Semester of Graduation

December 2017


Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



In this thesis, I examine the limestone deposits identified at Byrd Hammock South during the Summer 2015 excavations conducted by Louisiana State University (LSU) and Florida State University (FSU). The site under investigation is the Byrd Hammock site (8WA30) in Wakulla County, Florida. Byrd Hammock is a multi-component site located only four miles north of the Gulf Coast and is close to other Swift Creek sites including Block-Sterns (8LE484) and Harrison Ring (8BY1359) (Russo, Hadden, and Dengel 2009). Like several other sites or site complexes on the Florida panhandle, Byrd Hammock has two large burial mounds that were placed on the periphery of the site; each mound is associated with a distinct semi-circular midden deposit that defines a village habitation area (Russo 2015). The habitation areas were occupied by the Swift Creek culture (A.D. 300-450) and the subsequent Weeden Island culture (A.D. 600-900).

In order to gain a better understanding of how limestone was used, I examined the limestone distribution within the Swift Creek occupation. These appeared in shovel test pits and excavation units opened during the May-June 2015 Field School led by Dr. Rebecca Saunders. Although the environment of Florida is known to be karstic, the distribution and depth of the limestone suggested that these pieces were deliberately used for some activity. A large quantity of the limestone (w= 17,177 grams) was identified in a large subterranean feature in conjunction with burned shell, faunal remains, and particulate charcoal.

The results of this thesis suggest that the Swift Creek inhabitants were using earth ovens for day purposes and rituals. A comparison of the small cooking area (Feature 2) with Feature 12 suggest that the Swift Creek used were using earth ovens for both domestic and ritual cooking activities. However, limestone was used specifically for cooking during feasting episodes. Feature 12 and Feature 1 suggest evidence of a communal feasting episode where limestone was used as a heating conductor in the earth oven. The results of the LSU 2015 Summer excavations suggest that the inhabitants of Byrd Hammock South were using limestone in their earth ovens specifically for ritual purposes.



Committee Chair

Saunders, Rebecca



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