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Approximate area of the Alachua culture region.

The Alachua culture is defined as a Late Woodland Southeast period archaeological culture in north-central Florida, dating from around 700 to 1700. It is found in an area roughly corresponding to present-day Alachua County, the northern half of Marion County and the western part of Putnam County. It was preceded by the Cades Pond culture, which covered approximately the same area.

Jerald Milanich suggests that the people of the Alachua culture were immigrants from what is now Georgia. Early Alachua culture pottery resembled that of the Ocmulgee culture found along the Ocmulgee River. The Ocmulgee immigrants were either already practicing agriculture or adopted it shortly after arriving, and settled in upland areas suitable for agriculture. These had been largely unexploited by the wetlands-oriented Cades Pond people. The Cades Pond people disappeared soon after the arrival of the Alachua culture people.

The Alachua culture period has been divided into four sub-periods; the Hickory Pond period (700 to 1250), Alachua period (1250-1585), Potano I period (1585-1630), and Potano II period (1630-1702). At the time of first contact with Spanish explorers, the Alachua culture area was occupied by the Potano Indians, a branch of the Timucua, who spoke the Potano dialect of the Timucua language. The Potano I and II periods correspond to the presence of Spanish missions in Potano villages.

The sub-periods in the Alachua culture period are defined by the relative prevalence of pottery types. The most common type of pottery during the Hickory Pond period was the Prairie Cord Marked style. The Alachua Cob Marked style became more prevalent in the Alachua sub-period. Other styles of pottery occurred throughout the Alachua culture period. The Potano I period saw the introduction of European artifacts and of pottery styles from other cultures. The Potano II period was marked by the almost complete replacement of traditional pottery styles by Leon Jefferson pottery styles (associated with the Apalachee). Stone and bone tools show little variation over the course of the period.

The Alachua culture people occupied hardwood hammocks, with village sites on high ground, near streams or sinkholes. The village sites are often in clusters, which may have resulted from periodic relocation of a village in a small area. The village clusters tend to fall along lines, which may represent the lines of the hammocks, or the path of trails.

The presence of Cob Marked pottery throughout the period indicates that the people of the Alachua culture grew maize. A more detailed analysis of the food resources used by the Alachua culture people has not been made. Burial mounds are found in the area, but have not been extensively excavated. Storage pits and indications of other structures, including a circular house at one site, have been found in villages.

References

  • Milanich, Jerald T. 1995. Florida Indians and the Invasion from Europe. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-1360-7
  • Milanich, Jerald T. (1998) Florida's Indians from Ancient Times to the Present. University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-1599-5
  • Anon. (1993) "Chapter 6. North-Central Florida, 2500 B.P.-A.D. 1702." in Jerald T. Milanich, Ed. Florida Historical Contexts. State of Florida Division of Historical Resources. Found at [1] - retrieved January 8, 2008
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