Monday, January 3, 2011
Hare Hammock is an archaeological site in northwestern Florida that includes a large burial mound of the Weeden Island culture, which dates to around 500 to 800 AD. These and many other ceramic vessels were removed from the mound when it was excavated in the early 20th century. The effigy in the second picture is one of many artifacts that make me think there has to have been regular contact between the southeastern US and Mesoamerica, but since there are no Mexican artifacts in Florida, this is hard to prove.
The Weeden Island people were one of those Indian groups that had two material cultures, one for daily use and one purely for ritual. So if you dig at a Weeden Island settlement, as I have -- on Weeden Island, no less -- you find nothing like these beautiful objects. Instead you find sherds of some stuff that looks like asphalt and gets my vote for the ugliest pottery ever made, along with roughly made stone tools and lots of flakes. All the burial mounds that weren't looted before 1960 are now protected, so neither I nor anyone else of my generation will pull anything like these wondrous artifacts from the ground.