Mississippian Influence in the Circum-Tampa Bay Region
This chapter explores the Safety Harbor culture along the central peninsular Gulf coast, with a mostly coastal way of life developed in situ out of the local Manasota culture, a regional variant of Weeden Island. Safety Harbor features platform mounds and plazas in nucleated settlements around Tampa Bay, but more dispersed habitation to the north and south. Ceramics include classic Mississippian jar and bottle forms but not enough similarities to indicate sustained interaction with the wider Mississippian world. The author posits that whatever attenuated Mississippian influence is present, it is related to the movement into the interior Southeast of highly valued marine whelk shell in exchange for the ground stone, copper, and other nonlocal objects found at a few Safety Harbor sites. While perhaps not Mississippian in the strictest sense, Safety Harbor people were organized into chiefdoms in the Tampa Bay area when the Spanish first recorded them.
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