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Fort Center:
An Archaeological Site in the Lake Okeechobee Basin

William H. Sears


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"An excellent publication on an important southeastern site. . . . This book is a superb archaeological report."--Popular Archaeology

"A landmark publication by one of the great American archaeologists, it should be read not only by southeastern specialists but by all concerned with agriculture and ceremonial life in the precolumbian New World."--Michael D. Coe, Curator, Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University


Raising intriguing questions about the relationship of South Florida's prehistoric population to the Caribbean basin and about the origins of maize agriculture in the eastern United States, William Sears documents years of fieldwork at Fort Center, a site in the Lake Okeechobee Basin that was named for a nineteenth-century Seminole War fort.
The Belle Glade people--by 500 B.C. the first inhabitants of the site--cultivated maize, draining their earliest fields with large circular ditches. Later fields resembled the raised linear earth mounds found at sites in Mesoamerica and northern South America. Excavations uncovered a charnel platform adorned with wood carvings of animals that was preserved in the mucky bottom of a pond, providing an unparalleled collection of prehistoric Indian art.
Maps and photographs detailing these finds accompany the text.
William H. Sears is professor emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at Florida Atlantic University, where he was Graduate Research Professor for many years.

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"Sears's efforts ar Fort Center were well directed, and the report is certainly worth reading, or re-reading if one already has the 1981 original. This publication is a thoroughly professional work and is a fitting climax to Sears's long and productive career. The spectacular wooden artifacts he recovered there once again remind prehistorians working in the eastern woodlands what we are missing from the archaeological record. The lithic materials and pottery we normally recover reflect only a glimmer of the incredibly rich material culture lost to the vicissitudes of time."
--American Antiquity

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