The Georgia Coast of the eastern United States boasts some of the largest and spatially complex Late Archaic sites in North America, with the most famous of these being shell rings. The shell ring village phenomenon and its larger ceremonial landscapes did not, however, last throughout the Late Archaic. Climate shifts that led to local relative sea level change in the area at around 3800 cal. BP appears to have resulted in conditions that suppressed shellfish productivity and ultimately led to the uneven abandonment of shell ring sites. Our understanding of these changes along the Georgia Coast is limited by the fact that much of the research focuses exclusively on large shell midden sites. Investigations at several large terminal Late Archaic sites demonstrate continuity in the size of these occupations compared to earlier Late Archaic sites (i.e., shell rings), demonstrating a socio-ecological resiliency in these small-scale societies. We argue that, contrary to narratives of collapsing socio-ecological systems, the terminal Late Archaic was a time when displaced communities coalesced and forged new community bonds in the wake of a shifting resource base.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth-Surface Processes