“A research tour de force that seamlessly melds archaeology, geology, ecology, environmental history, and a contemporary conservation ethic. Not only is this volume a must read for scholars interested in Florida’s past, but it is one that deserves to be read by anyone interested in Florida’s threatened environments.”—T. R. Kidder, Director of the Washington University in St. Louis Geoarchaeology Lab
“O’Donoughue writes thoughtfully and poetically about Florida’s geological history and long-term patterns of environmental change and cultural adaptation. A compelling case for the relevance of archaeology to current environmental concerns.”—Christopher B. Rodning, coeditor of Fort San Juan and the Limits of Empire
“Examines Florida’s critically important springs and discusses how they were used and modified over thousands of years by local inhabitants, placing the springs in a deep historic context while offering well-informed suggestions for their long-term management and use.”—David G. Anderson, coeditor of Archaeology of the Mid-Holocene Southeast
Throughout their history, Florida’s springs have been gathering places for far-flung peoples. In Water from Stone, Jason O’Donoughue discusses the genesis of springs and their role as sites of habitation, burials, ritualized feasting, and monument building for Florida’s earliest peoples.
O’Donoughue moves beyond a focus on the ecological roles of springs and the popular image of springs as timeless and pristine—approaches taken by many archaeologists and conservationists. Instead, he foregrounds the social and historical importance of springs and their ongoing use as gathering places that draw people for ritual purposes even today. This archaeological viewpoint creates a bridge between past and present, encouraging conservation efforts that focus on the intrinsic value of springs as places of personal experience and social interaction with deep historical significance. To save the springs, O’Donoughue argues, we must recognize the relevance of the past to the problems Florida’s artesian springs face today.
Jason O’Donoughue is an archaeologist at the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research in Tallahassee. He is coeditor of The Archaeology of Events: Cultural Change and Continuity in the Pre-Columbian Southeast.