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Anthropology Colloquium Speaker: Dr. Jessi Halligan

Digging in the Dark: How Submerged Paleoindian Sites in the Aucilla River of Florida Are Illuminating First Americans Studies

Dr. Jessi Halligan, Florida State University 

1pm Friday, October 14th in Condon 204



For as long as there have been American archaeologists, some of us have been concerned with the initial peopling of the Americas. Although much research has focused on this specific topic for more than 80 years, we still have many questions about the earliest Paleoindians, including who they were, where they came from, how they arrived, and how they lived. Research conducted during the past five years, however, has begun to 

provide some significant new insights, in large part due to refinements 

in organic materials research, especially ancient DNA and radiocarbon 

dating. In Florida, collectors, archaeologists, and paleontologists have 

been recovering organic remnants of the terminal Pleistocene from the 

Aucilla River for many years. Archaeological evidence has consisted 

largely of surface finds of diagnostic Paleoindian bifaces and osseous 

artifacts manufactured from extinct mammals, but formal excavations have 

revealed some artifacts buried in dateable sediments on submerged 

sinkhole margins as well. In collaboration with the Center for the Study 

of the First Americans, I have been conducting geoarchaeological 

investigations at numerous Paleoindian sites in Florida since 2008. Due 

to the excellent preservation found in Florida’s underwater contexts, we 

have been able to clarify archaeological context of several sites, make 

predictions about preserved Paleoindian site locations in this area, 

provide some tantalizing hints about the colonization of the Americas, 

and make some comments on the lifestyle of Florida’s early Paleoindians.