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Historic Collaboration to Discover Florida’s Past

Published August 28, 2014

FSU students have the exciting opportunity to work in an historic collaboration between the FSU Department of Art History and the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research at two of the most significant archaeological sites for North Florida: The Letchwort-Love and Lake Jackson Mounds State Parks. Under the guidance of Dr. Dan Seinfeld from the Bureau of Archaeological Research and FSU Art History professor  Michael Carrasco, four graduate students and five undergraduate students from FSU, as well as two dig supervisors from Texas State University, spent six weeks in 2014 learning the fundamentals of archaeological fieldwork, including survey, excavation, documentation, and processing artifacts for curation.

The Letchworth site dates to the Middle Woodland period (AD 200-700) and features the largest prehistoric earthen mound in Florida. While little was previously known about the structure, Dr. Seinfeld’s recent work using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and other minimally-invasive techniques revealed new information about the age of the site and its nature of settlement, in particular the use of different colored sand in the four cardinal directions, a cosmological tradition still upheld by contemporary Native American groups. The Lake Jackson Mounds State Park is a southernmost Mississippian center of the 13th – 16th centuries where previous investigations found evidence of ritual activities, including stunning works of art such as copper breastplates depicting mythological figures and carved shell gorgets. The conjoined summer work with students from Texas State University uncovered information about the site’s settlement pattern and earliest occupation.

Research and excavation is ongoing at these important sites, both of which are managed by the Florida State Park Service and are open to visitors. The Letchworth-Love Mounds State Park is located at 4500 Sunray Rd, Tallahassee. The Lake Jackson Mounds State Park is located at 3600 Indian Mounds Road, Tallahassee.  Students interested in future summer work at the Field School can contact Dr. Seinfeld or Dr. Carrasco for more information.