

Bullen (1966) posited a relationship between Stela 1 and Mound A, pointing out that the
former ramp to the mound was oriented roughly toward the limestone monument. Our mapping
indicates that the alignment is less straightforward than indicated by Bullen—in fact the ramp
appears to have pointed substantially east of Stela 1. Our mapping also suggests that the distances
between mounds and stelae are further than described by Bullen. Nevertheless, Bullen’s general
point—that the two platform mounds at Crystal River each roughly face a stela and that the
distances between the mounds and stelae are comparable—appears valid.

Bullen’s suggestion of a relationship between Stela 1 and Mound A was bolstered by a


radiocarbon date (I-1365) he obtained from a charcoal lens found in the profile of Mound A, 5.8 m
(19 ft) below the summit. This sample is calibrated to the interval from cal A.D. 560 to A.D. 970.
This suggests that at least the upper portions of Mound A—like Stela 1—date relatively late in the
history of the site, albeit not as late as A.D. 1200 as Bullen (1953, 1965) sometimes suggested.
Our geophysical investigations of Mound A were limited to a single GPR transect, and our
observations must therefore be considered tentative. However, the data seem to indicate the
presence of an earlier, dome-shaped construction sequence within the mound. This layer displays
less reflective values than the upper surface, which is obviously comprised primarily of shell. We
offer as a hypothesis for future research the notion that a small sand mound was constructed early in
the occupational sequence of Crystal River, before sea level rose and shellfish beds were established
near the site. Later in the history of the site, at a time when shellfish was more easily obtained from
the adjacent estuary, the mound was significantly enlarged to form a flat-topped pyramid with a
graded ramp.

We have no new definitive evidence for the dating of Mounds J and K. Resistivity data
suggests that the upper surfaces of both mounds are composed primarily of shell, as is readily
apparent from the surface. GPR data further suggest that Mound K was erected in a single stage,
with shell as the primary constituent of the fill. Following the logic we have developed above, these
mounds would date relatively late in the history of Crystal River.

Bullen (1965) suggested that Mound K may have served “...as a foundation for a chief’s or
high priest’s home.” We see no evidence in the GPR data for the presence of a structure on top of

73
the mound. However, we were also unable to positively relocate Bullen’s test pit on the summit.
Additional geophysical survey may be called for.

The latest radiocarbon date thus far obtained from Crystal River has a calibrated range
extending to cal A.D. 970. It is therefore possible that the occupation of the site lasted as late as the
Weeden Island-Safety Harbor period transition or even the early Safety Harbor period, as Bullen
(1953) suggested. However, the bulk of the archaeological evidence clearly suggests that the
fluorescence of Crystal River was a Middle Woodland phenomenon, falling primarily in the period
from a century or two B.C. to 600 or 700 A.D.

We hope this report serves as the beginning of a more enlightened genealogy of cultural
practice for Crystal River. Nevertheless, as we noted at the beginning of this chapter, the historical
reconstruction we offer here should be taken as a series of hypotheses for future research, rather
than a definitive statement. In a brief, unpublished manuscript laying out his notions regarding the
history of Crystal River, Bullen (n.d.) humbly concluded that “...it will require more archaeological
work to make a complete and authoritative interpretation.” We find Bullen’s caveat an equally
appropriate conclusion to this report summarizing our own work at the site.

74
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