Documenting the Effects of Diagenesis on Bone Artifacts in Coastal Florida Through Wetting Experiments
Rising sea and groundwater levels in coastal Florida have infringed on and wetted archaeological sites with some sites already submerged by rising sea levels. While studies of moisture-induced artifact diagenesis and destruction have been documented elsewhere, very little documentation exists for Florida and the faunal artifacts typical of Florida. This study sought to fill that gap by documenting the effects of wetting experiments on Floridian bone faunal artifacts. Our findings show that moisture-induced diagenesis and destruction is occurring at Florida sites and is more severe in older artifacts. Also, bone artifacts can retain moisture after the surrounding sediment matrix has dried. Furthermore, vertebrae across taxa are especially vulnerable to moisture-induced diagenesis while fish spines and scales are especially resistant. Although our data are limited, mammal bone seems especially vulnerable to diagenetic destruction, mammal bone being completely absent in the older assemblage, which is consistent with other artifact diagenesis studies. The implications of this study are that artifact assemblages excavated in Florida are biased by the postdeposition and pre-excavation loss of artifacts, specifically biased against diagenetic-prone bone (e.g., mammal and vertebrae) and toward diagenetic resilient bone (e.g., boney fish). This has implications both in terms of site interpretation and preservation priorities.
Taylor & Francis
College of Arts and Sciences
Lecher, A. L., Acevedo Montalvo, G., & Watson, A. (2023). Documenting the effects of diagenesis on bone artifacts in coastal Florida through wetting experiments. Southeastern Archaeology, 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1080/0734578X.2023.2215103