Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Nancy Marie White, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Brent R. Wesiman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

E. Christian Wells, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark R. Hafen, Ph.D.


Middle Woodland, Swift Creek, Weeden Island, Poplar Springs Mound, pottery, exotics, copper, mica, exchange, burial practices.


University of South Florida field investigations in northwest Florida’s

Apalachicola Valley have resulted in the relocation of some lost mounds from the Middle

Woodland period (ca. A.D. 1 to 650) by trekking through the forest and consulting with

avocationals and collectors. This thesis project was triggered by a collector’s donation of

some Swift Creek pots and the attempt to relocate the mound from which they came. In

the 1970s, Gardner and Nidy recorded this site, named Poplar Springs Mound,

categorized as Middle Woodland due to its Swift Creek and Weeden Island pottery. The

donated collection contained pottery of the Swift Creek Complicated-Stamped series,

Weeden Island series, and a couple of anomalous Mississippian sherds. To see how this

mound fit in with other Middle Woodland mounds of the valley, it was necessary to

compile data for all of them and relocate as many mounds as possible through additional

survey. Artifact types from these mounds, such as pottery, shell, bone, and exotic

materials, and burial practices were tabulated and spatial distributions were plotted. The

mounds are distributed along the banks of the main navigable waterways of the

Apalachicola and Chipola Rivers, on smaller streams and along the Gulf Coast. Nearly all

have both Swift Creek and early Weeden Island ceramics, except for three with only

Swift Creek types and a single site with only Weeden Island types. The artifact

distributions show stone, bone, and shell tools clustering close to the coast and the main

waterways. This is also the case for exotic (nonlocal) raw materials and artifacts made

from these materials. Copper is distributed mainly along the coast, while other exotics

(i.e. mica, galena, hematite) are located along the coast and close to the main rivers. The

tabulation of these data, along with the documentation of the Poplar Springs Mound

collection, will help archaeologists to see the manifestation of Middle Woodland

ceremonial activity in the Apalachicola Valley.