However, as our featured speaker, Dr. Ken Sassaman of the University of Florida, may change our minds about what we think we know. He has amazing new information for us about this site in our backyard, on our own Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. A few of the amazing details --
- Shell Mound was a portal into another world for the people who lived here in the centuries before the arrival of Europeans; they regarded it literally as a gateway to the underworld.
- The sand dune on which Shell Mound stands was formed by strong southwest winds during the last Ice Age. It is oriented to the winter/summer solstice. Because of that orientation, it was an annual ceremonial gathering place for peoples from all over the southeast . . . and it was a sacred burial place for centuries.
- The people who lived here and hosted these huge annual gatherings, practiced oyster mariculture and used fish trapping to sustain the abundance needed to feed the crowds who came.
Soft-Opening of the Expanded Interpretive Trail
Friends will have laid it out well enough for walking it but it will not really be ready for prime time yet by the Annual Meeting. Docents will be able to provide much of the story from a location on the developed trail for any who want to skip this more primitive trail section. The entire Shell Mound trail will remain less than a mile in length.
The trip to Shell Mound will conclude the Annual Meeting for this year, and hopefully be the beginning of many more visits to the site by all of us over the coming year.