Aucilla-Wacissa River System

The Page-Ladson site in Jefferson County Florida

By

Anne Haw Holt

Located on the southern edge of Florida’s Red Hills, the Page-Ladson archaeological dig has attracted exploration by scientists since the 1960s. In the January 2015 issue of National Geographic Magazine an article includes Page-Ladson as one of only ten sites for studying early human settlement in the Western Hemisphere.

Recognition of the possibilities of this site was slow in coming. S. David Webb and James Dunbar were early investigators. Michael Waters of the Center for the First Americans at TAMU and others have continued studying into 2014. Several remarkable finds in the 1980s and 1990s kept scholarly interest high. An artifact found in 2013 is 14,400 years old.

In 2012 a gathering of scientists and scholars met to discuss the meaning and possibilities of the site in the First Floridian First American Conference in Monticello, Florida. Pre-Clovis artifacts were displayed and studied increasing lay and scholarly interest in the Red Hills Region.

Inspired by the First Floridian several speakers and community leaders formed a committee to create a local institute to support scholarly study of the Aucilla Basin. The new Aucilla Research Institute (ARI) aucillaresearchinstitute.org provides logistical and research support for visiting scientists. ARI founders expect the Institute’s work to gradually spark an economic resurgence in the area.

 Aucilla River

Aucilla River photo by Anne Haw Holt