The Calusa and prehistoric subsistence in central and south Gulf Coast Florida

Dale L. Hutchinson, Lynette Norr, Theresa Schober, William H. Marquardt, Karen J. Walker, Lee A. Newsom, C. Margaret Scarry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The south Florida Calusa are noted for their complex social organization coupled with their forager-fisher subsistence strategy. Social and political complexity have often been attributed to a reliable resource base, most frequently agricultural products such as maize ( Zea mays), and surplus stored foods. Recent reconsiderations of complexity for coastal populations, however, have questioned the stability of coastal resources citing ample evidence of periods of fluctuating instability. They have in turn emphasized the importance of other cultural mechanisms, such as resource exchange, in fulfilling subsistence needs during times of uncertainty.In this paper, we consider the complex food web of the central and south Florida Gulf Coast. We combine data on the zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical remains from the archaeological sites with those from stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic ratios of archaeological human bone, and modern and archaeological plants and animals. These multiple lines of evidence confirm that marine-based protein and terrestrial C3 plants provided a large and reliable portion of the diet in southwestern Florida as early as 4000years ago and up to European contact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-73
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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