Frank Hamilton Cushing's ""forgotten"" manuscript, considered by some to be the legendary anthropologist's masterwork, conveys the untamed and undeveloped nature of south Florida in the 1890s and offers new insights into Cushing's significant contributions to Florida archaeology. It describes his initial reconnaissance in southwest Florida and his comparative evaluations of artifacts excavated in Tarpon Springs. The original manuscript was housed in the Smithsonian's National Anthropological Archives in Washington, D.C., and only recently recognized as the ""lost"" Florida volume that Cushing was preparing at the time of his death in 1900. In reading Cushing, the editors write, they were struck by the immediacy of his comprehension of the inextricable relationships between ancient cultures and the environments in which they lived. The manuscript presents keen observations of the region's vegetation and terrain, including clear descriptions of the archaeological sites that existed prior to extensive development, and it includes his original figures when available. The work culminates in Cushing's impressive attempt to connect the prehistoric civilizations of Florida, the American Southwest, Mexico, the Yucatan, and the Mississippi valley into one massive ""continental arc"" of culture.
Phyllis E. Kolianos is environmental education manager for the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center. Brent R. Weisman, associate professor of anthropology at the University of South Florida, Tampa, is the author of Pioneer in Space and Time: John Mann Goggin and the Development of Florida Archaeology (UPF) and Unconquered People: Florida's Seminole and Miccosukee Indians (UPF).