South Florida Archaeology and Ethnography Program

Established in 1983, the Florida Museum of Natural History's South Florida Program investigates, reports on, and conserves knowledge of the past environments and cultures of South Florida. With the ultimate goal of understanding the emergence of social and political complexity in precolumbian South Florida, William Marquardt has directed an interdisciplinary research project in Southwest Florida, heartland of the Calusa Indian people (Lee, Charlotte, and Collier counties). The interdisciplinary project makes use of documentary, archaeological, and environmental data to reach an understanding of cultural changes before, during, and after European contact.


Florida Museum research in South Florida addresses and informs issues of (1) the emergence of social and political complexity; (2) human interaction with the changing environment; (3) cultural genesis in the multi-ethnic, post-1492 New World. These projects offer information of interest not just to professional scholars, but also to the public, and are thus well suited to public programs and museum exhibits.


Research since 1983 has resulted in the most systematically obtained and intensively studied collection from the domain of the ancient and extinct Calusa Indian people, who controlled all of South Florida at the time of European contact. Of special interest, the Pineland collection consists of artifacts, human-environmental specimens/samples, and associated records/products. It also includes complementary historical and oral-historical records that are important for preserving the local history of the community of Pineland, and helping local citizens to maintain a sense of place in what is one of the fastest-developing parts of Florida. The Florida Ethnographic Collection contains artifacts associated with the Seminole and Miccosukee people, dating from the mid nineteenth through the late twentieth centuries, as well as correspondence, documents, and photographs accumulated by W. Stanley Hanson.


The South Florida Program is directed by William Marquardt, Curator, assisted by Karen Walker, collections manager. Collections curated under this program are archaeological (artifacts, specimens, and documents) and ethnographic (materials associated with the Seminole and Miccosukee Indian people). Marquardt and Walker are assisted by graduate students, undergraduate students, interns, and volunteers. Marquardt also directs the Randell Research Center, a research and education center located in Pineland, Florida, near Fort Myers.