Rick J Schulting

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Oxford, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9377

Approve Date

October 11, 2016

Project Title

Schulting, Dr. Rick J., U. of Oxford, Oxford, UK - To aid research on 'Sourcing the Ancient Canoes of Florida's Wetlands'

Preliminary abstract: Some 400 prehistoric and protohistoric dug-out canoes have been recovered from Florida’s inland waterways. Most striking is their clear clustering, with many found in large groups of up to 100 (e.g., Newnans Lake). A recent study has proposed that these locations represent canoe caches, found at the headwaters of Florida’s major east-west watersheds. We propose to investigate the origins of a subset of 50 canoes using strontium isotope analysis. Strontium isotopes are taken up in groundwater during a tree’s growth. The ratio of two isotopes of strontium (87Sr/86Sr) vary according to the age and type of bedrock. Florida’s main geological formations are oriented north-south, and so the greatest variability is generally encountered when moving east-west. The isotopic analysis of the canoes at selected locations will enable us to determine the proportion that are ‘local’ to the geology of that region, compared to those originating further afield. The specific distances involved will vary, depending on the river/lake system in question. To use Newnans Lake as an example, bedrock geology changes on the scale of 10s of kms from the lake, with distinct values to the east (Quaternary and Upper Tertiary bedrock) vs. those to the west (Upper and Lower Tertiary). Since Newnans is located at the headwaters of the eastern watershed, we hypothesis that no 87Sr/86Sr values attributable to Lower Teritary geology will be found in the canoes there. Furthermore, because over 100 canoes have been directly radiocarbon dated, we will be able to begin to investigate change over time in the proportion of local/distant canoes present at particular locations, with implications for the dynamic expansion and contraction of communication/exchange networks over time. The project results will be placed within the wider context of Floridan prehistory, with its evidence of changing intensity of contact.