Dr. William Locascio, Ph.D., R.P.A., Assistant Professor of Anthropology
The Wedgeworth Site is a multi-component tree island site that was first investigated by Christian Davenport in June of 2015. Preliminary work produced evidence that indicated the site was first used by humans around 5000 years ago. Sometime between 1000 BC and about AD 100, groups of people that had been using the tree islands of the Everglades for seasonal camps began to establish permanent, year-round settlements on them. Preliminary evidence has revealed that the Wedgworth site was the location of a permanent village during the last millennium BC, and represents an important case for understanding how the prehistoric people of the region transformed their social and cultural practices through time in ways that permitted successful adaptations and gave rise to societies with complex organization.
The excavation of the Wedgworth Site will produce evidence of long term human occupation in the Everglades and provide high impact learning and research opportunities for FGCU students. Students will participate in every facet of research, including: establishing specific research goals; engaging in data collection, data processing, and data analysis; and writing reports and papers for publication.
The Everglades has received little scientific investigation despite being the location of well-known archaeological remains and being regarded as an important pre-Columbian culture area. The site presents an opportunity to contribute in substantial ways to broader understanding of the Everglades region. Thus far 5000 year-old stone and shell tools have been recovered from the site, and Archaeological remains overlying these early artifacts attest to the site as a location of human presence for several millennia. Excavation of the site may well demonstrate human adaptation to changing environments and climates over long term occupation, and reveal information about the nature of human social change and cultural adaptations over broad expanses of time.
The project’s interdisciplinary breadth present opportunities for Geologists to help interpret geomorphology and evidence of climate change, Biologists to identify animal remains that reflect dietary habits and environmental change, History faculty (ethnohistorians) to help interpret patterns of social change caused by European contact and colonization, Museum Studies faculty to train students in the curation of remains and the presentation of conclusions of the project to the general public, and a unique opportunity for Florida Gulf Coast University to partner with local agricultural producers.
These opportunities greatly enhance potential for post-baccalaureate employment and acceptance into competitive graduate programs in anthropological archaeology. Skills learned in archaeological field schools make students highly competitive for jobs in archaeology as most entry-level jobs in anthropology exist in archaeological companies seeking students trained in field techniques (excavation, data collection, data recording). The opportunity to participate in research design and report writing offered by this project are not commonly part of archaeological field schools and represent an important advantage for students completing this field school when competing for jobs.