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Indian River
Anthropological Society

Pine Island Conservation Area
Archaeological Survey

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Phase 2 excavation.
Phase 2 excavation.


The Pine Island Conservation area consists of 879 acres on Merritt Island, Brevard County, Florida. It is jointly owned by the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program (EELs) and the St. Johns Water Management District (SJWMD). EELs had plans to conduct improvements to a known historic house located at the southern end of the property. The Brevard County Historical Commission requested the Indian River Anthropological Society conduct a preliminary Phase I archaeological survey of the area in the immediate vicinity of the house. The purpose of this assessment was to locate and record prehistoric or historic sites within the defined project area. The Indian River Anthropological Society and Thomas Penders and Associates conducted the study in October 2003 through April 2004. During that period almost 200 shovel tests were excavated across the property. Of these only 4 contained no artifacts. From this study we identified 2 historic structures, a prehistoric Native American village site, and a fossil site. Based on what we found last year we are now conducting an ongoing investigation to learn more about all of these sites.


There are four main components to the Pine Island Conservation Area:

Sams Site

This site is a multi-component site which spans from the Middle Archaic Period (5,000-3,500 BC) through Malabar I period (500 BC-AD 750) with a historic occupation dating from 1879 to present. The prehistoric site consists of a scatter of material, mostly potsherds known as St. Johns Plain, Sand-Tempered Plain, and Belle Glades Plain, some flakes of stone from making tools, a coquina grinding stone, and we found one spear point. From our tests last year we known that there is a pattern suggesting individual homes (or family units) or areas where specific activities were happening. The site is unique for the coastal area ... there is almost no shell or areas that archaeologists call middens. The historic portion of the site is associated with the two houses and dates to the 1880s through 1911. Artifacts from this site included dishes and bottle fragments, square nails, and animal bones.

Sams House 1

Sams House - 1
Sams House - 1
Sams House 1 is actually attached to the northeastern corner of the Sams House #2 via a kitchen which was constructed in the 1950s. The Sams House 1 was constructed in 1875 in Eau Gallie by John H. Sams. After crop failure the house was moved via the Indian River to its present location in 1878. Some of the windows retain their original glass panes. The house originally sat upon pine piers that have been replaced with block. The interior of the house is a mixture of recent (1890s-1950s) improvements including partially covering the walls with bead board panels and the installation of gas and electrical light fixtures. Original square nails from its original construction can be seen on the exterior and interior of the house.

Sams House - 2
Sams House - 2

Sams House 2

Historic Properties Associates, Inc. identified this house in 1990 during a survey of Brevard County. Sams House #2 was described as dating to the Spanish American War Period. However, research by local historian Bob Gross suggests the house was actually built in the 1880s (ca. 1888). It is a two-story wood frame vernacular house with an exterior façade of wooden drop siding.

Sams Creek Fossil Site

The site is located north of the Sams Site area. Though the material was collected from spoil piles, all data suggests that the fossil bearing material was dredged up during the excavation of the Sams Creek Canal in the 1960s. The exact location of the deposit below surface or the size is unknown at this time. Interestingly, a fossil bone fragment ground into a pin was recovered from the archaeological site. Fossil remains include Mastodon, Giant Land Tortoise, Camel, Glyptodont, Horse, Mammoth, Giant Armadillo, Peccary, and Tapir.

Newnan Point in the field.
Shell Tools.
Mastodon Tusk Tips
Newnan Point in the field Shell Tools Mastodon Tusk Tips

Looking For Fossils
Flushing Fossils
Digging In The Spoil Pile
Crew After A Hard Days Work
Looking For Fossils Flushing Fossils Digging In The Spoil Pile Crew After A Hard Days Work

Why is this site so important?

Setting up the transit.
Setting up the transit. (no enlargement)
The PICA sites are important for the following reason:

All photos by Vera Booksh Zimmerman

Sams House - Pine Island Conservation Area Management & Education Center

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