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The Archaeology of Human-Environmental Dynamics on the North American Atlantic Coast$

Leslie Reeder-Myers, John A. Turck, and Torben C. Rick

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066134

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066134.001.0001

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Human-Environmental Dynamics of the Georgia Coast

Human-Environmental Dynamics of the Georgia Coast

Chapter:
(p.164) 7 Human-Environmental Dynamics of the Georgia Coast
Source:
The Archaeology of Human-Environmental Dynamics on the North American Atlantic Coast
Author(s):

John A. Turck

Victor D. Thompson

, Leslie Reeder-Myers, John A. Turck, Torben C. Rick

Victor D. Thompson

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813066134.003.0007

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter synthesizes and evaluates settlement and subsistence patterns in relation to landscape change for Native American occupations of the Georgia coast in the southeast USA. Dynamic coastal processes of the region have altered the topography and distribution of resources, including those important to humans. These processes were neither uniform in space nor time, with variations leading to the creation of micro-habitats. We assess these habitats, individually and as part of a complex whole, to better elucidate the nature of human–environmental interactions and socio-ecological systems. Understanding this complex relationship helps reveal social trajectories and environmental impacts on the ecosystem of coastal groups. This research, based on historical ecology, is used as a departure point to discuss the future of humans along changing coastlines. We argue that past peoples dealt with similar coastally-related issues as today, such as sea level fluctuations or changes to once productive resources. The knowledge archeologists have gained concerning past human–environmental interactions must be conveyed to the public, including policy-makers, to transform society for the better.

Keywords:   Socio-ecological systems, Southeast USA, Micro-habitats, Historical ecology

Dynamic processes along the Georgia coast were not uniform in space or in time and have altered the landscape into various micro-environmental habitats. Evaluating these changing habitats leads to a better understanding of human-environmental interactions, including human landscape use and its enduring ecological legacies. This chapter synthesizes and evaluates settlement and subsistence patterns in relation to habitat change for all precontact periods of the Georgia coastal zone (Figure 7.1). This is defined as the tidally influenced portion of Georgia, including parts of the mainland, back-barrier and interbarrier areas (small islands, marshes, and estuaries), and barrier islands. These patterns are linked to the cultural chronology developed by DePratter (1991:11; DePratter and Howard 1981:1288) and Thomas (2008a:423; 2009:53), with Turck and Thompson’s (2016) revised Late Archaic chronology (Table 7.1). This is supplemented with the radiocarbon record, newly corrected and calibrated at two sigma (using CALIB’s estimated delta 13C measurements and v. 7.0.0 of the online program, the Northern Hemisphere calibration curve [intcal13.14c] for terrestrial dates, and the global marine calibration curve [marine13.14c] and delta R value of -119 ± 16 [Thomas et al. 2013]:33 for marine dates; Turck and Thompson 2014).

This discussion of the past has implications for the future. Past peoples dealt with similar coastal issues as today’s, such as sea level fluctuations and changes to once productive resources. Knowledge of past human-environmental interactions is necessary to understand future coastal changes, and people’s role in them. The end of this chapter takes an activist approach, to show archeology’s usefulness and ultimately to transform society for the better, by outlining a way to convey this information to non-scientists. (p.165)

Human-Environmental Dynamics of the Georgia Coast

Figure 7.1. Map of the Georgia coast study area.

(p.166)

Table 7.1. Chronologies for the Georgia coast

Subperiod

Phase

Years BP (uncal) (DePratter 1991)

Years BP (cal) (Thomas 2008a)

Contact

Altamaha (Guale)

370–250

370–250

Late Mississippian

Irene

675–370

650–370

Middle Mississippian

Savannah

800–675

X

Early Mississippian

St. Catherines

1000–800

1150–650

Late Woodland

Wilmington

1500–1000

1600–1150

Middle Woodland

Deptford

2400–1500

2300–1600

Early Woodland

Refuge

3100–2400

2950–2300

Late Archaic

St. Simons

4500–3100

4950–2950

Environmental Habitats

The present-day Georgia coastal zone is composed of both Pleistocene and Holocene-aged deposits (Hayes et al. 1980:285). The Pleistocene islands (the Silver Bluff shoreline) formed between 110,000 and 40,000 BP (Howard and Frey 1985:78), when sea level was higher than at present. As sea level lowered during the last glacial period, these islands became part of the interior. Around 5000 BP sea levels had risen to once again meet the former Silver Bluff shoreline, depositing Holocene sediments with Pleistocene ones. The landforms composing the Georgia coastal zone are defined as: ~20 km of mainland; back-barrier areas of islands, marsh, and estuaries; Pleistocene barrier islands; interbarrier areas of marsh and islands; and Holocene barrier islands.

Such landforms can be differentiated by how freshwater enters the coast, as drainage patterns are related to settlement patterns, at least during some periods (e.g., Turck and Thompson 2016). In deltaic areas rivers supply suspended sediment, resulting in high rates of organic and inorganic accumulation, which can lead to marsh progradation during sea level fluctuations (Reed 2002:238). Marshes provide people with subsistence options, as they function as nurseries for juvenile fish and macrocrustaceans (Hampel et al. 2003:286). Georgia deltaic areas include the Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers to the north, the Altamaha River along the central coast, and the Satilla and St. Marys Rivers to the south. Non-deltaic areas, where no rivers flow into the coastal zone, lack sediment influx. This leaves the marsh-estuarine system susceptible to change, as it is harder for the marsh to maintain itself during fluctuating sea levels (see Turck 2011, 2012). Non-deltaic areas are found between the aforementioned rivers, including the St. Catherines and (p.167) Sapelo Island area and the Jekyll Island area. This chapter details, when appropriate, information by landform and drainage.

Middle Archaic Period (8000–5000 BP)

Environment

The Middle Archaic was most likely a time of warmer summer temperatures and colder winter temperatures (Kerwin et al. 1999). Evidence for wetter conditions is seen as large paleomeander scars on the middle Ogeechee River (Leigh and Feeney 1995), indicating high river discharge but not necessarily higher levels of effective precipitation (see Leigh 2008).

Sea level at 8000 BP was anywhere from 32 m below present (mbp) to 10 mbp (e.g., Garrison et al. 2008). Turck’s (2012) model, which uses 15 mbp from Horton and colleagues (2009:1731–1732) for the height of sea level at this time, reveals that the present-day coastal zone was mainland upland, over 20 km from the coastline. Rivers were within range of the ocean to begin undergoing floodplain aggradation.

