Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Thomas J. Pluckhahn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert H. Tykot, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Diane Wallman, Ph.D.


Archaeology, Florida Prehistory, GIS modeling, Site Patterns


Central Florida’s Ocala National Forest is the largest remnant of the unique-to-the-region Sand Pine Scrub ecosystem. This ecosystem exhibits a surprising wealth of biodiversity despite what may be characterized as barren, difficult, dry, pyrogenic conditions. Significant prehistoric sites exist throughout the forest, even in the Sand Pine Scrub; however, most are on the margins and few systematic surveys penetrated this ecosystem, until now. I utilized GIS and these recently collected archaeological survey data, in conjunction with other environmental, geological, or historical data in GIS format, to model prehistoric settlement and land use patterns. This model attempts to address questions of prehistoric peoples’ interactions with environments that have long been considered marginal, ‘empty,’ or even ‘too difficult’ by modern assessments to have been utilized. The model I developed explored the geospatial relationships between GIS layers for soil types, elevation, water source types, historic trails, and prehistoric midden or mound site locations as potential variables for ‘predicting’ prehistoric site locations. Ultimately the layers that I found worked best in the predictive model were several specific soil types, a distance of less than 300 m from the lake/swamp waterbody layer, and a limited, lower elevation range. The model, when tested, proved quite effective at indicating areas of site suitability. While the model is reductive to only two or three environmental factors being important in predicting the majority of the locations suitable for archaeological sites in the Sand Pine Scrub, this is not unexpected since the Big Scrub of Ocala NF is in some ways a limited ecosystem.