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Ancient Architects of Florida

Terra Ceia & Madira Bickel Mounds


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Terra Ceia and Madira Bickel Mounds outside of Bradenton, Florida are pre-Columbian archeological sites extant just prior to the Spanish colonial period. They are representative of the late Mississippian period and consist of shell middens which have, to some degree, been damaged or depleted (Milanich). In Terra Ceia, the mound is a flattened ceremonial mound, or temple, that is composed of sand, shells, and village detritus that is approximately 19-20 feet in height (Milanich). The site itself is just over 10 acres of which the mound only comprises a small portion of it.

Archeologists hypothesize that the Madira Bickel Mound might have been the site of a village called Ucita which is sometimes referenced in Spanish historical literature (Milanich). Both the Terra Ceia and the Madira Bickel Mounds date to approximately 1450AD although there is evidence of even earlier habitation and use from the Woodland and perhaps even the Archaic Periods. During the Woodland Period it is thought that the Madira Bickel and Terra Ceia Mounds were inhabited by the Weedon Island culture through 700AD to 1300AD (Florida). Since this period produced some of the most remarkable pottery products from the pre-Columbian era, the archeological evidence supports this assumption. A greater interest in agricultural techniques arose during the Mississippian Period and these mound sites also demonstrate this with a general decline in the quality of its ceramic artifacts to the Spanish arrival.

 

 Resources & Further Reading:

Milanich, Jerald T. Archaeology of Precolumbian Florida. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 1994.

Morgan, William N. Pre-Columbian Architecture in Eastern North America. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 1999.

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