Sea level rose to ~3.0 mbp by 5000 BP (Gayes et al. 1992) (Figure 7.2), a fairly rapid rise. Palynological evidence indicates that forest conditions

Human-Environmental Dynamics of the Georgia Coast

Figure 7.2. Sea level curves relevant to the Georgia coast.

(p.168) were similar to modern (Leigh 2008:101), with possible warmer-than-present temperatures (Jones et al. 2005). Rainfall was similar to modern (Leigh 2008:101), with possible initial river channel incision (Leigh and Webb 2006). Rising sea levels and backfilling of river valleys buried former surfaces in Holocene sediments (Leigh 2008:103). Estuaries most likely formed, and there was a fairly large intertidal area where marsh could potentially form (Turck 2012). The present-day barrier islands were still part of one contiguous mainland, but fronted on their east sides by marsh (like the present-day mainland) or by ocean (Turck 2012).

Archaeology

The coastal plain had a significantly lower population during the Middle Archaic period as compared to other areas of Georgia (Turck et al. 2011; see also Elliott and Sassaman 1995:125). The low visibility of Middle Archaic remains may be a factor (i.e., no pottery, the dearth of lithic materials, no shell middens). However, it is more likely that the lack of sites actually represents a low population. In the coastal zone, only two Middle Archaic sites have been found, none with evidence of coastal adaptations (Figure 7.3). This pattern is more pronounced when compared to the nearby Gulf Coast and Atlantic coast (Randall, this volume) of Florida, which had coastally adapted Middle Archaic populations, possibly year-round. Evidence of Middle Archaic coastal adaptations in northern areas (Wolff et al., this volume; Betts et al., this volume; Merwin, this volume) seems to be due to how relative sea level affects the archaeological record.

The establishment of estuaries and marsh, along with the lack of coastal populations in Georgia, suggests nonenvironmental reasons played a role in Middle Archaic settlement patterns (Turck 2012). That Middle Archaic settlement did not change over 3,000 years, even though the setting changed drastically (going from interior to coastal, with the establishment of productive resources), must be addressed further.

Late Archaic Period (St. Simons Phase): 5000–3100 BP

Environment

Gayes and colleagues (1992) present the most relevant sea level data for Georgia (see discussion in Thomas 2011). While not as fine-grained as other curves (see Marquardt 2010:258, 267), it is based on reliable methods (foraminifera in closely spaced cores) (Gayes et al. 1992:159). The validity of the (p.169)

Human-Environmental Dynamics of the Georgia Coast

Figure 7.3. Distribution of Archaic period sites within the Georgia coastal zone.

(p.170) Colquhoun and Brooks (1986) sea level curve has been questioned, with sea level indicators suspect for some intervals (Gayes et al. 1992:159). Eustatic, or global, sea level curves are not adequate, and should be used only as general guides (Rull et al. 1999:496). Local differences in neotectonic activity (Colquhoun and Brooks 1986:278; Hayes 1994:246) underscore the need for relative sea level curves.

Sea level continued rising after 5000 BP, reaching ~2 mbp by 4500 cal BP, to 1.2 mbp at 4200 cal BP (Gayes et al. 1992). The large increase in salt marsh formation during this early Late Archaic period was similar to the modern landscape (Turck 2011). Marsh sedimentation and flooding filled in lower elevations, separating areas of higher elevations from the mainland. This re-created the Pleistocene coastline, where former islands were islands once again (Turck 2012). Holocene-aged coastal deposits (beach ridges, islands, etc.) began forming around these islands (Hayes et al. 1980:286).

Sea level reversed course and dropped to 2.5 mbp by 3800 cal BP, and 3.15 mbp by 3600 cal BP (Gayes et al. 1992). By the end of the Late Archaic (~3000 BP), sea level either continued dropping to about 4.0 mbp or reversed course, rising to 2.7 mbp (Gayes et al. 1992). The difference is based on data reported by Gayes and colleagues (1992:159) but not used in constructing the curve. When that is taken into account with DePratter and Howard’s (1981:1292) data, there probably was a continued regression (Thompson and Turck 2009:266–267). Under either scenario, the majority of the coastal zone reverted back to an upland mainland setting by the end of the Late Archaic (Turck 2011:163–164, 198).

In deltaic areas, marsh maintained itself during falling sea levels (Turck and Thompson 2016), while there was a general disruption in marsh productivity in non-deltaic areas (Turck (2011). Evidence from sediment cores indicates that intertidal marsh deposition began between 3560 and 2900 BP off the northeast coast of the non-deltaic Sapelo Island (Turck and Alexander 2013). This suggests that a protective barrier formed to the east, although it was not Blackbeard Island, which dates much later in time (Turck and Alexander 2013).

Archaeology: General

Intensive settlement on the Georgia coast occurs during the Late Archaic period, similar to other Atlantic coast areas, like South Carolina (Dillian, this volume). There are 277 sites in the Georgia coastal zone during this time (Table 7.2, Figure 7.3) (Turck and Thompson 2016; Turck et al. 2011). There are deviations from this pattern in other areas, for example,

(p.171)

Table 7.2. Site counts, percentages, and densities for the Late Archaic through Late Woodland Period

Landform

Area (km2)

Late Archaic

Early Woodland

Mid. Woodland

Late Woodland

Ct

%

Dens.

Ct

%

Dens.

Ct

%

Dens.

Ct

%

Dens.

