April 2023: Melissa R. Price

Tracing Marine Transgression at Manasota Key Offshore (8SO7030) using Crassostrea virginica 

Melissa R. Price

Manasota Key Offshore (MKO; 8SO7030) is a Florida Archaic period mortuary pond (7214 ± 30 cal BP) consisting of worked wooden stakes and human remains preserved in peat. It was initially located inland of the current coastline prior to Holocene sea level rise but is now located in the Gulf of Mexico offshore of Sarasota County, Florida. Discovery of a precontact site containing delicate organics and surviving marine transgression is unprecedented in the field of archaeology and raises the possibility that similar sites may be preserved on the continental shelves. This presentation discusses how oysters (Crassostrea virginica) that were attached to cultural and human skeletal material were used to investigate marine transgression at MKO. Morphometric analysis, sclerochronology, stable isotope analysis, and radiocarbon dating were used to rebuild the paleoenvironment at the time the oysters formed, determine when and for how long the MKO pond was exposed to brackish or marine environments conducive to the growth of oysters, and examine site formation processes as the pond was transgressed.  

Melissa R. Price is an Underwater Archaeologist and Diving Safety Officer at the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research. She is also a PhD candidate and Affiliated Fellow at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Her current work focuses on submerged precontact sites in the Gulf of Mexico.