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Submerged Paleolandscapes

This course will provide participants with an overview of the topic of submerged paleolandscapes, including the cultural historical contexts needed to understand them. Course participants will also gain hands-on experience in some of the emerging technologies used to discover and interpret submerged terrestrial sites and landscapes.

In the field of archaeology, few questions are as intriguing or controversial as questions of where we came from and how we got here. Archaeologists have developed numerous patterns and models of early human migration and occupation based on evidence recovered from sites on land; however, growing awareness of past climate change and sea-level fluctuations has highlighted a flaw with these models. Large portions of the world’s continental shelves that are presently underwater were exposed as dry land during periods of early human migration. Although archaeologists commonly point to the importance of coastal margins in migration studies, the coastal margins that existed during past migrations have not been investigated systematically because they are now underwater.

Interest in the study of submerged landscapes has received greater attention in the last decade (e.g., Bailey et al. 2017; Benjamin et al. 2011; Evans et al. 2014; Flemming et al. 2017) in large part because of the increasing availability of the technology required to access submerged archaeological sites. Despite the potential for submerged landscapes to yield previously undiscovered and potentially paradigm-shifting data, continental shelves are rarely targeted for systematic subsurface archaeological investigation, with most investigations taking place close to shore. Given the recent and rapid increase in off-shore and near-shore energy sector developments, archaeologists have an opportunity to contribute to our understanding of submerged paleolandscapes, but only if they are able to properly contextualize these resources and know how and what to look for.

UWF Department of Anthropology Submerged Paleolandscapes Course

Dates: August 8-11, 2022
Schedule: Mon-Thu, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Location: Pensacola, FL
The UWF Department of Anthropology is offering a short course on submerged paleolandscapes August 8-11, 2022 in Pensacola, Florida. The course is open to both current students and professionals. Continuing education units will be available through the UWF Continuing Education program. Enrollment in UWF is not required. Course will include lectures from scholars and professionals, hands-on practical exercises, and on-water experiences (weather permitting). 

Tuition: $35
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Topics will include:

Day 1 - The first day of this course will include discussions of the cultural historical, temporal, geographical, and geological backgrounds necessary to understand submerged terrestrial archaeology. 

  • Colonizers and Paleoindians: what are we looking for
  • Geology/hydrology 101
  • Sea-level change: what it means to archaeology and how to understand it
  • Climate changes and their impacts on the archaeological record

Day 2 - The second day centers on methodology and analyses of datasets specific to submerged terrestrial archaeology. These include modeling site potential based on hydrological, geological, and cultural variables, developing adequate survey measures, and logistical considerations for taking core samples. Activities include some hands-on work with remote sensing software and hardware

  • Determining submerged site potential
  • Remote sensing methods
  • Remote sensing interpretation
  • Hands-on demos of remote sensing equip, set ups

Day 3 - The last day in the classroom starts with hands-on work with core samples taken from the western Gulf of Mexico. Students will process samples following a standard protocol. The afternoon session includes a panel discussion of regulatory compliance issues and a group (students and instructors) brainstorming session to develop a submerged terrestrial program.

  • Excavation and documentation of submerged prehistoric archaeological sites
  • Physical sampling and coring methods and analyses
  • Regulatory considerations
  • Building a submerged terrestrial program

Day 4

  • Local site visits

CEUs: The Division of Continuing Education at the University of West Florida is authorized to define, administer and award Continuing Education Units (CEUs) in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Individuals who elect to earn CEU credit for this course will be eligible to earn 2 CEUs.