DELTAIC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mainland

1,226.4

54

19.5%

0.04

40

30.8%

0.03

103

27.8%

0.08

45

12.9%

0.04

Back-barrier (islands/ marsh)

831.0

12

4.3%

0.01

8

6.2%

0.01

24

6.5%

0.03

21

6.0%

0.03

Barrier island (Pleistocene)

155.6

36

13.0%

0.23

23

17.7%

0.15

56

15.1%

0.36

61

17.4%

0.39

Interbarrier

431.0

25

9.0%

0.06

17

13.1%

0.04

19

5.1%

0.04

50

14.3%

0.12

Barrier island (Holocene)

43.4

0

0.0%

0.00

0

0.0%

0.00

1

0.3%

0.02

2

0.6%

0.05

Subtotal

2,687.4

127

45.8%

0.05

88

67.7%

0.03

203

54.9%

0.08

179

51.1%

0.07

NON-DELTAIC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mainland

1,302.9

83

30.0%

0.06

12

9.2%

0.01

98

26.5%

0.08

45

12.9%

0.03

Back-barrier (islands/ marsh)

1,046.9

47

17.0%

0.04

28

21.5%

0.03

45

12.2%

0.04

63

18.0%

0.06

Barrier island (Pleistocene)

78.0

19

6.9%

0.24

2

1.5%

0.03

22

5.9%

0.28

50

14.3%

0.64

Interbarrier

121.0

1

0.4%

0.01

0

0.0%

0.00

2

0.5%

0.02

12

3.4%

0.10

Barrier island (Holocene)

13.8

0

0.0%

0.00

0

0.0%

0.00

0

0.0%

0.00

1

0.3%

0.07

Subtotal

2,562.6

150

54.2%

0.06

42

32.3%

0.02

167

45.1%

0.07

171

48.9%

0.07

TOTAL/AVERAGE

5,249.9

277

 

0.05

130

 

0.02

370

 

0.07

350

 

0.07

(p.172) apparently lower occupation along the coast of Chesapeake Bay (Reeder-Myers and Rick, this volume). The factor seems to be differences in relative sea level, which obscures site visibility. The absence of coastally adapted Middle Archaic populations in Georgia suggests that Late Archaic populations migrated from other areas (e.g., the piedmont, interior coastal plain, along the Savannah River, etc.) (Turck 2012; see also Crook 2009:81–83; Crusoe and DePratter 1976:13).

The three main coastal Late Archaic site types include shell rings, shell middens, and non-shell sites (Michie 1979; Waring 1968). These sites have been identified by the presence of diagnostic fiber-tempered pottery, some of the earliest in North America (Sassaman 1993), as well as the presence of shell. The high visibility of shell-bearing sites potentially biases the archaeological record (DesJean et al. 1985:166). Shell rings are circular-to-arcuate in shape and composed predominantly of shell, with a mostly shell-free plaza in the center. Empirical evidence indicates that many shell rings were occupied year-round (Colaninno 2012; Reitz et al. 2009; Russo 1998; Thomas 2010:190–191; Thompson and Andrus 2011), with substantial deposits of habitation refuse. A relatively recent hypothesis posits that shell ring deposits are the result of both habitation and mounding, feasting, or ceremonial activities (Russo 2004; Thompson 2007).

Archaeology: Deltaic Areas

Northern Coast

Around the coastal zone of the Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers, there are large shell midden, shell ring, and shell crescent sites in all micro-environmental habitats. This includes large shell middens on the mainland and Pleistocene barrier islands, such as the 2 m-thick Bilbo dating 4500–3800 cal BP, with a possible initial occupation around 5000 cal BP (Crook 2009). Multiple shell middens and shell rings/crescents are found in the interbarrier marsh just east of the Pleistocene islands. Radiocarbon dates from basal contexts indicate these sites were first occupied during the early portion of the Late Archaic period, between 5000 and 3800 cal BP (Turck and Thompson 2016).

Continued occupation after 3800 BP is found in the interbarrier area farther east (behind Little Tybee Island), where there are multiple shell middens completely or partially buried under marsh on a subsurface beach ridge. Radiocarbon dates of 3978–3838 cal BP and 3846–3474 cal BP from (p.173) the basal shell layers of two middens indicate that shell deposition began fairly late in this area (Turck and Thompson 2016).

Central Coast

There are Late Archaic sites on the mainland in the central portion of the coast, where the Altamaha River flows to the ocean, but it is unknown whether they are shell-bearing. A shell ring (West Ring) on the Pleistocene St. Simons Island dates from 4808–4288 cal BP at its base to 4502–3873 cal BP at the top.

The interbarrier marsh contains shell rings as well, including the Oatland Ring-Bony Hammock site on a marsh island, and Cannon’s Point Marsh Ring, just to the east of the West Ring. Cannon’s Point contains one of the oldest dates for a shell ring on the Georgia coast, at 5276–4731 cal BP. The upper levels date to 4711–4126 cal BP, similar to the lower levels of the West Ring, suggesting these sites were occupied simultaneously. Occupation had ceased at both rings by 3800 cal BP. Similar to the interbarrier area of the northern Georgia coast, there is a shell midden (9GN58) with both a Late Archaic and an Early Woodland component on a buried landform within the marsh, suggesting the possibility of terminal Archaic shellfish utilization.

Southern Coast

The Satilla and St. Marys Rivers contribute to the southernmost deltaic area of the Georgia coast. Two non-shell Late Archaic components on the mainland have radiocarbon dates with good contexts. The Kings Bay Site (Big Cedar Area) has a terminal Late Archaic date (3843–3409 cal BP) not associated with shell deposition (DesJean et al. 1985:201). The Devils Walkingstick site (Fiber Tempered Area) returned a date with a large range (4229–3634 cal BP), straddling the early and terminal Late Archaic (DesJean et al. 1985:154, 156). At the time of occupation, lowering sea levels would have left these sites far from marsh resources. The one possible Late Archaic site with shell is a supposed shell ring in the back-barrier area, although no artifacts or radiocarbon dates are known from the site.

Archaeology: Non-deltaic Areas

On the central coast, Pleistocene barrier islands contain shell rings dating to the early Late Archaic. On St. Catherines Island shell construction completely ceases at both rings by 3750 BP (Sanger and Thomas 2010:67). On (p.174) Sapelo Island three shell rings in close proximity were probably occupied at the same time, for a fairly short amount of time (between 50 and 100 years), and abandoned at the same time around 3800 BP (Thompson 2007). Growth band analysis at Sapelo Ring II and III and isotope analysis at Ring III indicate occupation during all four seasons (Thompson and Andrus 2011:335, 337).

Pleistocene barrier islands contain sites dating to after 3800 BP that are not associated with shell use. These include 9Li-197 (Thomas 2008b:567) and 9Li-137 on St. Catherines Island, the latter dating to both before and after 3800 cal BP, and containing both Late Archaic and Early Woodland ceramics (Thomas 2008b:547). Three other non-shell Late Archaic sites without dates (Thomas 2010:189) indicate a wider range of activities outside of shellfishing on St. Catherines. On Sapelo Island there are two non-shell sites with terminal Late Archaic dates. Less dense occupations (based on sherd count) were found outside of the Shell Rings (Thompson 2007:103). At the Kenan Field site, a fairly substantial occupation (based on amount and extent of sherd distribution) dates to 3571–3409 cal BP.

