Southwest Florida Archaeological Society (SWFAS)

A Chapter of the Florida Anthropological Society

southwest florida archaeological society - calusa archaeology

The Southwest Florida Archaeological Society was founded in 1980 as a not-for-profit corporation to provide a meeting place for people interested in the area's past. Its goals are:

* To learn more of the area's prehistory,

* To help disseminate this information,

* To help preserve its evidences.

Its members number both professional and amateur archaeologists, come from all walks of life and age groups. They share a lively curiosity, a respect for the people who preceded them here, and a feeling of responsibility for the conservation of the mementos they left behind.

The Society holds monthly meetings and attracts speakers who are in the forefront of archaeological research.

Occasionally members join in trips to historical and archaeological sites.

Its Craighead Award is presented on occasion to honor those who have made outstanding contributions in behalf of Southwest Florida archaeology.

A monthly newsletter keeps members abreast of archaeological happenings.

The organization is a chapter of the Florida Anthropological Society, which publishes quarterly newsletters and a journal, The Florida Anthropologist, and stages an annual conference.

We normally meet for monthly lectures and programs on the third Wednesday of every month at Bonita Springs Community Hall on Old 41 at 7:30p.m. See newsletter for confirmation and details. Our programs are ambitious, encompassing meetings with local authors, professors, experts, notables in archaeology and related fields, exploring the marvelous history of Southwest Florida.

Select below for latest newsletter download to check upcoming programs.


Southwest Florida Archaeological Society Newsletters

**Click here for a 476kb .pdf of October 2007 Newsletter

**Click here for a 236kb .pdf of September 2007 Newsletter

**Click here for a 316kb .pdf of August 2007 Newsletter

**Click here for a 417kb .pdf of July 2007 Newsletter

Note: No June 2007 newsletter printed.

**Click here for a 176kb .pdf of May 2007 Newsletter

**Click here for a 536kb .pdf of April 2007 Newsletter

**Click here for a 352kb .pdf of March 2007 Newsletter

**Click here for a 273kb .pdf of February 2007 Newsletter

**Click here for a 2.1mb .pdf of January 2007 Newsletter

**Click here for a 2.8mb .pdf of December 2006 Newsletter

**Click here for a 2.9mb .pdf of November 2006 Newsletter

**Click here for a 1.4mb .pdf of October 2006 Newsletter

Note: No September newsletter printed.

**Click here for a 4.2MB .pdf of August 2006 Newsletter

**Click here for a 618k .pdf of July 2006 Newsletter

**Click here for a 692k .pdf of June 2006 Newsletter

**Click here for a 1.9mb .pdf of May 2006 Newsletter

**Click here for a 880k .pdf of April 2006 Newsletter

**Click here for a 880k .pdf of March 2006 Newsletter

**Click here for a 416k .pdf of February 2006 Newsletter

**Click here for a 868k .pdf of January 2006 Newsletter

**Click here for a 532k .pdf of December 2005 Newsletter

**Click here for a 1.1mb .pdf of November Newsletter

**Click here for a 656k .pdf of October Newsletter

**Click here for a 604k .pdf of September Newsletter

**Click here for a 204k .pdf of August Newsletter

**Click here for a 216k .pdf of July Newsletter

Click here for a 304k .pdf of June Newsletter

Click here for a 967k .pdf of May Newsletter

Click here for a .pdf of April Newsletter

Click here for a .pdf of March Newsletter

Click here for a .pdf of February Newsletter

Click here for a .pdf of January Newsletter

Thanks to Karen Nelson, EDITOR

For a calendar of local happenings, check out the website The FPAN website:


The peninsula of Florida has been inhabited for some 10,000 years and people are known to have lived on its southwest coast for most of that time.

The first to arrive were big game hunters who led semi-nomadic lives, moving with the herds and following the seasons' crops of nuts, berries and edible roots.

Recent discoveries have demonstrated that by 5,000 years ago some had settled more or less permanently on islands and along inlets and bays, relying on fish and shellfish for a good part of their food, although a wide variety of edible plants were consumed..

By the time Europeans arrived in the southwest of Florida, the dominant tribe, the Calusa, had evolved a life-style unique in the world. They had a stratified society and undertook massive civic projects such as the construction of mounds for residential, mortuary, and ceremonial purposes, and miles of canals for their canoe traffic which linked them with the interior. All other societies known to have built monumental constructions had economies based on the raising of crops.

The secrets of those lost civilizations are locked in the soil -- ground that is being torn up for roads and leveled for agriculture and the construction of new communities. Studies to learn more about the Indians' way of life now have an urgency.

One of the organizations trying to salvage this information is the Southwest Florida Archaeological Society. You can be a part of this effort -- and enjoy doing it.


The Society's interest in preserving the evidences of past cultures is a practical one. At the invitation of land owners members make organized pre-development surveys, registering with the state any sites found.

To help developers plan construction to minimize loss of archaeological deposits the Society occasionally, under professional direction, undertakes more intensive examinations of potential sites, including detailed surveys and excavation of test pits which reveal their importance and extent. Results are reported in professional conferences and journals.

In addition, the Society is called upon to help Universities and the Florida Museum of Natural History in excavating and doing laboratory work on their research. Recently members have cooperated in work on Useppa, Pine, Horr's, Josslyn and Key Marco islands, the Miami Circle, and Goodland compiling hundreds of hours of volunteer time.

To care for material from test pits, the society operates a facility, the Craighead Laboratory, on grounds of the Collier County Museum, with which it cooperates in a variety of educational and popular activities. Basic hours are 8:30 am to12:00 Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The Collier County Museum is registered with the Florida Anthropological Society as the official repository for SWFAS.

