Methods for inferring oyster mariculture on Florida’s Gulf Coast

Publication date: April 2017Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 80
Author(s): Jessica A. Jenkins
Archaeologists and historians have demonstrated that marine resource management, or mariculture, has been practiced by coastal peoples worldwide for thousands of years. Typically evidence for these practices is in the form of ethnohistoric accounts or associated infrastructure (e.g. clam gardens). This paper presents methods for inferring oyster mariculture by using proxy evidence from attributes of the shell itself. The methods are applied to archaeological shell from a Woodland Period site on Florida’s Gulf Coast, where it appears that two techniques of mariculture, shelling and culling, were practiced during a period of intensive large-scale and sustained harvesting.