In the back-barrier area, the Late Archaic component on Patterson Island dates to the terminal Late Archaic period (Turck 2011). The occupation at this time was substantial, especially when compared to other marsh islands (Thompson and Turck 2010), and the majority of it was not associated with shellfish exploitation, likely due to how falling sea levels adversely affected the marsh (Turck 2011). Little Sapelo Island also had a non-shell Late Archaic occupation (Thompson and Turck 2010). The A. Busch Krick shell crescent, located on the back-barrier Creighton Island, is the only ring site in Georgia that dates to the terminal Late Archaic period. However, the date (3900–3450 cal BP) is probably incorrect, as it was obtained from a conch or whelk shell (species unknown), which has been shown to produce problematic dates (Hadden and Cherkinsky 2014).

Archaeology: Summary

Late Archaic populations experienced environmental change differentially, but without societal collapse or massive depopulation (Turck and Thompson 2016). In deltaic areas, shellfishing starts earlier and ends later (5000–3500 cal BP), with continuity in shellfish utilization and settlement in interbarrier areas. Along non-deltaic portions of the coast, early Late Archaic shellfishing extends from 4500 to 3800 cal BP. During the terminal Late Archaic period, some non-shellfishing occupations were substantial, (p.175) even with population movements and subsistence changes. Terminal Late Archaic communities were resilient in both deltaic and non-deltaic areas, even when lowering sea levels returned much of the coast to a mainland setting.

There was a general continuity throughout the early and terminal Late Archaic period, even with a transition from coastal adaptations to lifeways where shellfish use was fairly limited or nonexistent (Turck and Thompson 2016). Turck and Thompson (2016) speculated that intervillage relationships reinforcing communal activities developed during the early part of the period and continued into the terminal Late Archaic. These relationships ameliorated adverse affects that occurred due to environmental change.

Early Woodland Period (Refuge Phase): 3100–2400 BP

Environment

As discussed in the previous section, multiple sources indicate that sea level continued dropping at the end of the Late Archaic and into the Early Woodland. At 2700 cal BP, sea level was 4.0 mbp (DePratter and Howard 1981:1292), or as low as 4.7 mbp (Gayes et al. 1992:150). After this, sea level rose rapidly (1 cm per year), reaching 1.0 mbp by 2400 BP (DePratter and Howard 1981; Gayes et al. 1992).

There is evidence that the marsh-estuarine system persisted or formed anew in some locations. In the northern deltaic area, a marine shell dating to the Early Woodland (2698–2496 cal BP) was found over 3 m deep on an interbarrier marsh island behind Wassaw (Turck and Alexander 2013). In the central non-deltaic area, marsh developed northeast of Sapelo Island by 2900 BP, indicating that the marsh-estuarine system and possibly shellfish were available for exploitation at this time (Turck and Alexander 2013).

Archaeology: General

The Archaic-Woodland transition was a time of change throughout the United States, including the Southeast (Thomas and Sanger 2010). There are statistically significant differences between Late Archaic and Early Woodland settlement on the greater coastal plain of Georgia (Turck et al. 2011) and specifically in the coastal zone (Thompson and Turck 2009). However, the general continuity from the early to the terminal Late Archaic (p.176) may extend into the Early Woodland, at least in some locations (Turck and Thompson 2016). South Carolina actually exhibits an increase in Early Woodland site density (Dillian, this volume).

An issue with understanding Early Woodland settlement is the difficulty with discerning Early from Middle Woodland sites (DePratter 1976:2). Some ceramic types (i.e., Refuge plain and simple stamped) are present throughout both subperiods (DePratter 1991:9, 11). Thus, it is necessary to sometimes combine these two subperiods into a larger unit of analysis. This can be more accurate, but it masks more subtle patterns.

Archaeology: Deltaic Areas

Northern Coast

The highest concentration of Early Woodland sites occurs in the northern section of the coast (Table 7.2, Figure 7.4). In the interbarrier area, most of the Late Archaic shell middens have Early Woodland components, suggesting a continuity in occupation, even if the latter is not associated with shellfish exploitation. DePratter and Howard (1977; DePratter 1977a) found Early Woodland ceramics in dredge piles 3.0–1.5 m below sea level, indicating that sea levels lowered, and shorelines prograded eastward at this time. Although shoreline progradation continued, sea level reversed course and began rising, eventually burying landforms, and associated archaeological sites, under marsh sediment (DePratter and Howard 1981). Thus, the lack of coastally adapted Early Woodland sites may be due to the lack of deep testing. As Late Archaic people followed the migrating coast, continuing to utilize marsh-estuarine resources where available, so too did some Early Woodland peoples (DePratter 1977a; Turck and Thompson 2016). Deep testing in deltaic interbarrier areas should locate more Early Woodland sites under marsh sediments, associated with former surfaces.

Evidence further supporting this claim comes from coastal South Carolina, where large shell midden and shell ring sites date to the terminal Late Archaic and Early Woodland periods. For example, ceramics and radiocarbon dates indicate a terminal Late Archaic/ Early Woodland occupation (3200–2800 cal BP) at the Delta site. Faunal and floral remains indicate that people exploited estuarine and freshwater riverine habitats (Crook 2009). This appears to be linked to environmental change, as falling sea levels would have caused the marsh-estuarine system to move eastward. The people living at the Delta site would have been in a position to continue (p.177)

Human-Environmental Dynamics of the Georgia Coast

Figure 7.4. Distribution of Woodland period sites within the Georgia coastal zone.

(p.178) exploiting estuarine resources, but with a closer proximity to freshwater resources.

Central Coast

On the central coast, another possible transitional site was found near the Late Archaic shell ring sites on St. Simons Island. Cultural material beneath the present-day marsh (termed “Marsh Culture”) has an Early Woodland radiocarbon date of 3141–2750 cal BP (Marrinan 1975:49). The mix of fiber, fiber and sand, and sand-tempered ceramics (Marrinan 2010:97) indicates cultural continuity between the people here and previous Late Archaic peoples. This locale reverted back to a mainland setting, with the coastline 11–16 km to the east (Turck 2011:176–180). No shellfish were found at the site, although the estuary remained productive, as freshwater, brackish, and marine fish species were recovered at this site (see Marrinan 1975). This suggests a forager strategy, utilizing the nearby estuary but not traveling farther to collect shellfish (Turck 2011).