On occasion, the lab handles material from excavations in the area conducted by uni versities and museums. This is done on a volunteer basis to further their exploratory work.


Jan Gooding has arrived for the season and is busily at work.

For some time we have been working on analysis of material from the Marco Inn project under contract with AHC. After some delay 11 more boxes arrived. The "lab rats" are gnawing away at them now. There is an interesting mixture of historical and pre-historical artifacts. A database has been developed by Jack Harvey. The ultimate goal is to prepare a CD with all pertinent data for future research. To date we have about 12,000 artifacts.

Drop by the Collier County Museum any Tuesday or Thursday morning to see what goes on.


SWFAS is a Chapter of the Florida Anthropological Society. FAS has a new web site at or search for Florida Anthropological Society. There is information on membership, news, Chapters, officers, the next annual meeting in Gainesville in early May, publications, links to other archaeological sites and this year's Florida Archaeology Month events.


The Florida Department of Historic Resources and the University of West Florida have drafted a plan to establish a network of public archaeology centers around the state. The centers will be located so that all of Florida would be covered. Each center would have an archaeologist and staff and would be hosted by a local university or museum. The centers will promote and develop archaeology for the general public: assist local governments in identifying, evaluating and preserving archaeological sites; and to assist the Department of Historical Resources.

All FAS chapters are asked to give suggestions and comments.


There have a new name and website. Check out:


The Directorate: President - Theresa Schober, 1st VP - Karen Nelson, 2nd VP - Tom Franchino, Recording Secretary - Jo Ann Grey, Treasurer - Charlie Strader, Membership - Charlie Strader, Board members - Jean Belknap, James Oswald and Kara Bridgman Sweeney.

SWFAS Committees: Field - John Beriault, Lab - Jack Thompson, Hospitality - Jeanne Sanders, Publicity - Kara Bridgman Sweeney, Newsletter - Karen Nelson

If you would like to join SWFAS, please address your check to: The Southwest Florida Archaeological Society; P.O. Box 9965; Naples, FL 34101

Dues are: Individual - $20; Sustaining - $50; Family - $35; Student $15

Board meetings are held prior to the regular meeting on the third Wednesday of the month at the Bonita Springs Community Hall on Old 41 (by the banyan tree). All are welcome. Board meetings begin at 6:00; regular meetings begin at 7:30 (with coffee served at 7).

QUESTIONS, comments or contributions to the newsletter: Karen Nelson, e-mail:


I want to help the Southwest Florida Archaeological Society preserve and interpret our prehistoric heritage.

Name (please print) ________________________________________________________________________

Address __________________________________________________________________________________

Phone ____________________________ Email ______________________________

Check one:

Individual ($20) _____ Individual ($50) _____

Family ($35) _____ Student ($15) ______

Life ($500) ______

Skills, training, interests: __________________________________________________________________________________

I hereby agree to abide by the rules and bylaws of the Southwest Florida Archaeological Society. I further release from any and all liability due to accident and injury to myself, dependents, and property, the Southwest Florida Archaeological Society, its officers, members, and any property owners cooperating with the Society

You'll get acquainted faster, and get more out of the organization, if you become an active participant. Below are catagories in which to make your contribution to Society objectives:

* Education Committee: Cooperating with schools, libraries, museums in arranging for displays and speakers.

* Telephone Committee: Take part in communication "trees" in the event of schedule changes, etc.

* Lab Work: Identifying, analyzing lab material; you will be trained.

* Program Committee: Assisting with arrangements for speakers.

* Public Relations: Assisting with public education events and media relations.

* Sales: SWFAS items to members at meetings.

* Refreshments: Helping with coffee and cookie service at meetings.

* Archives: Filing lab notes, reference materials, clippings, at lab.

* Membership: Assisting in analyzing, keeping membership lists up to date.

* Data Management: Storing and processing data on lab computer.

* Newsletter: Assisting with publication of monthly newsletter.

Below are links to other sites that may be of interest.

FPAN, Florida Public Archaeology Network (Southwest Region) Excellent calendar of events, links, etc.

The Mound House, Fort Myers Beach

Randell Research Center at Pineland

Museum of the the Islands, Pine Island

Collier County Museum, Naples

Mound Key Archaeological State Park, Estero Bay

Trail of the Lost Tribes, Statewide

Bonita Springs Historical Society

Marco Island Historical Society, Marco Island Historical Society's mission is to "preserve the history and heritage of our community". The Society is leading the community in a capital campaign drive to build a museum that the county will maintain and operate on designated county property by the Marco Island Public Library. The museum will be valued at $8 million. The Society is leading the community effort to raise $ 3.3 million to build the building. The museum will have emphasis on Calusa culture, discovered in 1896 on old Marco and a time line from Pioneers to Present.


Links to and Chapters of the Florida Anthropolical Society

Archaeological Society of Southern Florida
Broward County Archaeological Society
Central Florida Anthropological Soceity
Central Gulf Coast Archaeological Society
Emerald Coast Archaeology Society
Indian River Anthropological Society
Kissimmee Valley Arch. And Hist. Conservancy
Panhandle Archaeological Society at Tallahassee
Pensacola Archaeological Society
Southeast Florida Archaeological Society
Southwest Florida Archaeological Society
St. Augustine Archaeological Association
Time Sifters Archaeological Society
Volusia Anthropological Society
Warm Mineral Springs / Little Salt Springs Archaeological Society


Links below via courtesy of the Florida Museum of Natural History website:

Links by Time Period

Please Email us with any bad links or sites that should be included. - THANKS!

SWFAS mailing address is: Post Office Box 9965, Naples, FL 34101

To contact, email:

Wepage provided courtesy of the travel company, Explorations Inc.

Created 2/10/2005. Revised 9/13/07.