Helpful Terms in Studying Florida's Native American Heritage

By: National Park Service


Anaerobic Environment: An environment that lacks oxygen. These environments preserve organic materials such as wood, bone and grasses.

Anthropology: The scientific and humanistic study of people’s present and past biological, linguistic, social and cultural variations. Its major subfields are archaeology, physical anthropology, cultural anthropology and anthropological linguistics.

Archaeological Site: A location where people left some material evidence of past activity.

Archaeology: The scientific study of the physical evidence of human societies recovered through controlled collection or excavation from archaeological sites to discover and describe cultures. Analyses provide answers and predictions about the development of cultures and human behavior.

Artifact: Any object manufactured, used or modified by humans. Common examples include tools, art and pottery.

Chert: A flint-like rock that occurs in central and western Florida.

Culture: Shared beliefs and practices learned by  a group of people.

Historic Period: The period of time during which a written record is available.

Midden: The layer of soil where people lived, walked on, built houses and threw out trash, including fragments of tools, charcoal, pieces of pottery and food remains such as animal bones and seeds. Decomposition of these food remains and artifacts usually makes the midden layer darker than surrounding layers of soil.

Mound: Mounds can be comprised of midden material, while other types of mounds were purposefully built to serve a particular function. These other types of mounds are architectural features for burials, ceremonies or to support houses.

Paleontology: The study of development of life on earth through the fossil record.

Prehistoric Period: The period of time before a written record. In Florida, it is pre-European contact.

Protohistoric: The period of time when only a partial or very limited historic record is available. In Florida, that would be primarily during the period of Spanish exploration (1513 – 1565).

Subsistence: The means by which a group obtains the food and shelter necessary to support life.

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