Archaeology: Non-deltaic Areas

Through a comparative, distributional analysis of eight archaeological surveys across four different habitats of the central non-deltaic area, Turck (2011) found that there was a decrease in the intensity of occupation everywhere except one back-barrier island. Although this indicates a decrease in population without abandonment, that pattern needs refining when falling sea level is taken into account. Most of the coastal zone reverted back to a mainland setting, with the ocean around 1.5–2.0 km east of today (Turck 2011:171). Early Woodland sites may be found buried under subsequent marsh sediment, as in deltaic areas. One such site exists in the non-deltaic back-barrier marsh, southwest of Creighton Island, where DePratter (1984) found Early Woodland ceramics in a thin shell layer. If this site is dated definitively to the Early Woodland, the presence of shell so close to the present-day mainland would be an anomaly for Georgia. This, and sites like it, need further testing and radiocarbon dating to understand the full Early Woodland settlement pattern.

Early and Middle Woodland sites are combined into a larger Early/Middle Woodland (Refuge/ Deptford) subperiod on St. Catherines Island (Thomas 2008a:412). However, the radiocarbon record can be used to differentiate the two. There is a decrease in radiocarbon dates during the Early Woodland, with only eight of the over 150 marine shell dates falling between 3300–2150 BP (Thomas 2010:184). Thomas (2010:184) argues that this (p.179) indicates a hiatus in shell deposition on the island during the Early Woodland. That most marine radiocarbon dates in association with Early/Middle Woodland ceramics are younger than those ceramics (Thomas 2010:185) suggests mixing of older and younger deposits.

Two sites (9Li26 and 46) with Early and Middle Woodland ceramics date to the Early Woodland (3190–2370 BP), and two (9Li47 and 173) have dates from both periods (Thomas 2008a:408–409). This indicates at least four definitive Early Woodland sites, as well as possible continuities or connections between the Early and Middle Woodland periods. Again, understanding environmental changes in conjunction with radiocarbon dating from undisturbed contexts will be necessary to fully understand Early Woodland settlement.

Middle Woodland Period (Deptford Phase): 2400–1500 BP

Environment

Sea level rose from 1.0 mbp at 2400 cal BP to ~0.72 mbp by 1500 cal BP (Gayes et al. 1992). In deltaic areas, progradation of the coastline continues to occur, due to sediment influx from rivers. Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of sediments, radiocarbon dating (Turck and Alexander 2013), and the use of the archaeological record to date former shorelines (DePratter and Thompson 2013) all indicate the existence of Flora Hammock/Little Wassaw Island prior to 1500 BP.

Although progradation did not occur in non-deltaic areas on a large scale, other landform formation took place. Turck and Alexander (2013) estimate that the southern end of Sapelo Island was an active margin from 2375 to 2056 BP, possibly related to Doboy Sound activity. Around 2000 BP, the small island off the southern end formed, and the intervening area filled with marsh sediment (Turck and Alexander 2013). In general, temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were warmer than average until about 1000 BP (Wanner et al. 2015).

Archaeology

Populations in Georgia were part of the “Hopewell Interaction Sphere,” trading exotic items long distances. Typical of this are large earthen mounds at sites like Kolomoki, Swift Creek, and Leake. The coastal zone is no exception, with ample evidence of mound building (e.g., Thomas and Larsen 1979). In fact, much of the eastern seaboard seems to have relatively high (p.180) population densities, large diet breadths, and diverse artifact assemblages (Betts et al., this volume; Merwin, this volume; Reeder-Myers and Rick, this volume; Randall, this volume).

There is a significant increase in Middle Woodland site density on the coastal plain (Turck et al. 2011). In the coastal zone, sites are once again found in abundance, even greater than in the Late Archaic period (Table 7.2, Figure 7.4; see also Thompson and Turck 2009).

Site densities are evenly distributed between deltaic and non-deltaic landforms, with an emphasis on back-barrier and interbarrier marsh island settlement (Thompson and Turck 2010). Sherd density data (i.e., number of sherds per area surveyed) also support this idea, with fairly low sherd densities on the mainland, and extremely high densities on back-barrier islands (Turck 2011). Sherd density data also suggest that marsh islands were just as intensively occupied/utilized as large barrier islands (Turck 2011).

It was common for people to occupy marsh edges (DePratter and Howard 1980:12–14), which gave them access to the resources of the marshes, islands, and tidal creeks (Milanich 1980:173). Numerous shell middens reveal that estuarine shellfish were once again utilized, and that much of the diet was made up of bony fish and turtle (DePratter and Howard 1980:14; Milanich 1980:174). This reliance on oysters, clams, and fish was similar to Late Archaic populations’ (Quitmyer and Reitz 2006). Some coastal sites were fairly large, and some were occupied throughout the year (Quitmyer et al. 1985; Quitmyer et al. 1997). These findings suggest a preference for Middle Woodland settlement on the coastal plain in general, and the coastal zone specifically. This intensification of occupation, or the visibility of sites, in the coastal zone may be related to sea level rise. The slow rise in sea level allowed for the reestablishment of the marsh-estuarine system and the resources utilized by people (Turck 2011).

Definitive Middle Woodland occupations can be differentiated from the Early Woodland through radiocarbon dating. Four St. Catherines Island sites (9Li15, 47, 173, and 228) with Early/Middle Woodland ceramics have nine dates from the Middle Woodland (2290–1510 BP) (Thomas 2008a:408–409). With 9Li47 and 173 also having Early Woodland dates, this indicates distinct occupations from both subperiods, and possibly some form of connectivity.

The majority of mortuary activities preserved in the archaeological record occurred during the Middle Woodland subperiod, according to the radiocarbon record (Thomas 2008c:1009–1010). Most samples were found underneath the sand mounds on the former ground surface and date initial (p.181) construction activities of burning and clearing. Other samples were from before burning occurred (e.g., Cunningham Mound C features 2 and 3) (Thomas and Larsen 1979:58), indicating that not all such dates are associated with the mounds. More radiocarbon dating is needed to discern Middle Woodland mound construction.

The people interred in these burial mounds were likely from an egalitarian society where they achieved higher status during their lifetimes (Thomas 2010:193). There is also a high frequency of female interments (Thomas and Larsen 1979). In addition to the religious significance of these mounds, Thompson and Turck (2009) suggest that the construction was related to people controlling resources and territories.

