SEAC: Featured Project
Shell Rings of Southeast North America
Late Archaic shell rings, dating from 4700 to 3000 BP, are rarely studied. Most are located along the coasts of Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Shell rings are circular to horseshoe-shaped piles of shell (primarily oyster) ranging in size from 50 to up to 250 meters across. While shell rings contain some of the earliest pottery in North America, the earliest rings were actually built hundreds of years before pottery was adopted in the region.
Recent work in Florida and South Carolina has documented the size, shape, volume, and dates of construction of a number of shell rings. Archaeologists have recorded the thickness of shell deposits in rings with systematic probing. This approach has allowed for the discovery of heretofore "invisible" portions of rings buried beneath marsh mud, and, as well, has facilitated the calculation of shell volume to be used for inter-site comparison.