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Florida Archaeology Month Highlights Mississippian Period, Risk of Sea Level Rise

The Florida Public Archaeology Network is celebrating Archaeology Month in Florida, with a focus on the prehistoric Mississippian Period.

The observance also includes an exhibit on the impact of sea level rise and the local launch of a new volunteer monitoring program to track changes to at-risk sites in the state.

This year, Florida Archaeology Month, which continues throughout March, wraps up a series on prehistoric periods from Paleoindian to Archaic and Woodland.

The theme for 2017 is “Engineers of the Mississippian,” which highlights the last prehistoric period before the Europeans arrived in North America.

“It dates from about 1000 AD to 1600 AD,” said Mike Thomin with FPAN. “It’s when Native Americans began to live in more centralized villages, more sedentary, more permanent societies more politically and socially, had a lot more structure and really characterized by the “mound building” culture throughout North America.”

Locally, the best example of this time period is the Indian Temple Mound in Fort Walton Beach. Other sites include the Lake Jackson Mounds near Tallahassee and Mound Key near Fort Myers Beach.

Not surprisingly, much of Florida’s archaeological history is vulnerable to the state’s 800 miles of eroding coastline.

That brings us to the traveling exhibit titled “Florida Heritage at Risk” that’s now on display at FPAN’s Destination Archaeology Resource Center Museum, managed by Thomin.

“What it looks at is how sea level rise is going to actually impact archaeological resources across our entire state,” Thomin said. “What we’re seeing with global warming and how it impacts archaeological sites today is it appears to be much more rapid. And, because it’s much more rapid, it causes this erosion of…

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