This is the first systematic analysis of Tatham Mound, one of the most important archaeological sites in Central Gulf Coast Florida. Because it documents the earliest years of contact between the resident Native Americans of the area and European colonists, Tatham Mound has provided archaeologists and bioarchaeologists with a wealth of direct and indirect evidence from the early contact period - a rare occurrence in American archaeology. Hutchinson examines the skeletal remains of more than 350 burials as well as the European artifacts found within those burials. Comparing the bioarchaeological evidence and scientific data with the historic accounts of the early Spanish explorers, Hutchinson challenges the long-held theory that novel pathogens caused the immediate demographic collapse of native societies at the inception of the European colonial era. He argues that long-term political, social, economic, and biological changes - in addition to introduced epidemic disease - all contributed to the decline of Florida's native populations.
Dale L. Hutchinson is professor of anthropology and a research associate of the Research Laboratories of Archaeology, both at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is author of Foraging, Farming, and Coastal Biocultural Adaptation in Late Prehistoric North Carolina (UPF) and Bioarchaeology of the Florida Gulf Coast: Adaptation, Conflict, and Change (UPF).