Swift Creek culture (A.D. 200-400) established many villages in the interior forest and river valleys of the eastern Panhandle and Big Bend as well as along the coast. Their ceramics were characterized by complicated stamped pottery and their sites are commonly found in the Northern Highlands. Swift Creek sites occurred along the coast but also in river valley forests and other locales mantled with fertile soils—such as at Hutto Pond. This implies that gardening had become an important part of their subsistence. Bone and stone tools also occur more frequently in their sites than they do in those of their Deptford predecessors. The natural communities making up the north Florida culture area then were comprised primarily of mixed pine-hardwood forest with many lakes and prairies. A Weeden Island culture closely related to that of Northwest Florida followed the Deptford/Swift Creek peoples. One major site has been excavated and several early and late sites have been located and tested there. The complex burial ceremonialism associated with Weeden Island peoples elsewhere evolved into what Jerald Milanich refers to as the McKeithen Weeden Island culture, which began shortly after the new millennium and lasted until about A.D. 750. McKeithen Weeden Island was a regional variant of early Weeden Island culture in northwest Florida. The area of the McKeithen Weeden Island lies north of the Santa Fe River, east of the Aucilla River and to the far western edge of the St. Johns River drainage basin. This culture lasted from about A.D. 200 to 700. The name McKeithen came from Lex McKeithen, who invited archaeologists to excavate some mounds on his property near Wellborn in Columbia County. Apparently looters had discovered these mounds and were pilfering them. His property is now protected by a conservation easement held by the State of Florida. In any event, the McKeithen site represented a village next to a stream with three earthen mounds. The mounds purportedly were erected to form an isosceles triangle, with the main axis of the triangle oriented toward the sunrise on the summer solstice. While the Hutto Pond site lies about 50 miles west northwest of the McKeithen site, it is only 18 miles east of the Aucilla River, 21 miles west of where the Withlacoochee River empties into the Suwannee and 60 miles from where the Santa Fe dumps into the Suwannee. After the Deptford and Swift Creek occupations there, the later Woodland pottery found at Hutto Pond reveals a mixture of the Weeden Island types from the heartland region (Northwest Florida Culture Area)–primarily characterized by Wakulla Check-Stamped pottery–and the culture known as Cades Pond found within the North-Central Culture Area to the Southeast. The latter people were known for their undecorated large bowls. The Suwannee Valley culture began about A.D. 750 and apparently evolved out of McKeithen Weeden Island. This culture was not recognized by archaeologists until the 1990s when excavations there revealed this unique ceramic assemblage. The core locale of the Suwannee Valley culture was roughly bounded on the north, west and southwest by the great bend in the Suwannee River, and on the south by the Santa Fe River. Its broader western boundary extends to the Aucilla River, beyond which lay the Weeden Island Wakulla (A.D. 750-950) and Fort Walton (A.D. 950-1500) cultures and eastwards towards the St. Johns culture. To its north in southern Georgia rests an undefined culture area characterized by Carter Complicated Stamped pottery. With regard to the latter, it should be noted that Hutto Pond lies a mere 16.5 miles south of the Georgia border. While the Suwannee Valley pottery bears some elements from both the adjacent Wakulla (Weeden Island II) and Alachua (Potano) cultures, it remains distinctive. It includes both undecorated and decorated pottery. The latter displays a variety of decorative techniques, including check-stamping, cord marking, punctuating and brushing. As previously noted, while some of these designs mimic both the late Weeden Island assemblage (i.e., check-stamping) and Alachua artifacts (e.g., cord marking, cob marking and punctuating—Lochloosa Punctated in particular–of the same time period), the overall Suwannee Valley ceramic inventory is distinct from either Alachua or Wakulla ceramics. Diagnostic pottery types of Suwannee Valley include: Alachua Cob-Marked, Prairie-Cord Marked, Lochloosa Punctated, Prairie Fabric Impressed, Ichetucknee Roughened and Alachua Plain. St. Johns Plain and St. Johns check stamped sherds also sometimes occurred in this assemblage. Additionally, small arrow points such as, Pinellas, Ichetucknee and Tampa types often were a part of their tool kit. With the exception of St. Johns Plain pottery and Tampa points, all of the above-noted artifacts occurred at Hutto Pond. Unfortunately, beyond the artifact assemblage of the Suwannee Valley culture, our understanding of this phase of late Woodland remains sketchy. We also know that an Indian Pond ceramic complex, which constitutes a slightly later variant of Suwannee Valley culture, occurred in parts of this culture area from A.D. 800 to 1528. This complex is marked by the appearance of cord and fabric-marked pottery as well as a poorly defined linear-marked ceramics. It is now believed that these people may have engaged in intensive maize agriculture, although we have no evidence to suggest that they interacted with the Fort Walton culture that had perfected this form of agriculture in northwest Florida.
Continuation of Chronology of Hutto Pond