Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts




Dr. Ashley Kistler

Committee Member

Dr. Robert Vander Poppen

Committee Member

Dr. Gay Biery-Hamilton


Rollins College owns an island in the Wekiva River that is home to a shell midden mound created sometime between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago. The site—called Shell Island—is the largest Archaic habitation area in the Wekiva basin (Weisman 1993:20). Excavations by Rollins College in the 1970s and 1980s demonstrated the rich cultural heritage of the inhabitants. The presence of marine shell represents exchange connections with the Atlantic coast, a variety in pottery decoration could illustrate changes in style over time, and tools made in both stone and bone display their technical skill sets. Despite the significance of the site, its preservation is lacking. In a 2005 conditional assessment of Shell Island, preservation was deemed “poor” due to looting and vandalism (State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection 2005:44). The current management scheme for the island is convoluted and there is a lack of effort on the part of Rollins and the Wekiva community to conserve the island due to a number of factors that I explore here. Using the recommendations of Shell Island’s various stakeholders and case studies of archaeological sites with similar issues to Shell Island, this thesis project will formulate a management plan for the site and explore the benefits of conservation for the College, its students, the wider Central Florida community, and the broader study of Florida archaeology.

Rights Holder

C. Morgan Gill