Late Woodland Period (Wilmington Phase): 1500–1000 BP

Environment

From 0.72 mbp at 1500 cal BP, sea level rose to ~0.6 mbp by 1000 cal BP (Gayes et al. 1992). Off the northeast coast of Sapelo Island, Blackbeard Island first formed, as indicated by Late Woodland period archaeological sites (DePratter 1977b), a radiocarbon date (2000–1616 BP), and an OSL date (1340–1140 BP) (Turck and Alexander 2013). Although marsh first developed in this area earlier (~2900 BP), the formation of Blackbeard around 1500 BP indicates a larger interbarrier area existed. The rest of the ridges making up Blackbeard Island have not been dated or fully surveyed archaeologically, but they probably formed later in time, successively (see DePratter 1977b). A decrease in oyster size at this time when compared to the Late Archaic most likely indicates large-scale changes in environment (Lulewicz et al. 2017). By the end of the Late Woodland, flooding and marsh formation due to sea level rise began shaping the coastline similar to today. For example, in the central non-deltaic coast, Mary Hammock in the back-barrier area separated from the larger entity containing Little Sapelo Island, Fishing Hammock, and Pumpkin Hammock around 1000 BP (Turck 2011). At this same time, Harris Neck separated from the mainland, becoming a back-barrier marsh island.

Archaeology

The Hopewell Interaction Sphere comes to an end. In the Southeast there were more-restricted social boundaries (Cobb and Nassaney 1995), and people may have been fighting over territories (McElrath and Emerson (p.182) 2009). In Georgia there is an abandonment of the large mound centers except for Kolomoki, and distinct ceramic types arose in specific areas (Williams 2005).

Similar to the Middle Woodland period, there was a preference for settlement on the coastal plain, which contained significantly high component proportions (Turck et al. 2011). In the coastal zone, the total number of sites decreases slightly compared to the previous subperiod (Table 7.2, Figure 7.4). However, this does not necessarily equate to a lower population. Restricted social boundaries would lead to decreased mobility, resulting in fewer sites being occupied/created. It is probable that population increased.

Non-deltaic back-barrier areas have the highest number of sites of all environmental habitats. However, due to the large area of marsh, the density is artificially low. When this is taken into account (Thompson et al. 2013), back-barrier areas throughout the coastal zone have the highest site densities. Sherd density data support this idea as well. Similar to the Middle Woodland period, mainland sherd density is fairly low, but on marsh islands like Patterson Island and Mary Hammock, Late Woodland sherd densities are high, suggesting people focused on marsh-estuarine habitats (Turck 2011).

Late Woodland populations rapidly occupied new coastal landforms as they developed (DePratter 1977b; DePratter and Thompson 2013). In deltaic areas, almost all interbarrier islands have evidence of occupation, such as between the Wilmington-Tybee and Skidaway-Wassaw areas. Nondeltaic areas have similar patterns, such as on Blackbeard Island (DePratter 1977b) and the marsh island off the southern end of Sapelo Island (Turck and Alexander 2013). Over half of the Late Woodland sites on St. Catherines Island were found on the southern island core (Thomas 2008d:905). In addition, incremental data from clams indicate that St. Catherines Island was occupied during all seasons of the year (Thomas 2008d:907). All evidence indicates that year-round settlement and occupation intensification seen during the Middle Woodland continued through the Late Woodland subperiod.

(p.183) Mississippian Period (St. Catherines, Savannah, and Irene Phases): 1000–370 BP

Environment

Sea level continued to rise at a negligible pace (Gayes et al. 1992). Off the east shore of Sapelo Island, Frey and Basan (1981:113) dated relict marsh under present-day Cabretta Beach to between 1000 and 500 BP. This suggests that protective barrier beaches (e.g., Cabretta Beach and Nanny Goat Beach) were present along the Georgia coast at this time, but farther seaward. A number of global-scale climate shifts occurred during this time, including the Medieval Climate Anomaly (1000–650 BP) and the Little Ice Age (650–250 BP). It is uncertain how, if at all, these large-scale shifts are expressed along the Georgia coast, mostly due to a lack of research regarding the nature of these changes.

An important source of paleoenvironmental data is bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) dendrochronology, where a 1,055-year tree ring sequence from the lower Altamaha River has been produced and used to reconstruct the climate of the area (Stahle and Cleaveland 1992). Blanton and Thomas (2008) provide an in-depth discussion of this work and the Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI; after Stahle and Cleaveland, 1992), identifying three important patterns. First, it is clear that for the past thousand years there was periodicity in the degree to which droughts affected the Georgia coast. That is, the region experienced an “oscillating history of wetter–drier and warmer–colder conditions” (Blanton and Thomas 2008:800). The second pattern shows a pronounced drought from 774 to 730 cal BP (AD 1176–1220), which also corresponds to a time of generally cooler temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere. Blanton and Thomas (2008) suggest that this would have impacted agricultural practices. Third, there appears to be another drought from 388 to 379 cal BP (AD 1562–1571), with the apex of the drought occurring between 385 and 381 cal BP (AD 1565–1569, Blanton and Thomas 2008:803).

Ethnohistory

Based on ethnohistorical documents, the people who occupied the northern Georgia coast in the sixteenth century were known as the Guale. The Mocama, a Timucua-speaking distinct ethnic and political group, occupied the southern Georgia coast, south of St. Simons Island (Worth 1995). These Native American populations practiced agriculture, as well as fishing, (p.184) hunting, and foraging. The degree to which individual groups engaged in these traditions varied across the region. Coastal populations engaged in the planting of maize, beans, and a variety of squashes. It is possible that they practiced a type of swidden agriculture, leaving some fields fallow during certain years. Again, this picture of coastal farming is derived largely from the ethnohistoric record.

Settlement within the coastal zone focused on tidal creeks and rivers that were adjacent to uplands. On the barrier islands, large sites dating to the Mississippian period straddle such environments, often on the back-barrier-facing side of these islands (e.g., Crook 1986). It is not clear the degree to which coastal groups practiced shifting residence patterns. Possibly there were varying degrees of settlement shifts over time and space.

