Managed by Sarasota County Parks & Recreation, the contoured landscape of Indian Mound Park is a direct result of prehistoric indigenous habitation. The people who lived here thousands of years ago were attracted to this spot for the availability of resources on land and in the surrounding Lemon Bay and Gulf of Mexico.
This Sarasota County park, also known as Paulsen Point, was occupied from approximately 1000 BC-1350 AD. Ancient people were attracted by the abundance of seafood, the mainstay of their diet. Groups such as the "Manasota Culture" created ingenious ways to use natural resources to craft their clothes, tools, vessels and ornaments. In the 1960s, archaeological excavation was undertaken before the creation of the county park. The findings were extensive, and in 1971 archaeologist Ripley B. Bullen published a report in which he determined that the mound and surrounding human habitation complex were occupied during parts of four Florida cultural periods; from the "Orange/Florida Transitional Period" to the "Safety Harbor Period."
For most of the time prehistoric people lived at Paulsen Point, they were a part of the "Manasota Culture", which was from approximately 500 BCE until AD 900, and localized to the northern edges of Charlotte Harbor to the southern edges of Tampa Bay. The "Manasota Culture" incorporated ceremonial ceramics and burial practices, some of which are evident at Paulsen Point. However, of the nearly 30,000 pottery sherds removed in the 1960s excavations, less than 1% were decorated, with the majority being a plain style, called Englewood Plain. Of particular note of artifacts found during those excavations, was the discovery of points and arrowheads made of quartz. This indicated trade for the stone from as far away as southern Georgia. Along with the large amounts of shell tools, also uncovered were many decoratively altered shells, shark teeth, and fish and mammal bones, and one copper bead all for human adornment. The copper bead also indicated trade from northern Florida or beyond.
Bullen concluded that the Paulsen Point site's lack of a burial mound (although human burials have been reported and excavated) does not allow it to be classified as a ceremonial complex, but the sheer number of quality and significant artifacts uncovered through relatively small excavation areas, indicate long term use. While its shell midden is generally well preserved, much of the surrounding village has been leveled, cut into for drainage ditches and boat launches, and filled over for parking and recreational uses. Indian Mound Park - Paulsen Point, is one of the many thousands of significant archaeological sites in Sarasota County which have suffered from coastal erosion and modern day development, however when you visit today, you can still imagine the bustling fishing village of prehistoric times.
PARK AMENITIES & ACTIVITIES:
- Lemon Bay and Gulf of Mexico boat access with ramp
- Bird Watching
- Canoe/Kayak launch
- Shoreline fishing & wading
- Picnic shelter
- Cleared and Paved Trails
- Open areas for games & sports
page information credit: Sarasota Parks & Recreation, Sarasota County Historical Resources, The Florida Anthropologist March 1971
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors, especially Florida Public Archaeology Network West Central