Herbaceous wetland plant resources have been widely cultivated and utilized by Indigenous peoples throughout North America since at least the early Holocene. Archaeologists and ethnographers, along with traditional knowledge holders, have documented and reconstructed deep histories of interaction between human communities and coastal plants that provide dietary carbohydrates, medicinal compounds, and craft-fiber. On the Florida peninsula, as elsewhere, paleoethnobotanical researchers face challenging preservation conditions and, despite the ubiquity and vastness of coastal wetlands, the resident flora are conspicuously underrepresented in the archaeological record. In this study, we work toward the recognition of wetland plant use on the Gulf Coast of Florida by integrating analyses of archaeo-molluscan, microfaunal, and palynological assemblages from stratified shell-midden deposits at a village and civic-ceremonial center occupied across the first millennium AD. We identify four particular herbaceous wetland plants as likely subsistence, medicinal, and technological resources. In a brief discussion, we propose that coastal wetland flora likely played key roles within late-Holocene maritime resource intensification, civic-ceremonial aggregation, and village-coalescence.
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Vol. 40 • No. 4