For the northern Georgia coast, and presumably the southern portion, the key component of the settlement was the town. Orista towns on the South Carolina coast were described as being located near the edge of the forest, with maize fields and other houses at varying distances, presumably occupied by family groups (Sandford 1911:91). There is conflicting evidence on the stability of populations in similar Guale towns. Early Jesuit accounts suggest that the Guale were highly mobile and that agriculture was limited in the coastal zone. Conversely, slightly later Franciscan descriptions note the presence of towns and agricultural fields (Jones 1978:243; Thomas 2008e).

Such ethnohistoric descriptions have heavily influenced archaeological models of Guale settlement and subsistence. At one end of the spectrum, Larson (1980) and Crook (1986) propose a highly variable subsistence tied to population movements, where the vast majority of people living in towns leave for part of the year. In Crook’s (1986) scheme, only at the largest towns do chiefs and their close kin stay year-round. Population aggregation for the most part occurred only after the autumn harvest (Crook 1986). This view of settlement is dependent on the nature of resources in certain habitats, and the ethnohistoric accounts of mobility. Thomas (2008e:1112) has critiqued this model, suggesting that Guale mobility and subsistence observed by the Jesuits was directly influenced by the drought.

The ethnohistoric record shows that the Georgia coast housed complex political groups. Portions of the coast were organized into polities with hereditary positions of authority. The Guale were organized into three primary polities during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Thomas 2008e; Worth 1995). Each of these had two major towns with leaders and retainers (Thomas 2008e). It seems that leadership rotated between the two (p.185) towns; the primary leader was known as the mico or mico mayor (Thomas 2008e). This latter term refers to the related leaders of each of the linked towns. There was also an entourage of secondary officers, including individuals known as caciques and principales (Thomas 2008e). Together these formed councils that met in great houses to discuss important matters.

Archaeology

The Mississippian period of the Southeast is equivalent to the Late Woodland period north of North Carolina. Evidence from Georgia indicates broad changes in settlement and subsistence during the Early Mississippian (St. Catherines phase) (Table 7.3, Figure 7.5). Larger habitation sites and few small sites were occupied at this time, indicating that populations were more clustered (DePratter and Howard 1980:16). Most sites were located on the well-drained upland portions of barrier islands (DePratter and Howard 1980:16). This may be due to a transition to agriculture, as Hutchinson and colleagues (1998:409) note a steady increase in the reliance on maize from 1000 BP based on bone isotopes. However, macrobotanical remains do not indicate heavy maize use.

During the Middle Mississippian (Savannah phase) the number of sites decreased, but sites were larger (DePratter and Howard 1980:17). Large sites were located on both the mainland and the barrier islands, and were associated with one or more burial mounds (DePratter and Howard 1980:17). Political organization was more centralized, with a chief in control of the religious and political realms (DePratter and Howard 1980:17–18). The settlement system can be described as nucleated, consisting of a primary center, secondary sites, and multiple smaller sites (Pearson 1980). Maize became an important part of the diet at this time, as indicated by the increase in dental carries (Hutchinson et al. 1998).

On the coastal plain of Georgia (~80 km inland), Pluckhahn and McKivergan (2002) found Middle Mississippian sites to be less clustered, with less separation between clusters, when compared to their interior counterparts. This suggests that occupation of the coastal plain was less centralized, and boundaries were less defended than in the interior (Pluckhahn and McKivergan 2002).

By the Late Mississippian (Irene phase), the settlement system included more sites, but smaller and more dispersed (see Pearson 1980). Communities were composed of smaller villages and farmsteads, as well as larger settlements that continued to function as political/religious centers (see DePratter and Howard 1980). On Ossabaw Island, Pearson (1980) notes a (p.186)

Table 7.3. Site counts, percentages, and densities for the Early through Late Mississippian Period

Landform

Area (km2)

Early Miss.

Middle Miss.

Late Miss.

Ct

%

Dens.

Ct

%

Dens.

Ct

%

Dens.

DELTAIC

Mainland

1,226.4

16

8.4%

0.01

60

20.5%

0.05

39

10.3%

0.03

Back-barrier (islands/ marsh)

831.0

6

3.2%

0.01

31

10.6%

0.04

23

6.1%

0.03

Barrier island (Pleistocene)

155.6

40

21.1%

0.26

44

15.0%

0.28

73

19.3%

0.47

Interbarrier

431.0

25

13.2%

0.06

32

10.9%

0.07

21

5.5%

0.05

Barrier island (Holocene)

43.4

1

0.5%

0.02

1

0.3%

0.02

1

0.3%

0.02

Subtotal

2,687.4

88

46.3%

0.03

168

57.3%

0.06

157

41.4%

0.06

NON-DELTAIC

Mainland

1,302.9

21

11.1%

0.02

50

17.1%

0.04

66

17.4%

0.05

Back-barrier (islands/ marsh)

1,046.9

56

29.5%

0.05

49

16.7%

0.05

77

20.3%

0.07

Barrier island (Pleistocene)

78.0

18

9.5%

0.23

17

5.8%

0.22

57

15.0%

0.73

Interbarrier

121.0

5

2.6%

0.04

7

2.4%

0.06

16

4.2%

0.13

Barrier island (Holocene)

13.8

2

1.1%

0.14

2

0.7%

0.14

6

1.6%

0.43

Subtotal

2,562.6

102

53.7%

0.04

125

42.7%

0.05

222

58.6%

0.09

TOTAL/AVERAGE

5,249.9

190

0.04

293

0.06

379

0.07

(p.187)

Human-Environmental Dynamics of the Georgia Coast

Figure 7.5. Distribution of Mississippian period sites within the Georgia coastal zone.

(p.188) change from a three-level hierarchy during the Savannah phase to a four-level settlement hierarchy during the Irene phase. Part of the reason for this dramatic increase in sites may be due to population relocation, as well as abandonment (Anderson 1994). Based on demographic modeling and site file data, Ritchison (2018) argues that this increase in sites may be due to the infilling of the landscape by migrants from the Savannah River valley. It may not be chance that the timing of these changes (650 cal BP) coincides with social transitions in other areas (e.g., Chesapeake Bay [Reeder-Myers and Rick, this volume]). This general observation needs to be thoroughly tested.

Evidence of maize and other domesticated plants indicates that agriculture was a significant source of food at this time (Keene 2004). However, estuarine resources were still heavily used (Hutchinson et al. 1998). There is also evidence of year-round occupation on large barrier islands and small back-barrier islands (Keene 2004; Thompson and Andrus 2013). The evidence for maize agriculture and year-round occupation is at odds with the notion that most of the population of large coastal villages retreated to smaller, dispersed settlements after the maize harvest (see Crook 1986).

