Rapid Midden Assessment – Site Condition Delineation in Crystal Bay, Florida
2017 PTT Grant, Gulf Archeology Research Institute, $38,500
The Rapid Midden Assessment (RMA) is a methodological approach for gathering and assessing qualitative, quantitative, and spatial information about site conditions of prehistoric middens located on a drowned karst plain in the Gulf of Mexico. The project aims are to identify and diachronically evaluate landscape- and patch-level stressors adversely impacting coastal middens and create a GIS-based system of ranking sites based on preservation priority (vulnerability to being destroyed) to improve cultural resources management efforts. The intent is to appraise a site’s morphological structure through the use of GIS-guided surface reconnaissance and on-site photographic documentation, vegetation assessments, and sediment cover and hydro-geomorphic mapping in order to delineate a site to a particular stable state along a degradation trajectory ranging from intact to destroyed. After the Crystal Bay site sample has been assessed, a report of RMA findings and management recommendations will be prepared as will GIS maps of site locations coded by stable state, primary and secondary threats, and preservation priority rank at various local and regional scales. This pilot study will help us fine-tune a method to “triage” sites facing drowning in the Gulf that focuses on stressor indices as a measure of structural and interpretive resilience of the archeological system that can taught to others and consistently applied to other Gulf coastal regions. As more and more coastal sites are assessed over broad geographic areas, RMA results should reveal stress dynamics and marsh and archeological system maturation trends active across higher hierarchical landscape levels useful for prioritizing mitigative efforts.