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Edison Winter Estate Welcomes FGCU Archaeological Site Excavation
1/29/2003

FORT MYERS, FL - Beginning Saturday, Feb. 1, Florida Gulf Coast University will conduct a systematic trial excavation at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates complex to determine material culture debris located near the historic dock and beach area associated with the Estates’ seawall. The project will continue for approximately 10 Saturdays in February and March.

The FGCU archaeological excavation is a component of a larger project to restore the historic seawall. Director of the Estates Chris Pendleton feels that the collaboration of the Estates and FGCU will provide critical information necessary in the restoration process. The project is funded by a Lee Island Coast Tourism Council Shoreline Grant for $156,250, prior grant funds from the State of Florida, and the support of Florida Gulf Coast University.

Provost and vice president for Academic Affairs Brad Bartel will direct the project with his wife Laura, an anthropology adjunct instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences, utilizing some of FGCU’s archaeology and history students as the excavation and laboratory crew.

The archaeology team will map grids of squares, each five-by-five feet, of the grassy area behind the seawall with the goal of recovering information about any prior structures and activity before, during and after the construction of the seawall in the 1903-07 period.

Bartel says the recovered information may include material culture of various periods including prehistoric, use by the Edison family, post-Edison use of the immediate shore area, and other forms of data such as ecological.

All artifacts, biofacts, such as animal bones and shell, and ecological material within the excavation squares will be mapped in situ, along with a photographic record. Recovered material culture and ecological data will be brought to FGCU for laboratory analysis and a report, expected to be completed by Aug. 1, will be provided to the Estates and the City of Fort Myers.

Bartel says the project has advantages for both FGCU, which currently offers a minor in anthropology and is proposing a major in the field, and the Estate.

“The ability to excavate at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates would give our students additional opportunities and experience. In past years, FGCU has worked closely with the Edison and Ford Winter Estates to offer a student in History an internship. This new archaeological project would extend the current relationship.”

Another advantage is conducting the project on Saturdays during tourist season. Bartel says the group will place some of the excavation squares near pathways where visitors are led to the river. Both principal investigators have experience in excavating in public settings, such as the California San Diego Presidio and Old Salem, N.C., and giving informal lectures to groups.

Brad Bartel, Ph.D., has over 30 years experience excavating sites in Yugoslavia, Turkey, Ireland, California and North Carolina. Laura Bartel, M.A., has over 20 years experience excavating sites in Yugoslavia and California, archaeological field survey, laboratory analysis and archaeological report writing.

For more information, contact Brad Bartel at (239) 590-7001 or bartel@fgcu.edu or Chris Pendleton at (239) 334-7419.

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