The formation of polities based on inherited status inequalities seems to have emerged relatively early on the Georgia coast. Thomas (2008e) argues, based on mortuary burial mound data, that ascribed status emerges ~1200 BP. This is some time before the adoption of and increase in maize agriculture (~700 BP), at least according to the isotopic data (Thomas 2008e; Thompson and Worth 2011). As Thomas (2008e:1078) states, the Native American inhabitants of St. Catherines Island engaged in “a ranked, despotic system of inherited asymmetry in leadership and social status.” If these patterns observed in burial mounds translated to the larger political entities, this would indicate yet another case where the development of social inequality and political complexity was not reliant on investments in maize agriculture.

While burial mounds are prevalent throughout the coast, platform mounds (diagnostic features of the Mississippian period) are rare (Cook and Pearson 1989; Pluckhahn and McKivergan 2002). The most famous of the few known platform mounds on the coast is the one at the Irene site (9CH1), a multistage mound whose initial construction began in the Savannah phase (Caldwell and McCann 1941). By the Irene phase, the platform mound is capped and becomes a burial mound with a large council house, possibly 36 m in diameter. Some suggest that this indicates a more egalitarian society (e.g., Anderson 1994; DePratter 1991), while Thompson (p.189) (2009) argues that this is inconsistent with the ethnohistoric accounts of chiefly authority in the region.

Thompson (2009) suggests that public performance of power and displays of authority were important, and the council house provided a venue for such acts. The ethnohistoric descriptions seem to support the notion that such structures reinforce, rather than downplay, such hierarchies, as raised benches and seating in these houses were strictly regulated by status within the community (Shapiro and Hann 1990). It may be that the council house supplanted the platform mound during the Irene phase on the coast, and given the paucity of such structures it is legitimate to question whether platform mounds were ever part of the larger tradition of power structures in the region. Besides Irene, only a few other unconfirmed platform mounds exist in the area, such as those at Kenan Field on Sapelo Island, and the large multiple mounds of Ossabaw Island’s Middle Place settlement.

While the existence of platform mounds on the Georgia coasts remains elusive, there is no reason to think that people in the region did not make up a coastal variant of the Mississippian lifeway (Worth 1995). There are many similarities, including the ability to create maize surpluses, the existence of paired towns such as those found in interior Georgia, and the continuation of inherited statuses and leadership until the Guale leave or are removed from the region by the Spanish (Worth 1995). That said, these groups still retained a distinctly coastal way of life well into the AD 1500s, when the arrival of European explorers disrupted Native American life on the coast of Georgia.

Activist Archaeology

Applying the theoretical framework of historical ecology, the previous discussion illustrates that the Georgia coast is a dynamic socio-ecological system with a deep history, where humans are a keystone species and primary driver of ecological change (see Balée and Erickson 2006). This perspective allows the archaeological record to be reevaluated for present-day issues, performing activist archaeology: reorienting archaeology toward addressing current social problems, making it relevant to present-day societies (Dawdy 2009:140; McGuire 2008; Rockman and Flatman 2012; Sabloff 2008; Stottman 2010). The key is public buy-in: showing people how archeology is useful, not simply interesting (as with public “dig days”), will create lifelong advocates for archeology and anthropology in general.

(p.190) Past Human Impacts

Our initial reorienting of archaeological research evaluated past human impacts on the intertidal environment. Focusing on back-barrier marsh islands, we found that the cumulative deposition of shellfish by Native Americans for 4,000 years fundamentally altered the ecosystem, creating and modifying upland habitats (Thompson et al. 2013). Native American shell deposition changed the shape and size of landforms, adding enough elevation to keep them out of reach of sea level rise and marsh accretion (Thompson et al. 2013). More importantly, this single part of a small-scale economy (i.e., shellfishing) transformed the landscape over time (Thompson et al. 2013). With vegetation and salinity tied to elevation, this shows Native Americans were significant actors in the formation and maintenance of the coastal landscape (Thompson et al. 2013).

Past human activities continue to influence the structure and function of the present-day ecosystem, with much of coastal Georgia being anthropogenic. This idea that activities of nonindustrialized communities from 500 years ago and earlier continue to have a profound effect on the environment must be shared with the public, to help them understand how humans impact the environment.

Applying the Past to the Present

Archaeology’s deep time perspective is also useful for addressing contemporary problems in environmental education. Most legislators dealing with future sea level rise lack basic understanding of the topic (e.g., North Carolina legislation HB 819; Virginia state delegate Chris Stolle; Florida unofficially banning use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming”; however, see New York state Community Risk and Resiliency Act, SB 6617-B, for contrast).

Archaeologists must work with policymakers and the public on present-day issues with sea level and temperature. Showing people that sea level has risen and lowered, with changing rates over time, is the first step to having them acknowledge that such processes continue today and will continue in the future. Tangible evidence and real-world examples are best to reveal implications for the present.

The patterns of the Late Archaic/Early Woodland transition are directly applicable to today. We (Turck and Thompson 2016) have concluded that there was a general continuity between the early and terminal Late Archaic, possibly extending into the Early Woodland. While societal transformations (p.191) occurred (e.g., populations moved), they were not accompanied by collapse. Communities were resilient throughout the coast in the face of sea level fluctuations. We (Turck and Thompson 2016) speculated that intervillage relationships reinforcing communal activities ameliorated adverse affects of sea level change that may have occurred. Something quite different seems to have occurred along the Gulf of Maine (Betts et al., this volume), with a supposed incursion of Susquehanna tradition peoples occurring at the same time as possible environmental change. Did populations get incorporated into, or displaced by, this group? Or were Susquehanna traditions adopted over a broad area? While archaeology does not give us a direct guide for what to do when confronted with environmental change, it does reveal the consequences of human action in the face of those changes.

We can extrapolate this to the present, because future sea level rise will put 13 million people along the U.S. coasts at risk (Hauer et al. 2016). We suggest that relationships must be developed now between coastal communities and groups farther inland, especially along evacuation routes. These can be as simple as county fairs in strategic locations. Such relationship building will lay the groundwork for coastal evacuations/influxes of people inland, with the concomitant stress on emergency (and other) resources. As with the Georgia coast example, this will lead to community resilience in the face of future sea level change.

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