|Location||Volusia County, Florida|
|Nearest city||Ponce Inlet, Florida|
|Governing body||Town of Ponce Inlet|
|Type||Florida Historic Site|
Green Mound is one of the largest Pre-Columbian shell mounds, or shell middens, in the United States. Located in Ponce Inlet, Florida, the peak of the mound is the highest elevation in the small city. While it once stood at fifty feet above sea level, a combination of public works projects on the nearby roads and natural erosion have reduced the height of the mound by approximately 10 feet.1
The mound is thought to have been built by Native Americans in the late St. Johns culture, or after 800 AD.2 This was the period of time following the Archaic period.3 The St. John’s period was characterized by the introduction of mound-building and a more sedentary, rather than nomadic lifestyle. The natives that once lived at this location were closely tied to both the nearby Atlantic Ocean and the resource-rich saltwater estuaries of the Halifax River that are near the mound.1 The mound was built from a combination of discarded oyster shell, clam shell, and other debris.
While studies of Florida shell middens date to the 1850s,4 initial studies of the Green Mound area were conducted in the early to mid-1940s by archeologist Dr. John Griffin, who found that the mound was in fact inhabited by its builders and their subsequent generations.4 Later excavation revealed multiple layers of clay floors, remnants of structural components such as postholes, and evidence of ash, fire pits and hearths at the site. It is thought that the dwellings that sat upon the mound were constructed of materials such as palmetto limbs and other local forms of timber such as oak. It is also inferred that due to the social structure that existed at the time, the inhabitation of the mound’s top was reserved for the highest-ranking members (elites) of the community. The most likely inhabitants of these prime locations on top of the mound would have been tribal chiefs and religious leaders. Depending on their social status, other members of the community would have lived in areas closer to ground level.1
Big Mound Key-Boggess Ridge Archeological District research and dating indicate 2000 years old as does archaeological excavation at Madira Bickel Mound Site. With further research, on the west coast, Mound Key was created over 2,000 years ago by the Calusa. The Calusa culture is carbon-dated back to 1150 B.C. at Mound Key. If the same age as west coast site Warm Mineral Springs, described by Wilburn Cockrell as the "burial ground" for the prehistoric residential community at nearby Little Salt Spring. In a 1988 interview Cockrell stated that the remains of more than 20 Paleoindians have been found in the sinkhole, including some radiocarbon dated to 12,000 years ago
Having visited this site, I believe that it is much older than AD 900. Dating of the lowest layers of shells should be relatively easy, once the shells are obtained (which may be a daunting task). With the height and size of shell mound area, it is easy to envisage thousands of inhabitants for a very long time, in order to create this much shell "remains". If so, it could be thousands of years older than presently suspected, perhaps back to North America's earliest inhabitants, 20,000 to 30,000 years ago.
- ^1 Volusia County Heritage, "Volusia County’s Rich Pre-historic Past," <http://volusiahistory.com/richpast.htm> [1 February 2007]
- ^2 Bullen, Ripley P. & Sleight, Frederick W., "Archeological Investigations of Green Mound, Florida," American Antiquity, Vol. 27, No. 4. (Apr., 1962), 596-597
- ^3 University of Florida, "The Lake Monroe Outlet Midden (8VO53): An Overview of a Middle - Late Archaic Period Site in the Upper St. Johns River Valley," <http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/monroe/overview.htm> [7 February 2007]
- ^4 Griffin, John W., Fifty Years of Southeastern Archaeology: Selected Works of John W. Griffin, (Gainesville, Fla. University Press of Florida, 1996), 115-119
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