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Discussion Title: Invisible Things Forgotten: A Multi-Proxy Study of Wetland Plant Use at an Ancient Native American Village on the Gulf Coast of Florida
Kendal is an archaeologist specializing in the study of historical and ancient environments. He works in research and compliance settings, integrating methods from sedimentary geology, and paleobiology to understand how past peoples interacted with and influenced ecological processes. He has recently published research from study sites on the Florida Gulf Coast on Native American paleoethnobotany, and on anthropogenic drivers of 20th century marsh-to-mangrove wetland conversion. His ongoing dissertation research is focused on understanding the roles that ancestral Native American societies played in the establishment and transformation of nearshore estuarine ecosystems across the late-Holocene.
Description of the talk:
Herbaceous wetland plants have been widely cultivated and utilized by Indigenous peoples throughout North America since at least the early Holocene. Archaeologists and ethnographers, along with traditional knowledge holders, have documented and reconstructed deep histories of interaction between human communities and coastal plants that provide dietary carbohydrates, medicinal compounds, and craft-fiber. On the Florida peninsula, as elsewhere, paleoethnobotanical researchers face challenging preservation conditions and, despite the ubiquity and vastness of coastal wetlands, the resident flora are conspicuously underrepresented in the archaeological record. This talk presents recent research that uncovered evidence for the processing and use of coastal wetland plants by ancestral Native Americans on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The research involved analyses of archaeo-molluscan, microfaunal, and fossil-pollen assemblages from stratified shell midden deposits at a village and civic-ceremonial center that was occupied across the first millennium of the common era (ca. 2000 to 1000 years ago). When placed into regional context, the results suggest that coastal wetland flora may have played key roles within maritime resource intensification, civic-ceremonial aggregation, and the coalescence of villages during the late-Holocene.