Archaeology of Sarasota County

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The archaeological record of Sarasota County spans some 14,000 years. Virtually every stage of North America human occupation is represented in Sarasota County’s archaeological record. 

 ArchaelogyPhotoHolder

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo courtesy of Theodore Morris 
 
The earliest people of Sarasota County lived in a time marked by the presence of now extinct megafauna,
cooler temperatures, and lowered sea level. Population density was very low and life expectancy was short. 
With environmental warming and rising sea levels, it appears that population density increased and a distinct
coastal adaptation developed here. With more people came greater need for social controls and by the time of contact with European explorers, the culture of the area was highly structured.
 
The period immediately following European contact is relatively sketchy, not just in Sarasota County, but
throughout the southeast. European diseases, brought by explorers ravaged the native populations resulting in inadvertent genocide and social collapse. The following years witnessed the reconstitution of society from the few surviving Native Americans of Florida, displaced Native groups from the Atlantic coastal plain, escaped
African slaves and Cuban fishermen. This amalgamated society evolved into what we now identify as the
Seminole Culture.
 
As the Florida territory was open for white settlers, the Seminoles were steadily pushed southward. The
subsequent years witnessed the establishment of the turpentine and lumber industries, the construction of the railroads, the agricultural boom, and the settlement associated with these economic stimuli. Technically, the
archaeological record encompasses anything 50 years of age or older. In Sarasota County, however, cultural
resources this recent, typically consist of structures still standing.

For information on legislation affecting historic resources in the county see the Historic Preservation Chapter
of the Sarasota County Code at the website of the Municipal Code Corporation.
 
The center invites anyone interested in the archaeological record of the county to visit our exhibit at the 
History Center Museum.
 
Archaeology Researchers are welcome at Sarasota County Historical Resources by appointment 951-861-5000.